The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) recently issued a hyperbolic blacklist of foods, entitled: “What Not to Eat: 10 Foods to Avoid.” This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this sort of press stunt from the food police at CSPI: The group regularly compiles condemnatory lists in an effort to scare and scold consumers who just want to enjoy a savory meal. In case you’re wondering, CSPI’s “What to Eat” list is apparently “a pound of bread, a spud, and a couple of carrots per day.”
Like its annual “Xtreme Eating Awards” roundup, CSPI’s latest “What Not to Eat” list aims to implicate your occasional indulgence in a juicy hamburger or a slice of cake as the sole impetus for everything from obesity to heart disease.
These overhyped lists inappropriately vilify certain foods, while problematically absolving the consumer of any responsibility. Research shows that food choice is only one of many factors that determine individual health, and studies find that lack of exercise—and not caloric intake—is responsible for a significant portion of American obesity. This means that consumers can offset an indulgent meal with a workout, or by opting to consumer fewer calories at subsequent meals. It’s all about balancing calories “in” and calories “out.”
CSPI claims to be a nutritional watchdog interested in defending public health. But healthy eating means making good choices, and food-nannies like CSPI are determined to make sure the consumer has limited choices. With exercise and shrewd judgment, consumers can have their cake—perhaps a slice of the #5 Chocolate Truffle pastry—and eat it too.