Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Are We Going Forward? Or Backward?

New York City Government is trying to compel fast food restaurants to list calories alongside menu prices.

The reasoning is obvious. New Yorkers, along with all other Americans (and many other Westerners) are plagued by a deadly epidemic of obesity. Fast food is especially loaded down with fats and other "empty calories." Fast food tends to be fat food.

Of course, the fast food industry is lobbying vigorously against this eminently useful concept. It's too much trouble, it's too costly, our food is terrific, our customer don't need this information, etc.

Here's the ironic part:

Forty five years ago, in 1962, when I started working at Mobil Oil's corporate headquarters on East 42nd Street, between Lexington and Third Avenues, what was one of the first things I noted when I went to lunch at Mobil's employee cafeteria?

You guessed it. On the menu board, for each item, alongside the price, in bold letters, the calorie count was clearly displayed. We were in a position to consider calories when we chose what to eat. We were informed consumers. How totally delightful. This was in 1962, 45 years ago.

Now, in 2007, NY City government is confronting entrenched opposition for trying to do the same wonderful thing for its citizens. Are we going forward or backward?

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