Well, of course, you might say.
But this video that my father-in-law recently sent me still left me with my mouth hanging wide open:
Report-card time: 5 best, worst restaurants in America
In it, some journalist from Men's Health magazine, David Zinczenko, rates a bunch of "restaurants"* and gives them grades according to how "healthy" they are. Here's what they decide:
Olive Garden: D+
Red Lobster: A-
The results are ridiculous, and the incredibly narrow criteria they use remind me how much the nutrition paradigm hasn't really moved beyond where it was 20 years ago.
Why does McDonald's get a relatively good score? Well, because of their "McDouble" burger and their oatmeal. The former has only a few hundred calories, so that means it's healthy. And the latter...it's oatmeal, so it's gotta be healthy, right? Let's see what Mark Bittman has to say about that: McDonald's oatmeal has 21 ingredients--most of which are highly processed--and more sugar than a Snickers bar (definitely check out the whole Bittman article by following the link if you have a few minutes).
Zinczenko tells us that Chick-Fil-A is healthy because its chicken club, which includes "the works" with bacon and cheese and chicken, is only 400 calories. But is anyone stopping to ask why a sandwich with white bread and bacon and cheese and chicken is only 400 calories? What else is going into this sandwich to keep it at a "healthy" calorie level?
Come to think of it, no one's asking about what's in any of this food, at least not in terms of ingredients. The only data we have is calories, fat, and sodium--and only really the calories are being given any attention. Have we not move beyond the assumption that low-calorie = healthy? Apparently not.
And of course that means that Chipotle, the one restaurant on the list that doesn't just offer a variety of ways of putting together a bunch of processed ingredients, gets one of the worst scores. Yes, Zinczenko gives a nod to the "fresh quality ingredients and free-range meats" but because the calorie count is high, this is NOT HEALTHY. I agree that Chipotle's serving sizes are too large, but why do we ignore the health of the environment or the health of our animals or un-processed ingredients and lack of preservatives when measuring "health"?
Perhaps what makes me most sad of all is that this report is coming from Men's Health, a magazine which is published by Rodale Press. And although it may mostly produce glossy lifestyle publications today, Rodale Press and its original founder, J.I. Rodale, began the organic gardening movement in America in the 1940s. Rodale was one of the chief proponents of a healthier, chemical-free form of agriculture that paved the way for the relatively mainstream postion of organic agriculture today.** But now we see this corrupted view of health coming from such auspicious beginnings. Could it have been otherwise?
What do you all think? Am I silly to find this report so shocking? Naive? What is the mainstream message about nutrition in today's media that you all are hearing?