This month marks the 40th birthday of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the nation's leading cadre of food police and nutrition nannies. And while we've scrapped with CSPI over the years, we'd like to take this opportunity to wish the group a happy and Happy Meal-free birthday:
It was 40 years ago this month that three young scientists who met in Washington decided to create an organization run by people with scientific training to improve public policies and to encourage other Ph.D. scientists to use their training for the public good. And so, in humble, borrowed office space in 1971 the Center for Science in the Public Interest was born. Working at first on trailblazing issues such as asbestos and lead, CSPI soon came to focus on the nutrition, food safety, and health work for which it is known today.
Because of his fun-loving nature, we can only assume that CSPI president Michael Jacobson is planning a huge blow-out bash to celebrate. But planning a party can be difficult work, even when the guest list isn't peppered with picky eaters. With that in mind, we'd like to offer CSPI a few suggestions for food and drinks to serve:
The Michael Jacobson Sandwich. Most CSPI staffers are already familiar with this delectable dish. A CSPI lab technician once described a "Michael Jacobson sandwich" as "a piece of lettuce between two pieces of bread." (We assume whole-grain, of course.)
The CSPI Pretzel. CSPI has been crusading against salt (yes, the same mineral found in the ocean) for years now. The CSPI Pretzel would be served salt-free — and could also serve as a reminder of what CSPI's logic twists itself into on a regular basis.
Chicken Sandwich with a side of Trans Fat. Since CSPI can't seem to decide whether trans fats are a healthy alternative or a demonic poison, we suggest putting some in a little cup on the side so partiers can decide whether they want any on their sandwich. And don't even think about frying that chicken! The Chicken Sandwich comes with your choice of raw sweet potato, cabbage, or a lawsuit.
Carrot Juice Latte. For those looking for a fancy drink, Jacobson once crusaded against coffee, recommending that thirsty yuppies patronize a "carrot juice house" instead. Unfortunately, the growth of carrot juice establishments has been slow. But offering a Carrot Juice Latte (caffeine free, made with soy milk) at CSPI's party could help jump-start the trend.
The English Poverty Platter. We're banking this will be the hit of the evening. Jacobson once said, "Records of English manors in the 1600s reveal that the peasantry feasted on perhaps a pound of bread, a spud, and a couple of carrots per day." This, he declared, is "basically a wonderfully healthy diet." What a perfect party appetizer!
Saccharin Surprise. This candy dessert dish contains the artificial sweetener saccharin. After consumption, CSPI will call your house every day for 20 years warning that you might have cancer. Finally, the Environmental Protection Agency will inform you that saccharin is actually safe for consumption.
Of course, we just hope CSPI has time for a party. According to the press release, "Next month, for instance, CSPI plans to launch a major, nationwide initiative to engage Americans in transforming the food environment for the better."
Looks like the next 40 years won't be much different than the previous 40.