May 16, 2015

"Salad is a necessity, a type of proto-Soylent... it says, 'I’m taking care of a basic bodily need, but it’s just crunchy water!'"

"Salad, at its best, feels like a strategically good choice without being truly satisfying to the soul, like dating someone who’s not that smart, but has a beach-adjacent timeshare. Salad has its faults, and it knows it. It’s healthy, but it will never win the popularity contest against your Chipotle burritos, or even your Quizno’s subs. So the one thing salad should really never be is less healthy than a Big Mac.... And yet, a new report from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine points out 100 restaurant salads that are 'worse' than a Big Mac."

37 comments:

Paco Wové said...

The PCRM is a bunch of lemon-sucking scolds – sort of like Freder, but in real life. As well as being a front for animal-rights whackjobs.

Bob Ellison said...

My dogs go outside and eat salad when they want to vomit. Always works.

Bob R said...

If the PCRM were actually responsible, they would be using metrics like carbs that are based on science better than the crappy science on sodium and cholesterol.

Michael K said...

The "Physicians Committee" is a left wing vegan nuthouse. They set up exhibits at medical conventions and are ignored by 99% of the attendees. A few pediatricians probably stop by at their meetings.

MSG said...

Where did this "worse than a Big Mac" thing come from? A Big Mac is a moderate sized hamburger with a glop of mayonnaise and a salty pickle. It may be better some of the time to opt for the four ounces of steamed flounder and a Ry-Crisp, but is the Big Mac really so horrible?

Virgil Hilts said...

Weird facts re lettuce: lettuce is comprised 95% or so of water and has almost no nutritional value. 90% of lettuce produced in the U.S. is grown in California and Arizona. The Yuma area in AZ -- which only gets about 3 inches of rain a year -- is the lettuce capital of the U.S. Interesting use of a scarce resource!

lgv said...

A half truth. First, the offending salads are measured in ways that mean nothing for most people: 1) saturated fat 2) cholesterol and 3) sodium.

But, the reality is that salads are often as calorie rich as "evil" foods like a Chick Fil-A sandwich.

There is no simple answer, but a the most important stats to evaluate are: 1) calories 2) nutrients you get from eating those calories, 3) carbs (and kind of carbs) and 4) sugar.

I have thought a great, filling salad was good for me, until I looked and realized it was crazy bad.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Salad is an excuse for eating blue cheese dressing.

clint said...

Wow. "Soylent" still has a totally different meaning for me than the one the author means -- which left me struggling to understand their point.

Also -- if your salads are boring, you aren't doing them right. I do big salads for lunch all summer long -- with heaps of greens and fresh herbs, shredded cold cuts, blue cheese, crumbled bacon left over from breakfast, and whatever's fresh -- tomatoes, avocadoes, pecans. Finish with a splash of oil and vinegar and salt and pepper.

And the reason you end up with tons of fat (and sugar) and calories in restaurant salads -- they use low-flavor fats like soybean oil instead of bacon and blue cheese and avocado with a splash of a good olive oil.

And, of course, a nutritional metric that just to minimize fat and calories is ridiculous. That would tell you you're better off with a piece of cardboard than a fresh avocado.

Ann Althouse said...

Most salads are awful.

They're also way too big.

It's not surprising that restaurants are producing 1000+ calorie salads. It's just a desperate effort at trying to offer value.

It's absurd to stuff down so many leaves. It's not normal. It's not natural. And the fact that everyone sees a need to grease them all up is a big sign that you don't want to eat them.

Otherwise you'd lubricate them with your own outpouring of bodily fluid the way you do with bread or crackers.

Hey, that reminds me of an old birthday party game I haven't thought of in decades. Each kid gets a saltine cracker. On cue, they all eat the cracker, and the first one to whistle wins! It's fun. Because crackers are inherently amusing, and trying to whistle too soon spews crumbs all over the place and everyone laughs.

RichardJohnson said...

"Left wing vegan nuthouse" or not, I agree with the PCRM's assessment of lettuce-dominated salads. As other commenters have pointed out, lettuce is basically crunchy water. If you want nutritious greens, partake of the brassica family: collards, kale, turnip greens. mustard greens. Not lettuce.

From what I have read, I get the impression that cooking makes vegetables more digestible. As a result, I don't eat much in the way of salads or other raw vegetables. Raw celery sticks are good for munching, though. Better celery than a candy bar.

The topic of lettuce reminds me of a story I heard from someone who had cooked for the Kennedy family in Hyannisport. Unlike Bill Parcells, his cooking job also involved purchasing the groceries. During this time, there was a big brouhaha about buying only union lettuce, in support of efforts to unionize farm workers in California. Assuming that the Kennedys wanted only union lettuce on their table, he purchased union lettuce- which at the time was romaine lettuce. He didn't purchase iceberg lettuce, because at the time it was non-union lettuce.

Ethel Kennedy came into the kitchen one day with a complaint about the lettuce. "This lettuce is horrible.Why are you purchasing this junk? " Etc. The cook's reply was that he purchased romaine lettuce because it was union lettuce. As iceberg lettuce was non-union, he didn't purchase it. "WELL," replied Ethel Kennedy, as she stormed off.

After that, the cook purchased non-union iceberg lettuce, and heard no further complaints from Ethel.

This story, and others he told about the Kennedys, were a factor in my leaving the left.

EDH said...

This was PCRM's opportunity to rail against "Big Salad".

Balfegor said...

I have a "small" caesar salad for lunch maybe every other day, but I'm under no illusion that it's "healthy," even if I leave out the croutons and go light on the dressing -- that's a very rich dressing no matter what. I do it for my digestion, mostly. For the fiber.

EDH said...

Otherwise you'd lubricate them with your own outpouring of bodily fluid the way you do with bread or crackers.

"Oh, that's disgusting."

Insect politics.

Popville said...

Any human food consumption study that ignores carbohydrates is false from the start.

Coupe said...
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Coupe said...
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William said...

Thanks for this useful article. I now know that there are such things as satisfying salads and where to order them.

Achilles said...

Popville said...
"Any human food consumption study that ignores carbohydrates is false from the start."

Specifically processed carbs. It isn't the patty on the Big mac that makes you fat, it is the bun and the heap of fries.

Salad and steak is an ideal meal even if you get most of your calories out of the dressing and cheese you put on the salad to make it edible. And don't use lettuce, use spinach for the base. And bacon tastes really good on spinach.

chuck said...

What's wrong with a Big Mac? I prefer a Whopper, but still...

Coupe said...

chuck said...What's wrong with a Big Mac?

23 g of fat, 1.3 g trans fat, 908 mg salt, 42 g carbs + 7 g sugar, with only 3.4 g of fiber. That's about 7 teaspoons of sugar equivalent if my math is any good.

This stuff, once a month before menstruating is a good deal. If you're not menstruating, or have diarrhea, then avoid.

Lem said...

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., which promotes a vegan diet, preventive medicine, alternatives to animal research, and encourages ...

Google it as they like to say now.

Lem said...

like dating someone who’s not that smart, but has a beach-adjacent timeshare.

Could the timeshare be a way to makeup for deficiencies.

Clap your hands if you are not smart enough and you know it.

clint said...

They offer low-carb or gluten-free Big Macs now -- just the burgers on a bed of lettuce with no bun.

At their web site you can play around with the whole menu -- get nutritional info for every item with different components omitted.

Big Mac, hold the bun and hold the sauce:
220 calories, 17g protein, 15g fat, 5g carbs (2 from cheese, 3 from lettuce and onion).

Sounds healthy to me.

RigelDog said...

Total B.S. Still pushing the "calories/fat/sodium/meats are the devil" instead of paying attention to the research, which has shown time and time again that high levels of carbohydrates, especially starch and sugar, are what drives fat accumulation and excess hunger.

Birches said...

EDH beat me to it....I love Big Salads, just like Elaine. I am under no illusions about their relative healthiness, but they are delicious.

Birches said...

The Yuma area in AZ -- which only gets about 3 inches of rain a year -- is the lettuce capital of the U.S. Interesting use of a scarce resource!

I think Yuma uses irrigation from the Colorado River for it's agriculture. hey don't need it to rain in Yuma, they need it to rain up North. And to people in AZ, it's more desirable for Yuma to use up all the CAP water, because if they don't, California gets it, and no one wants that.

BudBrown said...
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Coupe said...
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Kieth Nissen said...

If the photos mean anything the calorie count includes a huge dollop of dressing. They are assuming the customer eats the entire side of dressing. I never do that and I assume others use some restraint on that particular additive also. So the scare headline is sort of misleading.

Terry said...

a new report from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine points out 100 restaurant salads that are “worse” than a Big Mac.
So food is medicine, now?
The article is an exercise in food snobbery, written by the kind of person who may occasionally find herself eating at an Appleby's or an IHOP, but doesn't think of herself as a person who eats at Appleby's or IHOP. The bourgeois and wannabe bourgeois make a fetish out of food and eating among strangers to a much greater extent than the poor and working classes do.
". . . like dating someone who’s not that smart, but has a beach-adjacent timeshare."
What kind of person comes up with an analogy like this? What experience from the panoply of life is Olga Khazan drawing from?

Rusty said...

Ann Althouse said...
Most salads are awful.

They're also way too big.

It's not surprising that restaurants are producing 1000+ calorie salads. It's just a desperate effort at trying to offer value.

It's absurd to stuff down so many leaves. It's not normal. It's not natural. And the fact that everyone sees a need to grease them all up is a big sign that you don't want to eat them.

Otherwise you'd lubricate them with your own outpouring of bodily fluid the way you do with bread or crackers.

Hey, that reminds me of an old birthday party game I haven't thought of in decades. Each kid gets a saltine cracker. On cue, they all eat the cracker, and the first one to whistle wins! It's fun. Because crackers are inherently amusing, and trying to whistle too soon spews crumbs all over the place and everyone laughs.


Listen here miss prissy pants. I'll have you know that salads have been responsible for my losing 50 ponds in the last year.
That and no carbs.
And moderate exercise.
And smaller portions.


I'm still butt ugly though.

Fen said...

"like dating someone who’s not that smart, but has a beach-adjacent timeshare."

Female Privilege. If a man said something akin to this about women, the SJW mob would be burning down the Atlantic until they had his head on a pike.

richardsson said...

In the absence of religion, people seem to make a religion out of everything, proper diets, riding bicycles, and so on. Worse yet people go all Nosey Parker over it. And doctors telling us what to eat. Ha. Ha. When I used to take my Dad to the VA Hospital, I got in line behind a bunch of doctors to buy lunch. They were eating hot dogs and Cokes. With pickle relish and mustard.
Warren Buffett will be 85 years old. According to a story in Fortune Magazine he eats chocolate chip ice cream for breakfast and five Cokes per day. I'll take my "crunchy water" with Blue Cheese salad dressing and a glass of red wine.

Dustin said...

Poor McDonalds. They will never recover from the junk food label. Their best trademarks are actually used as metrics for how horrible things are, and everyone gets it, intuitively.

On the other hand, their food is mostly garbage.

I would suggest looking into specifics when comparing food. Particularly when it comes to protein, and carbs. A spinach salad is full of protein and low in carbs, with a ton of fiber. Even if it has high fat and calories from cheese and dressing, it's radically more healthy than a big mac for someone who wants to lose weight. Calories are the measurement that made Americans fat.

We are not furnaces. Calories are how hot food burns. We are chemical changes. Fat in food turns into hair and enzymes, carbs turn into fat tissue, protein turns into body parts. It's not like fat in a steak turns into fat on my belly, or cholesterol in cheese turns into cholesterol in my blood (that's sugar).

Alex said...

You people obviously do not avail yourself of the wonderful salad green mixes available at Trade Joes or Whole Foods.

* kale
* baby spinach
* mixed greens

then you add cucumber, tomatoe, red cabbage, leeks, garlic, bell pepper, sesame seeds, Parmesan cheese.

Add protein - beans, chicken, turkey.

For the salad dressing. Keep it simple and healthy:

black/white balsamic vinegar with olive/avocado oil.

Top with some ground black pepper.

You people are just doing it wrong.

My salads are delicious.

Alex said...

Oh and hit the gym - big time.

Make sure you do the big compound lifts - squats, deadlifts, rows, shoulder press, bench press.

Also bicep curls, tricep dips, Roman chair, shoulder raises and so on.

Blast your ass with weighted walking lunges.

Also don't forget the high intensity cardio on a treadmill or elliptical machine.

no pain, no gain.