March 05, 2014

“AAAAAAAHHHHH!!!” He Explained

There have been some concerns raised lately regarding the safety of a common food additive called azodicarbonamide, or “ADA,” which is used mostly to soften the texture of baked goods.  While recognized as safe by the FDA, some people have cited research calling this into question, pointing out that ADA breaks down into urethane, which can be toxic.

If you are like most Planet Moron Readers, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Unless they’re adding it to gin, cigarettes, or despair, it doesn’t really affect me.”

Also, “I could see how that could be something worth looking into, but certainly nothing go get hysterical about.”

And that’s the problem. You’re not going to get frenzied headlines over an obscure substance that has for decades been used widely in food with little obvious ill effect.

But that’s a problem that’s easily resolved. All you have to do is point out that ADA is also used in industrial applications such as in the production of foamed plastics as a blowing agent.  What good does knowing that do you?

Nearly 500 ways to make a yoga mat sandwich

Group warns almost 500 products contain chemical found in yoga mats

‘Yoga mat’ chemical azodicarbonamide found in nearly 500 grocery store food items: report 

And just like that, we have ourselves a national health crisis.

Now, if someone wants to argue with you, noting that bread without ADA still has urethane, you can point out that they are eating yoga mats. And when they add that the mere act of toasting a slice of ADA-free bread produces far more urethane, you can say they might as well be toasting a yoga mat, and how about some butter for that yoga mat, you yoga mat eater

Also, yoga mat.

See how much easier non-sequiturs make having what would otherwise be a boring debate over scientific merit?

Intrigued by the potential for creating wholly pointless hysteria, Planet Moron launched an extensive investigation that included wandering around our kitchen in pajamas, and has uncovered disturbing evidence that our food, the food you feed your family, the food you provide to your innocent, trusting, children, contains substances that are also used in totally unrelated products that sound scary.

For example, there’s calcium carbonate.  That sounds kind of chemically.  It can be used as a preservative and also as a color retainer on such foods as organic apples.

You know what else calcium carbonate can be used for? Filler in unplasticized polyvinyl chloride drain pipe!

That’s right, when you’re eating an organic apple, you’re basically sucking on a drain pipe.

And it gets even worse. Take this common bottle of salad dressing. 


Looks benign enough, and eating salads is healthy!  Well, take a closer look.


That salad dressing of yours contains vinegar. You know what else has vinegar? Yeah, that’s right. Forget Wishbone, think Windex.

Vinegar 3 Vinegar 4

How does dumping a bottle of Italian window cleaner all over your greens sound, huh?  Clearly we must act now to see to it that this powerful industrial detergent is removed from all salad dressings.

Well, all this talk of food has made us hungry. A nice big bowl of aircraft-de-icing fluid sounds just about right.


March 5, 2014 at 01:07 PM in Health & Fitness | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 12, 2011

Maybe The Researchers Had Iron Poor Blood

For years, those advocating the use of vitamin E for the enhancement and maintenance of good health have urged people (pdf) to avoid taking large doses of only the alpha form, as it can actually lead to such unintended outcomes as an increased risk of developing prostate cancer.

That is why a crack team of 21 expert researchers decided to conduct a large study on vitamin E in which participants took large doses of only the alpha form to see what outcome that might have on the risk of developing prostate cancer.

The startling conclusion:

Doing that can kill you!

Now, before you start criticizing these esteemed men of science for fashioning a study designed to test a hypothesis no one was actually advocating, consider this:

They are all much better educated than you.

They include 14 with MDs, two with PhDs, two with DOs and one with an MD and an MHS.  We’re not sure what some of those mean either, but they sound pretty darn impressive to us, and helped to ensure that the study would achieve the single most important goal of all modern scientific research: The production of panic-inducing headlines:

Vitamins will kill you

And isn’t that a lot more fun than some boring old headline like, “Study Finds Pretty Much What Was Already Known,” or, “Esteemed Researchers Place the Lives of Their Innocent Subjects Needlessly at Risk by Subjecting Them to a Regimen Known to be Dangerous.”

You bet it is.

Oh, and sorry about the prostate cancer.

And while this study could have served a useful purpose in spreading more widely the information that consumers interested in supplementing with vitamin E should ensure they get not only the alpha form, but also the gamma form (not to mention beta and delta) so that they aren’t doing themselves more harm than good, these researchers came to a different conclusion:

“The lack of benefit from dietary supplementation with vitamin E or other agents with respect to preventing common health conditions and cancers or improving overall survival, and their potential harm, underscore the need for consumers to be skeptical of health claims for unregulated over-the-counter products in the absence of strong evidence of benefit demonstrated in clinical trials.”

We would also add the need for consumers to be skeptical of study claims made by unregulated over-the-top researchers in the absence of strong evidence that they have demonstrated an ability to use Google.


October 12, 2011 at 03:54 PM in Health & Fitness | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 17, 2011

It’s So Delicious, Even A…

New York Times foodie columnist Mark Bittman has identified the two principal problems with the American diet:

  1. You are a caveman.
  2. And an idiot.

And yet, he still endeavors to save us from ourselves.

In a recent column, Mr. Bittman explains that we have a primal urge to eat meat whenever we can because it was once difficult to procure with any regularity and yet contains useful nutrients. 

So, you see, you don’t eat that double Whopper with cheese because you enjoy it and believe it offers a reasonable value, you’re basically operating on instinct, like a leopard stalking its prey in the jungle.  With a debit card.

Add in the unfortunate advent of widespread prosperity and the ready availability of meat and you have what Mr. Bittman terms:

“A deadly combo.”

Abundant food and prosperity.  Oh, good Lord, what have we done?

As if it’s not bad enough that you are a caveman, you are also an idiot.

“Beyond instinct and availability, there’s a third factor: marketing. When you add 'It’s what’s for dinner’ to the equation, you have a powerful combination: biology, economics and propaganda all pushing us in the same direction.”

Basically, you are a big dumb leopard who is only stalking its prey in the jungle because you saw a commercial for flame broiled gazelle while watching Two And A Half Men reruns.

There is hope, though: The superior Europeans with their advanced cultures and smart-sounding accents.

“Now, some European countries appear to be leading the way out of the abyss, not only with the food they call ‘biologically’ produced (a term roughly equivalent to 'organic') but in saner ways of eating, which start with cutting back on some animal products; Germans’ per capita consumption of meat is down about 20 percent since 1990.”

Mr. Bittman does point out that American meat consumption has also declined in recent years, but only slightly and probably because of the bad economy and rising prices, although he admits:

“Maybe conscious eating gets some credit also.”

Hey, you never know!

It's not that Mark Bittman has no respect for you, in fact, he finds you all quite amusing:

"Another day in Iowa, where complete strangers say irony-free things like 'Jeez! Thanks for stopping by!' (Think Frances McDormand in 'Fargo.')"

In New York, everything is meant to be ironic, including standard greetings like "Hello," and "Hey, stop, that's my purse!"

"It started with a visit to the Chit Chat Cafe in Thornton (remember: no irony!)"

You commoners are SO cute!

Cute, yes, but we eat things in proportions that Mark Bittman disapproves of.  Someone needs to save us. Someone needs to show the way. But, who?

“[the] better-educated citizens of wealthier nations.”

Hey, you know what? That sounds an awful lot like Mark Bittman!


June 17, 2011 at 08:33 AM in Current Affairs, Health & Fitness | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 19, 2011

Great, Another Middle-Aged Worker Out of a Job

A group of “health professionals,” is calling on McDonald’s Corporation to give their ubiquitous spokesclown, Ronald McDonald, the pink slip as part of the battle against childhood obesity. While they admit that there are many causes of childhood obesity, they believe that “marketing can no longer be ignored as a significant part of this massive problem.”

Numbers don’t lie, as this chart illustrates:

Obesity Trends

Ronald McDonald was created in the mid-‘60s.  As you can see, during the first 15 years that he was used by McDonald’s, obesity rates stayed fairly steady.  During the following 20 years while he was used by McDonald’s obesity rates skyrocketed.  And in the last ten years or so while he continued in their service, they’ve flattened out again.

What other conclusion could you possibly draw? 

Ronald McDonald is killing our children.

The effort is being sponsored by a nonprofit organization called “Corporate Accountability International,” (CAI) which you know will always give a fair hearing to corporations by the web address they use:

Why does the CAI want McDonald’s to fire Ronald? According to their 32-page report:

Far from being “happy meals,” McDonald’s food is responsible for such social ills as heart disease, diabetes, animal welfare abuses, labor exploitation, unceasing environmental destruction, and the breakdown of our food system.”

If you are like most Planet Moron readers, you’re probably thinking to yourself,  “The fries are totally worth it.”

Also, “What about the parents?”

It just so happens they have an answer for that:

“’What about the parents?’ I hear this refrain all too often. After all, kids don’t drive themselves to McDonald’s or purchase those Happy Meals themselves.”

“What McDonald’s multi-billion dollar marketing machine represents is a fundamental restructuring of the family dynamic. Every time a parent has to say no to a child, it’s another let down, another way that a parent has to feel bad about not making that child happy.”

For the record, this morning we had to tell 18-month-old Baby Moron “no” about 75 times, and that was while he was still sleeping.  His daily activities are almost entirely taken up trying to do things he shouldn’t.  We could pile on a half a dozen “nos” about McDonald’s and not even notice.

But they’re only just getting started.

“Moreover, parents have a right to raise their children in a safe environment, without constantly worrying about predatory corporate marketing. And children have the right not to be preyed upon by a clown with a corporate agenda.”

Are there six more chilling words in the English language than “a clown with a corporate agenda?“  Well, other than, “Charlie Sheen is at the door.”

“But McDonald’s is loath to take responsibility, leaning on a series of age-old public relations myths, namely that ‘the corporation just gives consumers what they demand.’ It’s as if the corporation’s billion dollar marketing budget wasn’t aimed at influencing and creating that demand,…”

We really do have to do something to rid ourselves of this “myth” that we choose products and services of our own free will. We don't. According to the CAI, we are simply being manipulated by corporate marketing machines, and by “we” they mean “people who are not members of the CAI” as their superior education and intellect make them immune from McDonald’s Jedi mind tricks unlike you simple-minded fools who find a three-dollar lunch of a cheeseburger, fries and drink to be palatable, affordable, and convenient.

And we all know where McDonald’s marketing budget is aimed at influencing:

“…especially among those most vulnerable to the manipulations of marketing: children.”

“That’s why they are the most vulnerable to the marketing strategies of a character like Ronald McDonald.”

“…the Supreme Court has upheld reasonable restrictions on corporate advertising, especially to protect children, the most vulnerable of Americans.”

We think there’s going to be a quiz on this later.

But McDonald’s nefarious activities run far deeper. As exposed by the CAI:

“McDonald’s former CEO Fred Turner once explained, the corporation got into charity ‘for very selfish reasons. It was probably 99 percent commercial. It was an inexpensive and imaginative way of getting your name before the public and building a reputation to offset the image of selling 15-cent hamburgers.’ in other words, for McDonald’s, ‘corporate social responsibility’ is just branding and marketing by another name.”

We can’t be 100% certain, but we’re pretty sure this is the part where you are supposed to be shocked.

“Not only has McDonald’s been a pioneer in marketing products to children, it has been a pioneer in shaping supply chains to meet its demand for cheap, consistent, and long-lasting food.”

Again, we can’t be sure, but we believe they think that is a bad thing.

So, to sum up:

  • Ronald McDonald is killing children.
  • Members of the CAI are smarter than you.
  • McDonald’s sells cheap, consistent, long-lasting food.

Fire the clown.

Save the child.


May 19, 2011 at 11:37 AM in Current Affairs, Health & Fitness | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

April 13, 2011

Lennon Was Wrong, You Also Need Massive Government Spending

We’ll get to President Obama’s latest budget-deficit-fighting proposal in the next day or two, but we would be remiss if we did not address a novel approach presented yesterday by New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman.  His solution to our debt crisis?


Okay, that sounds a little silly and of course he isn’t serious that love alone can help address our national budget woes. No, something much more concrete than that is needed:


That might be a little unfair out of context.  Mr. Bittman’s focus is on the money spent treating “lifestyle diseases” such as diabetes and heart disease, which he believes can be prevented or reversed with:

“A sane diet, along with exercise, meditation and intangibles like love.”

Fine, so maybe Mr. Bittman went a little heavy on the LSD in the ’60s, just be grateful that “flower power” isn't a part of his fiscal manifesto.

Of course, lifestyle diseases are presumably caused by the style in which you have decided to conduct your life, and we just can’t allow that to continue.  How do we address this epidemic of individual choice? Mr. Bittman admits he doesn’t have an easy answer.  Answers that require taking more of your money?  Those he’s got a lot of:

“…it for sure will take an investment: it’s a situation in which you must spend money to make or save money. (Yes, taxes will go up, but whose taxes?) Some number of billions of dollars — something in the rounding error area — should be spent on research to figure out exactly how to turn this ship around.”

“Some other billions of dollars must go to public health.”

“Only a massive public health effort can save both our health and our budget.”

“…adequately funding school lunch programs.”

Love may be free, but the rest is going to cost you.

Mr. Bittman believes that if you ate fewer cheeseburgers, exercised more, began chanting, and started watching the Lifetime Channel, we could bring down overall health care costs and the government’s contribution to those costs, by preventing “millions of premature deaths.”

And as we all know, the only goal in life is to maximize your lifespan.  If that takes being coerced into adopting a lifestyle you don’t want, well, too bad.  As Mr. Bittman puts it:

“This isn’t just fiscal responsibility, but social responsibility as well.”

So put down your Gadsden flag, take off the tri-cornered hat, get with the collective, and maybe you’ll get to live a very long life, or at least one that seems that way.

Of course, that will only worsen the problem with our unfunded public pension liabilities and Social Security deficits, but hey, what do you want, he's just a food critic.  It's not like he's some expert on public finance. Like a Hollywood actor.


April 13, 2011 at 05:27 PM in Health & Fitness | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 06, 2011

Hey! Give That Back! Please?

There was a time when New Yorkers were tough.  Push a New Yorker around? Fuhgetaboutit.

Today it’s a little different.

Today you can take their toys away.

This is the only conclusion that can be drawn from New York City councilman Leroy Comrie’s proposal to ban toys in McDonald’s Happy Meals unless the food complies with certain nutritional standards determined by noted nutritionist New York councilman Leroy Comrie.  His goal is to stop people from “grabbing Happy Meals” for their kids, and by “people,” he means, “himself.”

This is actually only the latest in a citywide dietary crackdown and follows Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to eliminate salt, ban trans fats, and require the posting of caloric information on fast food menus (but NOT the menus of places Mayor Bloomberg eats but that’s only because they typically include such low-fat fare as bone marrow and foie gras).

Exactly when did New York go from being “The City That Never Sleeps” to “The City That’s Afraid to Eat?”

Back in the 1980s when Planet Moron called the Big Apple home, it was run by people like Mayor Ed Koch, individuals who wanted to lead the city because they loved it.

Since then, New York has been run by people like Mayors Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg who want to lead New York because they hate it. The anarchy, the chaos, the rampant individuality, all assault their sense of order.

We first saw it coming during the Giuliani Administration, when, during a visit to the city in the ‘90s on business I had an unexpected interaction with the police.  Actual conversation:

Cop: Hey!
Me: (Jaywalking across the street) What?
Cop: Get back here, the light is red.
Me: You’re kidding.
Cop: No I am not.

I should probably point out he had a gun.

Some years later I was taking the subway and started going down some stairs (not an escalator, stairs) when another cop called out to me:

Cop: Hey!
Me: What?
Cop: Those stairs are for going up, use the other ones.
Me: You’re kidding.
Cop: No I am not.

Did you know that all New York City Police officers carry guns?  Even the Metro cops. I hadn’t noticed that before.

None of this is to say that we here at Planet Moron are generally in favor of disorder, anarchy, or chaos (much), only that there is a place for those things.  Rudy Giuliani wanted to transform Times Square into a place a family could feel safe and have dinner.  But there are plenty of places for a family to feel safe and have dinner. There are not many places where they can be accosted by a transgender midget on crack and still get a decent deal on a fake Rolex.

And yet, while New Yorkers could have protested the banning of flavored tobacco, there really wasn't any point since smoking has been banned pretty much everywhere anyway.  Okay, that’s an exaggeration.  It’s only been banned in two places: Inside and outside.

Why do they let them get away with it?

Well, you know the old expression, “It’s like taking candy from a New Yorker.”


April 6, 2011 at 08:50 PM in Current Affairs, Health & Fitness | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 20, 2011

The Cap’n is Dead! Long Live The Cap’n!

A rumor circulated last week that Quaker Oats was going to deep six Cap’n Crunch, a victim of political correctness and the food police, much to the dismay of its many fans including dentists, insulin manufacturers, and the Florida Sugar Cane League.

However, Quaker Oats moved quickly to dispel any notion that the Cap’n was being sent to Davy Jones locker:

A Special Message From The Cap'n

Still, the rumor was not completely without foundation as it appears that the company intends to treat Cap’n Crunch kind of like your “Uncle Billy.”  Sure, he’s still around, but no one talks about him much anymore, not since that unfortunate incident with your mother-in-law and the cranberry sauce back in Thanksgiving ’94.

Apparently, panicked parents, afraid of what might happen should their children come down off their sugar highs and realize they haven’t had a warm meal since September, cleaned the shelves out of original formula Cap’n Crunch at Planet Moron’s local Giant supermarket.

Capn Crunch Sold Out

This did not have to be a problem as we found a substitute.  We give you, organic Cap’n Crunch:

Kashi Honey Sunshine

Yes, organic cereal makers have long since expanded their offerings beyond the sticks and twigs so popular with their traditional customer base and have started to create what amount to healthy imitations of mainstream cereals.

So, what is it like?

Kashi Honey Sunshine Bowl It tastes like what Cap’n Crunch would taste like were it designed by Michelle Obama.  This is basically a high-fiber version of Cap’n Crunch, which we concede is kind of like saying a song is an “intellectual version of Ke$ha,” but that’s what it is.

How does Honey Sunshine stack up to Cap’n Crunch?


Costs twice as much.

Lacks that festive orange color so difficult to find outside of a Sherwin-Williams color wheel.

When asking for a box of “Honey Sunshine” it’s harder to limit the personal humiliation by claiming it’s for your kids.


Nutritional profile more closely resembles a food-like substance.

Tears up the roof of your mouth only half as much.

Does not make your teeth ache upon contact.

The choice is yours.

Well, for now.


March 20, 2011 at 08:32 PM in Current Affairs, Health & Fitness | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 18, 2011

Fat, Drunk, and Stupid is no Way to Balance a Budget, Son

Which would you say is one of the primary reasons that states and municipalities are facing a looming fiscal crisis?

A)   Unfunded pension liabilities.
B)   Public union health care costs.
C)   Lower revenues as a result of the recession.
D)   Your fat kids.

If you chose “D” there just might be a place for you with the First Lady, who this week implored local leaders to make sure they don’t let a little thing like impending bankruptcy deter them from addressing this issue:

“You all know better than anyone that childhood obesity is already affecting your communities. It’s already weighing down your budgets. It’s already hampering economic growth.”

“So make no mistake about it: When we talk about childhood obesity, we’re talking about the workforce that you’re trying to build. We’re talking about businesses that you’re trying to attract. We’re talking about the budgets that you’re trying to balance each and every day.”

As the old saying goes, if all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail, only in this case, if all you have is a vegetable garden, every problem looks like a salad.

So, where is Michelle Obama suggesting localities allocate scarce funds in lieu of essential public services?


Hey, that fire can wait another ten minutes.  We’ve got kids we need to get walking:

“Mayor Robert Cluck in Arlington, Texas, for example, there they provided pedometers to every student in their school district; last summer they did this.  And they challenged these kids to walk as much as they could during their school vacation.  So 4,500 students signed up, and the winner of the challenge logged 6.8 million steps in just three months, and that’s something.  (Applause.)  That’s something.”

That is something. Know what else is something?  Re-upping your bowling league dues at the same time your wife is selling her car to save money.  That would also be something.

No matter, Ms. Obama wants municipalities to continue to champion her personal pet projects, such as building sidewalks so people can walk more, and building grocery stores closer to lower-income communities so people can walk less.

It makes more sense when you surround it with colorful graphics.

Anyway, you should support the First Lady’s program.  As she says:

“This is not a Republican issue, it’s not a Democratic issue, it is about our children.”

And you don’t hate children, do you?


March 18, 2011 at 04:12 PM in Current Affairs, Health & Fitness | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 08, 2011

We’re Thinking of Getting Them a Giant Birthday Cake with Extra Frosting and Ice Cream

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, making note of how the American food landscape has changed over the past 40 years, such as:

Nutrition Facts Label

Obesity Rates Spin Out of Control

Apparently, nutrition facts labels rode in and rescued us from a life spent at a healthy body weight.

While Planet Moron has not been around forty years, we do mark our sixth anniversary later this month and thought we’d take our own trip down memory lane alongside the CSPI by taking a look at some of our posts covering the self-anointed food watchdog:

October 26, 2005

McDonald’s. I’m Lovin’ it Because I Don’t Know Any Better.

Responding to demands from people who don’t visit their restaurants or purchase their food, McDonald’s will include additional nutritional information for its customers who never asked for it and don’t care.

Call it, “the free-ish market” at work.

For years McDonald’s customers have had to go through a fair amount of trouble to ignore nutritional information. Either they had to ignore the posters and fliers in the restaurants or wait until they got home to ignore it on the web. But with McDonald’s new plan to print this information right on the packaging itself, consumers can now ignore it quickly and conveniently.

Call that progress.

Read the rest

February 27, 2007

Wait, So What You’re Saying is That “Colossal” Isn’t a Synonym For “Diet Lite?”

If you are like most people, when you look at these two meals you probably think to yourself, “say, that one on the left sure looks like it might possibly pack a calorie or two more than the other one perhaps even by a significant amount.”

Ultimate Colossal Burger Salad But if you are with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), you think “whoa, did you say one of these is a burger? Really? They both look to be of equal nutritional value. And in the absence of mandated caloric information I surely cannot tell which one is the healthier choice.”

And that is why the CSPI thought it essential that they alert the media to the very real possibility that a hamburger made up of a pound of ground meat might just constitute a rather large meal.

Read the rest

October 30, 2007

And You Thought Halloween Was Scary Before

Halloween doesn’t have to be about sickly sweet treats and high-fat snacks. It can be both fun and nutritious. Make that, funalicious!

We know what you’re thinking, “I don’t think ‘funalicious’ is an actual word.” Also, “You’re not talking about eating carrot sticks again, are you?”

Of course not! The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has thoughtfully put together an extensive selection of “ghoulishly great” alternatives to candy bars and other sugary snacks that are not only good for you, but just plain good!

Such as, okay, carrot sticks. But there’s much more!

Read the rest

November 23, 2009

Enjoying Yourself Can Be Hazardous To Your Health

In their December “Nutrition Action Health Letter” out last week, Jayne Hurley and Bonnie Liebman with The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), exposed a deadly health hazard lurking unseen in every movie theater across the country:

Eating a medium-sized popcorn smothered in buttery flavored oil is the equivalent of eating a medium-sized popcorn smothered in buttery flavored oil!

Read the rest

For the latest on how government officials and other opinion leaders are working to ensure that you make the kinds of decision you’d make if only you were as smart as they were, see our Health and Fitness section.


March 8, 2011 at 01:51 PM in Health & Fitness | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 24, 2011

He’s Hatin’ It

New York Times Food columnist Mark Bittman is continuing to use his new platform on the opinion pages of that paper to convince America that we should all be a lot more like Mark Bittman.

His latest salvo is against fast-food giant McDonald’s, which perhaps more than any other restaurant chain, caters to people who are not Mark Bittman.

This drives Mark Bittman crazy.

In particular, Bittman takes aim at McDonald’s latest offering of oatmeal.  It’s not just that the oatmeal is unpalatable to Bittman, or that its nutritional profile is not to his liking, no, it goes much deeper than that:

It’s “wrong.”

How to Make Oatmeal Wrong

How is it wrong?  For starters, Mr. Bittman notes that McDonald’s oatmeal has:

“11 weird ingredients you would never keep in your kitchen.”

Well, at least not in Mr. Bittman’s kitchen.

A quick look at the weird ingredients and we find Carrageenan, which is a seaweed extract that has been used for hundreds of years and is a readily available staple for molecular gastronomy enthusiasts.

Similarly, sodium citrate is a salty sour flavoring you can easily buy if you were so motivated.

The rest of the ingredients that Mr. Bittman finds weird are common additives for texture, flavor, color, and preservation and are the foundation of much of the convenience food that we take for granted.

But that’s not the point.  The point is that offering a totally unremarkable product with common ingredients to a willing customer base without first securing the approval of Mark Bittman is clearly “wrong.”

What if someone wanted to argue that McDonald’s heavily sweetened version tastes better?  As it turns out, they’re wrong too. According to Mr. Bittman:

“…they’re addicted to sickly sweet foods.”

You know who’s not addicted to sickly sweet foods?  Mark Bittman. He doesn't like sickly sweet foods. Ever. So neither should you.

What if you want to argue that going to McDonald’s is more convenient? 

Great, now you’ve made him angry:

“This is nonsense; in the time it takes to go into a McDonald’s, stand in line, order, wait, pay and leave, you could make oatmeal for four while taking your vitamins, brushing your teeth and half-unloading the dishwasher.”

Note to self: Do NOT go to the McDonald’s in Mr. Bittman’s neighborhood, it apparently has really bad service.

“… you could put some rolled oats (instant not necessary) in a glass or bowl, along with a teeny pinch of salt, sugar or maple syrup or honey, maybe some dried fruit. Add milk and let stand for a minute (or 10). Eat. Eat while you’re walking around getting dressed. And then talk to me about convenience.”

You might also want to talk to him about your dry cleaning bill.

“I asked them this, via e-mail: ‘Why could you not make oatmeal with nothing more than real oats and plain water, and offer customers a sweetener or two, a packet of mixed dried fruit, and half-and-half or — even better — skim milk?’”

Exactly.  And while we’re at it, why on earth don’t they make vegan tofu stir fry?  Or a fair trade sustainably farmed lentil-and-potato knish?  Indeed, why don’t they offer products specifically tailored to customers who have no intention of ever going to McDonald’s?  What kind of businesspeople are these? 

“Their answer, via e-mail and through a spokesperson (FMO is ‘fruit and maple oatmeal’): ‘Customers can order FMO with or without the light cream, brown sugar and the fruit. Our menu is entirely customizable by request with our ‘Made for You’ platform that has been in place since the late 90s.’”

Not to worry, Bittman has a comeback for that:

“Oh, please.”

Ooh, snap! That one is going to leave a mark.

“Here’s the thing: McDonald’s wants to get people in the store. Once a day, once a week, once a month, the more the better, of course, but routinely.

A business wants customers?  Interesting.  In theory.

"And if you buy oatmeal, they’re o.k. with that. But they know that, once inside, you’ll probably opt for a sausage biscuit anyway.”

Why?  Because you’re suffering from an incurable case of not being Mark Bittman.  Otherwise, you would be on the lookout for these Bittman-approved alternatives to McDonald’s oatmeal:

Cardamom-scented oatmeal pancakes.
Coconut oat pilaf.
Homemade granola.

Why, you could whip up a batch of cardamom-scented oatmeal pancakes while you’re dressing the baby, changing the oil in the car, volunteering at a charity auction and then eat them while you bike to work.

And then come talk to us about convenience!


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February 24, 2011 at 04:09 PM in Current Affairs, Health & Fitness | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack