Do They Enjoy Really Being Dinner Party Don’t-Invite-’ems? : They Pointed Out the Perils of Popcorn, Chinese Food, Even the Unassuming Tuna Salad Sandwich. But What Really Goes On Inside the Center for Science in the Public Interest?

Stephen Schmidt prints news of a milder sort, though it’s still critical to his readers.

Schmidt, 46, is the editor of the Nutrition Action Healthletter. He is the only buongustaio on the staff. He loves food–he loves to cook; he loves to eat; he loves to talk about cooking and eating. Schmidt, baldish, smiling and seemingly more robust than the others, says, “I bring an attitude we need.”

He claims to be the only admitted vegetarian among the top staff. Because his overall diet is so exemplary he allows himself occasional lapses, he says: “If I’m sauteeing mushrooms in olive oil, I’ll throw in a little butter because it tastes soooooooo wonderful.” But if he’s writing about butter, he advises the public to stay away from it because most people don’t limit those killer saturated fats. “So as a nation,” says Schmidt, “if we switch from butter to margarine, thousands of fewer people will die.”

In fact, most of Schmidt’s readers have more than a casual interest in health. Most are women, average age mid-50s, with health problems; about 15% are Californians while the rest live near big cities on the East Coast. Despite the seriousness of his subject, Schmidt says, he aims to inject humor wherever he can into the 16-page newsletter. “Maybe if you can laugh while you’re reading, it’s less depressing,” he says.

Most people in the office wear jeans and T-shirts, shorts and sneakers. But as you round the last corner of the office suite, there finally appears a real Washington-looking person.

“I’m the guy in the white shirt and tie,” says Bruce Silverglade. He’s the lawyer.

Silverglade lobbies Congress and federal and state agencies, often hiking the halls of government with a giant leather briefcase crammed with empty boxes of breakfast cereal and desserts with misleading health claims. “Both Democrats and Republicans have cholesterol problems.” he says.

When Silverglade joined the center in 1981, he filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission challenging the claim that “with Wonder bread, good nutrition doesn’t have to be whole wheat.” The company rewrote the package for the white bread.

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