Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Soda Tax?

A few days ago, Elana of Elana's Pantry, posted her initial reactions about Mark Bittman's Op/Ed piece in the NYT about a potential junk food tax, which you can read here. Well, the passions have flared! Currently, there are 162 comments, and they fall along very predictable party lines. Some are very adamant about the government not being in their pantry and others are all for it.

Where do I stand? I think it's a great idea, personally. I tend to buy more expensive sodas anyway, without the HFCS, and honestly, I don't do it that often. I would be happy to pay a bit more, particularly if that tax money were to go to something useful. Aha! But there's the rub. What about subsidizing vegetables? In theory, I'd be okay with that, if it means that families like the one featured in Food, Inc.(you know the ones...the family that can only afford to eat fast food dollar menu items, can't afford fresh produce, and are obese and on tons of medications as a result? Yeah, them) can actually afford REAL FOOD.

I have to say, I'm really surprised by how violently people reacted to the post, on the anti-tax side. the government is not going shopping with them, slapping their hands away; they would still have the freedom to choose Coke or Pepsi, but they'd have to pay a little more to do so, just like if they were buying a bottle of wine or a pack of cigarrettes.

Do I think the government has the best food policies as others feared? No. Do I wish we could just get rid of the USDA and the FDA? No, because I think they play important roles. We do need food and drug regulation. We just need to not have big corporations making all the rules for the government. It's them who I really have a problem with, not the government. Our government just needs a real backbone.

And anyway, it's been shown before that if soda's more expensive, people will consume less of it. That can't be a bad thing for anyone, right?

Part of this week's Fight Back Friday from Food Renegade!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Nutrition IQ, eh? Ugh.

I walked into a Star Market yesterday for a quick snack. I ended up grabbing a Larabar. I love how few ingredients they have! This one was Peanut Butter Cookie, made of only dates, peanuts, and salt. Yum!

But that's not the point of this post. The point comes from the flier I picked up on my way out of the store, entitled Nutrition IQ. This system, found here:, was put together by the Joslin Clinic, which specializes in Diabetes research and care. Okay, fine and good; I'm sure it's well intentioned, but a few things just don't sit right with me.

First thing on the list? Whole grains, of course. Yes, they have B vitamins and minerals, but so do a lot of other foods, like milk, eggs, meats, and liver. If you want vegetarian sources of B vitamins, try mushrooms, for example. If you want to avoid grains, like I try to do, really, there is no problem getting B vitamins at all. And I eat plenty of veggies, so I'm not missing out on fiber. And for those who would still like whole grains in their diet, so be it, but cereal is as nutritionally sound as cardboard. get good soaked and sprouted grains if you really want to maximize the nutritional value.

A second problem I have is with the Vitamin A listing. They give fruits and veggies, tomato paste, pasta sauce, and salsa as good sources of vitamin A. But it's a misnomer. They are good sources of Beta Carotene and other plant carotonids, which the body is supposed to convert into Vitamin A.But the conversion rate is not wonderful, 12 mg of beta-carotene to 1 mg of Vitamin A, and that's supposed to be typical. Not everyone does the conversion that well. It's much easier to use vitamin A from animal resources, eggs and milk being on that list (raw milk and pastured eggs of course being the BEST sources!) And even better, the more beta-carotene you consume, the worse you convert it! Oops!

Yeah, I know people freak out about Vitamin A being toxic, but there is some evidence to suggest that if you are up on your vitamin D (which didn't even MAKE the Nutrition IQ list-oy!) then higher levels of Vitamin A are okay. They work synergystically. Amazing! See here:

My final issue is the emphasis on having low saturated fats. It's last on the list, but here's what they put for foods there: Salad Dressing, Non-fat Sour Cream, Crackers, Seafood, Tortillas, Pasta Sauce, and Popcorn. Add these to the repeated drivel of Lean Meats, and you have one unhappy TF blogger! Okay, so seafood is fine, but I bet the crackers, tortilla chips, and popcorn are surely going to raise triglyceride levels and lower the "good" cholesterol, HDL, so where's the benefit here? And Non-fat sour cream? Yuck! Get the good stuff with the full fat, and it'll be so rich you won't need all that much if you're that worried about your calorie counts.

So yeah, this is what is being passed off by the "experts." I know it's well-intentioned and all, but seriously? If I ate like this, I'd feel poorly really quickly.