Food police stay poised to rail against the tasty

July 22, 1994|By MIKE ROYKO

If they'll listen, I can save the food nags at the Center for Science in the Public Interest a lot of bother and expense.

This is the outfit that first got our attention by revealing that many of the Chinese foods we enjoy are bad for our health, clogging our arteries and hyping our blood pressure.

It seemed that for days we watched one CNN report after another on killer egg rolls and the deadly Gen. Ding-A-Ling's Chicken.

Just when that faded, the same people came at us with the killer noodles report -- how if you stuff yourself with Italian foods that are heavy in cream, eggs and rich cheeses, your pipes will jam and your eyes will bulge.

Then came the shocking news about the killer popcorn at movie theaters.

I don't remember the exact statistics, but I believe that eating a large box of popcorn was the same as gulping down an entire 200-pound raw pig -- ears, snout and tail -- or something to that effect.

And this week, the Center for Science in the Public Interest sounded the alarm on the killer taco, the deadly bean that has been refried, and the menace of the guacamole. Just order the combo plate at Jose's Place, and you will be consuming as much fat as if you deep-fried and ate a plump Mexican lady.

Where will these food nags strike next? Well, just about anywhere.

If they go into one of the thousands of delis in this country, they can stun us with a report that sandwiches heaped with salami and pastrami and corned beef are bad. Anything with real eggs and mayo, bad. Fried potato pancakes with a splash of sour cream, bad. Fatty chicken soup, very bad.

Or black soul food joints. Ham hocks, bad. Fried chicken, bad. Macaroni and cheese, bad. Rib tips, bad, bad. Liver and onions, bad, bad, bad.

And that's why I can save them the bother. All they have to do is make a simple announcement:

"If something tastes really good, it is probably bad. And if something tastes really dull, it is probably good."

Consider two breakfast dishes. On one side of the table, we have a bowl of oatmeal with a -- of skim milk and maybe a light sprinkle of sugar.

It is dull, but it is good for you.

On the other plate is a mound of sizzling corned beef hash with two fried eggs on top, slathered with some hot sauce or ketchup.

2& It is wonderful, but it is bad for

you. But if you look into the eyes of the man eating the oatmeal, you will see the same expression a man has when he is on a treadmill.

In contrast, the man eating the hash and eggs has the look of a guy doing the tango.

There is nothing complicated about this. Would you rather eat a cup of yogurt or a cheeseburger? A bowl of rice or a platter of pork chops? A hot dog or a cauliflower? A quivering slab of tofu or an oozing slab of prime rib?

Be perfectly honest. Given a snack choice, would you prefer a banana to a Twinkie?

A sip of spring water and a rice wafer or a mug of beer and a bag of salty potato chips?

A Caesar salad with eggs, anchovies, Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper or a glass of the low-sodium V-8?

A glass of skim milk and a tomato sandwich or a chocolate shake and a grilled cheese?

Where will the food nags turn for their next TV splash?

I suppose they could visit some of the German restaurants in Milwaukee or Cincinnati and rock us with the news that there is fat to be found in a goose shank.

Or they might go to a Bohemian or Polish restaurant and reveal that the roast duck and the smoked kielbasa have more cholesterol than, say, a bowl of boiled greens.

Maybe they will target the all-American greasy-spoon diner. It's almost impossible to get anything in a diner that isn't bad for you. Even a plain greasy doughnut and a cup of java would make a cardiologist frown.

That's why diners have always been popular with the kind of gourmets who stagger in after the 4 a.m. bars close. But who would go to a diner for a fruit plate anyway?

The food nags should let it go. We know. Eat skinless chicken, broiled fish, turkey sandwiches and hold the mayo, and veggies and fresh fruit, even though bugs have trod on them.

Instead of telling us what we already know, they should put their scientific skills to better use. Maybe finding a pork shank that lowers the cholesterol or a hangover-proof martini.

So be truthful. A banana or a Twinkie?

What are you, a man or a monkey?

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