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by Brick Walters, 9/8/00

Dc: It was late 1999 when anti-fatty food activists announced a legal campaign against State Fair vendors over the issue of airborne cholesterol. And now, with the fair having come and gone again for another year and with no noticeable change in the environment, the case is about to go to trial. But at least once side in the disagreement is unhappy about the delay.
Brick Walters reports.

(sfx: outdoor summer morning)

Brick: It has been a very long year for Virgil Smoot, chairman of the Committee of Concerned Citizens Combating Cholesterol, or CCCCC!

Vs: I saw what was happening with those lawsuits against the tobacco companies and I figured this would be quick and easy. Collect some evidence, get a judge, pick a jury, Bingo! Big Fat would be on it's knees!
And in all likelihood, it would be unable to get up.

Brick: Virgil Smoot and CCCCC didn't count on the vicious counter-attack that's been launched by the major lard producing companies.
Mark Rambling, spokesman for the United Donut Industry, has become a fixture on network TV, vigorously defending the product.

Rambling: A donut cannot hurt you just sitting there. Donuts do not make people fat! People eating donuts makes people fat. Why punish the donuts because people abuse them?

Brick: And the case was also delayed by problems with the evidence.

Vs: We had collected hundreds of trays of mini donuts, pronto pups, cookies, french fries … all of this was potential evidence in the case.
But then we discovered that the evidence … was vanishing.

Brick: In fact, by last May CCCCC discovered that at least 90% of the cholesterol laden evidence had disappeared.

Vs: We had off duty police officers standing guard over the evidence.
And yet so much of it disappeared.
I don't get it. What happened? Nobody's talking.

Brick: In addition to all this, Virgil Smoot laments that many witnesses who had promised to testify against the cholesterol peddlers later got cold feet.
Among them, Donna Slocum, who told me last year that she attributed her astonishing weight gain at the 1998 fair to airborne fat from the mini donut stand just feet away from where she was working.

Slocum: When I said that … I was not being truthful. The fact is … I … overindulged at the fair. I ate the stuff, I didn't inhale it. And I accused Big Fat because I didn't want to take responsibility for my Fudge Puppy addiction.

Brick: But you were adamant last year that you gained five pounds the first day even though you had only eaten one carrot!

Slocum: My therapist says I was in deep denial, but I'm over it now.

Brick: I also have learned that in the last six months since you changed your story, you've received a free dozen donuts every day from the Squishy Morsel Donut Company.

Slocum: That's not true! And even if it is, it's part of my therapy!

Brick: In fact, Slocum and several other plaintiffs in the Airborne Fat lawsuit have been enrolled in a behavior modification program called "Becoming Whole with the Donut," where they receive frequent exposure to donuts and are supposed to develop a mastery over them. Dr. Helen Patella developed the technique.

Patella: You can't beat the donut by hiding from it. You have to face it. To become "Whole" with the donut, you have to do battle with it every day, and win! If you keep your distance, that creates fear, and fear is a basic building block of weakness.

Brick: So your patients receive a dozen donuts a day and then what?

Patella: They face the temptation, they confront their compulsion, and they either win or they lose. And then we try again the next day.

Brick: And do you do anything to help them through this ordeal?

Patella: I phone them and shout insults at them. "Fatso," "Lardbutt," that kind of thing. Then we discuss it at our sessions.

Brick: What do you say to the ones who can't resist and wind up snarfing down the whole box?

Patella: I'm sorry, I can't discuss results. That's confidential.

Brick: But for the group as a whole, does it work? Are they losing weight?

Patella: Again, results. I can't say. But don't assume that losing weight is the goal. This has more to do with attitude. Where does the donut begin? Where do I end? I would rather see my patients facing that than dropping a few pounds.

Brick: All of this leaves Virgil Smoot in a snit.

Vs: Without evidence and witnesses we don't stand a chance against Big Fat. When I got involved in this cause I thought we'd win an easy victory, but as I look at the justice system … the police station, the judge's chambers, even the jury room … there are donuts, cakes, pies … everywhere. We may never get a fair shake, or even a jiggle.

Brick: On the eve of the first ever Airborne Cholesterol trial, anti fat crusaders are admitting they're up against a heavy hitter and face a huge disadvantage.
But the stakes are enormous, and the battle ahead promises to be crushing. How will it turn out? Time will tell! Out in the field, I'm Brick Walters.


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