Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year's Eve = Lame, New Year Focus = Le Sigh

Now that I have sufficiently complained about New Year's Eve, the truth is: I love this time of year. Everyone is talking about what to eat and the reality of eating. The gym is packed and people actually do the workouts in my spinning classes.

Just moments after I posted yesterday I got an email from The Daily Beast ranking diets in terms of effectiveness. Well, actually the title says they rank diets and you can click to look at their rankings but there is also an article where they quote a nutritionist who reminds you that diets are not effective unless you consider them lifestyle changes (and then they aren't diets at all). Once you click on the ranking pages, however, all bets are off. The first one is essentially a liquid diet. I can barely muster interest in soup as an appetizer. The idea of drinking my meals would definitely be a diet for me, since it wouldn't even last a single meal.

Ellen Tarlin at Slate got in on the act this year when she decided to try some experimental eating, starting with stick to the USDA Food Pyramid. Tarlin is only a few days in and is not shocked to be struggling with some of the requirements, something I've said before. On top of having to measure your food, it is pretty hard to follow the food pyramid. She also mentions that she has done Atkins and Weight Watchers and knows that every time she has tried a new plan she finds that she feels good at the start but quickly, "the hunger sets in". Which, sister I hear you, this is why I constantly change my own plan. Adapting is hard.

Politicians are also taking a dip in the food pool having recently passed a new 'food safety bill'. I put that in quotes because I'm still not totally clear on how safe it will make our food. I've heard that the FDA inspects anything from 1 to 5 percent of the food supply and this new law will increase that number. My issue is that I'm not entirely convinced that increasing that percentage will actually keep us safer. Supposedly one of the goals is to prevent tainted food rather than the current system where the FDA simply reacts to tainted food issues. Also, it sounds like the law wont be very well funded.

Would it not be easier to decrease our consumption of over processed foods? Sure, technology has brought us the opportunity to shop for items made in other countries, but must it include food processed over seas? Our food could include at least fewer items grown or processed on the other side of the world even if we aren't eliminating them. I've heard arguments about how recently recalled organic beef proves that imported food isn't more or less safe. I'm not clear on how organic and local got confused with each other but the reason I like my local butcher is not because his lamb or pork is organic but because I can look the man in the eye or visit his farm and know his practices aren't going to give me food poisoning. When it comes down to it, regardless of organic-ness (shut up, that is a word), the further your food travels the more likely it is to pick up microbes and make you sick. If you took a trip from home to the other side of the world you'd probably have to take multiple planes, trains or automobiles which makes you more likely to pick up germs.

I'm just going to continue to relish this time of year where my news sources are actually talking about one of my favorite topics. Come February every is likely to go back to talking about the weather.

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