Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving for fast food

We can thank Thanksgiving for the TV Dinner. The ‘TV Dinner’ was a brand of frozen ready meal invented in 1953 by CA Swanson, a major American food company. The story goes that they had massively overestimated how many turkeys they would need to meet Thanksgiving demand. How to get rid of the excess? The company realised that packaging the whole Thanksgiving meal on one, compartmentalised aluminium tray that you could pop in the oven, then tuck into in front of the television, might be popular with customers. They reckoned they would sell 5,000 in the first year. They sold 10 million. As one wag wrote in the Christian Science Monitor a couple of years ago: they came, they thawed, they conquered.

Then there’s the man who invented mass production of frozen food in 1923 - Clarence Birdseye. (Unfortunately, Birdseye wasn’t a ship’s captain with a gnarly voice and a crew of child pirates who ate fish fingers all the time, but an American inventor.) By being able to store food until it is required, we’ve been able to get away from the drudgery of the daily shop.

The king of fast food was Ray Kroc, who realised that the restaurant set up by the McDonald brothers in California in the Fifties would fit in with the American desire to eat out, but without the formality that Europeans were used to. He worked with, then bought out, the brothers and through a ruthless approach to sales and a thoroughly efficient operation, McDonald’s gave people quick, cheap, tasty food and revolutionised the food business.

For all the snootiness of food critics, and the panics about obesity, fast food has freed people - and that pretty much means women - from the need to spend hours in the kitchen. It means we have affordable, hot food anywhere, anytime. For every evening I’ve needed a snack while rolling home merry, for every TV show I’d have missed if I’d had to cook instead of waiting for the microwave to go ‘ping’, I’d like to salute these great American pioneers.


Food fanatics now targeting hospitals

Apparently adults have to have their decisions made for them by these Fascists too

CANCER Council Victoria is heading an alliance of key health groups accusing the Brumby Government of failing to fight obesity by refusing to ban junk food in hospitals. The cancer council, Diabetes Victoria, Vic Health and Deakin University - which form Victoria's Obesity Policy Coalition - want to ban junk food in vending machines and canteens.

The New South Wales Government has done so, but a spokesman for Victorian Health Minister Daniel Andrews said canteen and vending machine food was a matter for individual health services to address.

Health groups say hospitals should be leading by example. "In hospitals we are dealing with the effects of chronic diseases, conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer which are all affected by weight," OPC senior policy adviser Ms Jane Martin said. "These conditions are a big burden on hospital budgets yet chocolate bars, sugary drinks and chips are available in vending machines 24 hours a day. "We have seen changes made in school canteens and suppliers to schools have been able to make this shift. "It is not difficult to refrigerate vending machines in order to supply healthy choices."

Hospitals were also one of the first places to go smoke-free and tackle tobacco, she said. "We need to treat being overweight like tobacco," Ms Martin said. "It's about doing the right thing for people who are sick and their families." "Patients, visitors and staff need to be surrounded by the right messages."

Department of Human Services spokesman Bram Alexander said hospital canteens did provide a range of healthy choices, but they could not make people buy them



Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter and margarine? They are just about pure fat. Surely they should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

9). And how odd it is that we never hear of the huge American study which showed that women who eat lots of veggies have an INCREASED risk of stomach cancer? So the official recommendation to eat five lots of veggies every day might just be creating lots of cancer for the future! It's as plausible (i.e. not very) as all the other dietary "wisdom" we read about fat etc.

10). And will "this generation of Western children be the first in history to lead shorter lives than their parents did"? This is another anti-fat scare that emanates from a much-cited editorial in a prominent medical journal that said so. Yet this editorial offered no statistical basis for its opinion -- an opinion that flies directly in the face of the available evidence.

Even statistical correlations far stronger than anything found in medical research may disappear if more data is used. A remarkable example from Sociology:
"The modern literature on hate crimes began with a remarkable 1933 book by Arthur Raper titled The Tragedy of Lynching. Raper assembled data on the number of lynchings each year in the South and on the price of an acre's yield of cotton. He calculated the correla-tion coefficient between the two series at -0.532. In other words, when the economy was doing well, the number of lynchings was lower.... In 2001, Donald Green, Laurence McFalls, and Jennifer Smith published a paper that demolished the alleged connection between economic condi-tions and lynchings in Raper's data. Raper had the misfortune of stopping his anal-ysis in 1929. After the Great Depression hit, the price of cotton plummeted and economic condi-tions deteriorated, yet lynchings continued to fall. The correlation disappeared altogether when more years of data were added."
So we must be sure to base our conclusions on ALL the data. But in medical research, data selectivity and the "overlooking" of discordant research findings is epidemic.


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