In San Francisco, there are more marijuana shops than McDonald’s, bongs are considered medical devices, and apparently the local legislators believe that tiny Shrek action figures are a leading cause of heart attacks. In November, the city’s Board of Supervisors passed a law that effectively makes Happy Meals illegal. Any restaurant that wants to give away toys to its customers must now adhere to nutritional guidelines of hilariously oppressive exactitude. There are caps on calories and sodium, saturated fat ratios to maintain, vegetable quotas to meet. If asked to conform to such tyrannical dietary correctness, every chef at every foodie temple in the city would sooner flee to Bakersfield.

 

San Francisco’s Happy Meals ban is just one of many recent efforts to inoculate the public against the plague of McDonald’s marketing: Militant nutritionists advocate at least… More…

 

Once, at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., I watched an orangutan vomit on the glass wall of its enclosure. I was standing next to a group of schoolchildren, and they laughed in response. Then the primate stuck out its tongue, pressed it to the glass, and dragged it through the vomit. The children screamed. We moved to the next exhibit, where this same group and I watched a gorilla stick its finger first into its anus, and then into its mouth. As one can probably guess, the schoolkids went berserk.

This happened a few years ago, but it wasn’t until I recently attended a meeting on zoo animal obesity that I learned these separate-but-equally-unappealing behaviors have scientific names: regurgitation and reingestion, and coprophagy, respectively. The conference was the Crissey Zoological Nutrition Symposium, held at North Carolina State… More…

 

We think of it as a modern craze, but there have always been those amongst us who are obsessed with healthy eating. By the Middle Ages, doctors still accepted the ancient Greek doctrine that each individual body was made up of different amounts of the four essential “humors” — blood, bile, choler, and phlegm — which in turn dictated a person’s hot, moist, cool, and dry elements. Every thoughtful banquet host had to provide foods that catered to each guest’s distinct physical makeup, so that those guests could keep their humors properly balanced and enjoy well-being. A large fish or side of pork, when served at table, might have been divided into quarters in the kitchen, with a different sauce provided for each humor. Just to complicate things, it was also believed that meat could transfer an animal’s… More…