THOUGHTS ON THE FOOD POLICE, INFORMATION TRANSPARENCY, & RELATIVE GLUTTONY Right now, our gifted men and women in the House of Representatives are tucking into the MEAL Act, and the Senate may consider a similar measure soon. The MEAL Act (Menu Education And Labeling) is the latest clever acronym brought to you by the food police. And I have to ask myself – and you – if one more piece of litigation or legislation will do a lick of good. The MEAL Act would require restaurants with more than 20 locations to post basic nutritional information on their menus (special and seasonal food items excluded). Let’s step into the world of the MEAL Act. You mosey into McDonald’s, taking a gander at the bright, colorful panel of meal choices. Caloric information is duly noted. Choice #1: 970 calories. Choice #2: 890 calories. Choice #3: 650 calories. Let’s say you choose option 3 – hey, it’s healthier, right? Enter relative gluttony. Would caloric information really matter in the Cheesecake Factory, where a single slice of carrot cake weighs a pound and the best alternative to that slice (the original cheesecake) still comes packed with over 600 calories? You probably know that a salad with a little vinegar and generous helping of veggies delivers, at most, 300 calories, but you don’t eat at McDonald’s, either. The unfortunate consequence of a little sprinkling of caloric information could be relative gluttony; the easing of the conscience because 650 calories is better than 970 calories. At most, I predict a temporary blip in increased chicken sandwich orders before everyone reverts right back to whatever bacon-cheese-beef monstrosity is normally favored. I am strongly in favor of information transparency – open doors are always in the best interests of the consumer. It almost goes without saying that the food, drug and chemical industries would get away with a lot less if there weren’t doors to close in the first place. More information, more education, more legislation – these are rational, logical, well-intentioned goals. In a rational culture, such measures would work. But we already have information. We have media specials and documentaries. We have lawsuits. We have weight-loss centers and therapy and steps. We spend billions on diets and diet books and diet foods and diet pills – and billions more on pharmaceuticals and surgeries. And yet, we have the top 5 causes of death being entirely preventable through better diet choices. We have a majority of the population suffering from the effects of this national food problem. That includes children. More education? More legislation? Those are rational solutions to problems stemming from things like simple misunderstanding or glitches the free market hasn’t had time to correct. Guess what? We’re not dealing with anything rational. Our problem is far more troubling: it is emotional. Our problem as a nation is food addiction. The fact that bacon-cheese-beef monstrosities even exist is evidence enough of that. Like alcoholism, Americans are in an emotionally addictive grip that I fear no … Continue reading “MEAL Act Regulation: Would It Make a Difference? (Why the Rational Will Never Work)”
In light of the holiday season this week’s Aaron’s Additions brings you a cool health gadget that could be the perfect gift for the health-conscious loved one in your life. Sony’s new MP3 player, created with workout-wonders in mind, packs tons of features into a distinct shape.
Sony geared their new S2 Sports Walkman MP3 Player (NW-S200) toward exercise buffs by including a stopwatch, pedometer, and a calorie counter so that you can track your workout progress. It is also designed with a water-resistant build so that you never have to worry about handling it with your inevitably sweaty hands.
Apart from these functions Sony has added some innovative elements as well. The Shuffle Shake feature allows you to listen to your music in shuffle mode simply by shaking the player three times. When you are tired of listening in shuffle mode just shake it three more times to return to your normal playlist.
The next inventive design component is the Music Pacer feature. This adjusts the rhythm of your music to match your pace. When you speed up so will the music, and when it is cool-down time the music will revert to your slow playlist.
An additional feature that sets this music device apart is its Quick Battery Charge feature. With only a 3-minute charge you can be listening to your favorite tunes for up to 3 hours! And if you can wait for the full 45-minute charge, you can expect a generous 18 hours’ worth of playback time.
The player comes in a 1 GB model that holds about 675 songs, and a 2 GB model that holds about 1350 songs. The player also comes equipped with an FM tuner with programmable preset stations.
How Sony managed to pack all these features into a package that weighs less than an ounce is hard to fathom. And this mp3 player is light, not only in weight, but on your wallet, as well – coming in at $119.99 and $149.99, respectively. Check out Sony’s S2 Sports Walkman MP3 Player. It could be the ideal workout companion.
[tags] gadget, MP3 player, gym equipment, GB, music pacer, shuffle, Sony S2 Sports Walkman MP3 Player, best portable music player [/tags]
Junior Apple Anna asks:
“I saw your post about U.S. sunblock not preventing the bad kind of rays (UVA) but I have heard about L’Oreal coming out with something similar to what is available in Europe. Is this true?”
Anna, yes. The FDA did recently approve OTC use of Anthelios SX (produced by L’Oreal). Similar to the overwhelmingly popular European Mexoryl SX, Anthelios contains ingredients that block all rays.
However, it’s worth remembering that even with the admission of a (finally) more effective sunblock, we may want to rethink the entire sunblock argument, regardless.
The body comes complete with a natural sun defense system: sunburn. Do we need to slather on (supposedly safe) chemicals on a daily basis, or simply be judicious in our sun exposure?
Moreover, even the safest sunblock is going to prevent our bodies from absorbing critical vitamin D. Sure, D is added to milk, but the better source is from the sun.
[tags] Anthelios SX, L’Oreal, sunscreen, OTC, Mexoryl, FDA, sunblock, vitamin D [/tags]
Remember the bread-is-to-crumb logic section on the SAT’s? Or how about the interminable hours spent in Mr. Johnson’s English Lit class deconstructing the deeper meaning of that tree in that poem by that guy? The latest and greatest fish debate is worse.
Environmentalists, food lobbyists, and fishermen and women everywhere are in a big huff over whether we should label certain fish as organic or not.
Take a wild salmon and a farm-raised, sea-lice-infested, sick salmon. Which one is organic?
It’s not a trick question. The fish furor (as reported in the New York Times today) is because the government is likely to permit only farm-raised fish to be called organic. That means pristine, wild, icy-water Alaskan salmon cannot be labeled organic.
This is not a joke.
The reason wild, and ostensibly healthier, fish cannot be labeled organic is because we don’t know where their food comes from. And the official requirements of organic food include strict feeding rules. That’s great for a chicken, clucking around in a cage in Omaha. By all means, feed that darn chicken some organic seeds! But the day a wild, clean, natural Alaskan salmon cannot be labeled organic is the day I officially conclude our government employees did not sit through Mr. Johnson’s English Lit class.
The debate gets more complicated (as if we care). Evidently, because salmon are not vegetarian fish, said fish fishers cannot prove that the fish these salmon eat in their natural habitats are also organic. (It’s okay if you have to read that a few times.)
However, a farmed fish, infected with sea-lice, raised so quickly it doesn’t have adequate Omega-3 levels, and crowded in with other fish like, oh, I don’t know…sardines… can be labeled organic. Because we know where its food comes from.
On the other side of the net, one organic-fish-scandal expert says that to allow wild salmon organic status is just really disrespectful to the meaning of organic. Organic, by definition, means organic feed. In other words, we’re following the rules because those are the rules, rather than remembering that rules exist to serve our needs. If a rule doesn’t serve a need or reflect a situation accurately, it needs to be modified. End of story. No deeper meaning, no semantic salmon. Let’s remember the entire reason for starting this organic craze: the realization that we need to go back to natural, healthy foods.
[tags] organic, wild salmon, farmed fish, sea lice, omega-3, Alaska, New York Times, fishermen, regulation, red tape [/tags]
Junior Apple Sarah writes: “I just saw something on the news for an e. coli antidote and how it will revolutionize not only the food industry but also healthcare. What ever happened to just making sure that the food and facilities are clean? It’s my understanding that e. coli comes from fecal matter. Is it too much to ask to keep poop off my food? Why do we have to put another chemical in something / everything we eat?” A recent article in the New York Times entitled “The Vegetable-Industrial Complex” deals with this issue at length. Writer Michael Pollan explores how modern food production yields more than bumper crops – it also yields very high potential for significant public health hazards. It’s the law of unintended consequences put to play on the dinner table. I really recommend that you check out the article. In a nutshell: – Modern food production has created two problems out of what was once a single solution. Animals fertilized crops, and crops fed animals. Pull them apart, mass produce them in factories and feedlots, and you have two problems: 1) As it collects in feedlots, manure becomes pollution, full of antibiotics, chemicals and e. coli, leading to the second problem: 2) Crops are now at risk for contamination, which invariably means crops get fertilized artificially. Great for the chemical industry, not so great for small farms, public health, economic efficiency, animals, or the earth. – Calling for local, organic, small-time food production isn’t about being a dread-locked tree-hugger. It’s actually far more logical and economically viable to return to the way we used to do things. Small-scale food production is healthier. It’s easier to trace if something goes wrong, and fewer people are likely to be affected. Small-scale food production benefits small businesses instead of huge single food conglomerates. That means a freer market, more competition, better choice. Everyone wins: small-scale farming is better for the environment and creates a solution whereas now we have two big problems. – Small-scale farming also avoids the current obvious threat of terrorism. The article points out that our meat comes from but a few slaughterhouses. All the bagged spinach in the country passes through just four locations. How easy would it be for a terrorist to contaminate our food? That’s what Homeland Security is wondering. Unfortunately, industrial food production looks to short-term, engineered fixes. When e. coli was found in the beef supply during the whole Jack in the Stomach fiasco of the 90s, producers just blasted the meat. (Pollan writes: Rather than clean up the kill floor and the feedlot diet, some meat processors simply started nuking the meat — sterilizing the manure, in other words, rather than removing it from our food.) Why bother cleaning up the waste? It’s only our health on the line. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if our government starts requiring that our entire food supply be irradiated. – Finally, well-meaning though it may be, calling for even more regulation … Continue reading “A Reader Rants”
Made you think twice, didn’t it?
Many of us glom on the sunscreen in the hope of warding off the slightest wrinkle or, worse, skin cancer. And many of us diligently gulp down glass after glass of milk, convinced calcium will save our bones from the high rates of osteoporosis Westerners suffer from.
Enter critical reassessment.
For those craving some clickativity related to Mark’s examination of the Vitamin D-sunblock-health issue, the New York Post ran a terrific piece recently on the importance of getting your daily D-licious dose. I tend to beat the osteoporosis horse quite a bit – but hey, it’s important! D is absorbed through the skin. D is necessary for bones. And sunscreen stops this nice little evolutionary convenience from…well, convening.
As Mark points out, why slather on a sunblock that doesn’t prevent the more dangerous UVA rays (thanks, Uncle Sam), does prevent absorption of critical vitamin D that is as equally important to bone health as calcium, and interferes with nature’s built-in “Get your buns indoors!” mechanism? (Or, as the Big Apple puts it, burning to a crisp.)
[tags] New York Post, sunscreen, osteoporosis, wrinkles, skin cancer, calcium, dairy, milk, vitamin D, UVA rays [/tags]