How to Deal with Health Propaganda and More with Peter Sellars : Exclusive Renegade Health Article

Wednesday Sep 7 | BY |
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Even this sweet lady in Honduras was trying to pitch me on the health benefits of noni… I bought right into it. (Those pots are full of about 20 of them each!)

Man, I love Berkeley…

I’m on a TON of local newsletters here and recently I got a notification about a class at the University called Edible Education 101 that is not only offered to students, but also the public.

The course instructors include Michael Pollan and each week they bring in a new and different speaker on all topics food – including nutrition, health, policy, business and more.

What’s even cooler is that it’s completely free for community members – as long as you get tickets in advance.

Last night, we saw Peter Sellars speak. I actually had never heard of him before, but he’s apparently a very popular director in theater, opera and festivals.

His talk, though, was not about how to direct the next “Carmen” but how to create a movement – in this case – as it relates to activism.

The talk was powerful.

In fact, so powerful, I’m going to share it with you today (the talk starts at about 6:30 into the clip and it runs about 1:15:00 minutes…)

Here are some of my notes on his talk…

1. “Everything you encounter is propaganda.”

In the very beginning, Peter mentions that every message that you encounter is propaganda. He’s right. Everything you’re told throughout the day is some sort of propaganda. Look, in a very insensitive way, you could argue that even your relationships involve “propaganda” except that we choose to use the words “influencing” or “softening” or “convincing.”

This struck me yesterday, because I was thinking recently about how if everything is propaganda – which is a belief I already held – there must be “good” propaganda and “bad” propaganda. In fact, there must be a scale of propaganda that runs from absolutely awful – see past and present dictatorship governments – to incredible good – Gandhi convincing you that there should be peace on earth.

The challenge we face is not the fact that there is propaganda – it’s always been there – it’s the fact that it is harder to sift through all of it to get closer to the truth.

Peter’s solution, and one that I think is relevant, is that you need to live your truth, regardless of what others are telling you. You have to rise above the propaganda and be your own trailblazer.

This is completely true for your health. Each book, website or report you read has an agenda. It’s either to get you healthy, give you options, sell you something or get a search engine to find a website. (At least those are the four most prevalent.)

So your job is to sift through all that and find out what is hyperbole, what is untrue, what is factual and what you’re doing to do about all of it.

It sounds like a full time job, and frankly, it should be – it’s your health.

Isn’t that the most important thing?

If you’re digging for answers, shouldn’t they increase the quality of your life?

2. Three Rules to Be an Artist

Peter outlines three rules to be an artist.

Number 1: Imagine the world that you want to be in.

Number 2: Create that world.

Number 3: Live in it.

My challenge to you is to take Number 1 seriously today and sit down for 20 minutes and figure out what world you want to be in.

3. Dedicate the act of eating.

Many cultures, when they sit down to eat, give an offering to the earth or to others.

The Q’ero tip their glasses and pour little water or wine for Mother Earth. This was a practice that we got into after we left, but has since been lost.

After this talk, we were eating dinner and about halfway through, I remembered what Peter had said about giving an offering and I was frustrated that I had forgotten for this particular meal – like many others.

I immediately reached into my glass of water to wet my fingers and offered a few drops to the floor.

I hope to consciously continue this practice.

4. The irrational self allows you to do amazing things.

There’s not much needed to explain here.

Peter argues the logical mind is actually the crazy one.

Something to think about, when everyone thinks irrational people are, well, plain irrational.

5. Upanishads on food.

From the Chhandogya Upanishad…

“Food which is eaten, gets divided into three parts. That which is its coarsest part becomes feces. That which is medium, the flesh; that which is finest the mind.”

Imagine, without science, a culture understood that good, high quality food was important.

6. Oppositional energy creates the problem.

I don’t think I have to exact statement here from Peter, but the idea is most important.

To be in opposition is to separate.

Frankly, I’m tired of the battles within the health community. It drives me nuts.

Yes, there are some disagreements that need to be sorted out, but our energies would be so much better served finding a larger agenda to push than our own personal ego based ones – like my diet is better than yours.

7. Some of the finest foods…

… in the history of the world have been grown and eaten by peasants.

Peter made this statement during the Q & A session after a person asked why it cost so much for a dinner at Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse (who has sponsored this event.)

In my own research of different long lived cultures, one common thread is that they are NOT wealthy people – in Western monetary forms.

They never would have been able to afford a meal at Chez Panisse, but chances are the quality of food is just the same – maybe better.

Unfortunately, this is just a statement that doesn’t have a solution tied to it.

But some viable ones are the integration of community based urban farms, reversing subsidies to fund real food – not feed corn, and more policy that focuses on feeding those who can’t afford it.

I want to know your thoughts: What do you think about the talk? Valuable? All talk?

Live Awesome!

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.


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  1. walter says:

    if vedic writings are not science maybe thats good. they are part of a very old system. who knows how they originated.

  2. Sarah says:

    The comment about good food being expensive is one of the most irksome frustrating commonly felt beliefs I have to deal with day after day with would be clients. (I am often called an unsympathetic food elitist for telling people they need whole foods to be healthy). I am digging my ehals in and am holding my ground on this one. The problem is yes, in the very old days the peasant food was the healthiest because it was the unrefined food. But somewhere along the line, we in America were taught we had a right to cheap food. With mass technology, the production of cheap refined food was made possible (and profitable for the companies that produce it). But not profitable for your overall state of health. If you all care about the quality of food as I do, we HAVE to convince people they cannot be healthy living off of Oreos, Doritos, Soda Pop and all the other junk that is really really cheap and that fills them up. (I’ve tried talking about community gardens and even having a few potted plants on your city balcony but this usually falls on deaf ears as well).

  3. esther suarez says:

    Hi Kevin and AnnMarie,
    Here is the link to seeing the videos on line if you can’t make to the lectures. Also, you can volunteer at the talks as well. I’m so glad you guys found out about this! Yes, Berkeley can be a wonderful place to live!
    ps- Don says hi! And now for the link, read below!

    UC Berkeley is planning to make video of the lectures available online 3-5 days after each session. You will be able to find the video on Berkeley’s YouTube site ( as well as on their iTunes U channel ( This way you’ll be able to see all the lectures, whether you get the chance to reserve tickets online or not!

  4. Man there was some awesome stuff in there today. Oppositional energy creates the problem.

    I find this a LOT for myself in traveling that people want to argue and complain all the time about the world and how it is and why is it that way and on and on.

    But they are attempting to fight against something rather than create something.

    I did this myself when I got very wrapped up in how destructive and detrimental fracking is. I found myself wanting to fight against it. Who would I fight against? The oil and gas industry. Really? If they were drilling into my water, I might fight against it, but what about making better water filters instead?

    For the same amount of effort and energy as I would put into fighting against big oil and big gas, I can build a life that relies on as little oil and gas as possible. I can document what I do and what I learn, and post it online, and make it easier for other people to do the same. I can make something, do something, have something beneficial, and feel really good about it, instead of fighting against something which is huge and nameless, and the faces that work inside of it are just people like me doing what they think is best.

    Be. Do. Create. And Have.

    Thanks for this sentence Kevin:
    Oppositional energy creates the problem.

  5. Cathy says:

    In regard to your comment about the battles in the health community, I wondered if you have listened to, or read, the transcript of Melissa McEwen’s recent talk at Ancestral Health Symposium.
    It seems that her final analysis of the scientific evidence is that humans and our digestive abilities are unique and there is huge diversity in the way we digest foods. Some people just do better on certain diets than others. I hope this helps alleviate some of the ‘battle’ mentality.
    As for dedicating the act of eating, I think this could also be considered ‘prayer’.
    Best wishes!

  6. Veronica says:

    Your comment:


    I would never make an offering to to ‘the earth’–earth is not Yahweh–
    It was Yahweh who made the earth!!

  7. Moira says:

    So many, regardless of what they eat, do not give thought to our Grand Creator, the provider of every perfect present, and as Veronica says, that would be Yahweh. So worship the Creator and thank Him, not the creation itself!

    I agree there is much propaganda, and as stated, some good and some bad. But some of it does not matter and other propaganda is very harmful…the lies are what are the worst! Seek truth! And understand that there is more than one way to do the right thing, such as eating a healthy diet.

  8. margot says:

    thankyou so much kevin for sharing this with us. I am wondering if you are planning to broadcast other lectures. I certainly hope so.

  9. Jean says:

    Thank you for posting this, Kevin. Relevant on so many levels in addition to food, ultimately, the interconnectedness of all our actions, thoughts, perceptions.

  10. Una Thomsen says:

    Well done Kevin for including this video on your site.I realized watching it that we do exactly what Peter said we do. We think one thing and do the exact opposite without realizing it.We say we are concerned about how people are treated across the board but yet we use our money in support of the big corporations like Coca Cola.We buy cheap clothing and look past what it costs to make in terms of the poor wage some human being has been given and the poor quality of their life so these prices can be maintained.We buy mass marketed food even thought we want to eat well and improve our health. The only way to live an authentic life is to be who you say you are and follow through on what we believe to be the truth Thank God for people like Peter and you Kevin for holding a mirror up to people like me.
    I live in Ireland and love your site but because of the high price of shipping have never bought any of your or Anne Maria’s products, but would love to.My son was staying in Los Angeles earlier this year but returned home saying he was so depressed by the site of so many homeless people.We need as people to change our mind set on the way our planet operates.the change has to start with ordinary people like us not the governments.Have never written on the blog before but felt compelled to after this video.the strange thing is I felt I was living my truth before I seen this video but now I know that’s not true. Thank You Kevin.

  11. Caterina says:

    I am sorry that some people think that the Creator and Creation are two separate “entities” and of different “importance”, was your father more powerful in bringing you to life than your mother?
    Mother Earth gives us food and sustenance, we wouldn’t be here at all without her as much as we wouldn’t be here at all if we were not in the mind of God. So it is natural to thank Mother Earth for the food that She gave us as much as we thank God for the many gifts he showers on us.

  12. Sarah says:

    Other great ideas from the video (everyone should watch it for themselves since different things will speak to different people).

    “Can you put your belief system into your body [actions]…Or as is the genius of the western education system do you continue to say beautiful things while living completely differently.” – Michael Pollan from Edible Education

    Equality: When we are talking about these acts of love, inclusivity and equality what I am talking about is the very person you hate most and most hates you was also created by God. You need to find a zone of equality with that person. You need to break bread with that person. You need to find a shared table with that person, with the very people you hate the most. The act of radical generosity.

    The terrorist who wants to kill you also needs to eat 3 times a day and also wants their children not to eat poison.”

  13. Augie says:

    I like this propaganda piece of yours. I just finished reading the book Propaganda–1936. Originally it meant sales, marketing and advertising. The book was written by Edward Bernays, who sold the public on water fluoridation, tobacco health and leaded gasoline.

  14. Augie says:

    I just listened about three minutes to the guru–I suppose this is Michael Pollan–when he mentioned global warming and an energy crisis– I am done–OFF–don’t wanna hear anymore.

  15. LynnCS says:

    The clip stopped at abt 52:45 for me. Couldn’t get it to go further. Up to that point, I was just thinking that he was still going to get to the main talk. All he did was repeat old sayings and thoughts that we know already; that it’s up to us, make our actions match our words, etc. Maybe later in the talk he gets to some suggested solutions, but not so far. It’s very tiring to have someone stand up and tell us what is wrong with us…Not my favorite. Haven’t read the comments yet and to tell the truth, I don’t want to. There is really nothing to debate. He talks against the money and things society (and I do understand) but I’ll bet he gets paid a lot to regurgitate all this old tired stuff. Decades and decades of the same old, same old.

  16. nils says:

    @cathy i love melissa. mcewen she is very smart and intelegent. I also love what melissa hunt. gath love contributes on paleo hacks. probably good to contribute. actuallyi think the Ancestral health S AHS was a very good event also when it is low carb high fat. im still crazy if high fat is halthy adn running in ketosis. is durianrider just making fear. is there something true on this. he made a lost video which is totally strange and schizophrenic. the one before is better its on wonderful usa dates. the last one is like a spiritual nightmare.or maybe he dream on getting fat and notc achieve it cause of he ambivalent lifestyle. is durianrider aka harley deeple happy. or isc he crying like a little baby inside herself?

    i cant watch the video. cause of sensitivity to noise. Whatever if i wanna warship my food. i felt this when i had bulimia to warship my food. i gave something to he earth permanently. whatever all this spiritual qquaks sucks. its deep true knowlegde coming from children, which realy coutns. children disabled .. did u ever try to heal the earth with all ure superfood or is the health humancentristic. why the rennegate health focus so much on southamerican health indegenoustribes. isnt it fair to mention local native tribes. and give something back. actually every white has to be feeling like an invader on foreign land. whites are in america cause they used the european land overfarmed and overfished it. before all the settlers go to usa the new world europe was depletet. it was robbed by its own people. fish trees, earth, whatever.

    be careful with thisd eurocentristic views. your are in a country of indegenous people so also give respect to our local tribe. its wonderful that u care on quero still there is thing more close to be seen.

    why are the most health gurus are white skin colour in a country with also different nations and ethnicity? Why are a lotare woman? ITs a bit strange! And its not just a claim or a judge. It should encourage every feeling feelingbeing to create something beside all this health fanatism. there is some thing deep origni which isnt figuring out by the inteligent IQ of over 160. im sure its wonderful how much painters artist superman superwomans are under this healthscene still its very unique what is behind all.

  17. Brenda says:

    I loved the video. Thank you for sharing. I would love to sit in on those classes. Good stuff.
    Peace & hugs to you

  18. Marisa says:

    Great article! Really makes you think about lot of stuff. I’m such an openminded person that I really don’t understand why so many people feel the need to be right all the time and for their diet to be the ” right” one. I wonder why that is? That is why I love reading your articles… Because you just want to get to the truth of things.

  19. Sandi S says:

    Thanks, Kevin. I love you and Ann Marie more each day! Your thoughts are my sentiments exactly!

  20. pe says:

    #13Augie, Bernays’ use of Propaganda wasn’t original with him. It’s short for propaganda fide, propagating the faith, which several posters have been doing, but the Catholic Church coined.
    #4Music, “fight rather than create” is a problem; the solution may not be getting filters for water dirtied by the enemy, but working to stop the enemy’s dirtying, while creating better ways at the same time. Otherwise, you may as well pop pills rather than ‘fight’ the supermarts and Monsantos by stubbornly not eating what they give you.
    Propaganda– you’re given illusory choices in the capitalist-financial-military complex when it comes to food or information. Because someone fought the stuff dispensed, you heard a different set of messages, propagating different attitudes. If you want to (or can) fight the bad propaganda, and it IS bad, do so; be creative doing it, and don’t stint on creativity in the rest of your day. Fighting and creativity are not opposites– isn’t that oppositional thinking?
    Speaking of propaganda, whenever I hear of Yahweh aka Jehovah, I’m reminded of Oahspe, the sacred writing created in 1882 via automatic typing (one of the earliest writings not written but typed), in which Jehovih (his spelling) is a minor god of this solar system who pretends to be a bigger cheese. The scripture has spaceships and a hierarchy of supervisors throughout the galaxy. Yes, 1882, spaceships.
    Look it up. John Newbrough. I met a practitioner in DC.

  21. Kevin and Ann Marie, Thanks so much for posting this video. It is truly a profound lecture on so many levels.

  22. LynnCS says:

    To #2 Sarah. Keep those heels dug in, girl. I do know that we can’t save those who don’t want to be saved. having said that, I would like to plant and grow some organic vegis. If the deer don’t get them, I get so many infestations of bugs that I have given up. What do you do? Lynn

  23. Jeni says:

    Hi Kev

    He says a lot of good things but should this message go out to a wider audience? I bet the people there in the audience, are already thinking the right things ?
    The raw food world seems to attract people with more of a conscience and they seem to be far more aware of todays issues and more likely to do something about it. e,g.. – Like not going to the supermarket and looking for the local farm shop.
    We can be powerful individuals if we want to be.

  24. Kathleen Blanc says:

    I really enjoyed this video….thank you so much for getting it out to us. I would love to see ALL of the classes in the course! This video is a great counter-balance to the surrealness of mainstream media. Hearing Truth Speaking is healing in and of itself.
    Thank you again.

  25. Selene says:

    Ha ha Kevin. Loved that you admitted you’d never heard of Peter Sellars. Your world is expanding out of the health realm. Who knows, next you might even attend one of his productions!

  26. Velda says:

    @Veronica and Moira, I totally agree with you and was thinking the same thing. Of course the created and the Creator are 2 separate things. The example of either a mother or father being more important than the other in the procreate of one,(a baby) does not hold water. Not even in the same ball park as God doing the creating. As created beings, we need each other to procreate. God did not need the earth to make the earth. He made the earth to give forth the food. The earth was not part of that decision. So, I would not give worship to the created, but to the Creator.

    With that said, I believe we should all live in awe of the creation and be thankful for the process of producing food, air and water. I believe we should strive to be less confrontational and think about how, as the Bible says, as best we can be a peace maker. However, while that attitude should be prominent in us, in the real world we must sometimes actually subdue our enemy before we can share a meal with them.

    Thanks for some thought-provoking information, Kevin.

  27. Wendy says:

    Wow. I hope you will post other lectures. Thanks so much.

  28. roni says:

    thank you for posting this.
    Peter Sellars is a gift of inspiration and love – a true mahatma – (great soul).
    Now I am excited to watch the rest of the lectures – I love education that sees the big picture!
    also loved his definition of an artist – it felt so validating – after making “stuff” (paintings, sculptures, performances) for so many years, i went and found a farm, and created a gentle organic place of outrageous looking plants and peace in a world of chaos. I still make stuff sometimes, but mostly just for fun or gifts now.

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