October 23, 2003

Labels on Menus?

Our beloved federal government is hopefully just planting the seed and won't insist on laws to water the plant, but...

Yahoo reports that the government is "encouraging or even requiring" labels on restaurant menus to detail calories regarding food items.

Restaurants doing this voluntarily: fabulous! And do more than calories, please. I want info all the way down to fiber grams.

Unfortunately, this is spearheaded by the radical Center for Science in the Public Interest, which is probably why the word "require" even appears in this article. Yes, this same center that pretty much says, "if you're fat, it's not your fault." Gag. I have Restaurant Confidential, which I should've mentioned earlier in my post about calorie counters. There really isn't anything earthshaking in the book - a lot of it is common sense once you start learning about nutrition, but there may be one or two eye openers.


Posted by hln at October 23, 2003 07:02 PM | Health/Fitness/Nutrition

What if there isn't enough room on the table? I know this restaurant with big menus and small tables and if they made the menu bigger for lables, then there wouldn't be room on the table.

I wonder if they'd make an exception...


Posted by: Trey Givens at October 23, 2003 07:19 PM

Obviously, CSPI is well-intentioned but short-sighted. They're not taking my local mom & pop Greek restaurant into consideration.

Having said that, the CSPI is like PeTA--not too unreasonable ideas, delivered with the subtlety of a drunk puking on your shoes. I've got my own built in b-s detector for dealing with them, as does everyone else on the planet. Just wish everyone else used it...

Posted by: Victor at October 24, 2003 08:48 AM

CSPI is one of the good guys; they're certainly not saying "if you're fat, it's not your fault."

What they are doing is educating the public. A public, which I remind you, is growing ever more obese.

And having nutritional info on menus need not be intrusive; all that would need to be included is serving size (1 portion, 2 portion, etc.), number of calories, grams of fat, grams of saturated fat, and grams of fiber.

Posted by: JadeGold at October 24, 2003 09:29 AM

I pretty much said that, JG - and people'd like to see carbs on there, too - so might as well. And then you'll find a bunch of others yelling for glycemic index, blah blah blah.

CSPI is a bit radical, though, among those who purport to "care." I'll dispute the CSPI advocating personality responsibility for obesity bit with this.


Posted by: hln at October 24, 2003 09:37 AM

I think you're reaching, Heather. CSPI isn't saying it's not an individual's fault for being fat but they are plainly asserting individuals aren't provided enough info to make informed decisions.

As a person who believes libertarianism is a cult rivalling the Flat Earth Society on the Silliness Index, I'm surprised libertarians don't support empowering consumers to make better (or not)choices.

Posted by: JadeGold at October 24, 2003 10:21 AM

I guess I question "empower." Many restaurants provide nutrition information already. Packaged, processed foods certainly do.

There are books in the libraries; there are websites. Hell, there's MY website. There're newspapers. There's Google. There's television, and there're "health" classes in school. Gyms often offer nutrition counseling, and, of course, there are dieticians.

I think the problem is that the average American doesn't care. And there's really no way to force that. Aren't we all immortal anyway? There will be some on the cusp that you may sway to pay more attention about any given topic by providing more and more (when does more end?) information, but I question the "empower" when all of the things I've already mentioned already exist.

And, to generalize, if nutrition isn't important to someone - nutrition isn't important.


Posted by: hln at October 24, 2003 11:34 AM

Yes, the data is extant. But people don't generally have access to the resources you cite when they walk into a restaurant. Moreover, preparation and recipes of similar dishes vary from restaurant to restaurant, impacting the nutritional makeup of those dishes.

Do you seriously do a Google search or contact a dietician before you visit a new restaurant?

Many Americans don't care--but that's another issue altogether regarding proper nutrition and preventive medicine. I'd also add the nutrition classes taught in schools are generally wrong and driven by political concerns. Frankly, the "food pyramid" is largely a special interests project.

Posted by: JadeGold at October 24, 2003 12:32 PM