Wednesday, June 16, 2010
It's been a while since I said anything about food on the blog - but something on the today show this morning made me laugh. Watch the video above - and let me explain with the small tid bit of food science knowledge that I have.
No food is created equal and science is never 100% accurate. It's common knowledge that when you have a cow that is working really hard it's going to be lean and make nasty tough steaks. Same would go for a chicken. So when you get a food list that tells you that a piece of chicken has about 150 Calories and 3 grams of fat, you are getting an average of many pieces of chicken. DUH. Same thing goes for vitamin content in fruits and vegetables. Depending on what is available in the soil; a fruit or vegetable will contain a variable amount of any given mineral. Vitamin content can vary on the health of the plant and the climate and growing conditions. When the USDA makes their food lists (available here), they take an average of a bunch of different samples and give that as an estimate of what is in the food. The only way to really know exactly what is in food is to be God.
So when the today show puts out this expose telling all consumers that they are being lied to - they are showing scientifically inept they are. The segment displays sweet and sour chicken that has 350% more fat than the label shows! OH NO we went from 2 grams of fat to 7grams of fat! Really not a huge deal. That is the equivalent of about 1 tsp of oil. As the man from the food manufacturer said - Of course the calorie range is going to be off 10 to 20%. when it comes to calories - who cares about a variation of 30 calories. Not me.
Lets say lean cuisine slips up and somehow you end up with a piece of chicken that is mostly gristle. They put the food product in the package by weight. So instead of getting chicken that is mostly protein, you are getting chicken that is mostly fat. Up goes the fat grams in the product. Or possibly you got more sauce, or ended up with less vegetables, or possibly the sauce bag ended on your piece and you got the oily remains of the sauce. Food science is not perfect. And the numbers you read on ALL FOOD LABELS are going to vary depending on variations in ingredient ratios and variations in the ingredients themselves. It's not just diet foods that have this problem.
That being said - people should stop blaming food companies for their weight problems. While it is true you should be able to know how calorie dense something is - being off by 30-50 calories isn't going to make you gain weight unless you are making that mistake over a long period of time. If you are eating lean cuisine every day for lunch, you are making a better choice than eating a hamburger and fries. Mostly due to portion control - those things are TINY! And anyways, if you really want to lose weight you should buy foods that don't have food labels - ie fruits and vegetables. If you were to eat a diet of mostly fruits and vegetables, meats, eggs, and nuts, its highly unlikely that you would be overweight (note that i didn't include cheese and sweets in that list ...... which are rich's and my favorite foods.....).