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The Healthy Skeptic: I Hate The Food Police And You Should Too

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These days you can’t go anywhere without someone or something telling you what you should or shouldn’t eat, or how much or when you should eat, or how your food should be prepared. I’m really sick of it all.

Menus everywhere — from fast food restaurants to upscale joints — are lousy with healthy choice options. We’re told that our foods are cooked with canola oil, that we can substitute Egg Beaters for the real thing and that we can order brown rice instead of white.

Don’t worry about some nefarious governmental agency butting into our lives; be perturbed by “The Food Police.” They are everywhere. The Food Police are a loosely knit group of know-it-alls who have been brought tighter together by some activist groups and their lawyers, and a handful of governmental no-goodniks.

They’ve been working behind the scenes to ramp up the concern over obesity. We’ve been told that obesity is the number one cause of preventable death, and is more dangerous than tobacco. In 2001, then-U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher said that obesity would cause as many preventable deaths as cigarettes and we started hearing that 300,000 people per year die from fat-related causes. There’s never really any indication of how the “experts” arrived at this number.

In March of this year U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona said obesity is “the terror within,” is as much of a threat as “weapons of mass destruction,” and that obesity would “dwarf 9/11.”

Mr. Surgeon General sir, A) take off that ridiculous uniform and, B) shut it.

Here’s a quick aside. It’s been bad enough over the past few years to have people invoke the image of Hitler and the Nazis every time someone wants to demonize a person or a group, thereby cheapening the struggle of those who fought the Nazis while minimizing the horrors that they perpetrated. And while we’re on the subject, why don’t these people raise the specter of Mussolini when demonizing their targets? Hitler modeled much of his plan on what Il Duce did in Italy. Benito deserves to get some play in this area.

Now I guess 9/11 will be cheapened in this same way thanks to those who have some kind of fear-based agenda. It’s disgusting that the U.S. Surgeon General – who wears Merrill Stubing’s old uniform and who is as relevant as the human appendix – would compare terrorist attacks and an act of war against innocent civilians to the fact that we have a bunch of lazy and overweight people in this country.

FOODS ARE BAD, BAD, BAD!

For the past several years, diet nuts have demonized foods and told us that their way was best – all-carbs, low-carbs, no-carbs, no-fat and low-fat, good fat and bad fat, all protein and no protein. It’s no wonder that people have forgotten how to eat properly.

We’ve been told that food combining is the key to weight loss. Others insist that we need to write about our feelings for food and write about why we eat, and sign a contract with ourselves if we are to lose weight. Hollywood has been the source of all kinds of meshugge gurus, and we’ve heard tales of actors and actresses detoxifying their systems by drinking nothing other than lemon water mixed with cayenne pepper and maple syrup.

Bread is bad, pasta is bad, cereal is bad. Beef is bad, milk is bad, cookies are bad. Don’t eat sweets. Soda is liquid candy. Potatoes are bad – especially fries – pizza is bad. Jelly and Jam have sugar it them, so they are bad.

Beef is like Josef Stalin, for sure, although Stalin killed people quicker. And jelly and jam are like Spiro Agnew.

Peanuts are good, but make sure you only eat all-natural peanut butter or you will die from clogged arteries and from the sugar that the bastards at Jif and Skippy add.

The guys who add sugar to Jif and Skippy are like the Taliban. And of course men are behind all of this, just so you know.

Well, bread can be good only, only, only if it’s whole grain, all-grain and organic. And it has to look, feel and taste like a roofing shingle. Bread is only good for you if it looks and tastes like shit, and if you get no enjoyment from eating it. The same goes for pasta and rice. Whole-wheat only. Brown is good and white is bad. Hmm…

By the way, if the Italians had decided to go the whole-wheat route with pasta way back in the day, the English would be considered to be the culinary betters of the Italians.

And all of those people for whom rice was the only thing that stood between them and death were wrong. White rice will kill you. That’s why the mortality rate was so high in the old days. White rice, white pasta, and white bread. Those things killed people. Forget the “Black Death,” those foods were the real culprit, the “White Death.”

White rice, white pasta and white bread are like Fidel Castro, Jose Carlos Mariategui, and Victor Polay Campos. Bad hombres.

But there’s more. Organic food is superior to the “non-organic” food that has been responsible for the increase in our average life expectancy, and organic stuff will help you live forever, or so the proponents of this kind of food will have you think.

Organic food is like Mother Teresa.

People have listened to all of this mishegas, and have spent money on books and programs and videos and nutritional advice.

And yet people still have gotten fatter. But it doesn’t end here, or there.

We’ve been told that bread and pasta are bad for us, just as bad as sugar. Sugar was the Devil. Sugar still is the Devil.

But fat is really evil incarnate. Fat is the Nazi of the food world. But yet there’s a fat that’s really, really, really much worse than just plain old “fat.” And it’s not saturated fat, but trans fats. If fat is a Nazi, saturated fat is a cross between Idi Amin and Slobodan Milosevic, and trans fat is al Qaida.

Why should white European males and the tragedies that they’ve incurred on the world get all of the attention when it comes to demonizing comparatively trivial social ills? Let’s spread the wealth.

Instead of comparing obesity to 9/11, let’s compare it to the Rwandan genocide. And let’s say that parents who regularly feed their kids fast foods can be compared to the United Nations ignoring what was happening in Rwanda.

A big muckety-muck in the Food Police – the New York City Health Commissioner – has compared trans fats to asbestos. Balderdash. Why pull punches?

Asbestos is so “what was.” My grandfather died from lung cancer in the mid-1960s that probably came from being exposed to asbestos while working in the Brooklyn Navy Yard during WWII. That’s kind of story isn’t going to scare anybody.

Trans fats are like AIDS.

If the foodies really want to call attention to their cause, they need to make a splash. Trans fats will kill you faster than unprotected sex and sharing hypodermic needles. School age kids need to have this message drilled into their heads and be scared to the point of incontinence now so they can avoid the perils posed by processed baked goods. Ritz crackers and Archway oatmeal raisin cookies will kill you, kids.

And forget Joe Camel, the Keebler Elves are no better than the PLO or the Basque Separatists and need to be eliminated ASAFP.

GET KIDS TO EAT BETTER AT ALL COSTS

The Food Police need to make sure that they insult and demean every human struggle – ever – so that our children can eat nothing but healthy foods at home, at school, at the ballgame, and at the amusement park. If the foodies really want to create hysteria, they should come up with posters that feature a close up picture of a person’s face, totally haggard and worn out, sporting hideous skin growths, with the caption, This Is The Real Face Of Doritos or Your Next Cracker Jack Could Be Your Last.

If you think I’m exaggerating, you haven’t been paying too much attention to what’s been going on out there. This movement is well afoot, and the lawyers are lining up to line their pockets with the windfalls that they hope will come from their latest exercise in litigious irresponsibility and governmental meddling.

Here’s a quote from a member of the Food Police: “I like the surgeon general. He’s a great guy,” said Joanne Ikeda, co-director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Weight and Health. “But I’m a little concerned about his emphasis on the individual family making changes without society doing something to help families make these changes.”

What nonsense! Ms. Ikeda here is saying that individual families aren’t capable of making changes without the help of society?!? Who – in this expert’s world-view – is “society?” Educators, the government, lawyers, me? Is Ms. Ikeda going to go door-to-door? “Mrs. Smith, um, you really shouldn’t put that much peanut butter on your son’s whole-grain organic crackers.”

A recent poll that was conducted by the Pew Research Center found that people blame themselves – their own lack of willpower and lack of exercise – for being overweight, not the food companies or their advertisers. Uh oh, there’s some personal responsibility creeping into the American consciousness.

But the Food Police are hard at work convincing people that it’s not their fault that they are fat, further eroding the concept of personal responsibility. That’s exactly the kind of “help” families need to get from society.

The Food Police are disguising their money grab by clothing it in a suit of “let’s do it for the kids,” and they need to be stopped. We don’t need the federal government worrying about obesity. People have gotten fat because they’ve chosen to be fat and the feds have nothing to do with it.

I don’t want the feds in my bedroom — unless they look like the two female FBI agents from the show Without A Trace — and I don’t want them in my kitchen or grocery store either.

You want to tell me advertisers aim to get kids’ attention and that somehow they are to blame for kids eating crap? I ask, “Who runs the house, who buys the groceries, who chooses the restaurants, who teaches the kids what to do?” My six-year-old wants to drive my truck because he saw a cartoon where a little kid drove his dad’s truck. If I let him drive, is it my fault or the fault of the cartoon? Give me a break.

I’m doing my part. I exercise and I eat a balanced diet. I love food and I love to eat and I don’t make apologies for how I eat. In my family we aren’t afraid of food, we embrace it. We’re not fat and we’re not lazy. I don’t live to exercise; I exercise because it’s necessary and it is a little bit fun.

I have no time for people who – because they can’t or couldn’t handle their own problems – like to tell other people how to eat or live because they think they know better. And people who say that they don’t know that fast food is bad, or who say they don’t have to or can’t exercise are lying.

I teach my kids how to eat every day by what I buy and by how I feed them. Do they eat the occasional crap? Of course they do, they’re kids, but the key word is occasional.

The answer to this problem of obesity is to do your job as an adult and take care of yourself, and as a parent to take care of your kids. And it’s just that simple.

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About Sal Marinello

  • http://wisdomandmurder.blogspot.com Lisa McKay

    Sal, I don’t think I’ve seen this much common sense (and hilarity) in one place in a long time. Thanks!

  • Amita

    Excellent take on this. I think the middle way is the best way to approach everything, though I personally do not eat meat. Still I have found that the occasional indulgence is ok as long as the regular diet is healthy and balanced.

    As for what to feed kids, I don’t have any myself to practice on, but I did teach Montessori School at one time and we gave them snacks of crackers and cheese. They liked that and juice boxes too. All of them have survived too and none were even vaguely roly-poly.

  • http://journals.aol.com/vicl04/THESAVAGEQUIETSEPTEMBERSUN/ Victor Lana

    Sal, this piece is way too intelligent for the lawyers and doctors, so we can forget about them understanding what you’ve written. Also, like the woman who sued McDonald’s because SHE spilled hot coffee on herself, we have to focus on the real culprits in this situation.

    My grandmother is long gone, but she had a very nice saying: “Everything is good in moderation.” I’ve never forgotten those words, and I feel this post is written in the same spirit.

    Thanks for an enjoyable read!

  • http://murasaki.blog-city.com Purple Tigress

    According to the Yahoo! dictionary a foodie is: A person who has an ardent or refined interest in food; a gourmet: “in the culinary fast lane, where surprises are expected and foodies beg to be thrilled” (Boston Globe).

    I sort of think that instead of foodie it would be more appropriate to use food nazi as a parallel to the term femi-nazi.

    Otherwise, I found this intelligent and yet probably to far above the head of my low-carb diet nazi acquaintances.

  • sal m

    ah in my own little world i’ve always used “foodie” and “food nut” interchangably…i probably need to get out more….

  • http://murasaki.blog-city.com Purple Tigress

    I’m not saying that I don’t think some foodies are nuts. People who spend too much time discussing the merits of virgin olive oil and extra virgin olive oil or buy a small $100 bottle of balsamic vinegar are not sane people in my little world.

    And the $50-$100 cheesecake I saw online that has gold leaf…not sure if that’s really necessary for my life experience.

    I’m picky, but not THAT picky. It’s all relative.

  • Orchid

    I agree with everything you say and it’s quite logical. However, this statement seems pretty disingenuous: “I don’t live to exercise, I exercise because it’s necessary and it is a little bit fun.”

    The little bio about you says you’re a certified personal coach and weightlifting coach (among other things). I think that fitness is your business and to say “I don’t live to exericise” makes it sound like exercise is not very important to you. You make a living with exercise and probably have the opportunity to exercise more each day than people involved in less active professions. At least be honest about this.

  • sal m

    orchid:
    You’re being quite presumptuous…You know nothing about me, have no idea as to what my routine is and your assumptions are 100% incorrect.

    I exercise on average 3 days per week…Most of my clients, and a lot of people who exercise regularly in general, exercise more frequently than I do. Just because I have the opportunity to exercise all of the time does not mean I do so, or that I should. I use my ability as a teacher and a coach almost every day, that doesn’t mean that I exercise every day.

    To claim that I am being less than honest is foolish.

  • RedTard

    Great post and a valiant effort. Long term I’m quite pessimistic about being able to fend off the food nazis but every bit of common sense now sure helps.

    A couple decades ago this article could have been written about smoking with probably the same response. Those people hellbent on demonizing something are very good at what they do. Shielding the fast food industry from this frivolous crap was one of the few good things the republicans have done recently.

    The trial lawyers and the food nazi supporters tested the waters with the McDonald’s case. Good setup, poor minority kids who would probably get lots of sympathy. Don’t think they have given up, they have just decided they need to soften us up with a few good years of propaganda first. They don’t need a majority to restrict your rights, only a few people on a jury and a handful of sympathetic judges.(both of which they choose)

  • sal m

    thanks for the kind words…

    for as much as i dislike smoking, if people want to do it, let them…i stopped going to places that allowed smoking or that were dominated by smokers years ago…my choice.

    the problem with these movements is that everyone who is happy that smoking is being banned will be very unhappy when their habit is under attack…and it’s just a matter of time until everyone’s habits are subjected to regulation if this keeps up.

    why not eliminate automobiles if the goal is to stop the loss of lives?

  • Bliffle

    Moderation and variety are the key. And a person needs some strenuous exercise, such as a brisk walk (not a shambling stroll, but a workout where you feel yourself striding forcefully forward and accelerate on the uphills).

  • Nancy

    As has been pointed out frequently, people used to have to work just to eat. Food prep in the Old Days was labor in and of itself. No more: now we just buy it and stuff it in, additives and all. Physically, humans were designed as sort of walking garbage pails, just like bears: they eat everything in order to be able to survive. No finicky need for just those particular bamboo leave, or these special mushrooms, etc. Unfortunately, we were also designed to scrabble like hell, physically, in order to find said comestibles, thereby working off the calories – just like the bears. Therein lies the problem: food too easily attained (and loaded with caloric additives that foods in the rough never had, such as oils & sugars), and (in the US, at least) the rise of the car & car-oriented culture which grossly diminishes physical activity. Consider that most communities outside of cities these days are designed (except for the very ‘new’ types) so that they are virtually unlivable if you DON’T have a car. My grandparents’ little town of Hillsboro, NH was incredibly walkable: the grocery, post office, beauty parlor, barber’s, doctor’s, dentist’s – even work, at the local plant – were all within walking distance. I remember walking from their house up past the school, to “downtown” to the movies & back, perhaps a mile & a half each way. No biggie. Where I live now, the grocery, medical services, etc. are all way beyond a casual walking distance, as is work – even if I were physically capable of walking more than 500 feet at a time. Furthermore, for some reason, I don’t seem to have the TIME to walk, even if I wanted to. Somewhere in my life, taking a couple of hours to trot down to the grocery on foot, do my shopping, stop at the post office, and walk home again disappeared. If I take the car, I can do the shopping, stop at the PO, and do half a dozen other errands at the same time, plus get home in time to relax a bit. It’s definitely an insidious process.

    As far as food in concerned, common sense dictates that if I live on pasta or fast food, I’m going to look like a blimp, but these days it seems most people don’t have any sort of common sense. They seem to need to be TOLD everything, from what to eat, to not to go traipsing around areas where dangerous conditions obtain. I have to agree, I’m sick & tired of some idiot telling me that fish is dangerous, fruit is dangerous, soda is dangerous. Yeah – IF you drink 800 cans a day. Jesus H. Christ, gimme a break! 800 CANS? A day? Who the hell drinks 800 cans of soda – or eats 8 lbs of swordfish – a day? This sort of scientific stupidity does nothing except completely blow any credibility the scientific community may have. The government, too, if they had any to begin with, which they don’t.

    Grandma Lana (& my own, & I suspect millions of others) were absolutely right: everything in moderation & you’ll be OK. Other than that, don’t worry about it. Humans were also not designed to live forever.

  • http://www.educateddoubt.com lori

    Boy, somebody sure ate his whole grain Wheaties — what a rant!

    Great, funny piece, Sal. I basically agree with you that it’s our own responsibility to eat healthily and to teach our kids to do the same.

    But it would be a lot easier if there were more healthy, *tasty* foods to choose from in, say the cereal aisle. I was just there this morning looking for snacks for my kids because we’re going on a long drive later this week. Need something for the car. There are just soooooo many awful choices in our grocery stores and so few half-way decent to good choices. You really have to a) work hard to find decent snacks (besides fruit, which we eat) and b)pay a significant percentage more for healthier choices in the store.

    The mass-produced crap is cheaper and much more plentiful. I don’t think Americans will start eating healthier, balanced diets en masse until the stores reverse the percentage of crap foods to good foods.

    But it’s a circular problem, isn’t it?

    My concern for my kids is what will happen when they’re older and I’m not around as much to see the food they eat. If they perceive that I’ve restricted their “fun” food intake, will they sneak junk food at every turn? There was a study done a few years ago about this: the kids whose parents let them eat almost no junk food binged on cookies when left with a full cookie jar and permission to eat as many as they wanted. The kids who’d been allowed to eat more treats actually didn’t binge on the cookies — they took a couple and were happy with those.

    So you can say that advertisers don’t control what food enters my house, but that’s true only as long as I’m really in control of that. As my kids get older, they’ll have more and more say in what they eat. They’ll be home less and they’ll have their own money. And the reality is that advertising *does* works and some people — possibly even my perfect children — are susceptible to its messages.

    And let’s not forget the PORTIONS at restaurants — oy vey! We ate Easter dinner out, and every one of us had WAY too much food on our plates without even considering the salad and bread that came with our meals. My daughter and I shared an entree and left there stuffed — and we brought leftovers home.

    We’d have a nation of healthier eaters if we all just ate less, espeically when we eat out.

  • sal m

    good habits that are developed/taught when kids are young will give us as parents the best insurance possible that they’ll continue to do the right thing when they are older…but there are never any guarantees.

    look at smoking as an example….the in-school anti-smoking education is pretty intense to the point where my six year old points out every time he sees someone smoking and remarks as to how bad it is and yet kids still smoke, whether or not their parents did/do.

    and the scariest thing is when they start driving.

    the same goes for drugs…you can just do your best to educate your kids and hope that they do the right thing when the time comes.

    with regards to eating out, eating out should be a special occasion and so big portions at a restaurant shouldn’t pose a problem…eating out becomes a problem when a lot of meals are taken outside of the house…it’s not the restaurant’s fault if people choose to eat out all of the time…a huge portion of food when eating at a favorite restaurant shouldn’t pose a problem.

  • RedTard

    If the public wanted small portions and healthy choices at the grocer they would already offer those. Instead the “People are too stupid to make their own decisions” crowd who is unfortunately more prevalent on the American left like to do things in reverse.

    They’ll sue to change the portions and labeling and options first, then once they make the change they’ll convince us it was our own choice that did it. Once we’re used to the idea of having food regulated by government then it’s a free for all. I can see the seeds of the movement here.

    Some people halfheartedly agree for now, but of course they must throw the disclaimers about eating out and choices at the grocer and of course, the obligatory poor little kids.

    The poor little kids is where the smoking bans started, now there out to stop smoking in your home or car. Controlling your food is next.

  • Nancy

    Actually, I’d like an option in restaurants of paying half & getting a smaller portion. When I can, I order half-portions, or from the kids’ menu, or I just order from the appetizers & forget the entrees, because they’re ‘way too big, & I don’t like having to drag home bags of leftovers. I also don’t like my plate being inundated with cheap carbs like potatoes or rice (which is what they make their money off of) & garnished with a forest of stupid items no one eats like parseley or artfully carved radishes with a curl of old dead carrot for color.

    I do like getting decent veggies, but only if they’re not canned & watery, or half-cooked & cold. Most restaurants … I’m going to rant here. I don’t know why restaurants even try to serve veggies: most of them either dish up stuff that’s mush, or they try to be artsy, & serve up undercooked, cold, nasties I wouldn’t serve to a vegetarian dog. There’s nothing hard about cooking decent veggies, as long as they aren’t kept sitting around in vats of water, but I guess that’s the trick, isn’t it? About the ONLY foods restaurants seem to know how to cook is potatoes & other starches, and meat. Period. Oh – and usually they can manage edible salads, but barely, if they keep the bowls refilled & fresh. If you go to an Italian place, invariably everything is drowned in some kind of tomato sauce. You’d think the entire Italian penninsula only cooked Sicilan. These days, even the Chinese food you get is full of pre-cut, semi-cooked and therefore semi-limp veggies, mostly broccoli probably because it can stand a lot of abuse before turning to greyish-green mush.

  • http://www.educateddoubt.com lori

    RedTard, I assume you’re referring to me in your comments.

    “If the public wanted small portions and healthy choices at the grocer they would already offer those.”

    I am a member of the public. I want more healthy choices at the grocer. And I want them at a cost *no higher* than the crappy choices.

    Why don’t grocers already offer me what I want?

    Oh wait, because the stupid people — and yes, they ARE stupid — who want to eat CRAP for food far outnumber people like ME, who want simple, plentiful, affordable choices at the neighborhood market and not at some snooty, high-priced specialty store.

    And, P.S., if you don’t think the government already regulates and controls our food, then you’re not paying attention.

  • http://www.educateddoubt.com lori

    Nancy, you make a good point about ordering an appetizer or from the kids menu. The problem is that those menus are often (but not always) stacked with fried foods.

  • sal m

    if the problem is what kind of foods are offered at a given restauarant, then you are clearly at the wrong kind of restaurant.

    if we’re talking about eating something “less bad” there are always choices even at the worst places.

    if you’re always at restaurants that have a lot of fried foods on the menu then you’ve got some problems!

  • http://www.educateddoubt.com lori

    The problem I have is that family-friendly restaurants tend to offer choices like hot dogs, chicken fingers, pizza, and mac-n-cheese on the kids menu, no matter how varied the adult menus are. That’s a fact.

    We don’t eat out much. One reason is cost, but the other is that chains are the only suitable places for families around here, and their food is usually pretty bad. Even the Chinese restaurants near us are greasy!

  • Bliffle

    One must make an effort to defeat the advertising burden that is laid upon us all. When we eat ‘bad’ food it is not because we intrinsically desire so much salt and grease, but rather because advertising has convinced us that it is good. Advertising has convinced us that the smell of frying chicken is pleasant and promises a good meal. Advertising has convinced us that a slab of ground beef with mayonnaise dripping over it and wrapped in a bleached white bread bun is tasty and nutritional.

    Remember, the best psychologists in the US are NOT at the local schools trying to solve juvenile delinquency and end teenage pregnancy. They are on Madison avenue studying the best reports on human psychology and contriving the best sales pitches for pushing meal products. And they can PROVE their effectiveness with numbers and dollars. They employ the best statisticians in America to collect the data that unambiguously shows the direct causal link between their recommendations and campaigns and the sales charts of food suppliers. That’s why those psychologists have Armani suits, ankle-deep carpets and acre-sized mahogany desks in their glamorous offices overlooking Manhattan.

    Some might find this immoral: the hawking of worthless and dangerous products to compliant and ad-drugged US citizens. I don’t. As any tyro Republican will tell you, the purpose of any company is to return the largest possible profit to the companies shareholders. They are bound only by the legal code. (Sometimes it amazes me that the same person who advances the ‘maximize profits’ rationale should then also claim that those people can be trusted, that they are people of high moral character who would not foist bad stuff on us)

    Our job, then, is to be effective consumers, forcing our judgement on suppliers by our Free Market choices.

    So, make better choices. What could be simpler?

  • sal m

    that folks is a great example of politcally-based conspiratorial psycho-babble. for instance….

    IT WAS WRITTEN:
    “Remember, the best psychologists in the US are NOT at the local schools trying to solve juvenile delinquency and end teenage pregnancy. They are on Madison avenue studying the best reports on human psychology and contriving the best sales pitches for pushing meal products.”

    Wait a minute here, if the best psychologists are NOT at schools and universities furthering the study of psychology who is conducting the best reports on human psychology? are the people on Madison avenue studying the studies the same people who have done the studies? or are psycholgy’s finest relying on studies done by inferior psycholgists?

    also since republicans are to blame, does this behavior – the rampant manipulating of our wills and desires by the evil advertising execs – take a hiatus during democratic administrations? if ross perot or ralph nader were to take control, where would they fall, on the side of the Madison Avenue head shrinks or on the side of reestablishing free will?

    and finally, if these all knowing psychologists are so fantastic, why haven’t the been gobbled up by the networks so that they can convince people to watch the crap on cbs, nbc, abc? does fox have them all??

  • Nancy

    Someone with an evil mind might take an opinion recently voiced on another thread about marketing and therefore draw the conclusion that Republicans & Madison Ave marketers are both evil minions of Hell. ;)

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Wait a second. Grocers DO offer you what you want. The single biggest phenomenon in grocery marketing today is the Whole Foods Market chain and their very effective presentation of stores which offer excellent, relatively healthy products, with an emphasis on all the natural and organic products but produced in products which are very tasty. Whole Foods and its imitators are springing up in every major city, and they are offering a real alternative to the mass-produced crap you’ll find at your local Safeway, as well as putting some pressure on more traditional stores to offer more natural foods and more healthy variety.

    Dave

  • sal m

    and this heathly choice type of grocer has become big business as people are way more concious now of the need to eat better food…and not just in cities, as there are two whole foods stores within 15 minutes from where i’m sitting…and regular supermarkets are including more and more organic foods as well.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    yea, i have several heathy food stores pretty close to me. of course, i live in the middle of newwhere new hampshire…but it happens to be a sort of granola-ville.

    buying local stuff is definitely the way to go.

  • Bliffle

    Most restaurants are happy to split an entree and provide an extra salad for a couple. I’ve been doing that for 20 years, both on dates and (later) with my wife. Even at excellent restaurants, like John Bentleys in Woodside, you can have a satisfying steak dinner for two for around $50 (wine extra) and it’s tasty and healthy.

    We eat most meals at home and I shop almost every day. The trick is to start at the produce section and load up on non-packaged foods. Another trick is to never throw food out. Always resolve the problem of leftovers and unused items by finding some way to consume them. That will eventually correct your buying habits. Leftover fruits go into a compote (add dried figs and dried ginger to add texture and hot spice, maybe a little port or sherry in place of sweets).

  • sal m

    great suggestions…

  • Nancy

    FOOOOOOD, glorious FOOOOOOOOOOD…..

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Just one thing to add about the healthy grocery stores. They aren’t always cheap. I left Whole Foods on Sunday with 3 bags of groceries which cost me $168. I’m not sure how, though they do avoid the one item per bag syndrome of the regular stores.

    Dave

  • http://www.educateddoubt.com lori

    Dave, I don’t live in a major city. There’s one healthy food store near me, about a 20 minute drive away. It costs me literally twice as much to shop there as it does the two most common markets in my area, one of which is practically on every street corner around here. If I buy meat, it’s three times as much.

    You’re making my point for me. The fact that the “alternative” food stores are the ones offering healthy choices at a premium price is just backwards. It should be the other way around. Or at least the good stuff should be in the same price range as the bad stuff, and the bad stuff should be in the minority. I don’t just want healthier choices; I want them to be as affordable as the other stuff.

    These healthy stores haven’t put much pressure on the regular markets near me. My local market dedicates 1/4 of one side of an aisle to the Whole Foods type of offerings. The reason: cost. The healthy stuff costs a lot more, and the regular stores know people will still come to them in droves because of their prices on the other stuff.

    I don’t want to eat nuts and twigs at every meal. I just want the obvious ratio of food-that-has-no-nutritional-value to food-that-has-decent-nutritional-value to be leveled off.

  • Bliffle

    There’s no guarantee that “Whole Foods” food is better than Safeways. You have to use your brain to decide what is best. Certainly the Natural Foods people have uncovered some egregious abuses in growing and delivery of commercial foods. But there are some questions about the efficacy of Natural Foods also. And there are various power struggles within the natural foods, “Organic foods”, movement itself. You can’t just pick one side to turn your brain over to, and then cheer for their success. *Sigh*. Just like politics.

    But I’m bragging that if you use your brain to think about food and approach the kitchen as the science lab that it is, you can create meals that are healthy, tasty and even fast!

  • sal m

    bliffle makes a good point that just because something is available in whole foods doesn’t mean it’s better than what’s available in an old school grocery store. for instance if you look at a lot of prepared vegetarian foods – which a lot of people automatically assume are “healthier” – they are loaded with other garbage in order to make it taste good.

    people just need to read labels.

  • Nancy

    This raises a question for me: WHY is ‘organic’ food so much more expensive, when it (theoretically?) costs the raiser so much less, because they don’t have to buy artificial fertilizers, sprays, pesticides, etc. I should think their overhead would be lower & therefore the costs should be less. Besides which, they don’t have to have picture perfect produce, since everyone knows organic stuff looks like crap anyway.

    I’m lucky: I live within striking distance of several pick-your-own farms. Picking your own strawberries, blueberries, & peaches is just HEAVENLY. One for me, one for the basket…one for me….

  • Scott Butki

    Great piece. I don’t eat healthy enough but I hate it when people tell me what TO eat.

  • sal m

    scott:
    my bet is that you eat healthy enough…but for some people there’s no such thing!

  • Scott Butki

    Thanks for the benefit of the doubt.
    I’ll toast that thought with a coke and a smile.

  • fiddlercrab

    Sal I crave and love Italian food.And the “Boss” (I mean that affectionately ,as Harry Truman called Bess)..is on this health food crusade.I must say she has done a great job..Trader Joes and Whole Foods will provide healthy nutritious meals inexpensively IF one is carefull of What one buys.Who really LIKES Caviar and Champagne.I’ll have baked Haddock and those $2.99 bottles of wine (Red please)
    Several years ago I was eating in a employees lunch room.And this 36 yr. old guy who was in perfect shape and I’m sure ate brocolli and all those other healthy foods…stood up …grabbed his chest,and died!!When a Dr. got to him-he said he was probably dead before he hit the floor.I certainly remembered that one,and I try to eat as the “Boss” wants ,as she is a damn good cook and I hate to go out to eat.I always pig out when I go to our Italian friends homes,for she doesn’t dare say a word…one can imagine!!But one can go to far with this Healthy stuff.Do you all remember Jim Fixx?Run Run Run… He died…Ewell Gibbons,nuts berries,twiggs and flowers…he died. Good article,I will continue to take my chances (once in awhile Sal) Thanks

  • http://www.californiariceoil.com Ellen

    Great comments-eating heathly gets a bit confusing-common sense should help but I see all around me that it has little effect on a lot of people. I am glad that I cut out trans fats from my grocery list and my kids finally get it.

  • http://bushwackersreview.blogspot.com flyn0092

    I actually think that eating healthy weakens the body. When I go on an all deep fryed diet, I feel better than I ever have.

    Check out the all deep fryed diet at Bushwackers Review

  • Rodney Johnson

    I liked it,
    But you did misuse the term “Foodie” Foodies are generally the opposite of the food police.

  • Charles Nickalopoulos

    Bill Maher needs to read about Ewell Gibbons, if he really thinks he is guaranteed a long healthy life, by eating nothing but vegetables.

  • ABM

    I agree with you 100%. The food fascists need to leave us alone and let us make our own decisions. I’m sick and tired of seeing these skinny bimbos on TV in a cold sweat thinking that eating a cookie or a handful of chips is going to kill them. We don’t need a brood of perfect pretty people talking to us like children and telling us how to live. They talk about obesity like its the “End of The World”. You wanna’ end obesity: How about you give everyone in America a decent wage and more time to cook these so-called healthy meals. The reason for this inactivity is that people are working longer for less. By the time that their shift is over they are too tired to cook and they have to rely on McDonald’s and these processed foods that are the “enemy”. These uber-yuppie health nuts need to open thier minds instead of shoving this overbearing agenda down everyone’s throat!

  • Asa

    Well, random Asian person here has been eating white rice everyday since she can eat it and has not dies. Another fact. I am considered underweight :/