Food News from Around the World

I’m headed into the mountains for a couple of days to visit my Grandma, so I’ll be out of internet range. Blogging will resume Monday, November 30th. Enjoy your Thanksgiving day and, as always, if you see any stories you think would be good entries for the site, please send them to editor[at] cavehumor[dot] com.

The New York Times published a pretty good opinion piece on the city’s new requirement that restaurant chains post calorie counts on their menus a couple days ago. I particularly like the authors point about how some restaurants are probably already finding ways around it with shady tactics, “I wouldn’t be surprised if some chains threw a couple of hypercaloric items onto the menu for contrast, to make us feel better about our large fries.”I think he’s absolutely right and it shows through with his conclusion, “If we still go to Cinnabon, we might skip the Caramel Pecanbon — which at 1,120 calories provides more than half the daily allowance for a standard male. Choosing the 850 calorie regular bun will look reasonable by comparison.”Ultimately, though, I think he’s also right that even if this measure isn’t immediately getting everyone eating right, it’s at least giving them a reason for pause.

Alabama (the state, not the band) has decided to impose higher monthly health insurance premiums on obese state workers to help combat soaring insurance costs resulting from their state’s 30.3% obesity prelevance. Outside of sighting the overwhelmingly misleading report The Archives of Internal Medicine published this month, WebMD did a surprisingly fair and comprehensive article on the issue.I’m honestly not sure which side of the debate I fall on just yet. On the one hand, it seems to make perfect sense that obese people should pay higher health insurance premiums. After all, if you are constantly crashing your car, you prove that you are a higher risk on the road and, therefore, you have to pay for it. Likewise, if you are obese and do nothing to try and turn things around, you are putting yourself at a much higher risk for a host of extremely costly and even deadly diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “…the death rate rankings for obesity-related diseases in Alabama are among the highest in the nation. Alabama ranks 6th for heart disease, 9th for stoke, and 10th for diabetes.” Given those statistics, it seems to make perfect sense that those who are creating the extra cost should bear the brunt of the punishment.

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that, according to the Australian Food and Grocery Council, “a ban on food advertising during children’s television programs in Queensland would do little to combat childhood obesity.”It’s good to see that inaccurate and one-sided health reporting is not just an American phenomena. The Australian Food and Grocery Council is “the national body representing the nation’s food and grocery products manufacturers.” Given that, one would hope at least one opposing view would be quoted in the article. However, that is apparently asking far too much as Kate Carnell, chief executive of the Council, is the only source for the story. Not surprisingly, she offers this vague non-statement on the issue, “We strongly believe that solutions to childhood obesity are more likely to be found when government, industry and other stakeholders work in concert.”By their own admission, their goal is to, “help shape a business environment that encourages the food and grocery products industry to grow and remain profitable.” And, how could they possibly “grow and remain profitable” if we cut off their most easily influenced and mislead source of funding, our children?As a result, we are forced to read absurd statements, such as, “Ms Carnell said that in 2007 the Australian Communications and Media Authority found food and beverage advertising contributed no more than two per cent of children’s choice of products.”Well, I need to get in on that two percent because the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood reports, “In 2006, more than 80 different media programs were used to promote food to children through brand licensing or toy giveaways. That same year fast food restaurants sold more than 1.2 billion kids meals with toys.”Yeah, it might be tough, but I’m pretty sure I could squeak by on the profits from 1.2 billion kids meals.The Rest of the Story.Tags: Dead Wrong, Target: ChildrenPosted in Food Marketing,  Sugar Addiction |   No Comments » –>Wednesday, August 27th, 2008I just ran across one woman’s account of her long time struggle with diet pop.It’s amazing to hear the number of people who told her to quit with no luck, “I was in denial about the diagnosis, and it wasn’t the only piece of professional advice I got to quit: my gynecologist reminded me that caffeine has in some cases been linked to vaginal cysts. My dentist said he couldn’t bleach my soda-stained teeth. After a root canal, the endodontist warned me that soda’s ingredients eroded tooth enamel, making emergency procedures more likely. The magic potion I drank for decades was wreaking havoc on different parts of my body.”Yet, even after all of this, one reader comments below the article, “Not sure I’m convinced.” I don’t know how anyone could have the nerve to question another’s addiction, especially when it has such negative side effects as those listed above.If he is not convinced you can become addicted to pop, maybe he should check the statistics on consumption in this country. In the table listed above, note that in 1947 beverage companies produced 100 cans of pop for every living American. By 1998 that number peaked at just under 600 cans per person. If that isn’t enough evidence to convince you Americans are addicted to pop, I hear the Flat Earth Society is currently holding a membership drive; I’m sure you’d fit right in.

Please allow me to preface this post with a statement of absolute discontent at America’s obsession with celebrity stalking. TMZ, People Magazine, & other gawking shows and publications of that nature are truly an abomination and are going to be a very heavy millstone around the necks of many people when they are judged during the General Resurrection.Having said that, as someone who’s always mining the internet for good sugar stories to blog about, I couldn’t help but click when I was checking my hotmail and saw the headline, “‘Healthy’ & sugar-free How Britney got her bod back.”It’s always great to hear about anyone making the “sugar connection,” so I was naturally excited to read her remarks. In the article Britney states, “I’m the healthiest I’ve been all my life…My diet has a lot to do with my getting into shape. I have no sugar.”Ok, so far so good, but then this happened, “I don’t eat fruit or even fruit juice because of the sugar.”

For anyone in southeast Michigan, there is a fantastic holistic nutrition festival taking place at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor Saturday, September 13, 2008 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.The Deidre Currie Festival is a celebration of the life and passions of Deidre (Dee) Currie. To quote the site, Dee was a, “World traveler, teacher, gourmet cook, nutritionist, environmentalist, athlete, outdoor adventurer, green building designer, marathon runner, dear friend, beloved wife, daughter, sister…mother…(she) packed more into her 38 years of life then most people who live to be ninety.”Dee passed away due to complications from a pulmonary embolism (a blockage of the pulmonary arteries, which carry blood from the heart to the lungs) January 8, 2008. Thanks be to God, however, for her phenomenal focus on nutrition and wellness because she was able to hold out long enough to deliver her son six weeks premature, yet as healthy as a full term baby.Author of Nourishing Traditions Sally Fallon will make two presentations at the festival on the “Dirty Little Secrets of the Food Industry” and the “Oiling of America.” Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride will discuss her book Gut & Psychology Syndrome and also speak to “The Truth About Heart Disease.” Agri-Dynamics founder Jerry Brunetti will also be on hand to discuss “Agriculture & Industrialization.” Lastly, sustainable farmer Karen Lubbers will offer a presentation titled “Cows Make Milk, Not Beans.”In addition to the fantastic speakers, there will be a gourmet farmers market with plenty of food from the best sustainable farmers in Michigan and a children’s health center where you can find out all the latest on issues like childhood vaccinations and what genetically modified foods do to your children. The cost for the day is $45 and, as far as I can tell, will be worth every penny!

“But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Saducees, they came together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:34-40) Many people visiting my site for the first time might be tempted to ask, “What does any of this have to do with the moral life anyways? You sound like some hippie on his tree hugging soap box yelling about the evils of McDonald’s and other food manufacturers all the time. I just don’t see what any of this has to do with the imitation of Christ.”Well, thank you for asking; I’ll be happy to explain.In the Gospel passage listed above, the Pharisees attempt to pigeon hole Jesus by asking him, “Which is the greatest commandment in the law?” In order to fully understand the meaning of this question, we have to reflect on the context. This lawyer was not simply referring to the 10 Commandments. Instead, he was referencing the 613 Mitzvot (”commandments”), which the Jews discerned from reading the Torah, also known as the Five Books of Moses; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Keeping this in mind, the question actually reads, “Out of the 613 laws of Moses, which one should we really follow?” This is a seemingly clever tactic. There are so many good ones to choose from. Will he go for not making an idol of yourself (Exodus 20:4)? Or maybe he’ll pick not listening to a false prophet (Deuteronomy 13:4), that’s a really good one.The problem with this approach is the Pharisees are focusing on the external rules one must follow, but Jesus cuts straight to the heart, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.”Again, you may be asking, “Ok, so you Jesus was a really smart guy; what’s the point?”

In a masterful ploy for the hearts and minds of millions of Chinese children, McDonald’s hired Michael Phelps as their “Global Ambassador” to teach the Chinese how to eat like Americans. Phelps helped launch McDonald’s Champion Kids program where 300 kids from around the world were brought to China “for the experience of a lifetime.”According to McDonald’s Global Chief Marketing Officer Mary Dillon, “These kids will reach out to thousands more, connecting with their worldwide peers to communicate the sights and sounds of the Olympic Games.”In other words, these kids know thousands of kids, who know thousands of kids, etc. And if we can covertly create a ubiquitous presence in their lives with warm and fuzzy childhood memories of lunch with gold medal Olympians, they and all of their friends are much more likely to become “Heavy Users” when they grow up.Targeting children with experiential marketing campaigns is nothing new for McDonald’s. In fact, they are so good at it that a study which came out in August, 2007 found, “Most 3- and 5-year-olds who taste-tested a variety of foods said they preferred the ones in the McDonald’s wrapper — even though the foods were exactly the same…”Since Ronald McDonald was introduced in 1963 McDonald’s has continued to refine and perfect their approach to children. In the words of my 5-year-old niece, “He’s funny, because he’s got big red shoes!”Yet, since the 2004 release of Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me, many people have become cautiously optimistic about the education of Americans regarding the ills of fast food.However, with fast food junkie turned Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps all too ready to proclaim the good news of the golden arches, it appears that for today, we’ve made one step forward and two steps back.

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