Improving food labels, as planned by the USFDA and much in the news over the past week or so, is a welcome thing. But I do think we have cause to wonder if all the fanfare and media hype are really warranted. When all is said and done, what improvements are in the works, and how much will they really matter?
As long we impart to nutrition the mediagenic volatility associated with the weather, we can all but guarantee that our understanding of what is good for us will remain very much clouded over. There will also be a very high chance of us acting like meatheads -- and being fed a steady diet of headlines accordingly.
Fortified junk food is still junk food. It isn't only what a food doesn't contain (i.e., those nutrients) that makes it dubious. It's what it does contain. The addition of vitamins and minerals does nothing to exonerate junk foods of their standard provisions of added sugars, added salt, artificial flavorings, artificial colorings, inflammatory fats, high glycemic starches, and willfully irresistible calories.
Here's what we actually know. In the U.S., more dairy in the diet -- of whatever variety -- is generally associated with better health and weight outcomes. But that is likely because in the context of our culture, more dairy means less soda. In global context, some of the world's healthiest diets and most convincing intervention trials have de-emphasized, or even excluded dairy.
There is a point at which invoking personal responsibility to deal with a contrived array of obstacles is both benighted and callous. Yes, everyone should try to eat well -- but they should not have to overcome the ingenious manipulations of highly paid mercenaries conspiring against them to make it so.
I have clung to the conviction that truth is often immediately furtive, but relentless and ultimately indomitable. Seekers of truth are patient of necessity, obliged to be disciples of time. So far, I have kept the faith that eventually enough data would rally us to common understanding and common cause.