Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Serving Size of an American Pizza Is a Pizza (11 Dec. 2014)

   I originally planned to do a rather formal, moderately scholarly essay on John Stuart Mill's "Principle of Liberty" from his monograph On Liberty, and its relevance for publishing calorie counts on restaurant menus (and such). Then I figured that between the holidays and work coming in and an ant infestation, I'd just post something short and simple, and something just written out as a post, not drafted first and then copied and pasted into a blog post. Which I did, and then woke up in the middle of the night and decided to add a head note, and for the first time in years lost an entire piece of writing.
            So to begin again, informally, and putting off the meditation on liberty and nutrition — and delaying a bit my throwing in way more than my two cents on the kidnapping and torturing of terrorist detainees (I'm writing in midish-December of 2014) — and putting off further getting out holiday cards and present; to begin again: The portion size of a pizza in America is, for many of us, one pizza.
            At least it was for me when on paper-grading marathons when I taught and was and remains for me the serving I'm going to eat through within a few hours while coming up against deadlines for the work I'm doing in retirement.
            So a couple days ago I ordered in from Pizza Man Dan, a small, thin-crust, BBQ chicken pizza, with red onions and cilantro, "But hold the cashews." (That wasn't a special order; in California, that's a menu item.)
            What is new and different since my last marathon work session is that I now have the "LoseIt" app and record my food and exercise and discovered that the two slices of pizza I ate when just getting started was about half the calories LoseIt calculated I should be eating in a day.
            Again, this was not a hearty Chicago deep-dish pizza nor the sort of meat-lover's wet dream I used to order before I stopped eating mammals. This was just two slices of thin-crust that I scarfed up hot out of the box before I sat down for an actual meal.
            By the end of that initial attack on the pizza, with only half of it down and on the way to digestion, I was pretty much at my calories for the day: more exactly the calories if all I was doing was the marathon at the computer and hadn't hit the elliptical trainer.
            Now pizza is a most-excellent food. As I used to tell my friends, you dip a well-topped pizza slice in a bit of Metamucil, and you've got all your food groups: carbohydrates, cheese, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, animal protein, and — if you actually did throw in or on some Metamucil, or ordered a whole wheat crust) — you've got your fiber.
            So it would be handy for poor, thin people to know that pizza is a wise thing to buy to get good caloric bang for the buck. If you're going to have only one meal today, a well-stuffed pizza (on sale or in the dumpster) would be a sensible investment.
            If you're reading on-line blogs, however, you are probably not desperate for calories and dumpster diving, but you are probably in need of information about just how food-energy rich — high calorie — are some of the things (most of the things?) most Americans are cramming into our bodies.
            We need those calorie counts on menus and with prepared food generally, and we need them running across the bottom of our TV screens when evil commercial geniuses are tempting us to eat like we mean it with food porn.
            And purveyors of that food, and more so the food porn, should indeed be compelled to supply that information.
            How to square that sort of compulsion with the great good of Liberty — that will be the subject of a later blog.
            After the rush. After the holidays.

            Maybe after I order in another pizza ….

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