Thursday, February 23, 2012

The One Where You Analyze Grandma's Food

Don't eat anything your grandmother wouldn't have recognized as food! This is good advice. 

Corn and potatoes are real foods. Unadulterated, an ounce of corn and an ounce of potato contain 24 and 22 calories respectively; their biggest component is water. (A potato is about 80 percent water.) Corn is about 3 percent protein, 2 percent fiber and 1 percent fat; potatoes’ numbers are similar. Not bad. 

A 1-ounce serving of corn chips, though, contains around 139 calories, and an ounce of Pringles runs 150. (Everyone knows, however, that the official 1-ounce serving is nonsense. Even Pringles, which says, “once you pop, you can’t stop.”) The calorie discrepancy is explained by the fact that the chips are boiled in oil — fried — replacing most or all but a tiny fraction of the original water with oil. Where’s that oil come from? Well, a lot of it is made from corn; most of the rest is made from soy, another perfectly fine food in its natural form. 

What’s the point of all of this? Well, there’s Michael Pollan’s adage not to eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t have recognized as food.[5] As well as the simple notion that we process so many real foods that we barely see them in a natural state. 

Were that to change, Kellogg’s and P.&G.’s bottom lines might not look so good. We ourselves, however, might look better, as would our health care bills, which in general rise along with Big Food’s influence and profits.