Opinion - Carb-laden foods have rights, too
Thursday, March 11, 2004
ELIZABETH HOVDE Columbian staff writer
Dear microwave, kettle-corn-style popcorn,
I adore you.
And kudos to baked potatoes, rice, tortillas, pasta, coffee cake, sourdough bread, wheat bread, ciabatta bread and the beloved kaiser roll.
All of you, some of my very favorite foods, have taken a beating. I can sit quiet no longer. Soon may come the day when carb-containing foods and carb-loving, carb-craving, carb-supporting people lose their long-held rights.
You foods full of yummy grains and sugars have been declared carb-laden and are unjustly being ostracized by society. Grocery outlets have sprung up refusing to let you in. Around 32 million Americans are estimated to have pledged their allegiance to the Atkins diet, your archenemy. And even the fast-food industry has forsaken you.
At least one of them is misguidedly serving burgers that are bun-free. That's as wrong as ordering pizza without cheese. No one wants ketchup on a cracker, and no sane person wants a rogue burger without a bun. Meats, breads, sugars and dairy products combine their forces for a reason: They taste brilliant together.
Some fast-food joints are also offering low-carb salads with enough fat in them to rival a bacon-double-cheeseburger. "But look, it's low in carbs!" they say.
You can't drive down many restaurant-filled streets around here without seeing signs for a new Atkins-friendly entree or low-carb latte. It's obnoxious. T.G.I. Friday's has even signed a deal with the Atkins folks to serve Atkins-approved meals. It is experimenting with low-carb margaritas, fajitas and desserts. Can't we at least leave margaritas out of this?
Subway Restaurants have also taken up arms with Atkins. The sandwich-maker started advertising the chicken-bacon-ranch and turkey-bacon-melt wraps as "Atkins-friendly."
On Wednesday's business page, The Columbian carried a Dow Jones Newswires story that reported PepsiCo is launching a "mid-calorie" drink.
"Aiming at those who can't decide between diet and regular," the story went, "PepsiCo Inc. on Tuesday announced it is planning to launch a cola with 50 percent less sugar than regular colas."
We're accommodating even the indecisive-on-carbs crowd? Fiddle Faddle.
Bread basket busted
The bread industrymust be ready to file a defamation lawsuit.The growing popularity of low-carbohydrate diets, such as the Atkins diet and something called the South Beach diet, are taking a toll on those who are used to filling our bread baskets, reports USA Today.
It is estimated that 40 percent of Americans are eating less bread today than in 2002. We consume barely a third of the quantity of bread as the French and Italians. (And we're more often fat, I might add.)
I do not wish to debate the merits of the Atkins diet or the numerous other diets that fail to acknowledge it is a lack of moderation, a failure to exercise regularly and a lack of control on our food intake that has supersized our nation not carbs, fast food or baby formula. And sure. French fry intake should be kept to a minimum. But a minority of the population cannot be allowed to hijack our restaurant menus and desecrate street signage with all this anti-carb nonsense. Not without a fight.
The good news for carb lovers and those who are willing to stand up for banana bread, cookies and all things flour, is that there is still a good chance to change this misguided path: While restaurants, food packagers and grocers have adopted this fad that has turned trend and is now headed toward becoming mainstream behavior, carb-filled favorites still rule the day.
Victor Godinez wrote in a Feb. 12 Dallas Morning News article that while low-carb diets "are hotter than a pot of fondue right now, low-carb will command only a small segment of the restaurant industry.
"American restaurant goers spent $440 billion last year on everything from cheesecake to french fries, and low-carb menu options will be lucky to carve out one-tenth of that amount," according to experts.
Dear kettle corn, we can save you yet.
Elizabeth Hovde's column of personal opinion appears on the Other Opinions page each Thursday. Her e-mail address: elizabeth.hovde~columbian.com.