Wednesday, June 06, 2012

exercising my options

In New York, Mayor Bloomberg is currently trying to pass a by-law that prohibits the sale of sugary drinks (like pop, sports drinks, sweetened tea or coffee) in large cups or containers (more than 16 fluid ounces).  Public health officials applaud his move as a step towards fighting obesity, while the general public appears conflicted with allowing the government to choose what they are allowed to consume.

I'm not sure if banning sugary drinks is a solution to obesity.  I often think, especially in our economic state, that our decisions are greatly influenced with price and greed.  When someone purchases a 32 ounce soda, I question whether they were truly motivated by how thirsty they were, or if their purchase was more motivated with the logic "Look at how much you can get for so little!"

It's really about moderation.  And it's difficult to practise moderation when your choices are so limited and the cheap prices are so tempting.  At the movie concession stand, why is a 32 ounce soda cheaper than a bottle of water? Why are there a dozen variations of candy and fried foods, but only one or two options of healthy choices , if any.

Wouldn't it be nice to have, now and then, an alternative?  When we go to the movies, I often try to sneak in healthier snack options, like oatmeal raisin cookies or banana bread (shh...don't tell!).   When I bake my own snacks, I have the ability to choose the amount of sugar and salt that goes into my food, and can add healthier ingredients.  I think the biggest problem, especially when you go to a venue like the movies, is that there are so many options for junk food, but such little, pricier options for healthy foods, and sometimes we can forget that although it may appear cheaper to pay for the oversized soft drink now, in the long run, what price do you really pay (with your body) when you drink a 32 ounce soft drink?

Maybe instead of a ban on sugary foods and drinks, how about regulating the price of healthy ones?  Lowering the price of healthy, organic foods, while implementing a health and education tax on items with artificial ingredients (MSG, nitrates, dyes), or contain an excess of 2% of the daily intake of salt and sugar, so food producers don't find it economical to mass produce inferior quality foods.   Maybe that health tax would pay for the damage you put into your body every time you eat nitrate-filled, cancer inducing foods, and the education tax could go towards educating proper nutrition in schools.  And the freedom of choice is still still want it,  you can pay for it.  

Healthy food should be more affordable and accessible.  Think of it...what would happen if there was a price reversal at the movie concession stand? Charge $1 for a 16 oz bottle of water and $3.99 for a 32 ounce soda.   I wonder what people will order then?  Until that happens, I think I will continue to sneak in some healthier options, like these oatmeal raisin cookies.

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
(makes approx. 24 cookies)

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup raisins


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  • In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, white sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. Stir in the oats and raisins. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  • Bake 10 to 12 minutes until light and golden. Do not overbake.
  • Cool for 2 minutes and store in airtight container.


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