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December 10, 2003
Not much to say today

There are a lot of dead children in Iraq, but I'm not talking about those stories. I'm sure everyone else will, of course, but I always think these situations aren't as one-sided as they look at the beginning. Besides, beyond sympathizing with the families of the children, I'm too busy feeling sorry for the soldiers involved who are, I am sure, devastated by this discovery.

I guess Iran's Shirin Ebadi smacked the Bush Administration upside the head. Good for her.

And here's the story, no doubt one of thousands today, about the petulant way the Democrat pack of contenders ganged up on Dean last night.

ABC news has an interesting compilation of some recent stories from/on Iraq.

Which reminds me that, after pre-empting the Peter Jennings special on obesity Monday evening, my local ABC affiliate did decide to show it, at 12:30 that night. Fortunately we'd called the station, so we got to tape it and watched it yesterday evening.

I usually agree with Peter Jennings about most things, but I think he (or, assuming this wasn't actually his own work, which we can't be certain of since in my youth television "anchors" were also actually reporters but that's not necessarily true today) whoever researched and wrote the piece took the easy way out.

First, they blamed our obesity on the government, because we have agricultural subsidies, then they blamed the world of advertising, a point I agree with only in the context of advertising to children, which I think should be banned.

I should point out that McDonald's didn't create the concept of "super-sizing" their food on their own - it was in response to consumer demands, both for better value for money and for larger portion sizes.

There are two ways to offer better value - cut prices or increase quantity.

There are fixed costs in any business. The heating bill has to be paid, as does the water bill. Insurance, taxes, salaries, repairs, cleaning, lighting, you name it. There's a percentage of the price of each sale that has to cover these costs, and then another percentage that has to cover the price of the ingredients, and then there's profit.

You can only cut prices so far, usually not far, before you hit the point where any more cuts means that it will cost you more to sell each item than you collect for it.

In today's food industry, as Jennings did point out, the price of the food itself is usually the smallest portion of your costs. That means that it's easier and a more sensible business decision to increase quantity. You can add five cents to the price of the item and sometimes double the amount of food provided.

It's about economics, not about greed or some selfish desire on the part of the "food industry" (as though such a single entity existed) to make everyone eat too much.

You can't blame the government because high fructose syrup made from corn is so much less expensive than almost any other sweetener. Nor can you blame the government because "American ingenuity" discovered 10,000 uses for corn.

It's neither rational nor fair to blame the "grocery industry," who shares, with restaurants, the privilege of working in one of the lowest profit margin industries in this country. They just put the food on the shelves, Peter. They carry what people buy.

You can't kick about "agricultural subsidies" on the one hand and then, on the other, demand to know why our government doesn't offer more "fruit and vegetable" subsidies on the other. You can't be for some foods and against others, not if you're the government.

First, cheap food is what makes this a country where even the very poor can almost always afford a meal.

Second, oranges don't grow in Colorado, Peter. They grow in Florida and California and those two states do their best to keep us supplied with the fruit. All the subsidies in the world won't help if Florida catches the wrong weather at the wrong time and all the subsidies in the world won't make North Dakota a good place to grow oranges.

You also can't plant grape vines in Montana (at least, not with much expectation of getting any grapes), turn Arizona or New Mexico into fertile environments for the mass production of tomatoes or green beans, okay?

Also? Stop picking on the "food industry" for "creating" too many new junk foods and not enough new healthy foods, okay? What do you want them to do? Wave their magic wands and whoosh a new fruit into existence?

Also, get with the times. "Low-fat" foods aren't "diet" foods. There's more to nutrition than calories. Some fruits, in their natural states, contain half a day's allotment of sugars, so fruit isn't some panacea to the problem of being overweight.

There's more to good health than what you eat, people do need to exercise more, most of us are willing to admit it, so cutting that guy off when he tried to talk about sedentary lifestyles was just self-serving and obnoxious on ABC's part. (I do you the credit of assuming you had no control over the editing process of the final program.)

That food pyramid you kept showing us is badly out of date and being revised based on what we've learned about nutrition in the last few decades and everyone knows that but, apparently, you. (Granted, the new one won't be out until 2005, but I'm still annoyed that you didn't give the government any credit for the work it's putting into revising the pyramid.)

Quit aggravating me, okay?

Sheesh.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:33 AM


Comments

Another major problem is the constant revision by "experts" of what's supposedly good for us and not good for us. It's like every other year something that used to be OK is found not to be. If people listened more to their bodies' needs (and in order to do that you first have to not hate your body!) and less to these so-called experts, they'd probably be a lot healthier.

Posted by: Elayne Riggs at December 10, 2003 09:46 AM

Heh. I was totally going to go off on that topic, as well, but I figured I was already getting boring on the topic.

Especially since I do actually know that it's a lot easier for me to sit here and criticize someone else's work than to put together a sensible, informative post of my own on the subject.

Posted by: Anne at December 10, 2003 11:11 AM