Food Labeling

Big Government Will Help You Eat Right

The busybodies know what's in your best interest.


Americans so dumb. Not know how to do basic stuff, like eat. Or read. Or math. Dumber than sack of hammers, really. Take labels on boxes and cans of food.

"Nutrition Facts" — you seen them. Black-and-white rectangle: Calories, total fat, cholesterol, carbs, protein, vitamins. All that stuff.

Pretty simple, right? Easy to understand? Not for dumb-o public! Just ask First Lady, Michelle Obama. Few days ago she explain why Washington changing those labels. First Lady went to college. Princeton. Harvard. Smart lady! But she grok what life like for us stupid folk. Here she tell what it like for typical numbskull American trying to read label we have now:

"So you marched into the supermarket," she say. "You picked up a can or a box of something, you squinted at that little, tiny label — and you were totally and utterly lost. . . . All you could do was scratch your head, confused and bewildered, and wonder: Is there too much sugar in this product? Is 50 percent of the daily allowance of riboflavin a good thing or a bad thing? And how on Earth could this teeny little package contain five whole servings? . . . Unless you had a thesaurus, a calculator, a microscope or a degree in nutrition, you were out of luck. So you felt defeated, and you just gave up and went back to buying the same stuff you always buy."

Yup. So confused. So defeated. Brain hurt, go lie down.

First Lady leave out part about putting food bags in back of '85 IROC-Z Camaro before stopping at discount cigarette store on way back to trailer park. Aside from that, though, she nail it.

But it not just her! Michael Jacobson agree. Him head of goody-goody group Center for Science in Public Interest. Last year he also explain why gummint need to fix nutrition labels. He say "label complexity" big problem. Can "leave many shoppers mystified." Simpler labels help "encourage consumers to make smarter choices."

This how most media see it, too. "Choosing healthier foods at the grocery store may soon be a little easier," say CNN. New labels be "easier to read," say "Today" show. And here Allison Aubrey, reporter for NPR: "If you're perplexed about how to make healthy choices when you're shopping for food, you're not alone. We've all puzzled over a food label that was confusing and hard to follow." We sure have, Allison!

In another piece on "All Things Considered," Aubrey do riff on First Lady theme: "You pick up a box of pasta or a can of soup," she say, "and there's just too much information to interpret." Boy howdy.

But no give up! Because, as Aubrey say next, "help is on the way. The FDA has redesigned the nutrition label with these problems in mind."

Whew! Big relief. Getting scared there for a minute!

Nutrition labels good. Person putting hard-earned money down has right to know what he buy. (Or she buy.) Fraud bad. Nobody want to buy big box that say: "Contents: FOOD." Specially if contents really just powdered drywall. Or rat poison. Honesty best policy.

But still. Guess who design awful, complex, mystifying, puzzling current labels in first place? Federal gummint. FDA — same people who now say current labels no good! It was federal gummint tell everybody worry about fat, put fats at top of label so everyone pay close attention. Now federal gummint say forget fats. Now sugar bad! Bad, bad sugar! No eat!

Also, everybody hate Nutrition Facts serving sizes. Everybody know half-cup of ice cream not equal one serving; half-cup just a taste. One serving of ice cream equal one BOWL, darn it. Big bowl, if you have bad day.

Well, who came up with stupid tiny serving sizes? Not evil food companies trying to trick poor little shoppers! Federal gummint did that. Based on "reference amounts customarily consumed," whatever that is. As 1991 New York Times article about new rules put it, "the F.D.A. will set uniform serving sizes for all foods." Now same people going to set new serving sizes.

And hey, remember food pyramid? Two decades ago federal gummint introduce food pyramid to tell everybody to eat lots of carbs — six to 11 servings a day! Food pyramid say carbs should be foundation of your diet; tell people eat six to nine servings fruits and veggies. Now federal gummint say "make half your plate fruits and vegetables."


Odd thing about labels. Good to have them, but most folk don't pay them no mind. Carnegie-Mellon study of restaurant menu labels show "people still choose the food they like, not what's supposed to be healthier," as news stories put it.

Maybe real problem not "label complexity." Maybe real problem is, Americans not respond to gummint stimuli like trained rats in lab. Actually think for they own selves. Eat what they want, not what gummint tell them to.

Funny — you'd think pointy-headed know-it-alls smart enough to figure that out.

This article originally appeared at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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  1. Hinkle may have moved past 2Chilli in race to be greatest Reason writer. Great!

    1. I almost didn’t read this. That would have been a mistake. Awesome, A Barton. Reminds me of “The Apple Store”, which should be required reading, and Ima post up at the top of the thread to hopefully get more exposure. Mike Riggs turned me on to it – this is in The. Same. Voice. Enjoy read story!…..1252902543 (SFW)

      1. Unlike @SeinfeldToday, @Seinfeld2000 is very funny.

        Oh fuck you, Gawker. SeinfeldToday is classic.

  2. “…and you just gave up and went back to buying the same stuff you always buy.”

    We know the current labels haven’t served their purpose because you are STILL NOT BUYING WHAT WE WANT YOU TO BUY!!

  3. We are from the government and we are here to help you…

    Now, shut up and get back in line.

  4. “Funny ? you’d think pointy-headed know-it-alls smart enough to figure that out.”
    You would? Why? And why would you think that they really care about changing behavior? They are government stooges trying to justify their 6 figure salaries and throw their weight around.

    1. Dang right! Plus who is driving the boss IROC-Z, man.

  5. Did the president pay for that fruit?

    1. Hey, ProL, I think they prefer “gay”.

  6. I’ve always found it quite funny how obsessed Americans are with food labels and dieting and all of this other crap.

    None of it matters, there are three keys to not being a fat ass and dying of a heart attack.

    Eat the same amount of calories you burn, or eat less than you burn if you’re already a fatty.

    Get your heart rate up twice per week, running 1 mile twice per week will keep your heart in shape.

    Lift weights, it helps burn calories more than running does, and is much better for your joints.

    So, so simple, and the government does everything in its power to make it more complicated so that people just give up and be fatties.

    1. Research repeatedly shows, while good for general health, exercise is not effect for fat loss. That’s why they keep raising the recommended exercise times.

      Calorie math is almost meaningless to the human body compared to how the macronutrients affect the hormonal state. This is true of rats and mice as well, and it turns out it’s true for the Cleveland Metro Zoo’s gorillas. After eating double the calories for a year, they lost 65 pounds.

    2. Eating fewer calories than you actively burn is not sustainable. Eat the correct kind of macronutrients, and your metabolic processes will handle the rest.

      1. What Jordan said!

        1. It is obviously not sustainable because you would eventually starve to death. There is a bit in my previous sentence that I thought was understood, which is, once you get down to your needed weight, you can level off your calorie intake.

          I’m calling bullshit on the macronutrient theory. You may be able to call up one or two studies that “prove” that it works, but there are just as many that say it doesn’t.

          Sounds like you guys are just as brainwashed by the diet industry as everyone else.

          I repeat, eat less calories, moderate exercise for heart health, and build muscle if you can.

          1. “I repeat, eat less calories”

            Has the benefit of being “so, so simple” but we don’t eat calories, we eat food. In your insistence to simplify, to reduce food to calories, aren’t you afraid you might be missing something?

            1. Simpler yet: You are what you eat minus what you shit.

              1. “Simpler yet”

                An impulse to simplicity is nice, but it doesn’t get us closer to the truth here.

                You are what you eat minus what you shit PLUS whatever the billions of bacteria (who can’t really claim to be ‘you’) living in your gut shit. Nutrition strikes me as being anything but simple. It’s as complicated as any other field of knowledge.

                I think this anti-intellectualism here is regrettable.

          2. What’s your job, Paul? Unless you’re in nutrition, biochemistry or some other field related to the science of health, I’m going to go ahead and assume you don’t have the background knowledge required to confidently assert that you know how a machine as complex as a human body functions.

            Hell, even if you are a nutritionist MD PhD, I’d still call BS because NO ONE knows exactly how our bodies process nutrients.

            1. I’m not any of those things, either, but I also subscribe to the calories out-calories in concept. If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you’ll lose weight; if you eat more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight. Plain and simple. The macronutrient content of the food and your activities help determine body composition.

          3. I think that the macronutrient content of calories is more important for the composition of the body than it is for any type of weight loss.
            Specifically, adequate protein consumption helps with muscle retention when eating in a caloric deficit. I feel ridiculous saying this because it seems axiomatic, but adequate protein consumption in a caloric surplus is necessary for those coveted gainz.
            But it really does come down to numbers: you can’t lose weight at a surplus, and you can’t gain weight in a deficit.

          4. I guess that’s why they’re called the Laws of Thermodynamics rather than the Suggestions of Thermodynamics.

    3. Lift weights, it helps burn calories more than running does, and is much better for your joints.

      Lifting weights and gaining muscle mass does increase metabolism and reduce fat(mainly in men) but it’s not necessarily good on the joints. I’d say swimming is about as good as it gets for low impact exercise.

      1. Swimming is a very good exercise, yes.

        Lifting is good for your joints because it strengthens the support around them. There have been numerous studies on this, and coming from someone with a pretty serious joint injury in my shoulder, I can personally attest that lifting with proper form does absolute wonders.

        As with anything in life, if you’re an idiot about your lifting, you will probably injure yourself.

        1. That’s the truth. Seems like most of the gripes I hear about weight training injuries are a result of poor form and repetition.
          I still laughed in her face when a cardio bunny at the gym tried to tell me that squatting below parallel was going to wreck my knees.

    4. This piece of advice may be too simple to be actually efficient.

      Unless you want to struggle with pangs of hunger every day, you should better watch what you eat, and not just the total count of calories. Your feeling of satiety is not a simple calorie counter either. Composition matters. Check it out for yourself; take the same amount of whole-grain rye bread and white wheat ciabatta, and compare for how long each of them makes you full.

      The hormonal play related to food is very delicate, and the possible side effects are quite big. You may not feel them, but someone else might. Do not expect everyone’s body to work just like yours does. Fainting etc. DOES happen to some people even without dieting.

      If you are iron-willed*, you may disregard those effects, but most people drop out of their weight loss attempts because they can’t stand the hunger.

      * Note that being iron-willed against feelings of hunger is maladaptive from the viewpoint of evolution. Animals which starve deliberately do not live long in the nature.

  7. How hard is it to read the “nutrition facts” label on a package of food?

    Total carb grams minus fiber grams equals net carb grams. If my weight isn’t headed where I want it, lower the net carb grams.

    What’s so tough about that?


      1. A-B=C. Keep C

        1. Let A = what you eat

          Let B = what you shit

          C= what you are

  8. Perhaps we can pass laws such that food producers can only produce foods in one government-approved serving-sized container. So you could purchase a large featureless grey box with the word ‘Vegetables: 1 Serving’ on it, and a thimble-sized featureless container labeled ‘Salt: 1 Serving,’ and so on.

    Then of course we make it so that people can only purchase the approved number of servings of each item per day. Surprise inspections of cupboards and fridges may be necessary.

    1. sounds doubleplus good

    2. I think some nanny statist do-gooder just creamed his pants.

  9. I read this in the voice of an elderly Chinese man.

    1. I read it in a caveman’s voice.

      1. I read everything in a caveman’s voice.

    2. I read in Seinfeld2000 voice.

      Although it also reminds me of the SNL Christmas carol with Frankenstein’s monster, Tonto and Tarzan.

      “Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell
      Jingle All….Way
      Oh what fun…is ride…
      One Horse…Sleigh…”

      Or something like that.

      1. I must be old. I read it as Bizarro Superman.

  10. Food labeling change is a preparation for Zombie Apocalypse. When zombies eat all the fat (easiest to catch) people, the fit survivors will need to convince the zombies to change their diet. Hence the dumbing down of labels and focus on fruits and vegetables. Can’t have them eating meat and getting funny ideas.

    It’s the only explanation that makes sense.

  11. But the American people really are this stupid. Twentysomethings are knuckleheads who slice their fingers open while cooking for the first time. I know this because Mrs. Obamessiah said so. Then again, the American people have the supreme genius to elect statist politicians; perhaps voting booths are like the Teacher in ST:TOS.

  12. Before we even discuss the supposed “Obesity Epidemic” (remember when an epidemic had to be of a communicable disease?), could we stop a moment and consider some implications?
    If these pillocks are to be believed, the primary dietary problem of our poor is that they’re too fat. That hasn’t happened much in recorded history.

    Could we celebrate a little before we start freaking out?

  13. Me no can tel diffrince bitwin chip an potatoe.’

    me can call michel?

    1. me can call michel?

      You not no how press talkie buttons.

  14. Gummint should figure best simplify: label green is good, red is bad.

    1. Can Fudgee-O come wit greEn lable?

      , me EAT fudgee o with brokoli an spinkel alll over all food me bye.

    2. The Army has actually done this.

    3. The Army has actually done this.

      1. The Army is apparently fucking with my signal, too.

      2. Yep in the dining facility, foods are labeled according to whether you should eat more, less or very little. They also label food as “fuel for the combat athlete.”

        I always read combat athlete in Cartman’s Southern-fried “Student ath-o-lete” voice.

  15. Here’s what I don’t get. Why is Michelle acting like an elected official? I understand the First Lady historically picks a pet project and rolls with it but this seems like she’s legislating from a position of a non-elected official.

    What am I missing?

    It would be like Canadian PM Stephen Harper’s wife wagging her finger at us. Shit, I don’t even know who Harper’s wife is!

    After all, I didn’t vote for you. If you want a say, hit the campaign trail bitch and lay out your ideas.


    1. First, what part of ‘pen and phone’ don’t you understand? FYTW.

      Second, IDK that this the First Lady legislating as much as it is; time to revamp the food pyramid again! Now, if only we could find a spokesperson to sell it…

    2. She learn from Hillary Clinton. She was big dog, said, “we are the President!”

    3. You stoopit. Harper wife Mrs. Harper.

  16. I almost didn’t read this. That would have been a mistake. Awesome, A Barton. Reminds me of “The Apple Store”, which should be required reading, and Ima post up at the top of the thread to hopefully get more exposure. Mike Riggs turned me on to it – this is in The. Same. Voice. Enjoy read story!…..1252902543 (SFW)

  17. He has tried to ban Alfalfa sprout, Apple pie, Baby food, Bacon, Baked potato, Baklava, Beef, Burrito, Beer, Berries, BLT, Brie, Buffalo wings, Butter, Caffe latte & mocha, Caffeine, Candy, Canned fish, Cantaloupe, Cereals, Cheese, Cheese manicotti, Cheese ravioli, Cheeseburger, Cheesecake, Chicken enchiladas, fingers & nuggets, Chicken pot pie, Chile rellenos, Chimichangas, Chocolate cake, chips & mousse, Clams, Condiments, Cookies, Corned beef, Crackers, Cream cheese, Cream of broccoli soup, Creamed spinach, Croissant, Danish, Dessert, Dip, Donut, Eggplant, Parm, Egg, Enchilada, Fat-free cake, Fat-free cookies, Fat-free ice cream, Feta cheese, Food coloring, French fries, French toast, Fried calamari, Fried clam, Fried fish, Fried mozzarella stick, Fried rice, Fried shrimp, Frozen dinner, Frozen turkey, Fruit cocktail, Fruit drink, Fruit juice, Fudge brownie sundae, Garlic bread, General Tso’s chicken, Granola bar, Grilled cheese, Gyros, Ham sandwich, Hamburger, Hot fudge sundae, Kung pao chicken, Lasagna, Lettuce, Lo mein, Lunch meats, Mac and cheese, Margarine, Mayonnaise, Meatloaf, Melon, Milk, Milk shake, Mushroom, Mussel, Olestra, Omelet, Onion ring, Orange beef, Oyster, Pancake, Pastry, Pizza, Pork chop, Potato chip, Prime rib, Pudding, Rotisserie turkey, Saccharin, Salad dressing, Salad, Salt, Sandwich, Sausage, Scone, Seafood, Shellfish, Soda, Soup, Spaghetti and meatball, Steakhouse, Stuffed potato skin, Sweet and sour pork, Taco, Veal, Waffle & Wine.

    1. That looks like a good appetizer.

  18. Johns Hopkins just released a press blurb about a study showing that a majority of pre-kindergarteners can perform functional algebra naturally. After 12 yrs. of the American public education system, they are, apparently, are too stupid to use our nutrition labels.

    Clearly, the problem is the labels.

  19. My doctor recently told me to eat less vegetables since it was probably causing some of my stomach troubles.

    I eat roughly three fruits and three vegetables a day. So that would put me below Michelle’s ding-a-ling table of 6-9 servings. Which only goes to show, it’s all arbitrary since some people digest foods and portions differently.

    What’s people views on palm oil and modified or hydrogenated oils?

    I know with the former the science is inconclusive as to how it can negatively affect us but the latter I’m not too familiar with; though I read it’s pretty bad.

  20. What’s people views on palm oil and modified or hydrogenated oils?

    Neither are worth violating anyone’s freedom over. Neither are intrinsically very bad for you. That doesn’t prevent corporate food producers from essentially perpetrating fraud against you to sell you something that is bad or inferior.

    1. Yeah.

  21. Start working at home with Google! Just work for few hours and have more time with friends and family. I earn up to $500 per week. It’s a great work at home opportunity. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out. Linked here

  22. I like Hinkle.

  23. These government idiots couldn’t produce one flake of Wheaties, but they want to tell everyone how to produce and package their food. Until purchased, the product and the packaging belongs to the individuals who produces it. By rights they can label or not label as they see fit as long as they don’t lie about it which would be to commit fraud. Otherwise, it is not anyone else’s business except their customer’s to decide to buy it or not.

    Reminds me of when some wanted to force Steve Jobs to make Mac’s compatible with Flash. So he says, “Screw you guys. Either buy it, or don’t, but don’t tell me how to make my product.” or something like that.

    Jobs had the courage to defend his rights. Its pretty rare these days.

  24. I have the whole “unsightly public fat asses” problem solved, if only you libertarians would get out of the way.

    It’s simple, really: One. Big. Food.

    There’s too many choices. People should just eat one food. It will consist of a gelatin-like substance (think tofu) containing the perfect balance of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbs, and sugars that everyone needs.

    Each bite will be just like every other bite, so that it’s impossible to eat “wrong.” When we know exactly what you should be eating, choice is the enemy. It’s not your friend. Choice just brings market failure. And by failure, I mean having to look at a bunch of fat people almost constantly. The market fails to remove fat people from my field of vision. I declare failure.

    Sure, I haven’t fully vetted this against every nutritionist of right-wing science quack who may have some non-standard, outside of the consensus idea of how you should eat. But, we don’t let that stuff get in the way of good policy.

    I, for one, am tired of going out and seeing a bunch of fat asses everywhere I go. It’s unseemly and embarrassing, especially when considering the amazing gains that near anorexic women in Europe have been making. If you want to be a big faty fatso, fine, but you should have to eat pound after pound of boring, gelatinous goo to do so.

    Think of the children.

    1. think Soylent Green

    2. “There’s too many choices. ”

      I don’t see these choices. Difference size, shape of packaging or different pictures on the packaging only gives the illusion of choice. I’d go as far to say that the more highly processed any two items in the supermarket are, at a fundamental level, notwithstanding different packaging and different pictures on the packaging, the more similar they will be.

      By the way, if you find tofu gelatinous, you might want to change your brand. Better yet, make your own. It’s no more difficult than making your own cheese.

  25. I almost bailed on this article.

    At first, I thought old Chinese guy, too. Then I got the gag. We’re all stupid, so the author thought it would be funny to talk like a moron.

    A few sentences would have been sufficient. I had to fight to read it word for word, then just gave up and read in my regular voice.

    Now if you’ll excuse me. “Brain hurt, go lie down.”

  26. Customary peanut butter serving= 1 jar, customary ice cream serving= half gallon, with customary bottle of chocolate topping.

    1. Customary alcohol consumption = whatever is still in the house. lucky for me the liqure store is all back roads from my house when I run out.

  27. Brawndo has what plants crave. It’s got electroytes.

    1. You don’t want to drink from a toilet, do you?

    2. If Americans weren’t so stupid they would’ve elected a real black man to be president. And that man would be Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho.

  28. This is a great idea! This government program to help all us stupid people will work as well as……, that didn’t work. Or…no, that doesn’t work either. Does anyone remember the program that does what they said it would do, stayed within its budget, and didn’t cause unforseen problems?

  29. For great comic effect, pretend a Chinese man is reading the article in thick accent.

    “Limit size of government. You limit now!”

  30. Steve Smith now write as Hinkle? Steve Smith know human nutrition best satisfied by human nutrition. But 1st satisfy sex drive.

  31. Story too hard. Can’t read it.

  32. Maybe they’ll just redo the labels to be like TSA threat levels:

    Green: Good food! Eat lots!
    Blue: Pretty good food. Eat much. Not as good as green.
    Yellow: Food is meh. OK, but don’t eat too much!
    Orange: Bad food. Not eat lots. Only a sometimes food!
    Red: Bad, bad food! Kill you! Don’t eat!

  33. the American people have the supreme genius to elect statist politicians; perhaps voting booths are like the Teacher in ST:TOS.

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