Infovegan is a great blog I recently found about managing our exposure to massive amounts of useless, paralyzing information:
Since the 1990 passage of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 we’ve gotten standardized nutritional labels on all the food that we consume— an empowering and pervasive open dataset that we can use to make more intelligent food decisions. What’s interesting though is, despite the nutritional labels and the diet books and Jenny Craigs on every block, we’re still getting fat. According to the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, our obesity rate is ever increasing.
What’s the problem?
I think it’s overconsumption of a different kind. Because there’s so much information available about food, we’re unable to make any intelligent decisions. The food industry used this to its favor. In the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act the government made a trade with industry. The companies agreed to put nutritional labeling on the boxes in exchange they got to make health claims on the food boxes. What you end up with is a Fruit Loops box with a industry manufactured stamp of approval saying it’s good for you. The bar one must jump over in order to make a rational food choice was raised, not lowered.
Couldn't agree more. Few people know how to read a nutrition label, let alone which information on it means anything. Add in the industrial-agricultural food pyramid and the ongoing controversy over fat, protein, and carbohydrates, and it's complete information paralysis.
I don't agree with everything Michael Pollan says, but most supermarket consumers would be better served by picking up In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto and skipping the nutrition labels altogether.