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Health, Life, Recipes

Ah, corporate replies.

06.26.05 | Comment?

The following is correspondence between myself and a restaurant’s customer inquiry department. Some names have been changed to protect the bureaucracy.

Dear Blue Fish,
I was unable to find complete nutritional information and ingredient lists for several menu items on your website. For health reasons, I would like to know if there is vegetable shortening (or other partially hyrdrogenated oils) in your signature delicious biscuits. Thank you for your time.
Sincerely,
Blake Motley Watts

Dear Mrs. [hooray! – someone was paying attention to the provided information!] Watts,
Thank you for your interest in Blue Fish; it is always a pleasure to hear from our guests.
Unfortunately, we do not make all of our recipes available to the public, as they are proprietary. Our success greatly depends on the confidentiality of our recipes, so I will not be able to provide you with the recipe you requested.
Please visit our website to see what recipes we do make available: http://www.bluefish.com/seafood/recipes.asp
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact us.
Sincerely,
Missy
Guest Relations Representative

Dear Missy,
Thank you for your reply. I understand not being able to discuss the recipe; I wanted to know if there is partially hydrogenated oil in the biscuits, which I may be able to tell from the nutrition information (by the breakdown of the different fat grams). Is that available for the biscuits?
Thank you.
Sincerely,
Blake Watts

Dear Mrs. Watts,
Thank you for your interest in Blue Fish; it is always a pleasure to hear from our guests.
Blue Fish’s menu is all about giving our guests a wide range of choices, from lighter alternatives to more indulgent foods. We offer nutritional information on all LightHouse menu items. This information – on total calories and grams of carbohydrate, fiber and fat – is listed on our menu and also on our Web site.
We are currently updating our menus and nutritional data base. We are also currently evaluating the most effective way to communicate nutritional information. Therefore, I am not able to provide you with nutritional information – other than our LightHouse menu – at this time.
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact us.
Sincerely,
Barbara
Guest Relations Representative

Dear Barbara,
Thank you for your reply. I will wait until this information is available so I can make informed choices about my diet.
Sincerely,
Blake Watts

And so it goes. In a perfect world, everything would be good for us, but it’s not. I’m not asking that they not use the stuff or that they divulge their top secret recipes (though I have made my own, certainly more healthy, version at home) – I just want to know if, on the rare occasion that I visit their establishment, I can, in good conscience, partake. I shan’t until I know for sure; it doesn’t look promising.

If I were a real go-getter activist, I would write letters to all the food manufacturing and serving companies asking them to eliminate trans fats from their recipes; however, I believe those that will change will do so by 2006 anyway due to the new labeling guidelines. The rest will suffer lower profits as the public becomes more aware, and eventually will change, not out of concern for public health, but for the financial health of their companies. That is, if we consumers become aware and give a damn, which I think we should.

Here’s as activist as I’ll get unless we’re talking in person or you solicit it from me. (Note to self: don’t talk to Blake.) So that you don’t have to sift through the information in the links on my site, I’ll condense it for you. (Please remember that while I am very interested and well read in this topic, I am in no other way credentialed to provide dietary advice.) When it comes to fats, we all need them, but healthy ones in moderation. Choose mono- and polyunsaturated fats such as olive, canola, and nut oils. Limit saturated fats (found in animal products) and trans fats (found in many processed foods – look for “partially hydrogenated” on the label). With the new labeling, if one serving of a product has less than 0.5 grams trans fat, it can be listed as 0 grams, so keep track of portions. The rest of a healthy lifestyle is common sense to me, and probably to most people if one is really honest with oneself – veggies, lean protein, whole grain carbohydrates, and exercise. Not easy to follow all the time, but common sense.

If you’re like me, you may find yourself eating cereal that has printed on the box, “Now with tastier bran twigs!” Joel calls food of this ilk “WAD“.

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