Sunday, May 04, 2008

"Healthy" food may not be so healthy

It is no surprise that children love junk food. Its makers go to great lengths to make sure that their offerings deliver a full-on, unsubtle assault on taste buds, with plenty of salt or sugar to create the sense that it is "tasty". But a significant proportion of our nation's children are worryingly chubby and heading for potential obesity problems in later life, it seems that others are suffering from "muesli belt malnutrition": the overzealous application of "healthy eating" rules imposed on their daily food intake. A recent study warns us that too much fibre and too little fat can lead to vitamin deficiencies and stunts growth in the under-fives.

This means that young children who have wholemeal bread, brown pasta and piles of fruit imposed on them are getting too full too quickly and do not have room for enough foods such as dairy products, meat, eggs and fish, which have vital nutrients for growth and development.

So how do we strike a balance? Children thrive on a good variety of foods, which includes grains and potatoes such as bread, pasta, noodles, rice and all varieties of potatoes; calcium-rich foods such as milk, yoghurt, fish canned with edible bones such as pilchards; protein-rich foods such as eggs, chicken and turkey, red meat and Quorn products; plus a variety of different fruit and vegetables. The million-dollar question is how much should they have of each at various ages.


Despite a promising beginning, the article then goes on to quote the standard unsubstantiated crap about what is healthy and what is not. There's only so much you can safely say in a newspaper

Blacklisted Bacon

Los Angeles food cops have blacklisted bacon. As a result, the city's law enforcement is on the lookout for the most notorious ring of pork pushers: food cart vendors who serve bacon-wrapped hot dogs. (The infraction is taken so seriously that one merchant even found herself behind bars for more than a month after a recent series of raids.) Threatening a $1,000 fine, six months in jail, and confiscation and disposal of a violator's food and equipment, the city's Health Department is determined to drive home the message that "bacon is a potentially hazardous food."

Like other nanny-state initiatives, the argument against bacon-wrapped offerings is a technicality at best. Grilling is the traditional way to prepare the classic bacon dog. But the county's Environmental Health Department only allows vendors to boil or steam hot dogs. As Reason TV noted, this trivial distinction leaves hot dog vendors "trapped between government regulations and consumer demand."

Over-the-top food bans in the name of "public health" are not foreign to L.A. officials. Last year, city lawmakers unveiled plans to "fight" obesity by prohibiting fast food restaurants from building new outlets. And before that campaign, bureaucrats pushed for trans fat bans.

Though these and other intrusive policies make city officials feel "tough on rinds," scientific evidence proves that this slap-the-hand-that-feeds-you approach actually accomplishes very little for the public good. These for-your-own-good policies also take a toll on our individual liberties. In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville warned that we should not take these little intrusions lightly:
It must not be forgotten that it is especially dangerous to enslave men in the minor details of life. For my own part, I should be inclined to think freedom less necessary in great things than in little ones.

The bacon dog ban is a case in point.


A reader writes:

The issue is actually the fear that bacon will be stored or processed in an unsafe manner and turn into culture medium. I don't know if a standard cart has the ability to hold bacon outside the "danger zone" of 40øF -- 140øF.

For my own use, I don't worry too much about it -- I'm sure the process of frying it kills just about everything living on it, and as long as I don't do extreme violence to proper storage conditions, I've never had any problem.

New Jersey Lawmakers Consider Tax On Fast Food

The sputtering economy has caused an increase in prices of many staples including gasoline, rice, ice cream, even beer. Now some lawmakers in New Jersey are considering taking food taxes a step further and install a proverbial "sin" tax on fast food. Yes, the idea of marking up your favorite fast food burger or pack of fries is actually being tossed around, and it's not settling well with many residents. "They're taxing everything. Now you're gonna tax fast food? That's crazy," said Newark resident Miriam Robertson. Added Livingston resident Tina Abrahamian: "No one wants to be taxed. I mean, it's a necessity to eat and people need to eat and with everything skyrocketing, that's the last thing we want to tax."

The thought of taxing a Big Mac or a Wendy's burger came up at a New Jersey Hospital Association meeting where Gov. Jon S. Corzine was asked if it could be an option to help fund struggling hospitals. At the meeting, he reportedly called it a "constructive suggestion." A spokesperson for the governor, however, told CBS 2 on Wednesday: "The governor is open to reasonable solutions to help solve our financing problems, but there are no plans for any fast food tax."

State Sen. Richard Codey has been quoted as saying a tax on fast food "is a tax on the poor." And plenty of residents agree. "[It cost] $12.86 for [fries] and this little chicken wrap, and they want to tax that? You're serious?" asked Newark resident Saladine Fuller. "If they raise it, I'll stop buying it."

Still, some say taxing fast food isn't such a bad idea. "I think this country has gone too much in the direction of fast and unhealthy food, and if people are taxed they may terminate that and turn toward more healthy foods," said West Orange resident Maureen Felix. For now, the fast food tax is just an idea. Detroit lawmakers once toyed with it, but it never passed into law.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My cute old female black cat eats raw bacon slices. She only choked once, and I saw what must be a very ancient instinct take place. She used a claw to pin the strip to the ground and backed away, pulling the end out of her mouth, sneezed twice, shook her head and continued eating. Cats make their own Vitamin C though (not ever eating vegetables), and throughout their domestication have evolved to eat the most dirty creatures alive: filthy sewage swimming rodents! Here is little LuLu eating a mouse:¤t=LuluMouse.jpg

Oh have the girls of the household, over the years shunned my scrap feeding of cats, but a quick list of what's in actual cat food is atrocious, if not sanitary: lard and sawdust, basically.