Trans America (the other kind, the evil fat kind)

CriscoimageThere was an op-ed piece in the NYT about trans fats this weekend. Nothing big or new in terms of facts, but a great title: Nuggets of Death.

That would be a good name for a band.

Dammit, the name seems to be taken…sort of, I think.

Well, seeing as there’s at least some loose confederation of individuals calling themselves Nuggets of Death, it seems I’m too late to found a all-vegetarian cholesterol-lowering activist band by the same name. (Nuggets of Death, in case you’d forgotten. See? It’s just fun to say. Nuggets of Death, Nuggets of Death Death Death.) I’ll just have to go with my longstanding plan to start an all-woman feminist heavy metal band called Damn Beavers.

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Up With Spinach

Spinach Today in the food press, another one of the occasional stories noting the enormous growth in the spinach category – 66% from 1992 to 2002. If you’re not a close observer of the produce industry, the reasons for this are 1) bagged salad and 2) flat-leaf/baby spinach.

This is inspirational to everyone I know in produce, I think – it’s real proof that if you make something that’s healthy easy for people to do, they will do it. Until we get everyone’s minds changed about how easy it actually is to eat a healthy, fruit and vegetable-rich diet (we’ll be a while at that), packaged produce is where we can make the most impact to start.

This reminds me of one of my favorite studies I’ve seen, one that replaced the near-crunchy-water-and-nothing-else iceberg lettuce in fast-food sandwiches with spinach and found that consumers couldn’t tell the difference. What a great way to get more nutrients into people. Since then, Subway has added baby spinach to its menu.

Annual per capita consumption of spinach is now 2.4 lbs. per person, according to the USDA. I think my consumption is probably around four times that, hopefully making up for how badly I’m doing on my per capita consumption of soda, hot dogs and pizza.

Soda consumption down; first time in 20 years

There was this story making the rounds today about the beverage recommendations of a batch of experts. A recommendation that Americans drink less soda is prominent among them. It turns out they were heavily financed by Unilever, (parent company of Lipton Tea) and though one of the researchers says they were not swayed by the contribution, there have been complaints from the American Beverage Association that the recommendations give short shrift to milk and show too much acceptance for alcohol. (The ABA, of course, represents the manufacturers of non-alcoholic beverages. It’s hilarious to watch the carefully indignant press releases fly sometimes.)

At any rate, the natural companion to this piece is an article in the Times with the news that soda sales fell last year for the first time in 20 years. They don’t say with figures where the shift is going, though I think most people could tell you much of it is bottled water.

That Times article mentions a study in Pediatrics that found a direct correlation between the consumption of soda and other sweetened beverages and weight gain in teenagers. They delivered cases of low-calorie drinks to the teens and the teens lost weight.

Cue the previously-mentioned American Beverage Association:

The American Beverage Association, the trade and lobbying group for the beverage industry, criticized the study, saying that the weight loss occurred only among a “small, select group” and that the teenagers lost weight because of the loss of calories, not the absence of sweetened soda.

Uh, the absence of sweetened soda was the absence of calories.

“It stands to reason that anyone could lose weight if calories from any certain food or beverage are removed and not replaced by other calories,” the association said in a statement.

Of course they would. It’s just really easy to remove a lot of calories by removing sweetened soda.