Politics

Case studies in the Politics of Food and Choice: Eggs & Salt

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I stumbled across an interesting article on eggs yesterday while sitting in Borders reading up on something I’m going to be doing an in depth series of posts on. Apparently a study at the USDA has shown that factory farm eggs are far less nutritious than pastured eggs. I don’t know what causes this… although one can imagine the havoc that living in a cage your entire life that is barely bigger than your body, having your beak cut off and breathing in air so foul your whole life that people need to wear an environmental suit when they go in to the building you live in would do to your body and what it produces.

The numbers are quite compelling. Chickens that are let out to pasture produce eggs with:

1/3 less cholesterol
1/4 less saturated fat
2/3 more vitamin A
Two times more omega-3 fatty acids
Three time more vitamin E
Seven times more beta carotene
Three to six times more vitamin D

Now some would take these numbers and offer the idea that we should only allow these kinds of eggs to market. I would disagree, although it would seem fair to require that the difference in nutritional value be prominently placed on packaging. I think people should know exactly what they are getting. Eggs provide a cheap source of protein, and helped me afford that necessary part of my diet through a period where I was low on money, but now that this isn’t an issue, I will certainly switch.

In related news, a New Jersey man is suing Denny’s over the high salt content in their food. I’ve read a handful of articles about this, and I’m still confused as to what exactly he is suing over. As far as I know there is no law that requires restaurants to disclose the salt content of their meals, and frankly, when I eat out at a low quality chain restaurant like that I accept the fact that I’m going to get something cheap that is probably pretty terrible for me. I fail to understand what law they are breaking by offering these foods, and while I completely agree that it is a good idea to have nutritional information for customers (potentially on the menu), it strikes me as something that should be  proposed through the legislature, not forced through by judicial fiat.

So what do you think about this?

Should a customer be able to sue a restaurant because its food is unhealthy?

What should labeling be required to show, and where should it be placed?