Today's article on Food Politics by Marion Nestle calls for an update on the status of mandatory calorie posting by chain restaurants. New York, she says, has had them for years.
Well, with advance apologies to my friends who live in New York, on the West Coast, we don't consider your state the brightest bulb in the box.
New York's logic: If someone is ordering fast food, they must, ergo, be fat, lazy, and stupid. Therefore, we will slap them in the face with this calorie count, hoping that instead of ordering the 820 calorie meal, they will opt for the healthier 670 meal instead. Enjoy your fast food tacos while driving or sitting in your doctor's office.
My logic: If you can read the damn menu board, you can afford glasses. If you can afford glasses, you can probably afford a smartphone. If you can afford a smartphone, you can afford an app like FitDay and look up calorie counts yourselves--not only for that meal but for EVERYTHING you consume ALL DAY, as well as every activity you engage in!
This so-called 'health care' reform is also targeting cafeterias in hospitals and government buildings. Next up: your local delis and upscale restaurants. Because we can't discriminate, now, can we?
Do you know what I would do if I had access to the [undisclosed amounts of] money it would take for government bureaucrats to police this waste of time and space? I would partner with firms like FitDay and other health and calorie-counting apps to co-sponsor educational outreach in communities and schools. I would create and award grants. I would empower these deserving companies to promote their brand, succeed financially and hire more people in exchange for creative, viral, professional community engagement.
Nestle's plan? "There is a role for policies that could be effective, such as taxing soda, or Mayor Bloomberg wanting to restrict the size of sodas. These are all policy attempts to try to change the environment, so people aren't exposed to so many calories. We know that individual people trying to keep a on lid on what they're eating doesn't work. We know that. Policy has to come in, if we're going to be effective."
Nestle's argument is that we can't track calories accurately because we don't weigh our food. Therefore, we have no real idea what we're consuming, in spite of using calorie-counting software. "There will be some people for whom this kind of information is useful. I don't know how accurate it is, because you don't have the ability to weigh the food you're eating."
So ... her logic seems to be that we should spend ten times as much money eating out at fast food restaurants so that we have some reasonably informed idea of our calorie count?
(And yes, it is easy and inexpensive to weigh, measure or guess quantities at home.)
Wow. Calories. Water. Fresh air. What's next on the Food Politics horizon? Turmeric sniffing?
Food politics, indeed.