Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ottawa Citizen Nutrition Watch Week 5 - Waiting

So we're still waiting for Wendy Warburton to get back from vacation.

To recap. Over a month ago I blogged about how I had written a letter to the editor of the Ottawa Citizen asking that they publish nutritional information for its Food Section recipes.

It didn't get published.

I then wrote Ron Eade, the Citizen's longstanding and well known food columnist and blogger with the same request and he informed me that it was a budgetary issue and suggested I contact Wendy Warburton the person in charge of making the decision to spend the $16.99 it would cost to buy the software to analyze the recipes.

And so I did.

She didn't write me back.

The next week I offered to do the Citizen's work for them. I'd use my own software and my own time to analyze the recipes for the Citizen. Ron reported that he'd pass my offer up the chain of command.

I didn't hear back from anyone.

Last week I emailed the Citizen's Publisher, their VP of Sales and Service and their Editor-in-Chief and I was pleased to hear back from Gerry Nott, Editor-in-Chief, that he'll discuss our request and my offer with Wendy on her return from vacation on June 22.

Again, the issue here is simple. There are tens of thousands of Citizen readers for whom nutritional information would be beneficial. Readers with diabetes, hypertension, obesity, kidney disease and those who simply are concerned about their nutritional health. Those individuals would greatly benefit from having access to the nutritional breakdown of the recipes published by the Citizen.

For the next little while I'm going to try to bring you the thoughts of other Ottawans who care a great deal about nutrition.

This week I'd like to introduce you to Kevin Willis. Kevin's a great guy who cares a great deal about nutrition. Kevin's the Director of Partnerships at the Canadian Stroke Network and part of Health Canada's taskforce on Dietary Sodium Reduction.

Here's what Kevin wrote to Wendy about our "Ask before you order" initiative,

"Dear Wendy,

I am writing to urge you to include nutritional information with your recipes. Everyone needs to be aware of the calories, fat, sugar, and sodium in their food so that they can make informed choices. The Citizen has been one of the leading media sources in explaining to the public the links between dietary sodium and blood pressure. Please give your readers the information they need to help them limit their sodium intake and manage their nutrition.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Kevin Willis
Member of Health Canada’s Working Group on Dietary Sodium Reduction
Director of Partnerships
Canadian Stroke Network"
Now I realize you may have sent emails already, but if you haven't, or if you've never sent one to the Citizen's Editor-in-Chief perhaps you could drop Mr. Nott a line (and included in the email will be Wendy Warburton) and let him know how you feel about the matter so that he's armed with our thoughts before his meeting with Wendy. Please email them by clicking here.

I know this subject has started to be cross-posted on various blogs and Twitter accounts (thanks!) - please consider reposting again or for the first time.

We ARE building momentum. The first two weeks, almost no-one reposted or tweeted this story. Last week I believe over a dozen retweets and it's now been posted on at least 5 local blogs.

Remember, it was the Citizen's editorial board in their piece on posting calories on menus who suggested that legislation isn't necessary to get restaurants to post calories but rather that consumer demand would do the trick. Let's see if they were right with regards to their own paper. Please consumers - make some demands.

Here's the breakdown for this week's batch of Citizen recipes:

Char-Grilled BC Spot Prawns
(per serving assuming no salt to taste and unseasoned breadcrumbs): 565 calories, 7g saturated fat, 388mg sodium, 21g total carbs (a surprising number of calories for a small appetizer)

Ron’s Favourite Maple-Whisky Planked Salmon
(per serving): 369 calories, 1g saturated fat, 119mg sodium, 28g total carbs.

Pacific Cod Skewers with Whiskey Pomegranate Sauce
(per serving assuming 1/16 teaspoon salt each to taste): 304 calories, 2g saturated fat, 156mg sodium, 12g total carbs.

Grilled Atlantic Squid on Pasta Bundles with Chutney

(per serving): 796 calories, 10g saturated fat, 387mg sodium, 68g total carbs

Dad's Fibre Rich Bran Muffins
(per muffin): 153 calories, 1g saturated fat, 170mg sodium, 25g total carbs

Berry Yogurt Parfait
(per serving): 120 calories, 3g saturated fat, 58mg sodium, 16g total carbs (this one will vary dramatically based on your type of yogurt)

[All recipes calculated using Mastercook 9.0. Today it took roughly 4 minutes per recipe]