Saturday, March 2, 2013

Cognitive Calories

Food For Thought

Wilbur Olin Atwater is credited as the person who developed the standardized measurement of food calories. The calorie as a measurement of heat appeared in lectures given by Nicholas Clement in Paris between 1819 and 1824.

Around the same time I was reading about the accuracy of caloric measurement in foods we purchase and eat, I found this interesting information about the origins of Tang in an article called 9 Surprising Facts About Junk Food. It was number 8.

8. Tang wasn't developed for astronauts. I grew up thinking the treacly orange stuff somehow grew out of the US space program (which added to its appeal). Moss set me straight. Turns out, it grew out of the efforts of a giant company called General Foods to think outside the cereal box in marketing breakfast foods to kids through their mothers in the 1950s. The idea was to create a "synthetic juice" to eliminate the drudgery of making orange juice from concentrate or—gasp—squeezing it from fresh oranges. Early efforts were promising but unsuccessful—they had a "good mouthfeel," but tasted "horribly bitter and metallic." A company engineer got to the root of the problem—the technicians had been adding a range of vitamins and minerals in an attempt to replicate the nutritional composition of orange juice. By eliminating all of the nutrient additives besides vitamin C—which imparts a tart flavor that jibes with orange juice—the company came up with a winner, launched in 1958.

And there actually is an after-the-fact space angle—and it's scatological:
NASA, the space program, needed a drink that would add little bulk to the digestion, given the toilet constraints of space. Real orange juice has too much bulky fiber in its pulp. Tang, however, was perfect—what technologists call a "low-residue" food.

NASA embraced Tang for its orbit around Earth in 1962, giving the instant drink a lingering marketing boost—removing untold nutrients and fiber from the US diet.

The rest of the article was just as informative, and eliminated any doubts I may have had about the immoral extremes that businesses will go to in order to increase their profits.

I worry about the small companies that start out selling quality products that contain the very best ingredients. If they are really successful, the company gets too big for the owners to operate and they hire a corporate management firm. The management companies don’t care about the product(s), but apply their expertise to reducing costs and increasing profits. The next thing you know, the stuff in the box is not the same high quality item that you expected.

I call this, “Too big to trust”. When I am asked to give my opinion in a survey for a product that I enjoy, and know is good quality, I usually find a place to suggest they stay small. That way they will be happy, keep their integrity intact, and have a devoted, healthy customer base.

It is my hope that my words will save them from the enticing glitter, and siren song of soul crushing millions of unethical profit dollars. For that leads to lower quality, questionable ingredients, and business practices that disrespect their customers, (me for one).

Today’s Cartoon Food Video;

Jeepers, It’s Jiminy Cricket

No comments: