In Bicycle Diaries, David Byrne's folding bicycle ramble through world music, culture and urban design, Byrne agrees with Jared Diamond's claim that
people develop cultural affinities for certain foods, ways of getting around, clothes and habits of being that become so ingrained that they will, in his telling, persist in maintaining their habits even to the point of driving themselves and sometimes their whole civilization to extinction. He gives a lot of historical evidence — for example an eleventh-century Norse settlement in Greenland where the settlers persisted in farming cattle, as impractical as it was there. The cuisine or habits of the local Inuit were never adopted or adapted — their diet and ways were just not culturally acceptable — and eventually the settlers all died. This was not a quick settlement, either — it lasted for over four hundred years — long enough for them to convince themselves that they were doing okay.
Diet may not be what kills America, but it's in the running.
The New York Times reports that chicken wings are commanding a higher price per pound than skinless, boneless chicken breasts, prompting restaurants and bars to switch to "boneless chicken wings." The movement is not because, in the words of Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler Buffalo wings are "fat on fat on fat on sugar on fat and salt" and the ersatz wings are marginally more healthy.
The recession is the cause of the price flip-flop.
Restaurants, normally big buyers of breast meat, slashed orders as millions of people cut back on eating out, and breast prices slumped. But demand for wings has remained strong, partly because people perceived them as a cheap luxury.
A serving of 12 Buffalo Wild Wings Chicken Wings contains 600 calories and provides 62% of your daily recommended fat intake, 120% of cholesterol and 150% of sodium! Adding the Blazin'\u2122 Sauce gives 30 more calories and bumps up the grams of fat by 20%. A serving (8) of their boneless wings has 500 calories, one-fourth the fat and no sodium — but also less of that fat and salt-lover's flavor.
While most restaurants are still coy about the nutritional content of their offerings, there are abundant online tools that unmask the cheap and dangerous menu items. The Livestrong.com site linked above is pretty good. It suggests better alternatives and allows you to track what you've eaten.
I like my info with a little more attitude. The Men's Health Eat This, Not That site fills that bill. For example, its assessment of the 2,010-calorie Cold Stone Creamery PB&C Shake Gotta Have It size, the Worst Drink in America 2009:
The PB&C is intended to denote peanut butter and chocolate, but the more accurate translation might be potbellies and cardiovascular disease. After all, this one drink does pack more calories than a dozen ice cream sandwiches and more saturated fat than nearly 20 large orders of McDonald's French fries.
I attended a marathon training camp years ago, where one of the Pike's Peak runners said he trained on that many calories per day. Today, nutritionists estimate sweetened beverages now account for almost 25 percent of daily calories in young adults in America, including things like the Worst Holiday Coffee Drink:
Between the candies and the casseroles, we already have plenty of temptations to deal with during the holidays. We certainly don't need Starbucks' surreptitious sugar overload thrown into the mix. The name implies indulgence, sure, but the fact that this cup holds more sugar than 9 Krispy Kreme doughnuts is pretty appalling. Settle for a candy cane in your coffee or find a different drink.