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    The fat of the land

    Good news! It’s safe to eat again. The FDA has released its revised food pyramid, designed to make sure that even we stupid non-dieticians can somehow manage to keep body and soul together. Naturally, the CSPI has reacted with a degree of worshipful pyramidiocy that would embarrass J.Z. Knight:

    CSPI Applauds New Dietary Recommendations

    Calls for New Government Campaigns to Implement Them

    Importantly, the guidelines apply to the federal school lunch and breakfast programs. Under the new Guidelines, schools will need to offer less-salty foods and more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

    This puts me in mind of something that happened my freshman year in college. Someone–the Vice-Provost of University Life, or the Greek Council, or some bored Trustees–decided that people were (be sure you’re sitting down for this) drinking too much at frat parties. The solution? Force the frats to offer non-salty snacks. Yes way! My roommate had joined one of the few funky-renegade fraternities on campus; it decided to offer non-salty snacks in the form of lettuce (plunked as-is into a serving dish with hilarious, baleful irony) and jello (not finger jello, just a bowl of jello with no utensils). I don’t remember the others.

    Of course, if the CSPI has its way, publicly treating the new food pyramid with playful irreverence will probably be a felony before long:

    To support the guidelines

    10 Responses to “The fat of the land”

    1. Kris says:

      The chaff-and-whey complex?

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Well, Michael, I don’t know whether you remember this, but the health-food-fusses claimed that meat was only as prominent in the original 90s version because the meat and dairy lobbies got together and leaned on the committee. When you’re engineering the kind of symbol that can be slapped on packaging with the breathless tag, “Part of a bureaucracy-approved diet!” you tend to attract people whose profit margins will be affected. And, of course, there’s a lobby for everything. The committee head has probably wasted the last decade of breakfast meetings mollifying the National Couscous Council, the Alliance of American Tuber Growers, and the Oil and Shortening Task Force–and, not surprisingly, this is what we get, huh?
      Kris, you’re right; I was a little uncharitable. I do think there are lines to be drawn, though. Is it really possible to be immersed in American popular culture and not have registered by adulthood the point that fresh foods are healthier than processed foods, that you need your vegetables, and that if corn syrup is the first ingredient on a package, what’s inside should be consumed sparingly? And if people really aren’t aware of such things, how will the new food pyramid work better than the old one, which has had a twelve-year opportunity to transform America into 300 million Jane Brodys?

    3. Mrs. du Toit says:

      Give up Sara Lee Pound Cake?
      Don’t even say such things, even in JEST!
      Now I’ll have to eat an entire bag of Fritos just to recover.
      [throwing salt, spitting]

    4. Sean Kinsell says:

      Well, I almost made it Entenmann’s, but then I vaguely thought that might be a regional brand (though you know it from NJ, right, Connie?). One of the great things about growing up among the Pennsylvania Dutch is that they don’t stand for this low-fat, low-sugar crap for one nanosecond. The local confection companies do listlessly put out a few all-substitute cookies and things, but you can still get pound cake made with 1 lb. of butter, a package of six sticky buns that used up this year’s entire cane harvest from the Dominican Republic, et c.

    5. Kris says:

      This is clearly hitting you where you live – isn’t this like your second Coke-fuled rant against the FDA in, like, two weeks? But you must admit – banal comments and idiotic execution aside, they do have a kernel of a point. I constantly see reports on the news about Americans who are not professional dietitians trying to make responsible, healthy choices about food, but are thwarted both by insidious deliciousness of foods that are bad for them as well as confusing messaging (I swear, they’re marketing some sodas as HEALTHY, like the latest 7-Up.) ((P.S. kids – Soda will never, ever, until we change the definition of the word, be ‘healthy’. But drink it anyway!)) I think the simple messages get through (hence the latest, low-carb craze), and that’s evidence to me that people are trying…

    6. Michael says:

      I don’t know. Looks to me like the Food Pyramid is bought and paid for by lobbyists in the grain industry (or whatever it’s called)

    7. Toren says:

      Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the health Nazis:
      “Food prices are established not only by supply and demand but also by government policies and programs. Our research shows that strategically altering prices can potentially lead to better health. This opens up a whole new arena for government policy.”
      –The American Society for Nutritional Sciences
      I think we’re going to have to start shooting these people pretty soon.

    8. Sean Kinsell says:

      This opens up a whole new arena for government policy.
      Yeah, manipulation of food prices for the purposes of social engineering is real new. Gits.

    9. Kris says:

      No offense intended from the subsequent comment…but it’s been widely reported that America has a growing obesity problem. And while a lot of people get wrapped up in the idea that fat is bad for you because of the ‘body nazis’ or that fat is good because being told not to eat certain things smacks of interference or something like that, the simple fact remains that being overweight is bad for you because it leads to many health complications that can be avoided by being, oh, say, less obese. And we’re not talking those extra 10 pounds here – getting heavier with age isn’t the problem. An unhealthy public leads to, among other things, larger burdens on the healthcare system and a less facile army (straying from obesity for a moment – there was an article recently in the times about the surprising number of reservists who weren’t being sent to Iraq due to poor dental health).
      All of this to say, I understand that the libertarian tendencies of most of the readers here leads to conclusions that stem from the ‘government=bureaucracy=bad’ line of thinking. And I typically agree with that (up to a point). But…is it really so bad that this is an issue that our health ‘officials’ are focusing on? Sure – the execution can be heavy-handed, but if the line has been crossed and America’s love of largeness is beginning to, as a whole, affect our collective national health, why shouldn’t our government be doing something to help correct that?
      Especially when you consider, as is my own crackpot theory, that the government is to blame to begin with (we were fine, before that damn original food pyramid, and the low-fat recomendations…)

    10. Sean Kinsell says:

      Poor…dental health? Really? How tough are those MRE’s?
      Also, if the government is to blame for getting us here to begin with, what makes you think it can get us out?
      Not being flip, dude. I just figure, I don’t want the fed. telling people what they can eat any more than I want it telling them whom they can have sex with, even if both actions could have medical consequences.
      If what you’re talking about is on the non-coercive side–meaning, publicizing the food pyramid and maybe weight ranges and things, I agree that that’s less outrageous than artificially driving up the price of potato chips. I still don’t think it works. People may be confused about Omega-3 fatty acids and anti-oxidants and free radicals and stuff, but what you’re talking about is not at that bewildering level. It’s at the basic level of knowing that you need your vegetables and protein, and that all of it shouldn’t come out of a can. And I really think that people know that and still don’t act on it.
      If such people are in the reserves, presumably they won’t pass their fitness tests, which is what you say is happening. So is there a shortage?