I was looking after my brother’s house last week, and I didn’t want to cook anything, so I ate what’s called “junk food” all week. Cheeseburgers, don
ner kebabs, Chinese roast pork fried rice, and lots of biscuits.
And I loved it.
And apparently so did lots of other people, since there were queues at every outlet.
Actually, I’ve got no idea what “junk food” is. Nor do I really care. But a quick search turned up this:
It’s simple—there are two kinds of foods:
It’s real, naturally occurring, unadulterated and unprocessed, and nutrient-rich. If you can grow or raise it, it’s real. Included are fresh fruits and vegetables, lentils and beans, eggs, real cheese (see, “Milk proteins: The Good and the Bad”), whole pieces of meat (such as fish, beef, chicken), nuts, seeds, and similar items. Consuming these foods provide a great potential for both immediate and long-term health benefits.
Junk food is everything else.
The mention of “nutrient-rich” in the above passage had me wondering what “nutrients” were. But there was no definition of what was or was not a “nutrient” in the entire piece. Clearly a “nutrient” is whatever you might imagine it to be.
Neither was there any definition of what was meant by foods being “processed” or “unprocessed”. Is cooking a form of “processing”? Is washing a form of “processing”? Is chopping up vegetables a form of “processing”? Or is it only “processing” when the washed, chopped, cooked food is put inside a can or cardboard box and sold in a supermarket for profit?
Nor for that matter was there any definition of “adulterated” and “unadulterated” foods. Do some manufacturers add poison to their food? If I sprinkle salt or sugar on something, does it become “adulterated”?
And what about “naturally occurring”? There was no definition of that either. As far as I know, food manufacturers always use “naturally occurring” foods. If they sell apple sauce, it’s made with “naturally occurring” apples, rather than synthetic apples that look like apples but aren’t apples. I think they wash the apples, chop them, cook them, and finally put them in a can or a jar, maybe with some preservatives (e.g. sugar) to keep them from spoiling.
And last and not least, what’s “real” food? Are there shops that sell “unreal” food?
So “real, naturally occurring, unadulterated and unprocessed, and nutrient-rich” is just a long string of meaningless adjectives. Or adjectives to which the reader is invited to supply his own meanings. They have zero information content.
“Junk food” is itself problematic, the piece candidly admits:
defining junk food has been a difficult task
In defining junk food, the worst ones are most obvious—chips and cookies, coke and colas, and other sugared liquids, candy, and most other snacks.
What’s “obvious” about it? I don’t see anything obvious at all. I can’t see why chips and cookies should be the “worst”.
It seems the problem is with the “calories” that are in the “junk food”. Chris Snowdon has a new post –“Calories are the new tobacco”. What are these “calories”?
Actually, I already know what a calorie is. It’s unit of energy or physical work. It’s the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius. A Calorie or food calorie is 1000 times larger than a calorie. i.e. it’s the amount of energy needed to raise a kilogram of water by one degree C.
A kilogram of water has a volume equal to one litre or 1000 cc. The mugs of tea I drink all day hold about 250 cc of water, which weighs 250 gm. So to boil enough water for a mug of tea, raising it from 20°C room temperature to 100°C boiling point, I’d need 80 times 0.25, or 20 Calories.
According to McDonald’s there are 301 Calories in one of their cheeseburgers. That’s enough energy to boil 15 mugs of tea, if I were to dry out the cheeseburger and burn it.
But I don’t burn many cheeseburgers this way. I use them to supply me with the food energy to keep me alive, and perform physical work like walking and lifting things.
According to this website my sedentary Basal Metabolic Rate is 1441 Calories/day. So I need 1441/301, or nearly 5 McDonald’s cheeseburgers a day.
McDonald’s cheeseburgers weigh 110 gm, which is 2.74 Calories/gm. The Cheeseburgers I’ve been buying this past week weigh about 225 gm, and assuming the same energy/gm as McDonald’s cheeseburgers, they contain 615 Calories, and I only need slightly over two of them each day. In fact I only ever bought one each day, and made up the shortfall with a variety of snacks.
And in fact this energy is what I primarily need every day. It’s what everybody needs. And clearly the cheeseburgers and biscuits and other snacks were supplying me with sufficient energy to meet my energy needs, because otherwise I would have found myself weak and listless. Food must contain energy, must contain calories. It doesn’t matter how “natural” or “unadulterated” or “unprocessed” or “real” it is, if it doesn’t contain energy it isn’t food.
Furthermore, my cheeseburgers came with a generous helping of “naturally occurring” mixed salad – lettuce, tomato, and cucumber – , and a little sweet chilli sauce, and a rectangular slice of orange cheese. So in addition to meeting my energy needs, I was receiving a dietary supplement that might well have been served to prevent the onset of scurvy.
And so I entirely fail to see why such food is described as “junk food”. I have lived off “junk food” for an entire week. And if I were cast away on an open boat for several months, and had only cheeseburgers and biscuits to eat, I am quite sure I would survived. I might even have enjoyed it.
My conclusion is that “junk food” is perfectly good food, but “disapproved food”. It’s food that’s been labelled as “junk”, and most likely libelled as “junk”. And there is no rhyme or reason for this disapproval, much like there is no rhyme or reason for the disapproval of everything else the disapprovers disapprove.
Calling cheap, high energy food “junk food” is a smear no different from calling cigarettes “cancer sticks”.
If you eat low calorie or no calorie food, you’re going to die. And anyone who tells you to eat low calorie or no calorie food is trying to kill you. High calorie food – “junk food” – is the best food: it gives you the biggest bang for your buck.
After a weekend of bloodshed in two out of five actual or attempted terror attacks, President Obama’s spokesman said the U.S. is engaged in a “narrative battle” with the Islamic State.
“When it comes to ISIL, we are in a fight — a narrative fight with them, a narrative battle,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told CNN’s “New Day” on Monday morning.
“And what ISIL wants to do is, they want to project that they are an organization that is representing Islam, in a fight, in a war against the West, in a war against the United States. That is a bankrupt, false narrative. It’s a mythology. And we have made progress in debunking that mythology.”
So that’s all right then. It’s just a “narrative battle”. For a while back then I thought there were bombs exploding, and people getting hurt. But actually it was just ISIL running another one of their sneaky narrative attacks. Good to know there are smart people in the White House who can recognise a narrative attack when they see one, and launch the appropriate counter-narrative. I hope the US Navy is equipped with the best and most advanced counter-narratives for when Iranian gunboats make their next narrative attack in the Straits of Hormuz.