(I’m getting better at coming up with inflammatory titles.)
I try to ignore both of ’em, and for the most part I succeed. When instrumental ignorance fails, I find that I find both of them rather distasteful, but utterly hilarious for their propensity to make smug self-satisfied rich white sophisticated urbanites absolutely lose their shit.
Witness, for example, Mark Bittman’s latest on the crawling horror that is McDonald’s Fruit and Maple Oatmeal:
- How to make oatmeal… wrong (NYT — mind the dumbworms)
Yet in typical McDonald’s fashion, the company is doing everything it can to turn oatmeal into yet another bad choice. (Not only that, they’ve made it more expensive than a double-cheeseburger: $2.38 per serving in New York.) “Cream” (which contains seven ingredients, two of them actual dairy) is automatically added; brown sugar is ostensibly optional, but it’s also added routinely unless a customer specifically requests otherwise. There are also diced apples, dried cranberries and raisins, the least processed of the ingredients (even the oatmeal contains seven ingredients, including “natural flavor”).
A more accurate description than “100 percent natural whole-grain oats,” “plump raisins,” “sweet cranberries” and “crisp fresh apples” would be “oats, sugar, sweetened dried fruit, cream and 11 weird ingredients you would never keep in your kitchen.”
Oh em gee, oh noes. Wait, I have an image for that:
This is where Bittman turns into a respectable science reporter and provides toxicity data for those “eleven weird ingredients you like to think you don’t keep in your kitchen”. (Oops, got a bit of honesty in the dumbworms there — watch ’em shrivel!) …No, wait; no he doesn’t — he’s just trying to scare you with the oooh-sciencey name. Just for shits and grins, I looked up the MSDS for calcium ascorbate dihydrate: it warns users of slight irritant action on eye contact, ingestion, or inhalation. So for the love of God don’t extract the calcium ascorbate from the apples in your oatmeal and rub it into your eye! Warn your kids!
Incredibly, the McDonald’s product contains more sugar than a Snickers bar and only 10 fewer calories than a McDonald’s cheeseburger or Egg McMuffin. (Even without the brown sugar it has more calories than a McDonald’s hamburger.)
Incredibly, lots of sugar isn’t all that horrible when presented to the small intestine in the presence of plenty of fibre (McDonald’s lists their oatmeal’s fibre content at 5g), and McDonald’s cheeseburgers and Egg McMuffins don’t have all that goddamn many kcal in them. Let’s do some fucking math.
The largely mythical but statistically plausible “average male” is suggested to require about 2000kcal per day as part of a healthy balanced diet. At breakfast — which is when the body’s deep in caloric debt and any serum glucose spike is most likely to go where it’s needed, rather than turn into adipose tissue — this average male should be eating his biggest meal of the day, and probably consuming the most simple carbs of any of his daily meals.
A single serving of McDonald’s Fruit and Maple Oatmeal, with the hysteria-provoking “default option” of brown sugar, provides 290kcal. If our average male were to eat one — or, hell, even two — of those for breakfast, he’d be eating significantly too little. The problem here is the longer-term metabolic effect of prolonged caloric debt, not “holy jeebus it has teh brown sugar in it!”
Listen, folks. Unless you’re going for concentration-camp chic, the problem with having a cup of McDonald’s (or any other) oatmeal for breakfast is your conception of breakfast, not the McDonald’s oatmeal.
Oh, right — Hanson’s Razor. New York Times-writing overprivileged sanctimonious hipster douchnozzle isn’t bitching about McDonald’s oatmeal because he has good reason to — he’s bitching about McDonald’s oatmeal because it reinforces his position as an overprivileged sanctimonious hipster douchenozzle who writes for the New York Times. Signaling, always signaling.