22 July 2010

Do skinny Hongkies need nutrition labels?

Recently, one retarded government ad has amused me a lot. It’s about the introduction of nutrition information labels on pre-packaged foods starting from 1 July 2010.



In this television ad, seven children and a young girl are dressed in white tight polyester jumpsuits. Each child represents a type of nutrients to be included in food labels and the young lady represents “energy”. The lot keeps jumping and cheering around the corners of a supermarket and triggers my body’s defensive mechanism as they resemble sperm cells.

According to the advertisement, the introduction of nutrition labels is to enable us to compare nutrient contents in food and make healthier food choices, so that we won’t get obese, heart attacks and cancer.

The idea of nutrition labels always sounds Western to me. My first encounter with it was from a pack of Hershey’s chocolate chips. The label says it contains nuts as if it was a big deal. Then I saw nutritional claims like “wheat-free”, “gluten-free” and “dairy-free” on Western foods, which I bought after reading Nigella Lawson’s cookbook and attempted to cook to get laid (which I failed like most readers, I mean, the cooking part).

Thing is, in our culture, people don’t care that much about food allergy or the food pyramid. When our stomach feels funny after eating, we simply solve the problem by excusing ourselves to the bathroom. And maybe because we are born with the skinny gene and eat rice instead of chips, we seldom consciously calculate our calorie intake. In fact, before implementing the scheme, the government only took reference from the experiences of the US, Canada and Australia, where my chubbiest girlfriend would be the skinniest among the locals there. It failed to take our dining habit into account.

Besides, who actually buy food for their high protein or low trans-fat contents, as the food labels claim? We buy food because we love it, just like we love a person despite the fact that he gives us stomachaches and heart attacks. We only care about sodium intake or cholesterol when we are almost dead. Whether we will die of heart attacks or cancer is mostly determined by genes anyway.

And maybe because we are part of Big China, we have the habit of not trusting anything by its descriptions, from the cute bag that claims to be Chanel on taobao.com to the law book that claims to give us universal suffrage. Even if the pre-packaged food is staying true to its words, it never stops giving us surprises, like a few tiny drops of mercury in a can of pork.

So once more, our Village leader, thank you very much for wasting money on something we don’t need.

4 comments:

  1. C'mon, food labeling is a good thing. Granted packaged food is crap disguised as food but it's always nice to have given a chance to choose whether to die slowly of diabetes or cancer or some combination thereof. I want to be informed.

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  2. I do actually think putting nutritional and allergy information on food packages is a good thing. It's nice to know that the packet of crisps you are eating contains a lot of sodium ... well, whatever. All I can say is I'll eat it anyway.

    I think what annoys me more is food nazis telling me to not ever eat "unhealthy" food, like fried stuff. Yes, it's fatty and greasy, I mean, duh. Isn't that the whole point?

    A label on the food packaging isn't going to make us change our habits. I think we need to start advocating cooking tasty and easy to make (let's face it, who has the time?) dishes prepared with fresh ingredients.

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  3. Yes, the nutrition label scheme is nice to have but its effect is in doubt. i'd rather the govt spend some money on educating us about minimum wage than to refresh our age-old knowledge of proteins and carbs.

    That's why I go for Nigella's cookbook as she claims women can cook like a goddess after a long day with little time and fresh ingredients. Turns out my kitchen is too small to accomodate a proper oven. Sad.

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