I read this in the Sydney Morning Herald and thought fellow T-Nationers might find it of some interest.
"C is for calories. Just ask a Muppet
By Judith Ireland
April 16, 2005
Cookie Monster underwent the Muppet equivalent of a celebrity overhaul this week. After 35 seasons of indulgence, the producers of Sesame Street have put him on a fruit diet, and changed his signature tune from “C is for cookie” to “A cookie is a sometime food”.
While the Gershwin reference will probably be lost on the under fives, it is hoped that the “moderation” message will get through. It’s all part of the show’s new healthy lifestyle focus, in response to alarming rates of childhood obesity in the US.
Even the hyperactive Elmo has been conscripted into an exercise regime. Nothing is sacred. Here’s predicting a midseason plot twist with Miss Piggy succumbing to an eating disorder and Snuffaluffagus seeking detox for a (yet to be disclosed) cocaine habit.
Indeed it won’t be long before others sense the business opportunity and get in on the act.
Popeye (who has been languishing in a decidedly anti-Costello early retirement) will rejoin the workforce as an advocate for spinach. And Skippy will make a hop-back, to teach the kids what a lean, clean source of protein kangaroo meat really is.
But the irony of promoting a healthy lifestyle through TV aside, it hardly speaks volumes for our eating habits that we need to enlist the help of a Muppet with a penchant for baked goods.
While Sesame Street’s research and education vice-president, Rosemarie T. Truglio said, “we would never take the position of no sugar”, the Cookie Monster has effectively been reduced to a Cruskit Monster.
On the other side of the Atlantic, a Cruskit probably wouldn’t go astray. In the entire history of British children’s eating habits and school meals, it’s come down to the TV chef Jamie Oliver to ensure they get fed real food and not just vaguely reconstituted offal.
This week in his new show, Jamie’s School Dinners, Oliver began his crusade in a northern English school cafeteria, where some of the kids’ experience of fresh produce was found wanting to the point that they couldn’t distinguish between celery and a zucchini.
Of an unidentified crumbed object found in the school kitchen, Oliver observed: “I wouldn’t feed that to a dog.”
You certainly wouldn’t feed it to a Wagyu cow. This week a swanky London restaurant put a $134 Wagyu beef burger on its menu. Bred in New Zealand, the animals are “reared on beer and massaged until they weigh three-quarters of a tonne, more than double the weight of an average cow”, the restaurant told the Daily Mail.
Nor should you feed it to a cat. Back in Australia, the nation’s domestic cat population has let itself go. An ad featuring the feline equivalent of Elle Macpherson feigning yoga poses has hit our TV screens to promote a 98 per cent fat-free cat food. That’s right, pet people - not only do you need to constantly monitor the fat content of your own foods, you should be just as neurotic when it comes to your cat.
But maybe we’re not neuro enough. While some commentators panic about dwindling fertility rates, the Western world is growing. Call it food for thoughtlessness, but despite the wealth of information about diet and the wide range of fat-, gluten- and taste-free products, Australia is the fourth-fattest OECD nation, with 10 million expected to be obese by 2010.
Childhood obesity rates are so great that parents are in danger of outliving their offspring, while our shape has changed so much that car manufactures are making bigger cars to accommodate our wide loads.
There’s certainly something about the subject of food that activates our stupid gene.
Maybe we really are what we eat. That would explain the macrobiotically inclined Gwyneth Paltrow naming her unsuspecting baby “Apple”. Indeed, as we all heaved a sigh of relief this week that Britney Spears was officially pregnant (and not just fat), bookie monsters began taking bets for baby names. Odds-on she takes Paltrow’s lead and calls the kid Asparagus!
Of course, food advertising does nothing to stimulate collective intelligence. Sydney’s CBD is adorned with posters of airbrushed naked women instructing us to give into temptation and eat Tim Tams. What it neglects to say is that your chances of either looking like the women in the ads or getting a date with one of them are inversely related to how many chocolate biscuits you eat.
A giant billboard featuring a well-known sesame-seed bun is also putting in a conspicuous appearance. The ad includes an arrow pointing to something labelled “melted cheese”, which is handy, as the square, yellow layer in the middle of the burger could just as easily be tomato in disguise.
Then again, maybe we need things to be beyond obvious. We certainly needed Super Size Me’s Morgan Spurlock to eat Maccas nonstop for a month to come around to the idea that fast food wasn’t particularly good for us. And if the marketing success of flavoured water and fruitless hot-cross buns are anything to go by, we are an easily confused bunch.
According to the Flynn effect, humans are becoming about 15 IQ points smarter by the generation. But while we are solving trigonometric equations and operating DVD players with greater ease than our grandparents did, when it comes to food we are way up the back of the fridge and past our use-by date."