Now and then, someone sends me an e-mail, arguing that "such and such" is not junk food, and is actually healthy. This communication often comes from a manufacturer who's product I blogged about.
Other times I call the marketing people at a manufacturer because I want them to send me a digital image of their new product. They tell me that they don't want me to blog about their product because they're trying to bill it as being healthy.
My definition of junk food
ANYTHING and EVERYTHING is junk food, depending on how much you consume, and depending on your current state of health and lifestyle.
I've said before that a celery stick is junk food, mainly because celery contains very little nutritional value, and because celery is largely eaten as a snack, or h'orderve. If all you ate was celery you'd die for lack of nutrition. It's not what you eat, but how much.
And while fruits like oranges, bananas, and apples are high in vitamins and nutrients, they're also high in carbohydrates. If that's all you ate, and didn't exercise, you'd be as fat as a hamburger whore. You could get fat eating burgers, or you could get fat eating bananas.
Is a hamburger junk food? No. If you look at what a hamburger is, it's made up of components that people would consider to be healthy: bread, beef, lettuce, tomato. But when those components are put together, it becomes demonized. You could add more stuff like cheese, bacon, mayonnaise, pickles, etc, and you'd increase your intake of fat, sodium, and cholesterol. But it's only bad if your body can't tolerate it.
Your State of Health Makes a Difference
Junk food can only be bad for you, if your current state of health is susceptible to it.
For example, a bar of chocolate might be unhealthy to a diabetic, but perfectly fine for an athlete like Lance Armstrong. Sucking down a bag of salted-sunflower seeds is bad for someone with high blood pressure, but perfectly fine for someone without.
Moreover, chocolate is said to have positive health benefits in the form of antioxidants. Meanwhile, sunflower seeds is said to be rich in Vitamin E. Depending on your state of health, they can be good for you, or bad for you.
Politics of Junk Food
Opponents of junk food, such as those seeking laws to ban sodas and candies from school vending machines, are pulling out all the stops.
A couple of years ago I posted a review of a novel entitled, "War on Junk", which I felt was reality in the making. It takes the alcohol prohibition of the 1920s, and turns it into a junk food prohibition of the near future. The fact is that we're headed there. I think you know it.
Earlier this year, I contacted a well-known pickle manufacturer because I wanted a digital image of their newest variety. They refused, arguing that they didn't want me blogging their product because they trying promote pickles as a "health food".
If you can imagine our country actually entering into a "junk food prohibition", thousands of food-makers would twist the public's perception into thinking their products are "healthy alternatives". I wonder how many of them see such a prohibition on the horizon, and are spending some money on this right now?