Heartland Reply to Eric Schlosser

Published July 14, 2006

Eric Schlosser, the anti-fast food advocate and author of Fast Food Nation and the new children’s book, Chew on This, strikes out against The Heartland Institute in an interview on the Bloomberg.com Web site.

The interview, conducted by Robin Schatz and posted on July 11, is titled “Fast-Food Critic Schlosser Aims New Book at Happy-Meal Set.”

Schlosser refers to Heartland and other critics as “‘AstroTurf’ groups. They’re fake grassroots organizations.”

This characterization does not apply to The Heartland Institute. Among elected officials in the U.S., Heartland is one of the best known and most respected sources of information. Some 550 elected officials and more than 100 academics serve on the institute’s advisory boards. Our work on environmental issues has won an international award and is consistent with the work of most respected scientists.

The Heartland Institute was started 22 years ago by David Padden, a small business owner who is now chairman emeritus of the Board of Directors, and Joseph Bast, at the time a college student attending the University of Chicago and now president of the organization. Initial funding came from approximately two dozen small business owners in the Chicago area.

Over the years The Heartland Institute raised funds from thousands of individuals, foundations, and corporations. Heartland’s annual budget today is $3.2 million, almost entirely from charitable contributions from 1,400 donors and some 3,200 subscribers. No corporate donor contributes more than 5 percent of its annual budget.

Our long history, diverse funding base, and reputation for quality research show Schlosser’s attempt to discredit us to be false.

Also in the interview, Mr. Schlosser told Ms. Schatz:

The Heartland Institute actually put out a press release recently that compared my children’s book to Nazi propaganda and compared me by implication to Hitler. As someone who lost family in the Holocaust I found that very offensive.

The Heartland Institute’s Web site contains two essays about Mr. Schlosser’s book. The news release on Heartland’s Web site, at http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=18987, is a devastating rebuttal of the claims set forth in Chew on This and contains no mention of “Nazi propaganda” or “Hitler.” The second essay, at http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=19129, is a much longer book review that appeared in the June 2006 issue of Environment & Climate News, a publication of The Heartland Institute. That essay contains these lines:

In the 1930s Adolf Hitler recognized that if he could indoctrinate Germany’s youth in support of this antihuman Nazi movement, the children would ultimately control their more level-headed, mature parents, thus restraining the adults’ efforts to learn the truth about what Hitler was doing.

It would appear the authors are making the same effort in their drive to socialize America by feeding its children a book of distortions and untruths about the world’s greatest food supplier and agricultural economy.

Both essays were written by Dr. Jay Lehr, one of the most distinguished scientists in the world. Dr. Lehr is the author of more than 400 magazine and journal articles and 12 books. He is editor of Rational Readings on Environmental Concerns (1992), McGraw-Hill’s Handbook on Environmental Science, Health and Technology (2000), Wiley’s Remediation Technologies Handbook (2004), Environmental Instrumentation and Analysis Handbook (2005), and the six-volume Water Encyclopedia (Wiley Interscience, 2005).

If Mr. Schlosser is offended by the analogy Dr. Lehr draws between his tactics and those of Nazis, perhaps he should change his tactics. His “children’s book” is loaded with leftist and anti-market language and assertions aimed at turning young readers into advocates for policies that limit consumer choice.

If you have any questions about this matter please call Mike Van Winkle, media relations, at The Heartland Institute at 312/377-4000 or by email at [email protected].