Friday, July 17, 2009

Is the Cheesecake Factory Gross?

Ezra Klein of the Washington Post has an interesting column in an ongoing series of columns related to calorie labeling here:

I found this bit particularly interesting:

"If I had gone to the Cheesecake Factory with the intention of ordering relatively healthfully, it's pretty likely that the miso salmon would have ended up on my plate. A heart-healthy fish with a soy-based glaze? What could be better?
A lot, as it turns out. On first glance, I would have figure the salmon for the lightest entree, followed by the chicken piccata, the carbonara, and the crispy beef. Not so. The salmon weighs in at 1,673 calories -- which is to say, a bit more than 75 percent of the food an adult male should eat in a day. The piccata is a comparably slim 1,385 calories. The crispy beef is 1,528 calories. And the carbonara? 2,191. The answer might be that someone looking for a healthful meal shouldn't go to the Cheesecake Factory. But insofar as you're already there, or your family wants to go there, making a good decision isn't a particularly straightforward proposition.
This is why the obesity crisis is such a tough issue: Calories are delicious. The Cheesecake Factory isn't doing anything wrong, either ethically or culinarily. Human beings are wired to prefer abundance, salt, fat, sugar, and value. The Cheesecake Factory is giving people the whole package. Changing people's eating habits so that type two diabetes don't become the new chubby would be easy if the food was actually repulsive or the value was bad or it was all, in some other way, a trick. But it's not. The food is enjoyable. The value is incredible. The cost is long-term, and remembering that we might get diabetes down the road is pretty hard when eons of evolutionary wiring are telling us to eat this stuff now now now now it's right here now now!"

Who would have thunk that if I ordered salmon I'd blow my entire Caloric "wad" for the day?

Another columnist, James Joyner further discusses the Klein piece here:

Both articles are thought proving and worth a read.

I for one would love to know the calories I'm consuming when I go to restaurants, even if it was a "range" if the exact count couldn't be specifically nailed down. With the obesity epidemic what it is in the country, not to mention those of us just trying to keep our weight down, knowing the caloric content of the foods we eat would be invaluable information.

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