As we prepare for the season’s opening of You Want Fries With That at Hickory Corners, the Ontario Medical Association is pushing for eateries to post calorie information about their menu items.
YWFWT is our – for lack of a better term – fry wagon that operates on a swatch of real estate adjacent to Action Sales on Highway 22. Doctors seem to think that it’s a lack of awareness and not bad choices that’s making our populace so fat. Somehow, they believe, it has escaped our attention that a hunk of cheese has more fat than a leaf of lettuce so they’re calling for regulations to hold the hand of the chewing public and teach them about nutrition. This is poppycock, which, by the way, has 160 calories per half cup with 8 grams of fat.
When someone stops for an order of fries they know what they’re getting. There is no possible way that anyone thinks deep-fried anything is the most heart-healthy choice, which is why fare such as ours is generally enjoyed on an occasional basis. They are, quite simply, the best french fries I have ever tasted but if I tasted them every day in no time I’d be dressing exclusively in stretchy XXXL sweatpants even for formal events. Requiring a small enterprise such as ours to figure out the caloric value of our wares is over-the-top. We don’t have a head office to do forensic potato audits for us. We’re too busy cutting the spuds for our fresh-cut fries.
The doctors have it backwards. It’s just the same as with cigarettes. Smoking every day will kill you but the product is legal so trying to outlaw the use of it is just, well, pushing people out onto the streets in front of buildings and ruining the experience for the rest of us. So if they really think a steady diet of fries is so bad, do what New York has done and say, no trans-fats in restaurants. That would force us all to find alternatives and level the playing field. But don’t make us into food Moms who lecture our clientele about what they choose to fill their bellies with. If someone wants a 600 calorie latte they’re going to order it as a treat. Hopefully they’re smart enough to not make it a regular part of their diet. And if someone wants to lunch on a plate of deep fried taters, hot out of the oil, they should be able to have them. Let’s assume they’re smart enough to choose a nice salad, easy on the dressing, for the next day’s lunch.
2 thoughts on “You Want An Education With That”
I read your blog today about the OMA’s proposed calorie (nutritional) content disclosure and could not disagree more with your point of view. While I can accept your specific argument – that deep-fried anything is basically great-tasting crap (with all due respect to your fry stand) and everyone who eats it knows this going into it.
What I disagree with is the more general point of view in your post that people don’t need to be mothered when it comes to making food choices. The problem with this is that the offerings in many restaurants are loaded with salt, fat and calories that you would never suspect were there – the amount of salt that is used is absolutely horrifying in many cases. And there is a reason well beyond the cost of chemical analysis that prevents restaurants from disclosing the good and the bad that is in their menu items – they know what’s in these items and it ain’t pretty…and they know if customers knew this information, many of them would be making different choices, including eating somewhere else. I’m not sure if you saw the feature that Marketplace did on this topic (and there have been several others), but if you didn’t, you may find the attached eye-opening:
I am the first person to defend someone’s right to decide, but with that right should come the opportunity to make fully informed decisions. I think government too often sticks its nose into places it should not, but this is one area where I think they can and should take a role in empowering the people they serve to make informed decisions. Restaurants are offering choices that can do people harm without disclosing that information. I mean who would imagine that fajitas at Kelsey’s have 1400 calories? This is not mothering in the sense that we should tell someone “this has 800 calories and 600mg of salt so you shouldn’t eat it,” but rather “this has 800 calories and 600 mg of salt – thought you might want to know that before making that choice.”
I love your blogs Lisa and miss you on 680…hope you don’t mind a contrarian opinion!
Posted from email with permission from the author!
Todd I think you make good points but I still stick with my position on this. I know that if I order a veggie stirfry which seems to be a nice, light choice, I’m going to get a tub of salt and fat in the sauce they insist on bathing it in. People make bad food choices and that is their right! I don’t think transparency of menu items is going to make any difference. Frozen dinners and fast food are always going to be easy and that’s just what some people are shooting for, regardless of the sodium and other crap within. If the law comes into effect we will comply, of course, but it just seems like overkill. Maybe I just don’t appreciate how little most people know about nutrition. A lifetime around the Weight Watchers plan teaches a person an awful lot about ingredients, calories and portion control.
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