But isn’t nutrition a personal choice? Yes. None of these potential laws would restrict consumption. They’d make us more aware of our choices.
1. All packaged food should list the nutritional information for the entire package, not just for a single serving size.
Here are some serving sizes as listed on the labels now:
-Chips Ahoy: 3 cookies
-ice cream: half a cup
-Tostitos Hint of Lime chips: 6 chips
-packaged muffins: half a muffin
-Frosted Flakes: 3/4 of a cup
-14 oz microwavable bowl of Healthy Choice soup: half the bowl
Does anyone eat with that kind of restraint? It’s much too easy to mistakenly transfer the per serving information to whatever amount you actually eat.
2. Restaurants should list the calorie count for every item on the menu.
This is already a law in New York City, Philadelphia, Oregon, California and Maryland. Make whatever choice you want, but know what you’re putting into your body. Some items are higher in calories than you’d guess.
3. Fountain drink cups should be smaller.
In his book Salt Sugar Fat, Michael Moss writes that in nutrition circles, no food item is considered a greater part of the obesity problem than pop.
New York City has an upper limit on fountain drink size. You’re free to get refills, but don’t think a mega-size is a normal amount to have.
4. Any packaged food item with high proportions of salt, sugar or fat should be labelled as such.
Sport drinks, vitamin waters and chocolate milk are loaded with sugar. Granola bars frequently have more sugar than chocolate bars. Cranberry cocktail out-sugars Pepsi. Go-gurt has twice as much sugar as Lucky Charms does. Amy’s Organic Minestrone, Newman’s Own Organic Pasta Sauce, V-8 and Campbell’s low-fat soups are very high in sodium.
These are all items it’s possible to perceive as healthful. A simple, easy-to-spot icon on the label would correct that.
5. Any item high in salt, sugar or fat should be taxed.
Just like cigarettes.
6. Any item that’s low in salt, sugar and fat (not just one or two of those items) should be subsidized.
Make the better choice cheaper.
Castoreum is derived from the two scent sacs between a beaver’s anus and genitals. It’s used to add raspberry flavour to candy, gum, juice, beer, and much else. It’s listed as “natural flavours.”
Carminic acid comes from the crushed bodies of insects. It’s used to colour strawberry yogurt, Ocean Spray pink grapefruit juice, frozen fruit bars, candies and fruit fillings. It’s listed as “natural colours.”
Don’t let these items pass under vague and misleading terms. Let consumers know when they’re about to consume crushed bugs and beaver anus.
8. Ban high salt/sugar/fat foods advertising in magazines, TV channels, shows and websites aimed at kids.
Quebec, Sweden, Norway and Britain have already done this.
9. Make ads for high salt/sugar/fat foods list their negative effects.
Just like with commercials for pharmaceutical products, make them undercut their happy sales pitch with the truth.
Food companies are businesses. Their mandated purpose is not to foster a healthy society, but to make money for their shareholders. They’re going to prey on our collective ignorance as long as it’s profitable. Only laws will curb their efforts.
Let’s educate ourselves. Let’s make it harder for anyone to remain stuck in obliviousness. Let’s shed the belief that food should be as cheap and convenient as possible. Let’s garden in front and back yards, community garden plots, on balconies, windowsills and rooftops. Let’s cook from whole ingredients. Let’s read and talk about what we’re eating more. Let’s eat together more. The benefits of a better food culture would far surpass the savings in health care.