Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Food politics roundup


Mr. Obama ostentatiously treats himself to fries and burgers to beef up his average-Joe image (even though he’s anything but). Yet maybe when Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer come next week to broadcast a special on health care from inside the White House, the president should forgo the photo-op of the grease-stained bovine bag and take the TV stars out for what he really wants and America really needs: some steamed fish with a side of snap peas.


In fact, and sadly, the list of fish that I don’t eat is much longer than the list of fish that I do. One could argue, as I sometimes do (mostly to myself), that one shouldn’t eat fish at all, fearing that if fish lovers begin consuming those few remaining species that are not in trouble — sardines, mackerel, squid — we might just make quick work of them, too. But though that may be the easiest argument to phrase, it isn’t likely to be popular, nor will it help the cods and flounders.

Good grief:

Both parents left feeling they were being pushed out of P.S. 9, which they perceive as exhausted by Ms. Roth’s intense lobbying for, among other things, permission slips for any food not on the official lunch menu. It would not be the first time: The Roths previously lived in Millburn, N.J., where, after Ms. Roth waged war on the bagels and Pringles meal served to kids at lunch, received e-mail from one member of the P.T.A. that said, “Please, consider moving.” That was in 2006, and P.S. 9 has been hearing about its transgressions against healthy eating pretty much ever since.

(See also.)


PG said...

I don't think Ms. Roth qualifies as "food politics." The Guardian article makes clear that she has something closer to food psychological-condition-I'm-not-competent-to-diagnose.

Phoebe said...

Ah, but the NYT presentation suggests, nutty though she may be, there's a political angle to it as well. It could be (advocates the devil) that the leaders of the fight against childhood obesity happen to make their own children miserable, sort of like how (goes the myth) Ben Yehuda revived the Hebrew language, but screwed over his own kids by forcing them to speak a language that at the time only they spoke as a primary language. (How's that for another not-quite-workable analogy?)

asg said...

That's the same woman who made headlines for saying that last year's American Idol winner, Jordin Sparks, shouldn't have won because she was too fat.

Phoebe said...

No one's disputing her nuttiness. But presumably it's far more traumatizing to her own kids, who had to leave town because of cupcakes or whatever, than to a celebrity.

Phoebe said...

Oh, and the three passages are meant to go together, in a way, which I suppose I should explain. First there's Dowd, suggesting eliminating burgers and going with fish. Then there's Bittman, who's already had his say re: burgers, warning against fish. And finally there's Roth, who, save the occasional black bean, appears not to eat at all.

PG said...

It sounds like Roth has successfully brainwashed her kids, or at least her daughter. By the age of 7, I already knew that my parents didn't need to know about every little thing that happened outside the house that wouldn't have been allowed inside the house (e.g., I didn't cover my eyes when I saw people kissing, even though my mother would flip channels if a show depicted even a middle-aged married couple doing so). In contrast, the NYT article says that instead of just refusing treats, the kids obediently stick them in a Tupperware container to carry home to Mom, including a "juice pop," presumably a frozen popsicle that would have made a mess once it melted. Maybe these kids will be traumatized once they escape the parental loony bin, but for now they're good little soldiers in the fight against childhood obesity, which of course is the result of a once-a-week treat.

Phoebe said...

See, I'd bet that, if left alone in a room at a friend's house near some junk food, her kids would demolish it in no time. I guess this because kids of such families sometimes came over to play, and did just this, and I've heard enough stories of this happening at other homes and at summer camps, whenever the kid not allowed anything has a moment (he thinks he is) alone. The teacher's assumed to be an authority figure like the mother (if not, as in Portnoy's Complaint - another Roth connection! - an actual incarnation of the mother), who will not keep secrets safe.