First, a legitimate researcher publishes a study in the New England Journal of Medicine that claims, heavily hedged and based on largely statistical evidence, to demonstrate a connection between a certain dietary component and some aspect of health, for example, a particular kind of fibre and serum cholesterol levels. That night, the evening news trumpets, ``Researchers at the University of Sausalito have discovered a connection between peach fuzz and heart disease. In a study of 100 peach pickers and packers...''. Before you know it, the Sunday supplement's bulging with recipes for peach pie with fuzzy crust.
Meanwhile, the advertising engine is coming up to speed. Full page ads sponsored by the Georgia Peach Association proclaim, ``Look for `Fresh Georgia Peaches' on the bag. And remember, only Georgia peaches have 25% more fuzz''. Oat-this and oat-that breakfast cereals begin to vanish from the supermarket, displaced by the arrival of Peachies, Fuzz-chex, and Teenage Mutant Fuzzy Ninja Turtles. Soon, the whole supermarket looks like it's been sprayed with minoxodil. Whole grain cookies enriched with peach fuzz. Fuzz-tab supplements. Fuzzy toothpaste. ``Fizzy fuzz'' peach champagne.
Now everybody else tries to jump on the bandwagon. The Soybean Institute launches a new promotion to remind people that soybeans are the ``hairy legume.'' Cheesemakers remind consumers ``Cheese--so good for you it grows its own fuzz in the fridge.'' ``The Fuzzy Way To Health,'' ``Dr. Harry's Fuzz Diet,'' and ``The Plantation Peach-Fuzz Cookbook'' contend for space in the bookstore window, and their authors make the rounds of the talk shows.
The silliness builds to a crescendo of absurdity, around which time the medical journals start to publish papers such as ``Peach Fuzz: No More Effective Than Sawdust'' and ``No Fuzz-Cholesterol Link In Rats.'' As the wave begins to recede, another article is published, ``Possible Correlation Between Sesame Seed In Diet and Immune System Performance.'' And away we go again.
By John Walker