Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Another Blight on American Culture

This just in from the BBC, thanks to various restaurant chains, Americans now apparently indulge in "X-treme Eating." The Center for Science in the Public Interest has identified various creations on chain restaurant menus as "Hybrid horribles," each item often containing more than a day's worth of calories even for an appetizer and combining individually unhealthy items into one nutritionally obscene dish.

"Now we see lasagne with meatballs on top; ice cream with cookies, brownies, and candy mixed in; bacon cheeseburger pizzas, buffalo-chicken-stuffed quesadillas, and other hybrid horribles that are seemingly designed to promote obesity, heart disease, and stroke." says CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson.

The CSPI's main assertion is that first, restaurants should not be "competing with each other to make their appetizers, main courses, and desserts bigger, badder, and cheesier than ever before;" and second, that the chains should offer nutrition labeling on the menus.

The article features a lovely photo of an overweight American wearing a stocking cap, flannel shirt and looking like he just fell off the back of a muddy pickup in the middle of downtown New York. It's a lousy stereotype. It's not pretty. But, neither is the image of American conspicous consumption (re: gluttony) in the eyes of the world at large.

I am all for nutrition labeling on menus, or at least having the information available on request. If you are going to indulge, or over-indulge, you should do so consciously. And, for those not faint of heart (for more reasons than one), maybe those ingredient lists should have a bit of background on just how those industrial foods are produced. That would be truly conscious eating. Except, of course, for all of us multitudes of Americans who just fell off the back of a pickup and cannot read ...

But, I have to admit, once or twice a year, bacon cheeseburger pizza is SOOO good. Those little dill pickles and mustard with pizza sauce and cheese. The operative phrase is, once or twice a year, though. Knowingly, willingly, guiltlessly, and rarely. And not the whole damn pizza in a single sitting.

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