By Jerry S. Stolzoff
Summary: In 1943 The Bostonian magazine ran this tribute to the “fightinist” leader in the field of nutrition, Dr. Royal Lee. While a cabal including industrial food manufacturers, the American Medical Association, and the Food and Drug Administration conspired to suppress the inconvenient findings of nutrition science—namely that processed foods were at the root of heart disease, cancer, and most other modern diseases—Dr. Lee worked tirelessly to inform the American public of the truth. Undeterred by the powerful interests allied against him, Lee traveled the country to speak to healthcare groups, civic organizations, farmers, and “anyone within earshot” about the destruction of America’s health at the hands of “devitalized,” processed foods. While he would inspire the organic farming movement as well as a generation of holistic health practitioners, Dr. Lee’s legacy came at a profound price, as thirty years of continual legal battles and personal attacks by government and medical bureaucrats led him to an early grave. From The Bostonian, 1943. Reprinted by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research. To learn more about the amazing Dr. Lee, visit Dr.RoyalLee.com.[The following is a transcription of the original Archives document. To view or download the original document, click here.]
The Amazing Royal Lee
“The ‘fightinest’ leader in the field of nutritional science.” That oft repeated, highly apt title fits Dr. Royal Lee, President of the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research of Milwaukee and a frequent visitor to Boston.
In a scientific field known for its conservatism, Dr. Lee takes pride in heckling the advertiser of devitalized foods and has spent fifteen years interesting the American public in paying some attention to its diet.
It’s working, too. The sum effect of hundreds of talks at leading medical conventions, radio talks (half a dozen of them in Boston), addresses before leading civic organizations, and personal talks with everyone who comes within earshot has rallied tens of thousands to the cause of better nutrition.
You probably wouldn’t notice him walking down the street, nor pay any particular attention to his voice if you heard it. His looks, like his voice, are plain. That simplicity is infectious, however. Last winter, in a talk sponsored by the [Lee] Foundation at the Milwaukee Auditorium, he casually said, “And another example of a devitalized food would be pasteurized milk. The use of certified raw milk guarantees the presence of all of the vitamins normally found in milk and also assures cleanliness.” The sale of certified milk leaped 20 percent in Milwaukee that week!
All this is a marked change from the public’s and the medical profession’s attitudes about nutrition. Ten years ago, he was ignored. Five years ago, physicians showed some interest. Physicians would ask, “What’s a vitamin?” Today, even the government called a National Nutrition Conference in Washington to discuss the effect of the inadequate American diet on the health of the nation. Dr. Parran, Surgeon General of the United States, was the latest to give recognition to the dangers of devitalized foods, when he commented before the Hot Springs Food Conference that ten years were being lapped off of the average person’s life because of family diet.
Dr. Lee’s stand has been that twenty years is more nearly the figure. Based on the average income per year, Dr. Lee challenged that in one year the economic loss this represents would have provided every person unemployed in the heart of the depression with a brand new $3,000 home and an income of $60 per week. He is one of the discoverers of vitamin F and was one of the first to find the relationship between vitamin B and heart disorders, vitamin F and prostate enlargement, and vitamin E and muscular disabilities.[Photo of Dr. Lee.]
The latest “Lee bombshell” was thrown at Swampscott, Massachusetts, on June 15th, when he addressed the Northeastern Dental Convention. Towards the end of his talk, he mentioned the perfection of the first really raw sugar in history. The significance of this announcement is appreciated when one realizes that sugar normally is a quarter of the American diet and contains absolutely no vitamins or minerals—these valuable substances being completely destroyed in commercial manufacturing. His new perfection of a method of producing raw sugar means the perfection of a valuable source of vitamins and the best known source of minerals. Oh yes, it also means that each acre of cane will produce double the yield of sugar.
With that same simplicity, scientific attitude, and indifference as to whose toes he steps on, Lee has unhesitatingly lashed out at some of the largest food manufacturers in America with his warnings against the dangers of devitalized foods.
“America,” he warns, “is slowly but surely maneuvering its health into a position where 80 percent of all of its diseases and disorders are traceable to faulty diets. Attempts to remedy the problem by adding piecemeal, unbalanced, synthetic vitamins to the diet is not only scientifically unsound but is potentially dangerous. There is only one sensible way to answer the problem and only one logical way to provide the system with what it needs. Vitamins should come from foods. If we need an immediate increase above what our diet can provide us with, then let us take vitamins concentrated from food. Vitamins are so highly complex as they occur in foods that any attempt to synthetically reproduce them is not only unsuccessful but in some cases actually dangerous. Dogs fed on ‘enriched’ white flour die quicker than dogs left on a diet of plain white bread.
“My solution to the nutrition problem. Well, I don’t claim to have a solution, but the average person will find a lift in their diet by using common sense. The simplest changes will often work miracles. Use certified [raw] rather than pasteurized milk to really get the calcium milk contains; use whole grains instead of white flour and white flour products for all important ‘B’ vitamins; natural cheese should be preferred to processed cheese; honey and other natural sugars should replace common commercial sugars; and fresh vegetables and fruits should be preferred to stored, artificially ripened ones.”
His outstanding work in the field of human nutrition has been recognized throughout the country. The American Association for the Advancement of Science gave him their highest award—given only to a selected few men from all the fields of science—when they appointed him a fellow in 1942. Typical of other awards was his recent degree of Doctor of the Art of Oratory, the highest philosophical degree of Staley College in Brookline. The one recognition that he prizes above all others, however, is the big stack of mail on his desk at the Foundation executive offices in Milwaukee, where physicians and laymen besiege him for his advice.
By Jerry S. Stolzoff. Reprinted from The Bostonian, August 1943, by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research.