Outsourcing today’s food commentary to Buzzfeed:
Outsourcing today’s food commentary to Buzzfeed:
What Does 200 Calories Look Like? (photos from Wisegeek)
What 2000 Calories Actually Looks Like (video from Buzzfeed)
These two resources have been floating around the internet recently and for those of you who haven’t stumbled across them yet, I thought it would be helpful to repost them here.
Neither tries to tackle the fact that not all calories are created equal or that the more processed food is, the more likely it is to contain harmful hidden ingredients, but they are a fun way of visualizing a day’s worth of food (give or take a couple hundred calories, depending on your age, gender, and activity level). It would be interesting to see a rough price estimate per calorie for the foods profiled as well as the number of ingredients contained in each.
Taking a moment to think about how my stomach would feel after eating any one of these foods for a whole day ended up being a pretty good indicator of the food’s overall healthfulness. I recognize that the correlation falls apart with milk and I’m not saying eating avocados or whole wheat pasta all day would be much fun, but I do think it would go over better than just eating soda or donuts.
Which reminds me of that important life lesson we all learn some time freshman year of college or during the first year we become responsible for feeding ourselves and we make the mistake of eating one thing for three meals in a row. Oh come on, we all did it at least once. I think I remember my brother learning it over a loaf of white bread, a jar of Nutella and a box of Tropicana orange juice. For a roommate, it was with slices of red velvet cake. For me, the culprit was Smartfood popcorn.
I had locked myself away to complete a final 24 hours before the deadline. The giant bag of popcorn came out sometime around lunch, made cameos appearances throughout the afternoon, was the lead at dinnertime, and guest-starred in a midnight snack. I think it was somewhere around 4:00 in the morning, as I reached into the bag only to find white cheddar dust, that it occurred to me that popcorn was an entirely inappropriate form of sustenance, and it was then that I like to think I joined the ranks of Responsible Adults Who Don’t Eat Only One Think for 24 Hours, Especially Not Popcorn at 4AM.
“Research shows that we’ll consume pretty much whatever quantity we’re served, and be satisfied with it. If 16 ounces of soda isn’t enough for you, the ban would not, of course, have prohibited your purchase of two 16-ounce containers; the idea was to make you think twice before doing so.
What, exactly, makes that capricious? The Board of Health was operating entirely within its mission; it could not apply the ban in every place where soda is sold because it doesn’t have jurisdiction everywhere. But it does have jurisdiction over more than 20,000 restaurants and 5,000 mobile food vendors.”
Why is this quote important? Because it highlights what I think is the most important argument in this debate: We need to start somewhere. Sure, 20,000 restaurants and 5,000 mobile food vendors isn’t completely comprehensive coverage, but it’s still impressive reach and way better than doing nothing.
The more I think about this issue, the more I believe that the Soda Ban is the best possible option for NYC, more than half of whose residents are overweight. I believe that it is important for a government to clearly state through rule-making when it condemns a certain kind of behavior because it helps change public opinion over time. The government has made these statements about driving without a seatbelt and smoking, and you don’t have to watch more than a few episodes of Mad Men to figure out that the general population’s opinion about letting kids in a car without a seatbelt and smoking in literally every room you enter throughout the day have changed significantly over time. I think the national conversation about our obesity epidemic would get catapulted forward if the NYC Board of Health was permitted to make a similarly credible statement about the dangers of consuming 2-4 servings of high-sugar and low-nutrient beverages regularly. We will see what happens on appeal.
A few people have argued to me recently that a soda tax would be much more effective and equitable. True, but don’t forget that in 2010, Bloomberg urged state legislators to pass a soda tax that would have brought an additional penny per ounce of sugared soda sold to the state. It failed to pass.
Others (I’m looking at you Jon Stewart) argue that the Soda Ban represents an uncomfortable constraint on individual rights. This baffles me. You know what is an uncomfortable constraint on individual rights? The unmitigated clout of the processed food and soda lobbies on our legislative process. Sugar and corn shouldn’t cost what they do, the products that rely on these cheap inputs shouldn’t be allowed to make health and wellness claims without oversight, and that marketing doesn’t need to take place, unrestricted, in every airport, hospital, office and school in the nation.
If you want a little more insight into the sinister influence of the beverage industry in our country, today the Center for Science in the Public Interest released a new report titled “Selfish Giving: How the Soda Industry Uses Philanthropy to Sweeten its Profits.” The report sheds light on the numerous self-serving motives behind the beverage-industry’s charity and the impact of this charity on efforts to reduce sugar sweetened beverage consumption in the United States. If you look at this report and the Buzzfeed piece and still feel like the real villain in this soda story is Nanny Bloomberg, then I want to hear about it.