Sunday, November 7, 2010

How To Scare Kids And Influence People.

When arguing about food and food policy in this country, children are often used as pawns.  Nobody can stand the thought of anything bad happening to our kids.  This is why baby formula and school lunch food are some of the most heavily regulated things in the food industry.

But that is all about scaring the adults who are concerned for the kids.  To my knowledge, this is the first instance I've seen of scaring the children directly... and it sickens me.

Watch this video:

He's done this 'experiment' time and time again in his home country.  So he's experienced in scaring kids.  He then goes on to say that chicken nuggets are not made this way in the United States... just before he tells kids how the chicken nuggets they love are made.  Did you catch that?  In the intro for the segment, he admits he is lying to little kids.

Now body language is very important when interacting with kids.  Be aggressive or frown at the right moment and you make the impression that what you're doing is bad/wrong/disgusting. Look at what he does at about the 1:30 mark where, after explaining that everything else on the chicken was good and has value, he then asks the kids, 'You want to eat some?' as he waves the raw chicken at their faces.  Substitute the chicken with liver, asparagus, beans, cottage cheese, or triple cream brie while making those motions and you'll get the same reaction.

A couple things:

To me, this is no different than indoctrinating kids with... religion, racism, hatred, violence...ignorance.  He leads them with emotional cues and body language.  Amazingly, the kids still said they would eat it.

He took the very poorly deboned carcass(still lots of breast meat left on), cut it up and said it was horrible.  Are you telling us, Mr. Oliver, that you never make chicken stock?  You don't submerge those 'nasty bits' under a pot of cold water and slowly bring it to a simmer for several hours, reducing the liquid and extracting the flavor?  Hmm.  Interesting.  I only went to Johnson & Wales for a trimester and it's the first thing you learn in stocks and sauces.  Also, are we saying that using the meat on the bone is bad and throwing the ugly meat away is good?

Why not teach the kids how to make their own chicken nuggets or chicken fingers?  Why not teach them safe knife handling skills?  Why not explain what calories are and how our bodies deal with excess calories?  Why not do any of that instead of trying to scare children and adults?

It isn't the food, it's the quantity.  By dumping a bunch of prepackaged goodies on some fat woman's table and making her cry, are you really more effective than showing her how to use Excel to track and add the nutrients and calories of the food she eats?  Is it better than showing her how to shop for ingrediants that are cheap, nutrient dense, and last the week?  Is it better than showing her basic recipes, techniques, and tips to help her plan meals she never thought she had time for?

This show seems to be all about scaring kids and influencing people.  Jamie Oliver and his producers may mean well, but they go about it in the worst way possible.  Exploiting a region of people, a body type, and children is a high ratings, high trauma approach that will either create more misguided activists, or shame those people and make their situations even worse.


  1. You argue that it "not the food, but the quantity".

    But the very agency that sets nutritional policy and "regulates" school lunches is out there promoting excessive consumption of products like cheese in order to create markets for subsidized crops.

    The conflict of interest there is pretty blatant.

  2. It sounds pretty bad as you say... except that group isn't the same. As I understand it, they receive funding from the gov(not 100%), but aren't a government agency. Furthermore, I didn't read anything about them advocating excessive promotion. Remember, ANY food can fit into a balanced diet. Balance is in the medium term, not the short term. So you can go over on fat/calories for one day or even a week, but things should even out for the week/month.

    Cheese - if it's any good - is high in fat compared to any other food. You can make low fat cheese, but it doesn't taste very good. I think what the group was doing is advocating for dairy. Half of all fluid milk in this country goes towards cheese production. The solution is to pare down or eliminate all ag/corp subsidies to eliminate what you would call the 'agency problem' - conflicts of interest between a group and another group they partially fund. Many farmers will lose their farms without these subsidies and most small operations will not be able to compete.

    It seems silly to me to have all these boundaries on what foods government funded groups can advocate, because most foods have negative drawbacks. The only solution there would be for the government to not advocate for any foods.

  3. Sam,

    I tend to fall on the side of science, as I know you certainly do, so how can you say ANY food can fit into a balanced diet? McDonalds does not fit in any balanced or healthy diet. Not the I begrudge anyone the right to choose to eat there, but balanced? Unless balance means a balance between good and bad calories. Not all calories are created equal

  4. You seem to be making certain assumptions about ALL the menu items at McDonald's as well as the dietary needs for EVERY person.

    While McDonald's does have high fat/sodium/calories for many menu items, not all are like this. It's very possible to have a meal that is within range. Even if you blow your daily needs for calories/fat/sodium, you can still balance things out throughout the week. Keep in mind that a balanced diet is just that, a balance. So you'll have days where you eat more than others, but overall, things will even out.

    You can not only fit any food into a balanced diet, but you can lose weight as long as you restrict calories.

  5. But Sam, not all calories are created equal. There isn't a single thing McD's serves that is good or healthy, bottled water not included. Even the salad is loaded with a great deal of sugar if you use the dressing.

    Now, folks can certainly have a go and dine there, but let's not gloss over the fact that it isn't good for ANY amount. Period.

    To me a balanced diet means ensuring you are getting the caloric intake you are shooting for using a balance of food that doesn't harm your health. I don't know of anyone who thinks balance means, I am eating this very healthy meal now so I can eat crapola later.

    To be clear, I am not knocking McD's. They have the right to develop their menu as we have the right to eat there or not. My family chooses not to.

  6. The amount is always important, and your insistence that the entire menu is unhealthy in any amount is ignorant of food science and nutrition.

    You can find home cooked food or fine dining that has the same amount of sugar/fat/sodium as McDonald's or even more. Sugar is a carbohydrate, by the way, and not as big a villain as I think you seem to be making it out to be.

    Everything must be considered in the context of a dosage and in the context of the entire diet. Otherwise, one McDonald's meal would cause some specific health ailment if what you say is true. It doesn't These foods only cause problems when the dietary limits are exceeded. For instance, if McDonald's was unhealthy in ANY amount, we should expect to see the negative consequences of high fat/sodium/calorie diets in 100% of the people who have ever eaten at McDonald's. We don't.

  7. WTH! He still fed it to them?!! It's got bone and everything in it! McDonald's doesn't even do that!!! The real way that nuggets are made is by boiling the meat off of the bone, because bone fragments cannot be digested in our stomachs and can even make you sick. He doesn't know anything!

  8. Actually, there's a big ass meat grinder that can grind frozen meat and trim(fat/skin), which has a bone trap built into it. I worked at Koch Foods and they had one. It had to be checked once an hour while it was in use.


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