Fake Food News
An afternoon tea at the Christchurch Harbour Hotel is the peak of our civilisation; we lead charmed lives. Sitting there, looking out over the water, I imagine Zuri foraging over the very spot upon which the hotel sits. My photograph is taken from where she might have been up to her knees in water. Perhaps she was always anxious about the food available whilst I sit in serene idleness? At least she didn’t have a problem with fake food news.
It was a newspaper review of shop bought salads that put me onto this theme. The reviewer posed the question as to what makes a salad. The definitive answer is that it should contain salad vegetables like lettuce and radish, albeit with a suitable dressing. The confusion arises in that any cold vegetables, fish and meat can be added. All too often, the protein and fat elements can exceed the salad content.
The content might not matter except that the true salad might be assumed to contain few calories. The dressing and added protein can up the ante as it were. This is where the fake news intruded. The high calorie salads were immediately red flagged because they exceeded the government guidelines of 600 calories per meal. Conversely, the salmon and potato salad flagged as the ‘healthy choice’ had less than 300 calories. The fake news problem here is that the reviewer assumes that everybody has a weight problem; that calories are somehow bad. So many people writing recipes take the same view. They highlight calories as bad and ignore the fact that we need calories. Dare I say it, we might even need sugar, to keep the brain and body working efficiently.
DAILY CALORIE NEEDS
Take me, a relatively active male and needing a minimum 2400 calories a day to keep well. I would need almost nine of these healthy salmon and potato salads to fulfil my daily intake. These salads also contain a high amount of salt and those nine packs would give me almost 17 grammes. This is nearly three times the recommended level. With a slightly raised blood pressure, I set myself a daily salt intake of half the recommended level. Those nine salads would give me six times the salt level I need.
It is interesting to compare this healthy choice salad to the one they red labelled as ‘high calorie’. This was a spicy Chirashi salad. Eating this, I would need three packs to reach my 2400 calories and would consume 12 grammes of salt. In truth, the red flagged salad got me to my calorie needs in far fewer packs. Pro rata, this gave me far less salt than the ‘healthy choice’. It would be better to measure the salt per calorie rather than per pack. That shows that the red flagged high calorie salad had less than the salad labelled as ‘healthy choice’.
ZURI EXPERIENCES FAKE FOOD NEWS
Zuri did not experience fake food news, or did she? I think that she would have been told that certain plants had qualities that we now know to be untrue. She knew fresh salmon but the potatoes were 3,000 years away with Sir Walter Raleigh. Neither would she understand what a salad was; food was just food, even if it was gorse. I wave at her imaginary stooping form out in the cloying mud as I sup my Earl Grey tea and eye the cakes. Those small delicacies contain all the calories she might eat in a whole day. To say I feel guilty is to understate the case. She, being so active, probably needed the same calories as me. How did she find these when so much of her food was green and leafy, and pretty devoid of calories?
The fact is she didn’t, but her diet was still more healthy than mine; she ate loads of fibre. Fibreless, I really enjoyed my tea.