calories en-US The case for caloric labeling <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-case-for-caloric-labeling" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You have to give Subway props. If nothing else, they are more or less honest about their food. There&#39;s not a lot of mystery involved with eating a Subway sandwich, salad, or wrap. You get to choose what goes on it, you get to see it being made, you get to annoy the sandwich artist with your demands (&quot;No green peppers! Extra jalapenos!&quot;). And you get a pretty good idea of how many calories you have consumed, because Subway provides visible labels for its food, with calorie and nutritional information. Now, Subway prides itself on its &quot;Subway diet&quot;, but the best thing about Subway is that they tell it like it is, more or less. </p> <p>This can&#39;t be said of other restaurant chains. Fast food restaurants, for instance, were notoriously secretive about their food&#39;s calorie levels until very recently, and even now, you have to pry the nutritional information out of the restaurant (of course, you can look for it <a href="">online</a>, but that involves more planning than most people are willing to do). </p> <p>New York City has been <a href="">leading the fight</a> to legislate caloric labeling at chain restaurants, hoping that an open display of just how many calories are in that burger will cause some diners to make healthier dining choices. Chain restaurants are the only ones being targeted by this law, partly because their food can be incredibly unhealthy, and partly because, as megacorporations, they can afford to change their signage to accomodate the law.</p> <p>Businesses that are affected by the law have balked of course. Although they cite the cost of creating signs and menus that list caloric info, we&#39;re talking about businesses that spend billions of dollars on advertising every year, and who make billions of dollars in profits. </p> <p>Some argue that calorie labeling won&#39;t make any difference in diner&#39;s choices.</p> <p>“Do you think people will stop eating McDonald’s French fries and Big Macs?” asked Rick Sampson of the New York State Restaurant Association, which is suing New York City over its law. “It doesn’t keep me from eating a candy bar even though the calories are listed on it right in front of me.”</p> <p>This is a disingenuous argument. For one thing, no one is suggesting that people should stop eating at McDonald&#39;s. But knowing how many calories you are consuming CAN help you realize that, since you&#39;re eating a Big Mac, you don&#39;t need the fries. The comparison to a labeled candy bar is also useless; most candy bars contain a couple hundred calories, maybe as many as 400 - a chicken Caesar&#39;s salad at Chili&#39;s has over 1,000 calories.</p> <p>That&#39;s right. A chicken salad. Over 1,000 calories. That&#39;s over half a day&#39;s caloric intake for an active person who is not trying to lose weight. Think about that. How many women order salads at lunch as a part of being &quot;healthy&quot;? Can you imagine how much longer it would take to lose weight if you were consistently eating 400 more calories than you should? </p> <p>The truth is, chain restaurants don&#39;t want you to know that your salad has 1,000 in it. If you knew that, you wouldn&#39;t order dessert or a soda with your meal. You might actually eat less when you go out, or you might start eating out less frequently. The truth is, the labeling WOULD be bad for business. It&#39;s not that your local McDonald&#39;s would be shuttered overnight, but you&#39;d think twice about returning as often if you had to scour the menu for a meal with under 800 calories in it. </p> <p>This fun this video from the <a href="">Center for Science in the Public Interest</a> (via <a href="">Consumerist</a>) does a nifty job showing how the food at popular &quot;Italian&quot; chain restaurants stacks up against junk food, calorically.</p> <p>I understand that Americans really hate being told what to do, and businesses especially balk at additional rules and regulations. Some might argue that Americans need to take charge of their own lives and their own health, and not wait around for the government to come to their rescue. But how can Americans take charge of their health if they can&#39;t figure out how many calories they are consuming? It might seem like a no-brainer to some that a salad coated in dressing and parmesan cheese isn&#39;t healthy, but 1,000 calories? That one surprised even me, and I&#39;ll look for any reason not to eat at Chili&#39;s.</p> <p>Wise Bread readers know, for the most part, that the healthiest meals are the ones that you cook at home. But for the occasional times that we dine out, shouldn&#39;t we have the right to know what we are consuming? </p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Peanut Butter: The Poor Man’s Protein</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">12 Reasons to Stop Eating Sugar Forever</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Tips For Eating Out Cheaply</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Healthy, frugal eating</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Book review: In Defense of Food</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink calories carbohydrates dessert dining fat FDA Food Health labels Macaroni Grill obesity Olive Garden restaurant Wed, 31 Oct 2007 22:55:32 +0000 Andrea Karim 1344 at Why is it so expensive to be healthy? <p><img alt=" " width="299" height="145" src="" /></p> <p>Why are <a href="">poor people in America so fat</a>? Would you believe that farm subsidies have something to do with it?</p> <p>Walmart is where lower income consumers come to shop. Why? Because you get the most bang for your buck. Walmart is also notorious for having the fattest customers. Why? It comes back to value - it turns out that unhealthiest food also gives you the most caloric bang for your buck.</p> <p class="sub-heading"><strong>Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about </strong></p> <p>I shop at a grocery store that borders on one of Seattle's ghettos. In case you are wondering, Seattle's ghettos are nothing compared to other urban ghettos. Meaning, you can safely walk through a Seattle ghetto. But that's where the majority of Seattle's urban poor live, and if you want to see food stamps in action, you should shop at my Safeway.</p> <p>Food stamps are no longer in stamp form in Washington State - people are given debit cards that are referred to as &quot;benefit cards&quot;. Benefits cards are usually easy to spot, if you are looking. But you don't have to look at a person's form of payment to know what social class they belong to - you need only look at their shopping cart, and their waistline. This is anecdotal, of course, but no doubt you've noticed this, too: poor people eat more crappy junk food than rich people.</p> <p>There's a tendency in America to equate poor nutrition and subsequent obesity with a lack of education. It's familar logic: the poor aren't educated enough to work, so they stay poor. Being uneducated means that they don't know that Doritos are bad for you. Or, if you look to what a lot of us secretly think, the poor are simply too dumb to eat salad, too simple to know that Twinkies do not make a healthy meal.*</p> <p><em>Why would someone who has so little money to spend go and spend it on packaged food?</em> we wonder to ourselves. <em>Don't they know what a waste of money it is to buy junk food?</em></p> <p>We <em>tsk tsk</em> them in our heads. We load up our carts with loose leaf lettuce and portabella mushrooms, thinking ourselves superior for knowing better. Once we get to the checkout counter and see the total cost of our veggies, though, we probably do end up thinking: <em>wow, it's really expensive to be healthy</em>.</p> <p>From the <a href=";ei=5070&amp;en=ca312b0c78998cd3&amp;ex=1178078400&amp;emc=eta1">NY Times</a> (via Consumerist):</p> <blockquote><p class="blockquote">As a rule, processed foods are more &ldquo;energy dense&rdquo; than fresh foods: they contain less water and fiber but more added fat and sugar, which makes them both less filling and more fattening. These particular calories also happen to be the least healthful ones in the marketplace, which is why we call the foods that contain them &ldquo;junk.&rdquo; Drewnowski concluded that the rules of the food game in America are organized in such a way that if you are eating on a budget, the most rational economic strategy is to eat badly &mdash; and get fat.</p> </blockquote> <p class="sub-heading"><strong>Bang for your buck</strong></p> <p>It <strong>is</strong> <a href="">expensive to eat well</a>, even if you are only buying raw veggies. The truth is that lower income shoppers, and other populations that live on junk food, are getting more calories per dollar than the rest of us. It's economically efficient, if <a href="">tragically perverse</a>.</p> <p>The reason, as the New York Times article explains, has to do with the Farm Bill, which heavily subsidizes soybeans, corn, and wheat - three major ingredients, or sources, of many of the ingredients in junk food. The result?</p> <p class="blockquote">[T]he real price of fruits and vegetables between 1985 and 2000 increased by nearly 40 percent while the real price of soft drinks (aka liquid corn) declined by 23 percent. The reason the least healthful calories in the supermarket are the cheapest is that those are the ones the farm bill encourages farmers to grow.</p> <p>So even foods that are more processed, that require more labor to produce, cost less. The article goes on to explain the origins of the Farm Bill and the detrimental, albeit unintended, effect it is having on our population.</p> <p class="blockquote">The farm bill helps determine what sort of food your children will have for lunch in school tomorrow. The school-lunch program began at a time when the public-health problem of America&rsquo;s children was undernourishment, so feeding surplus agricultural commodities to kids seemed like a win-win strategy. Today the problem is overnutrition, but a school lunch lady trying to prepare healthful fresh food is apt to get dinged by U.S.D.A. inspectors for failing to serve enough calories; if she dishes up a lunch that includes chicken nuggets and Tater Tots, however, the inspector smiles and the reimbursements flow. The farm bill essentially treats our children as a human Disposall for all the unhealthful calories that the farm bill has encouraged American farmers to overproduce.</p> <p>Do click over and read the rest of the article. The author gives a good breakdown of calorie-per-dollar-spent between carrots and junk food.</p> <p>It ends on a hopeful note, claiming that the resurgence in organic farming and local produce, combined with consumer demands and the American ideal of a free market economy, may give us a chance to reclaim our farming heritage and our health. I'm not sure that I'm so optimistic about our chances for revamping what seems like extremely complicated and pork-filled legislation.</p> <p><em>(Picture by </em><a href=""><em>Colin Palmer</em></a><em>)</em></p> <p>*Because so many people keep reading this sentence and thinking that I actually believe that the poor are dumb, I'd like to point out that the sentence is meant to generalize about the way that many wealthy Americans think about the poor, NOT THE WAY THAT I FEEL ABOUT THE POOR. My god, people, do you really think a web site dedicated to helping readers learn how to save money would feature a writer who loathes the poor? GET A GRIP. And for the record, I'm pretty fat myself, so it's not like I'm making fun of anyone for eating badly.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">If You&#039;re Eating These 6 Things, Your &quot;Diet&quot; Is Doing Nothing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Should There Be a &quot;Fat Tax&quot; on Junk Food?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">7 Foods Scientifically Proven to Make You Smarter</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">7 Foods That Are Scientifically Proven to Increase Happiness</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">10 Health Foods That Are Actually Making You Fatter</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink Health and Beauty calories corn coupons expensive farm bill free market government subsidies health food junk food soy vegetables Tue, 24 Apr 2007 18:53:46 +0000 Andrea Karim 555 at