Archive for the ‘Food and Beverages’ Category
By 2015, four out of 10 Americans may be obese. Until last year, the author was one of them. The way he lost one-third of his weight isn’t for everyone. But unless America stops cheering The Biggest Loser and starts getting serious about preventing obesity, the country risks being overwhelmed by chronic disease and ballooning health costs. Will first lady Michelle Obama’s new plan to fight childhood obesity work, or is it just another false start in the country’s long and so far unsuccessful war against fat? — Beating Obesity, The Atlantic
The story was titled “Beating Obesity” and was framed in Ambinder’s personal struggles with obesity and how, through bariatric surgery, he was able to overcome the oftentimes crippling physical, mental and social implications behind the disorder.
Now, since I barely push the century mark in weight and, however futilely, do all I can to actually put on pounds. Thus, I was enjoying a hearty burrito de carnitas at one of my favorite local Mexican joints and reading a story about obesity. Just in front of me, and later seated at a nearby table, came a middle-aged couple, and the man, by any standards, could rightly be categorized as overweight. His corpulence was not initially apparent to me until he got up to go to the bathroom. Upon returning, and already breathing heavily, he, with no small measure of effort, slid back into the booth across from the woman. He then continued his labored breathing for a good 3-4 minutes after that, and I thought, unless he has a genuine breathing condition, he really isn’t helping himself by loading up on Mexican food. And I then thought: “This really is what’s wrong with this country.”
Admitting my own guilt — although to many people’s chagrin, and to mine, I can eat just about anything and stay the same size — we readily recognize our own unhealthiness, personally and as a nation, yet continue, week after week, to pony up to the buffet line as if we have lived off a diet of food and water for two straight weeks.
Although I don’t really have a dog in that hunt, obesity really is far-reaching problem in the United States, and we should all be concerned about the horse-trough mentality that pervades this country. Some individual cases of obesity do have ties to genetics and societal pressures. We can’t dispute that. But the overarching health issues we have in this country, rising cases of diabetes, for instance, is inextricably linked to our Wahoo, gung-ho, manifest destiny, I-want-it-all-and-I-want-it-now culture.
And, ever a capitalistic engine, we exploit this culture to entertain our baser impulses. Ambinder notes that
For the average fat person, life can be an endless chain of humiliating experiences. On a flight to Denver not too long ago, I watched as a very large woman struggled to settle into her seat. Next to her, a much skinnier man curled his lip in disgust. The woman softly asked a passing flight attendant for a seat-belt extender. The flight attendant didn’t hear her over the roar of the engines, so the woman had to ask again, and this time, everyone looked at her. Grocery shopping, eating at restaurants, going to the movies, having drinks at a crowded bar—for the fat person, these are situations to be negotiated and survived, not enjoyed. The workplace is no different: a television executive once remarked to me that my career as a political analyst would “really take off if [I] would just lose a few pounds.” When I was fat, I avoided meeting people’s eyes. I didn’t want to subject them to my ugliness.
Unfortunately, our culture reinforces this anxiety by turning obesity into pornography. This is not surprising. Obesity has become not just a scientific fad of sorts, generating intense research, curiosity, and public concern, but also a commercial gold mine that draws on the same kind of audiences that used to go to circus carnivals a century ago to peer at freakishly obese men and women. The TLC network, which long ago transcended its “Learning Channel” origins and gave the world Jon and Kate, now features obesity-programming blocks. One recent special followed the progress of an extremely obese teenage boy who struggled through bariatric surgery and its aftermath. Another special chronicled the life of the fattest man in the world. In addition to The Biggest Loser, NBC’s popular weight-loss boot-camp competition, and Fox’s More to Love, a dating show for larger people, the Oxygen network now has a dancing competition called Dance Your Ass Off. Fat people are funny.
Our obsession with the obsessive has to end and the much debated health care reform package must contain elements geared toward education about diabetes; the dangers of overeating, fast food and sodas; and general healthy living. And the education must begin with children in elementary school. I’m no star student and enjoy a meaty, messy, 1,000-calorie burger like everyone else, but we could also use a good measure of conscience-raising , or else, Americans will continue to be among the least healthy people in the modernized world.
Note: This critique excludes French fries.
Ok, I’ve had this on my chest for quite some time, so forgive the lack of sources, thoughtful analysis or coherent structure.
Am I the only one of the apparent 47 million served on planet Earth each day who thinks McDonald’s should just get out of the burger business altogether and try something new.
Maybe tacos or pizza.
But seriously, McD’s burgers are lifeless, tasteless, dry wastes of my time, energy and money. So, in the absence of a Hardees within throwing distance, nay, driving distance, I decided to try one of McD’s new and heralded Angus burgers today. News flash: It’s as dry and forgettable as their other offerings, and frankly, I think the Whopper, at a cheaper price, is bigger and more satisfying. Meanwhile, Hardees’ thick burgers put McD’s Angus burgers to shame. To review, if it’s fast food we’re talking about — a lowly brand of burger, I know — Hardees pwns McD’s shotty attempt at a culinary retort.
As I was choking down this non-juicy thing (I had already doused it with hefty doses of salt, pepper and mayonnaise to try to help it out a little), I was amazed, in mid-chew, by the “Savor the Flavor” bit of rhetoric on the takeout bag. Savor what? The dried-out bun, the government cheese or the tasteless beef? It goes without saying, then, that places like Wendy’s, Burger King and hell, even Checkers, also pwn McD’s in the $1-menu category of burger. The former three actually have some semblance of taste. Burger King’s dollar burger actually tastes grilled. Checkers cheap burgers are at least savory and heartily seasoned.
So, the morale of this crudely constructed thesis? If I’m going to die because some crackpot doctor screwed up on my cholesterol-induced triple bypass heart surgery, I would rather The King woo me to the operating room.
If you’re looking for more nonsense from this politically correct, hyper sensitive, be-fearful-of-everything-from-what’s-on-TV-to-video-games era of child rearing in which we are living, look no further than the American Academy of Pediatrics‘s proposal to redesign the hot dog, citing choking hazards. In this article, Dr. Gary Smith, lead author of the AAP policy statement, said:
If you were to find the best engineers in the world and ask them to design the perfect plug for a child’s airway, you couldn’t do much better than the hot dog. It is the right shape and the right size to wedge itself in and completely block a child’s airway. It’s only a matter of minutes before permanent brain damage and death occur.
If this is the case, logic would suggest that a good parent wouldn’t let their child eat hot dogs under any circumstance unless they were cut up into small pieces. But why bother with such a pesky thing as logic when we can add choking hazard labels and resign an American tradition. In fact, if we took the latter approach, it would cease to be a hot dog, and according to Eric Hummel, director of marketing for Hummel Brothers Meat Products, such a reinvention wouldn’t even be possible. I was actually driving when I caught this interview with Robert Siegel on NPR. Hummel indicated that
… we’re at a loss on a redesign. You know, when my kids were little, even though I make hot dogs, I would always cut them up into bite-size pieces for them.
SIEGEL: So, that is one way to take an otherwise potentially fatal hot dog and turn it into a benign food for the smallest child.
Mr. HUMMEL: That’s right, that’s right. And, you know, the way we make a hot dog, it would be virtually impossible to make it in really any other shape. And I don’t know if that’s what the pediatricians were getting at, to change the shape. But the recommendation that we always give families with young children is to make sure that the hot dog itself is a skinless hot dog and you try to buy the skinniest ones that we make.
Hummel went on to say:
… when a hot dog is made, the meat is ground up and then it’s put through an emulsifier, which has small little pinholes on it. So, all the meat is pushed through there. So, it comes out the emulsion as more like a dough. And then that dough is put into a casing whether it be a natural casing, a collagen casing or a cellulose casing … So, there’s really no way to stuff that emulsion or dough into anything other than sort of a long narrow casing. There’s no way to make a hot dog in say like a hamburger patty form.
Janet Riley, president of the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, got it right when she told USA Today:
As a mother who has fed toddlers cylindrical foods like grapes, bananas, hot dogs and carrots, I ‘redesigned’ them in my kitchen by cutting them with a paring knife until my children were old enough to manage on their own.
So, what’s next? People choke on steak all the time. I could easily go down for the three-count on my next ribeye, but enough chews and a nearby drink have, thus far, prevented catastrophe. Are we to target butchers now and harangue them into producing even more tender, delicatable steak? Or maybe the cows are at fault …?
and meaningless on the cultural front.
Someone should tell Hardees execs — and now McDonald’s execs — that is extremely annoying pulling up to the drive-thru window and being asked questions like, “Would you care to try our new pork chop gravy, corn bread and mashed potato omelet bowl today?”
“Actually, no I don’t want to try your new bistro chipotle wrap, thanks. I want to try whatever it is I tell you I want to try.”
I go to Hardees often because their biscuits are grease-tastically good, and I apparently feel a certain desire to nudge my lifespan ever downward. So, I hear the obligatory, “Would you like to try our new pork chop gravy biscuit today?” quite often. Sometimes, the cashier forgets what it is she’s supposed to be pushing over on us, and there’s this awkward pause: “Would you like to try our … … bacon, sausage portobello … no wait, baby back rib gravy bowl … oh wait … oh yeah, pork chop gravy biscuit.” I used to be like, “No thanks. I’ll have … ” But I don’t even acknowledge they asked me anything anymore. I just pretend as if they never said anything and continue with the order. It’s the only way I can live with myself.
Needless to say, it’s maddening, and I feel like driving off right then and there. I go to Bojangles most of the time for biscuits nowadays, though. At least they ask us what we want rather than tell us what they think we should get. Sadly, McDonald’s has now started the trend … at least the one in Clemson, S.C. If they only knew how super annoying it was for the customer, they would stop the practice immediately and let me decide whether I want to try their new fruit loop, flap jack, super-duper whatever, whatever on my own.
I know it’s the brew of choice for bookish types and test crammers everywhere, but am I the only who thinks the regular blend of Starbucks is much too harsh on the ‘ol taste buds? I don’t mind dark coffee, but Starbucks’ just seems to have a pervasive bitterness to it that I can’t get past.
Right now, I’m trying Starbucks breakfast blend, and it actually quite a bit better in my book, although breakfast blend in other brands, Maxwell House and the like, seem to be TOO mild. If you actually have a “Coffee” section on your household budget like us, try these: Cafe du Monde chicory, Yuban or New England Coffee. And if you can’t afford that elitist stuff, just go with JFG or the house brand. Honestly, I can’t find a huge difference taste-wise between them and Maxwell House or Folgers.
For run-of-the-mill restaurant coffees, both McDonald’s and Hardees make good brews, and any Ryans, Shoney’s or Waffle House. Huddle House coffee, in my experience, tastes like cigarette ash. That’s assuming I know what cigarette ash tastes like, which I don’t. But if I did, that would be a close estimation.