Here’s a excellent, albeit long, article that makes numerous points rebutting the nutrition scolds (esp. Bittman and Pollan). While there is a lot of meat in this article, including pointing out numerous contradictions in the dogma of the scolds, the real point (which is approximately what I’ve been saying) is that the scolds, in their absurd narrow-minded views and holier-than-thou attitudes are actually harming people who do need to lose weight and improve their health. By setting the bar at ridiculous elitist levels they actually discourage real people from taking real steps to address their weight issues.
In point, most people simply can’t afford Whole Foods (or even more elitist, find locally grown foods (try that in the middle of winter in Nebraska)) and they can’t afford the time to prepare meals. So they’re left with eating out and often and inexpensively. Isn’t that so plebeian of most people they can’t afford expensive markets and restaurants, why don’t they write books and columns and get paid more. Well, most of us can’t do that. So in point it will do a lot more good to get some improvements in the actual food that real people eat.
But of course the scolds hate anything associated with mass marketing and so even when fast food places try to make changes in their offerings they get nothing but bricks thrown at them by the scolds. But this article demolishes most of that, how the scolds (esp. Bittman) are total hypocrites, putting forth recipes that are far worse than what MickeyD’s does. Or making false claims, like denouncing McD’s oatmeal breakfast because it has, oh the horror, sugar, even though it’s less than an apple (even organic, local, and raw, contains).
The food industry is not trying to make us fat, they’re trying to make money. And they’ll do whatever works. So the article points out that the food industry, much more than the scolds, is finding ways to get us to eat better. Selling food as healthy is the absolute best way not to get ordinary people to eat it.
Why does Sarah Palin (who is slim and exercises obviously) bring cupcakes and denounce Michelle Obama’s vegetable message? Why does Mississippi, a state with the worst stats on obesity pass a law banning any government entity (in Mississippi) from requiring calorie labeling? Simple – these people don’t like a bunch of elitists telling them what to do and Bittman and Pollan are so insufferable almost no one is going to listen to them.
No, real people need real and achievable help. If, on average, the American public cut 50-100 calories per meal, a level they would hardly notice, the obesity (assuming they don’t redefine it again to artificially inflate the numbers) would disappear. Now who is more likely to accomplish that – a food scold and elitist like Bittman, advocating a cost of food less than a few percent of Americans can afford, or McDonalds by getting rid of yolks in their Egg McMuffin but selling that as a tastier alternative. I think McD’s, if they really try, is a lot better at selling than Pollan is, so why not encourage them, instead of insulting them and treating anyone who goes to McDs as some low class knuckle-dragger.
So, guys, not only is your message just dogma and not based on science, it’s lousy salesmanship. So if you actually care about people (instead of just selling books and acting superior) then come up with effective messages to actually persuade people to make the small changes they need (figure about selling kale instead of burgers, find the argument for selling slightly smaller burgers).