The internet is full of conspiracies. The food world is full of oft-misguided fears. Ladies and gentlemen, it's my turn to contribute to the imaginative world of food conspiracies. I'm not talking about corn chips causing rubella or tofu causing homosexuality or crappy shiraz infused chocolate being unusually popular amongst bloggers… No! The military-industrial-vegetable complex is attempting a green coup.
I am disturbed, disturbed! An article in The Guardian late last year drew my attention to the existence of a list. A subversive, deeply disturbing list. A list with earth-shattering implications for my hitherto guilt-free diet of pastry and chocolate. As if we needed more proof that things haven't been right in the United States in recent years, Yale University has developed an Overall Nutritional Quality Index. Suspiciously, it has been given a brand name… more evidence of commercial conspiracy!
The NuVal™ Nutritional Scoring System summarizes the overall nutritional value of food. It uses the Institute of Medicine’s Dietary Reference Intakes (quantitative reference values for recommended intakes of nutrients) and the Dietary Guidelines For Americans (advice from the Department of Health and Human Services, HHS, and the Department of Agriculture, USDA, about how good dietary habits can promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases) to quantify the presence of more than 30 nutrients – including vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants; sugar, salt, trans fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. The system also incorporates measures for the quality of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as well as calories and omega-3 fats. The NuVal™ System also takes into account how these nutrients influence health based on broadly accepted, published scientific literature. (Link)
Now, just look at their top items (top nutritional score is 100), as shown in The Guardian:
Green Beans 100
BROCCOLI?! Say what?! This is like a conspiracy with the parents of the world, forcing fuzzy green stuff down the throats of the innocents. My parents did it. My parents' parents did it. Broccoli is an instrument of torture, not nutrition! I'm surprised cauliflower isn't equal first. Oh look, it is… below is the more comprehensive list direct from NuVal. Brussels sprouts don't get a mention, but I'll bet they're lurking in the background, ready to pounce.
Beans (yellow and green) 100
Lettuce (Green Leaf, Red Leaf & Romaine) 100
Mustard Greens 100
Just lucky I'm growing strawberries (100) to eat with my Rice Bubbles (23) and oats (88) with full fat milk (52) every morning!
Meanwhile, I thought asparagus was just a phallic joke of a higher being, causing smelly pee and crap supermarket produce disappointments in the process. But no! We should all be munching our way through green sticks, green leaves, green sticky things, green fruit, and TURNIPS. Sheesh.
Now a selection of the bottom-scorers (from The Guardian):
Dark chocolate 10
White bread 9
Hot dog 5
Cheese puffs 4
Milk chocolate 3
Apple pie 2
Fizzy drinks 1
I am so offended. How dare these pseudo-scientists place chocolate, clearly the most important fully-rounded foodstuff (ok, it lacks a little in fibre), so thoroughly low down their list. Any nutritionist worth their salt (or miso) knows that chocolate has nothing in common with hot dogs or cheese puffs! Bah. Well, I've had enough of these sell-out scientists and their faddish enthusiasms for unspeakables. No doubt there's some murky industry organisation in the background, funding their "research". If I were a salami farmer or a chocolate breeder, I'd be talking to my lawyers (or funding better research).