The Today Show this morning had one of its regular segments with the guy who wrote "Eat This, Not That," showing the health dangers in fast foods and better alternatives on the menu at the same fast food establishments. The segment was prompted, in part, by the controversy over San Francisco's desire to eliminate toys in kids' meals of fast food restaurants which are not healthy and only permit the restaurant to include a toy if the particular meal contains milk, a fruit and a vegetable.
Needless to say, there is much heat on both sides of the question, the "too much government interference in the raising of our children" parents vs. the "this is good because it will help me help my child to eat better" parents. (One can only assume, following my "juice and crackers" philosophy of life that no matter which decision is made, in 6 years they will be back with some wonderful new idea why it should go the other way.)
So while the nutritional crisis is being discussed in San Francisco and on The Today Show, The Food Network sent me a notice of its new show, Outrageous Food, starring Tom Pizzica, from season six of The Next Food Network Star.
The premise of this show seems to be that Pizzica is on a mission to find (and create) "seriously over the top eats.
I guess it's the Food Network answer to the Travel Channel program, Man vs. Food.
where food fanatic Adam Richman is "on a journey to explore the biggest and best eats our nation has to offer, including some of the craziest challenges around."
Some of Richman's shows have included eating a 72 oz. steak, the 5 lb jumbo stromboli challenge, a 5 lb nacho challenge, the "near impossible breakfast taco" challenge, the 11 lb carnivore pizza challenge, the 5 lb grilled cheese challenge and the 2-1/2 lb Dagwood challenge, to name but a few.
For his part, Pizzica made a stop at Burger Jones in Minneapolis, and checked out one of the establishment's favorite customer challenges: A massive burger piled high with everything from grilled cheese sandwiches to chicken-fried bacon (chicken fried bacon?).
(It kind of makes the controversial new KFC "Double Down," consisting of 2 pieces of fried chicken fillets as the "bread" for 2 slices of Monterey Jack Cheese, pepper Jack cheese, 2 slices of bacon and a sauce -- 540 calories, 32 gms of fat and 1,380 gms of sodium -- seem almost like a health food meal!)
What is it with our fascination at seeing people stuff a week's worth of food into their faces?
Think about the food competitions you've seen on the news. I particularly remember the hot dog eating challenge that was won every year by the skinniest, smallest Japanese guy.
At a time in our history when so many go hungry and so many more suffer from obesity, why are restaurants offering to supersize whatever you purchase, carnivals deep frying everything from Twinkies to butter, amazingly, and more than one television show focusing on the worst food you can possibly eat (I'm leaving out Guy Fieri's Diners, Dives and Drive-Ins because it's not entirely focused on food that is bad for you).Lord knows that I, who never saw a vegetable I really liked unless it was drenched in butter or covered with mayonnaise, am the last person to speak on nutritious food, but when even I turn off a program because the thing that is being eaten is so disgusting (and I'm not talking about shows like Survivor where the contestants are asked to eat bugs and entrails, but things like the sandwich above), there's something seriously wrong!