Do you know that the the Food and Drug Administration has mandated, that by May of 2018, a large percentage of places serving food in the United States, will be required by law to have extensive calorie, and content labeling? Also, by May of 2019, vending machines will have to meet the same rules and regulations. Food items for sale will need to prominently list: total fat, calories from fat, trans fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbs, dietary fiber, sugars, and protein. To be fair, many places, including fine dining establishments, and large fast food chains, have already made the mandated changes. Many restaurants will also be required to show this information on all its menus. I guess that means, if you’re in a fancy French restaurant, and the waiter recommends the “Escargot,” you better check that darn menu. Heaven forbid, they should serve you a huge, soft and squishy, edible land snail, and you have to determine if you eat it, will it go directly to your thighs!
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ll be the first to admit that Americans need to eat healthier. Personally, I’m always dieting, eating more fruits and vegetables, making smart choices concerning calories and fat content, and looking for better dietary alternatives. I just don’t think most people care about seeing the exact number of calories in what their eating. We go out to eat to enjoy ourselves, not worry about caloric intake. I gnaw on carrots, and fight my wife for the last of the arugula lettuce during the week. I don’t need to be reminded on a Saturday night that my medium rare sirloin steak, baked potato with butter and sour cream, side of glazed carrots, and tiny piece of cherry cheese cake, will not only provide my total dietary needs for three days, but possibly send me to any early grave.
We all know what’s good and, what’s bad for us. Do we really need a reminder, every time we eat a food item that isn’t necessarily the most nutritious choice we could make? I rarely eat fast-food, but when I pull into the Burger King drive-through, I already know what to expect. There’s very little that will surprise me. Some sign listing calories, fat, and cholesterol, isn’t going to deter me from ordering a delicious double whopper with cheese, a large order of crispy fries, and a trash can sized icy-cold coke. When that disembodied voice comes over the speaker, and asks for my order, I won’t say, “Sorry, I changed my mind. Your food has just too many life-altering calories, excessive sodium, and more than enough unhealthy trans and saturated fat for me to take any chances. I’m going to get out of line, and hit the “Salad Works.” Instead, I tell them what I want, and then say, “Could you please super-size my order?”
I just read that restaurants with less than twenty locations, won’t have to abide by the regulations. That means, I can still visit Momma’s Diner, Bobo’s Famous Barbecue Pit, and Betty’s Decadent Desserts, and not feel guilty. Do you know that amusement parks will be required to have signs listing calories, and a nutritional breakdown of all foods sold? Does that mean, after ingesting an enormous quantity of fried and greasy food, pounds of imitation meat products, and multiple-packs of sugar-laden candy, it’s okay to ride the roller coaster, survive a two-hundred-foot vertical drop, and a series of death-defying loops, before hurling on the guy in the seat behind me? Afterward, I can say, “Cool. I just relieved my stomach of exactly 1845 calories, 82 grams of saturated fat, and 1432 milligrams of salt. I guess it’s okay to hit the food stand again.”
I was at a McDonald’s a few days ago, and took a few minutes to view the signs listing calories, and the nutritional values of various food items. Who’s determining the amounts, and how do we know they’re accurate? They seem a little high to me. If a McDonald’s Big Mac has 576 calories, then I figure, my Aunt Stella’s famous, home-made “Halushki,” with cabbage, two or three pounds of butter, and a good-sized wheelbarrow full of lard, must contain at least – eight nine thousand calories!
Have any of you figured out yet what grams of fat and milligrams of sodium means? Is that the metric system? Our good friends throughout the world use it, but here in the United States we use a system that’s a little different. I’m not the sharpest pencil in the pack, but I figure, 43 grams of fat is close to a couple of pounds, and 1124 milligrams of salt is somewhere between a bushel, and a fifty-five-gallon drum.
Here’s something you might not know. Movie theaters are going to have to follow the same regulations, the FDA has imposed on restaurants, fast-food chains, and amusement parks. I think it will cause a lot of trouble. The last time I attended a movie, I procured for myself, a tub of popcorn, with extra butter that was so big, it had a least three or four hundred servings in it. Added to that, was a gigantic soda, a large box of Juicy Fruit candy, delicious, chocolate covered Raisenets, the always popular Whoppers, and a box of Mike and Ike’s. I estimated my snack contained about – a million calories! Now, imagine a person enters a dark and eerie theater with those delicious, but fattening items, hears intense and frightening music, begins to watch a movie so horrifyingly scary that MMA fighters are screaming, and running out of the theater in fear, and you have a recipe for disaster. All it will take is a little curiosity, the light from a smart phone, a quick glance at the enormous calories per serving listed on the label, and a particularly frightening scene of murder and mayhem, and boom – next thing you know, you’re in a hospital room hooked to a heart monitor.
I better get going. I just had a pizza delivered to my house, and guess what? It has a small label attached to the top of the box that lists calories, fat content, and sodium in milligrams. I just got out my huge, and powerful magnifying glass, so I could read the tiny label. Hmmm, interesting. It says that each slice has only 276 calories. It also says that adding pepperoni, will add an additional 114 calories per slice. That’s still not too bad. Let me get out my calculator, add those two numbers, and then multiply it by the total number of slices. Let’s see… we have 8 slices, times the 390 calories per slice. Okay, I know what you’re thinking; but I’m a big guy, and I haven’t eaten all day. I almost forgot. I have to add the 48-ounce coke I ordered. It’s 140 calories per serving, so let’s multiply it by four, and add the total for the pizza slices. I think I almost got it… just one more number, and – what the heck? That can’t be right. Darn those labels! I don’t want to do it, but I guess I have to. “Barb, Adam; pizzas here. Bring the dog with you, and please pull out that bottle of diet coke from the bottom of the refrigerator?”