Martha Rosenberg is a former advertising copywriter who knows a lot about marketing. She began as an investigative journalist and since has been on TV and radio as a health expert. Martha has taught about drug marketing tactics at a Chicago medical school and is part of the FDA press corps. Her book "Born with a Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks, and Hacks Pimp the Public Health," exposes what goes on behind the scenes in the food and drug industries.
Latest by Martha Rosenberg
By Martha Rosenberg | May 16, 2015
I have been a bird watcher for many years and name among my sightings rare green and tricolored herons, Mississippi kites, yellow crown herons, great horned owls and more. Last year I saw some newborn eaglets in a huge eagle’s nest.
But I don’t have to travel too far to see another interesting bird phenomenon right here in Chicago–wild birds are becoming tame and even bold.
Twenty years ago, sea gulls abounded on Lake Michigan as they do now. But only recently do they approach and beg from people. Anyone who goes to the beach during the summer has experienced sea gulls brazenly walking on their beach towels and raiding any food they have left while they are …
By Martha Rosenberg | May 7, 2015
By now, anyone who has a TV or computer has seen appalling scenes of farm cruelty against chickens, turkeys, calves, cows and pigs. Are conditions as bad as the activists say or do they have an “agenda” which is to make people go vegetarian?
In 2004, the Chicago Tribune’s Andrew Martin reported that “dozens of dead piglets are dumped in piles or encased in pools of manure beneath the floor, having drowned there after falling through a hole,” as he visited the HKY Farm in Bloomfield, NE. “Dead hogs remain in their cages, discarded and stiff in walkways or rotting …
By Martha Rosenberg | April 26, 2015
The year was 2010. The place–New Orleans where the American Psychiatric Association was holding its annual meeting. In a special presentation for the press, Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) shared breathlessly that her institute was working on a “vaccine” for drug addiction.
As a reporter who covers addiction/alcoholism and has members of both demographics in my family, I let out a gasp. You have to be pretty removed from the world of substance dependence to think a “vaccine” would do anything but make money for vaccine makers.
Addiction cannot be treated with a drug or pill because it is a disease of the mind, body and spirit as Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics …
By Martha Rosenberg | April 21, 2015
Since eggs don’t require an animal to die, like milk or dairy products, how can they be cruel? It is a question many ask today, especially if they have never visited an egg operation in which as many as 30,000 laying hens are crowded together in one barn.
Despite the “spin” about agriculture creating jobs, egg operations typically assign about one employee to 250,000 hens, housed in as many as sixteen barns. The only “care” the caretakers can provide, beside giving feed, is removing dead hens, “spent” hens to be euthanized and installing newly arrived hens from the hatchery.
Nor would you want to be in the barn longer than necessary. Concentrations of hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide …
By Martha Rosenberg | April 18, 2015
There are many reasons to avoid drinking alcohol.
Sure, drinking may help you relax, fall asleep, or be more social and friendly—but there are downsides too. You can become dependent on alcohol and increasingly “drink your troubles away.” Alcohol in excess can harm your health—especially your liver.
Alcohol can also harm your looks, prematurely aging you, and provide unnecessary calories. And of course, alcohol’s dangers when you are driving are well-known.
Luckily, there are herbs that can help you relax when you feel you need a drink. The three below are not believed to be habit-forming and are believed safe, although you should read the labels carefully and consult a trained health practitioner if you have questions.
Anyone who …
By Martha Rosenberg | April 9, 2015
In science there is a concept called the “survivorship bias.” It refers to the logical error of concentrating on the people or things that “survived” some process while overlooking those that did not survive because they are hidden. One of the best examples of “survivorship bias” is the class reunion.
Where are the people whose fourth marriage failed? Who lived in their mother’s basement until they were forty … and now live in their sister’s basement? Where are the people who could not afford to jet in for a class reunion and stay at a fancy hotel?
For the most part, people who failed economically, professionally, socially, romantically, or bodily do not show up to class reunions, leaving the impression …
By Martha Rosenberg | March 21, 2015
It has been exactly two years since Jacqueline Bouvier Hardy was pulled off a city bus in Northern Indiana by a former boyfriend and shot to death in front of horrified bystanders, including children. “Jackie” as she was known, was a mother of three who had filed an order of protection against the shooter, Kenneth Knight.
More recently, horrified Black Friday shoppers at Chicago’s Magnificent Mile Nordstrom’s watched Marcus Dee shoot and kill his girlfriend, Nadia Ezaldein, while she worked at the cosmetics counter.
Nearly half the women killed every year in the United States are murdered by intimate partners, mostly with guns, reports the New York Times. Intimate partner homicide increases by 500 percent when a firearm …
By Martha Rosenberg | March 17, 2015
The year was 1975. Actress Sally Struthers had charmed her way into America’s living rooms as Glorida Stivic Archie Bunker’s daughter on the hit sitcom All In the Family, married to “meathead.” But Struthers was known for something else. More prevalent than her appearances on All in the Family were her cloying pitches for the Christian Children’s Fund for which she was trying to use her “Family” fame.
Finally a glib SNL-writer wannabe came out and said what many were thinking when they saw her entreating, eternally earnest face: people were more interested in paying money for Struthers to shut up than helping the hungry children. Ouch.
The same phenomenon happened a few years ago with another charity: …
By Martha Rosenberg | February 6, 2015
Who knew? The government uses our tax dollars to help the meat industry get more CPC (cash per carcass) in cruel and clandestine experiments at the 55-square mile U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Nebraska. Even reporters who cover the livestock industry and animal research were shocked at the revelation of the government’s brazen and cruel service to private industry. The taxpayer largesse is especially shocking since the USDA also tells consumers to “Limit red meat” on its food pyramid page. According to the expose, even veterinarians and workers at the Research Center themselves were shocked at the ruthlessness toward animals which has characterized the Center from the start.
“You don’t have to be …
By Martha Rosenberg | January 22, 2015
January brought implementation of the California law mandating more room for egg laying chickens. But larger cages do nothing for the suffering of hatchery chickens which are ground up alive at birth. Yes, you read that right. Until the egg industry ceases to buy its layers from hatcheries which the industry admits kills “200 million male chicks” a year, there is no such thing as an ethical egg. Hatcheries also risk human health by injecting the eggs of future egg layers with antibiotics. Yum.
Earlier this month, video obtained from a Whole Foods egg supplier, Petaluma Farms in Petaluma, CA, shows just how bad the situation is on commercial egg farms. Hens are depicted in disturbing states of sickness …
By Martha Rosenberg | January 14, 2015
By Martha Rosenberg | January 14, 2015
By Martha Rosenberg | January 1, 2015
1. We will stop referring to ourselves as a “civil rights” organization that defends “human rights.” It is a sacrilege to people actually killed or harmed by civil and human rights abuses.
2. We will stop pointing at Chicago and saying gun laws don’t work. We will admit the majority of Chicago crime guns are trafficked from states and counties with loose laws.
3. We will stop saying “the government is going to take your guns” to block federal laws. The confiscation we announced 7 years ago never happened.
4. We will stop blaming “mental health” problems for U.S. gun violence. We admit every country in the world has mental health problems but they don’t have Newtowns and Virginia …
By Martha Rosenberg | December 28, 2014
CHICAGO—At first blush, 2014 might have looked like a bad year for gun laws. Certainly Georgia’s guns-everywhere-all-the-time law sailed through, prompting two “carriers” to draw their weapons at a convenience store days after it was passed, each thinking the other was a bad guy.
Certainly Illinois rolled out “concealed carry” with 88 early applicants having records for domestic violence, 77 for gun crimes, 52 for battery/assault, 27 for aggravated battery/assault and 29 with orders of protection filed against them. Nice.
But even as stand-your-grounders and castle doctrine enthusiasts “defended” themselves, the courts sent them to jail.
In September, Theodore Wafer, a suburban Detroit man who shot and killed an unarmed woman on his porch instead of calling police was sentenced …
By Martha Rosenberg | November 28, 2014
There’s nothing like a celebrity endorsement to move a drug off the shelves and into the nation’s medicine cabinets. TV personality Joan Lunden and former baseball star Mike Piazza stumped for the allergy pill Claritin, ice skater Dorothy Hamill and track star Bruce Jenner for the pain pill Vioxx, and Sen. Bob Dole, of course, pushed Viagra. Dr. Robert Jarvik hawked Lipitor, singer Wynonna Judd stumped for the diet drug Alli and Brooke Shields pushed the eyelash lengthener Latisse. Celebrities even pushed psychiatric drugs like NASCAR figure Bobby Labonte who promoted the antidepressant Wellbutrin XL. And who can forget Kathleen Turner sharing her battle with rheumatoid arthritis on CNN? Ka-ching.
But what happens when things go awry? Did Dorothy …
By Martha Rosenberg | November 22, 2014
This month, mental health and correctional professionals from all over the nation gathered in Chicago to address a problem that many are not aware of. People denied mental health services who end up homeless or incarcerated as criminals. The conference, called “The Cost of Doing Nothing,” sponsored by the Kennedy Forum was held at Chicago’s Palmer House Hilton. The Kennedy Forum was founded to enlist business leaders and government agencies in fully implementing the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, which has been amended by the Affordable Care Act, to guarantee equal access to medical care and help patients understand their rights.
“I have been out to Cook County Jail myself,” Rep. Kennedy …
By Martha Rosenberg | November 18, 2014
After the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre in which 33 died, the National Rifle Association supported a federal law to make it harder for people with mental illness to get guns. Killer Seung-Hui Cho had been declared mentally ill by a Virginia special justice but was still allowed to purchase guns because he was not institutionalized.
There was just one catch. The NRA’s support was contingent on legal provisions to restore “gun rights” to those who lost them for mental health reasons.
An early example of such restoration was Virginian Sam French who was hospitalized by court order four times in five years and told authorities he hears voices and talks to bears but got his guns back anyway…
By Martha Rosenberg | November 10, 2014
A few years ago, a polling group made a startling discovery about America’s dog love. A surprising number of dog owners called their answering machines during the workday to talk to their dog. Many celebrated their dogs’ birthdays with gifts and parties. And most slept with their dog–unapologetically. It’s no dirtier than sleeping with a shoe said one respondent.
And speaking of dirty, no poll was required to know that many dog owners also kiss their dogs on the mouth.
It is easy to love dogs. They are the last of the optimists, humorist Erma Bombeck used to say. They rush the door when the bell rings and the visitor is never there to see them. They …
By Martha Rosenberg | November 6, 2014
Just in time for Halloween, Heifer International’s new catalogue arrived in the mail. Heifer International is a Little Rock-based Christian charity that “ends hunger and poverty” through sending live animals to poor people overseas. The charity is known for its Unicef style photos of cute kids hugging their cute animals which will soon be dinner.
In a recent documentary, Cowspiracy, even CEOs and feedlot managers say animal agriculture is too resource and land intensive to feed the world. Yet Heifer thinks it is a great idea to send live animals to countries without veterinarians, paved roads, health systems, education (to prevent animal-to-human disease transmission) and refrigeration for the animal products. If the countries had the food and resources to care …
By Martha Rosenberg | November 4, 2014
Since its founding in the 1940s, McDonald’s, the world’s largest restaurant, has navigated many threats to its bottom line. Other fast food companies have imitated and sought to improve on its concept. Labor activists have decried its treatment of workers. Food and environmental activists have assailed the way it has industrialized food production. The international community has deplored McDonald’s trade practices and protectionism. Animal welfare activists oppose its wholesale commodification and mistreatment of animals. And, of course, public health experts condemn its hawking of unhealthy, fattening food to children and adults.
But despite public relations risks to its people-loving, children-loving image, McDonald’s has continued to please Wall Street thanks to its billion dollar advertising budget and 14,000 …