For today’s Buffet: a candy manufacturer preaches moderation – why am I suspicious?; subsisting on junk food for the sake of science; and putting to rest my debate with a libertarian.
Chocolate in Moderation – an Oxymoron?
While I truly believe that all foods can be enjoyed in moderation, I still can’t help casting a skeptical eye on a new website and campaign launched yesterday by the Hershey chocolate company called Moderation Nation. The site is devoted to the concept that “all foods [read: chocolate] can fit within a healthful eating pattern.” As Kelly Brownell, Director of the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders notes in his book, Food Fight, large food manufacturers have long used the concept of “moderation” to lure consumers into making unsound choices, and to throw up a smokescreen when the government attempts to give dietary advice to Americans. (I’m thinking, too, of this effort by Frito-Lay to reassure consumers about eating their objectively less healthy chips and snacks.)
I totally support moderation, but our skyrocketing obesity rate proves that we’re not so good at it in practice.
[Hat tip: Marion Nestle]
Can’t He Afford a Lab Rat?
From Fooducate and AOL News, I learned of a 40 year old nutrition professor who is undertaking a month-long experiment in which he will eat virtually nothing but junk food (Twinkies, donuts, candy, etc. — plus one daily serving of vegetables), but at low enough calorie levels that he will lose weight. (Then he’ll go on a month-long diet of healthy foods with a caloric limit set high enough that he will gain weight.) He says he hopes to “challenge the entire ‘junk food versus health food’ dynamic, suggesting that foods regarded as nutritious may, in fact, be unhealthy, while foods regarded as junk may have some benefits.”
I’m not sure I follow that logic, except to the extent that it is true that even the worst junk food provides calories for energy. What I actually found most interesting about his project is that, on the junk food diet, the professor’s daily food expenditures cost only about $5 a day — a dramatic illustration of the fact that it’s more expensive in our society to live on a diet richer in whole foods.
Agreeing to Disagree
Earlier this week I responded to a libertarian’s critique of my recent Houston Chronicle op-ed about school food. The author of that critique has since posted his rebuttal, and you can read it here. I’m not highlighting his response in a separate post because, as I think you’ll see, there’s such a huge philosophical divide between me and Mr. Phillips — one that reaches far beyond the issues being debated — that I don’t think it’s worth pursuing further.
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! More Lunch Tray on Monday . . .