Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"Less bad" is "good" in Bizarro World.

It's a phenomenon that baffles me.

Well versed, intelligent, thoughtful and well intentioned health and nutrition professionals who have latched onto a notion that must warm of the heart of Big Food executives the world over - that less bad is in fact good.

I see it constantly:

Front-of-package programs that throw their endorsements on "foods" like oven-baked French-fried and "enriched" Minute Rice (Heart and Stroke's Health Check, I'm looking at you) where the endorsements don't tell consumers the choices are less bad, they tell them they're good; school food advocates promoting chocolate milk and juice as good because they have a smattering of nutrients and as such are less bad than pop; vending machines that have stoplight guidance systems suggesting that baked chips are in fact good choices when at best they're just less bad than their fully fried friends.

Less bad is not good!

- A 4% tax hike, while less bad than a 10% tax hike is still a tax hike.

- A speeding ticket for going 15 over while less bad than a ticket for going 40 over is still a speeding ticket.

- A conviction for manslaughter, while less bad than a conviction for first degree murder, still means you're going to jail.

If we want to further nutrition reform in society we need to start calling things out for what they are.

There are bad foods. In fact there are probably more bad foods now than ever before and just because something's less bad it doesn't make it good. By not calling out bad foods for what they are we're putting society at a disadvantage and allowing food manufacturers to play on an uneven playing field.

Stopping playing by rules that don't make nutritional sense.

You should eat the smallest amount of bad foods that you need to be happy, and you shouldn't kid yourself, or worse yet anybody else, into thinking they're good.

Nutritional advocates who claim less bad is good belong in Bizzaro-world.

Bad is bad. Period. And that's ok.

Now everyone take a deep breath.