Sunday, January 13, 2013

Mark Bittman's Dream Food Label

Mark Bittman has an idea for a new food label:
My Dream Food Label, New York Times, 13 October 2012

This is what it looks like:

From: The Proposed Nutrition Label: A Quick Read, Out Front

It's a beautifully rendered idea. I'll give him, and his design team, that. But some of these characteristics are subjective. I don't think I would pull blueberries down a whole point in "foodness" just because they ended up in a freezer. And I have a hard time believing that commodity crops like corn and soy result in no harm to animals. Here's a government file that lists the deaths, most of them intentional, of 4,120,291 animals in one year alone. Many met their demise because they interfered, or it was claimed they interfered, with agriculture:

USDA: Animals Taken by Wildlife Services - FY 2009

I like the essence of his idea. But I can see the difficulty in bringing it to fruition.

What do you think?


Claudia said...

Whoa, saturated fat pulls down the score for chicken? Who says? That's not going to make the Weston Price people happy. Why doesn't animal protein pull down the score then? That would make the Campbell people happy. What about the saturated fat in olive oil? Or do you give olive oil a zero for being all fat?! Or oatmeal a zero for being all carb? Or whole wheat bread gets demoted for giving you a wheat belly? Or corn is a grain so it's toxic so it gets a zero even if its organic?

Who makes up these labels?

Tell me Lundberg Rice won't get all pissed off if someone slaps a red label on them because they have too much arsenic, which they do! And apple juice and chicken, they all have too much arsenic. So you slap red labels on them?

I went to a farmers market that sold corn and everyone was all like, ohhh organic and local. You could look back in the fields and see migrant workers harvesting it. What's local about that!! But nobody cared. And are they getting paid a living wage with benefits? Slap! Red label on the farmers market!

Claudia said...

You need to tell Bittman and his groupies about all these animals getting killed for the love of corn. Not that I'm defending CAFOs or anything but what's fair is fair. Everything we do to grow food has some impact on animals. There's no sacred and pure way to grow food. What we really should be doing is cutting back on how much we waste! That's the real crime.

ElDoubleVee said...

Agree the ratings are subjective. Who would do the rating, the FDA? You would need an outside group with no allegiances to any food processing companies, or political groups, manned by educated professionals. Who is going to pay their salaries? Taxes? Then it becomes political. Blackmail over budgets, congressional hearings, interest groups, political appointees with an agenda, all of the stuff that any agency has to deal with. Say you are a graduate in nutrition, or other food science, and you landed a job with the label agency, aren't you entitled to a decent salary. After all food, cars, electricity, housing, education all cost you the same as everyone else. Idealism only goes so far until reality presents a bill. It would be nice to honestly label products for what they are. Some of the crap sold in Supermarkets barely meet the definition as food.

Bix said...

You both make the point about who would produce this label. Boy, if that isn't a good point. All groups have agendas. Who pays them? The payer has an agenda. I agree with you both. If it ever comes to pass, it most certainly would be biased.

Bix said...

Also, I have to say ... this label would become another elitist stamp, another way to highlight the more "virtuous" product for those who are privileged enough to afford it, as the organic label is now.

RB said...

The best thing is to eat food that needs no labels such as fresh fruit, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds and vegetables. In other words, if you eat real food, it doesn't need labels. Only highly processed foods need labels and highly processed foods should be avoided.

Bix said...

I agree with you, RB.