US prisons spark new diet fad

According to the BBC: “An overweight prisoner in the United States is suing the authorities for not feeding him enough after he lost about seven stone (45kg) in jail.Apparently on the other side of the looking glass stones and KGs are a type of weight. Who knew?

What will really make this diet take off: The prison says it gives prisoners at least 3000 calories a day in food! I predict Leavenworth will soon replace South Beach as the name in weight loss!

Sadly the truth is much more prosaic. Yes our plaintiff, Broderick Lloyd Laswell (awaiting trial for murder) did lose 99 pounds in a mere eight months while eating a reasonable amount of food. That is probably because for Mr. Laswell 3000 calories a day was a marked decrease in what he usually consumed. When he arrived at the jail Mr. L weighed 187kg. To those of you who, like me, this number means nothing, try this: that’s 411.4 pounds.

In his complaint Laswell writes that,

“On several occasions I have started to do some exercising and my vision went blurry and I felt like I was going to pass out … About an hour after each meal my stomach starts to hurt and growl. I feel hungry again. … The only reason we lost weight in here is because we are literally being starved to death.”

Well, he was literally eating himself to death before…

Maybe the headline should read “Weight, Weight, Don’t Tell Me…”


Cucumber-flavored Pepsi, just the thing to wash down that maraschino-cherry flavored sausage

In Japan, which is to soda flavors what petri dishes are to bacteria, the new flavor this summer is Pepsi Ice Cucumber. But you shouldn’t be too frightened by this mix of cucumber and cola. Why?

 The soft drink, which hit stores here on Tuesday, doesn’t actually have any cucumber in it — but has been artificially flavored to resemble “the refreshing taste of a fresh cucumber,” said Aya Takemoto, spokeswoman of Japan’s Pepsi distributor, Suntory Ltd.

pocariSoda marketing in Japan is truly a wondrous thing to behold. Japanese consumers expect novelty and they get it. So new flavors and brands are introduced continually. It’s like watching evolution powered by crystal-meth. Try a refreshing glass of Pocari Sweat. I have. It’s not bad. And that is actually all I remember of what it tasted like.

Mr. Gild meet Mr. Lilly

Noticed something for the first time at the supermarket yesterday that apparently has been out & about for a while: Canned fruits now packaged with … SPLENDA!

For some reason we need our canned fruit extra sweet — that’s why we have the stuff packaged in heavy syrup. That was too much for some segment of the population, so companies started selling the stuff packaged in fruit juice, sans additional sucre. Then, in September 2003 the  Signature Fruit Co. launched four new canned fruit products  “specifically created for Americans aiming to consume less sugar, fewer carbohydrates and/or reduce daily caloric intake.” Thus Splenda was added to our canned fruit. Let us put aside for a moment the fact that “Americans aiming to consume less sugar, fewer carbohydrates and/or reduce daily caloric intake” could just eat fresh fruit and thereby get all sorts of other health benefits too. I, for one, think splenda is just saccharin with better PR so don’t hand me any stuff about how it’s “natural.” The bigger question is WHY DO WE ADD SUGAR (more likely high fructose corn syrup) to this stuff? Why do I live in a world where companies add (& consumers buy) apple sauce with extra sweetener? Grrrrrr…..

Nestle buys Jenny Craig — now there’s a co-branding opportunity

VEVEY, Switzerland – In a new twist in corporate synergy, Nestle AG, the world's biggest food and drink company, said Monday it will fatten up its weight-loss business by buying Jenny Craig Inc. for $600 million.

Man, even the AP sees the humor in this one. Will we have Jenny Craig candy bars or Nestle diet bars? Or both? 

All the news that’s fit to eat

  • A day late and a fad short: In an effort to capitalize on the dying-if-not-dead low-carb diet fad, President's Choice has brought out Crispy Lettuce Wraps. "Crisp and sweet-tasting but flexible enough for folding, this versatile cross between romaine and iceberg lettuce is the perfect holder for all your favourite sandwich fillings. Great for hot & cold foods, tacos, Asian lettuce wraps and salads." Tip of the hat to Strange New Products for this one.
  • I know it's for a good cause but …PINK BAGELS? "Celebrate Mother's Day With Einstein Bros. Pink Bagels." During the Mother's Day weekend, Einstein Bros. Bagels is going to sell pink bagels for each one sold they will donate $.10 to the the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Isn't it bad enough that most Americans now think bagels have the consistency of Wonder Bread®, but do we have to make them pink? They're trying to do good but is it OK if I go in, order my regular bagels and then pretend they're pink? I'll even cough up an extra dime per for the company to donate. [Fittingly colorful quote from the press release: Einstein Bros., one of the brands under the New World Restaurant Group, Inc. (Pink Sheets: NWRG) Pink sheet companies are ones that issue and trade stocks without needing to meet minimum requirements or file with the SEC. They got their name because they were actually printed on pink paper, not because they donate ten cents to charity or because they have the consistency of a bagel made at one of these chain bagel shops.]
  • Just because you've taken a survey doesn't mean you should keep it: "According to a nationwide survey released today by Whole Foods Market , Americans eat meat an average of 4.2 times a week — that's 218 times a year. Flavor, safety and humane treatment of animals are the top drivers for choosing high-quality meat and poultry." Ummmm … what exactly does your first point have to do with your second point? Other survey highlights:
    • 65 percent of Americans want a guarantee that all meat and poultry products are free from added growth hormones and antibiotics, and that the animals were humanely raised.
    • 61 percent felt it important that meat and poultry products' compliance to these standards should be labeled.
    • 51 percent said having set standards for meat products is a key factor in deciding where to shop for meat.
    • However, when asked if they'd ever purchased products meeting such standards, 51 percent said they were "not sure."

The first two points basically are like asking if you're in favor of mom and/or apple pie. The final point is the rub. Yeah yeah yeah we all think we should exercise more & eat better but actually do it? Hmmmm. How much a pound? (To understand the short-sightedness of consumer's calculation around the cost of meat — or the cynicism of those selling it — I suggest reading Michael Pollan's new book The Omnivore's Dilemma. It's wonderfully written, but a bit too long. If Fast Food Nation didn't already convince you that corn is a blight upon the nation, this will. Ban "High fructose corn syrup," that's my new cause.