October 18, 2016

Prigs in the lunchroom

From our overstocked archives

Sam Smith, 2011 - The Department of Agriculture is proposing to limit the amount of potatoes available in school lunches to one cup a week in a not so nice example of liberal bossiness of the sort that produces little other than fewer votes for Democrats in elections.

Liberals often seem broadly unconscious of the fact that people’s politics are affected by attitude as well as by policy and telling people what they can eat or restricting a perfectly healthy food is about as dumb a political move one can come up with.

Besides, the science isn’t there for the Obama administration’s gastronomic self -righteousness.

Consider this item from Irish Central last month

|||| Obesity is now a major problem in Ireland – over 60 per cent of adults aged under 65 are either obese or overweight according to a new survey. The National Adult Nutrition Survey has also revealed that obesity rates amongst Irish men have tripled over the last 20 years. Male obesity has risen from eight per cent in 1990 to 26 per cent in men under the age of 65. Female obesity was at 13 per cent 20 years ago and now stands at 21 per cent. ||||

Since potatoes have been a staple of the Irish diet for centuries, clearly they are an extraordinarily weak suspect in the rise in obesity during just the past two decades.

To the extent that potatoes are to blame it is most likely because of a change in the way they are cooked i.e. fried vs. baked or mashed. What might be called the Americanization of food can affect other items as well such as shifting from boiled meats and vegetables – another Irish staple – to fried and broiled.

But in the end we really don’t know. And one of the worst things any government can do is to pass rigid rules about things it doesn’t understand. Not only is it bad policy and bad science, it makes people mad. The people who do it come off as bossy prigs and often lose the next election.


Anonymous said...

My sainted Irish grandmother was reputed to have well over 200 different recipes for cooking the noble potato. Not included in that impressive array was anything resembling the industrialized extrusions of the TaterTot ilk, nor anything deriving from such nutritionally neutral substances such as the talc-like powered potato.
In Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith extolled the virtues of the potato and its remarkable nutritional benefits for the Irish populace stating "The food produced by a field of potatoes is not inferior in quantity to that produced by a field of rice, and much superior to what is produced by a field of wheat." Further noting, "But it seems to be otherwise with potatoes. The chairmen, porters, and coal-heavers in London, and those unfortunate women who live by prostitution, the strongest men and the most beautiful women perhaps in the British dominions, are said to be, the greater part of them, from the lowest rank of people in Ireland, who are generally fed with this root. No food can afford a more decisive proof of its nourishing quality, or of its being peculiarly suitable to the health of the human constitution."
However, Smith then goes on to acknowledge "It is difficult to preserve potatoes through the year, and impossible to store them like corn, for two or three years together." As a freshly prepared item the potato is of supreme benefit, yet when subjected to those industrial methods designed to achieve shelf-life longevity the nutritional benefits diminish markedly rendering the miracle root a starchy obesity bomb.
The intentions behind the directives were well intentioned, sound and in keeping USDA mandates to promote health literacy and to provide nutritional food. The problem is the failure to recognize that it is not necessarily the variety of food served, rather it is more about quality and freshness. Industrially processed foods are proving to be worthless and the sooner that truth is accepted, the sooner will this international obesity epidemic subside.

Anonymous said...

It's awful how the USDA and Michelle Obama's school lunch program stupidly follow old inaccurate and false nutrition information. It's not the potatoes that are making kids obese, it's all the toxic vegetable oils, the soy additives, the brutal way many food stuffs are processed, and the added sugars that are the problem, not honest simple vegetables. If there is a problem with potatoes it's the being fried in vegetable oils, not the root it's self.