Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Healthy Skeptic: The Radicals At The Center For Science In The Public Interest Threaten Starbucks

Now that they have the wimps at KFC quaking in their boots, the radical Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), headed by radical vegan and bummer of a guy Michael Jacobson, is making noise about going after Starbucks. It seems that Starbucks serves drinks and foods that are high in fat. And apparently people who order coffee with caramel syrup and whipped cream, and pastries, need to be told via signs and food labels that they are killing themselves if they drink and eat Starbucks products. What's even worse is that Starbucks offers their employees unlimited coffee and leftover pastries during their shifts.

It seems that the CSPI has contacts with a group known as the IWW Starbucks Workers Union. This “union” is made up of a few baristas in three – THREE – Starbucks located in New York.

So in THREE Starbucks - out of almost 5000 nationwide - Starbucks there are a couple of shlemiel coffee jockeys tied into the CSPI, and they have “organized” so that they can complain that Starbucks offer employees free food and drink, and complain that the fact that consumers can ask in-store questions about the nutritional value of Starbucks products isn’t good enough.

By the way, the Starbucks website offers plenty of detailed and responsible information with regards to their drinks and baked goods. People aren’t dragged into a Starbucks without prior knowledge, so being able to get complete nutritional information from the Starbucks website is a much more efficient and effective way for people to learn about the stuff that they like to eat and drink.

A person quoted in this article is identified as a member of this “union,” and Reuters reports as fact this person’s baseless assertion that Starbucks employees gain weight when they work at the chain because they have access to free refreshments. Can you believe this nonsense? This is the basis for a threatened lawsuit? A handful of fat, lazy java jockies?

And for as ludicrous as this scenario is, Reuters’ decision to treat the discussion of this “union” seriously – and giving credence to this story - is even more ludicrous. By setting this scenario up and making noise about Starbucks, the CSPI is laughably pathetic. Reuters is a willing participant in this scam and should be ashamed of themselves. Somehow Starbucks is at fault because their employees make poor choices when taking advantage of the free stuff? They’re fressing and it’s the boss’s fault? Oy vey.

This Jacobson character is not only a member of the Food Police but he’s part of the No Fun Gestapo as well. He’s been quoted as saying that he would never eat a cookie, and he would have taken the coffee machine out of the CSPI offices if his employees didn’t revolt. He’s made some truly bizarre pronouncements over the years. Here are but a few:

“We can envision taxes on butter, potato chips, whole milk, cheeses and meats.”

“I’m not on the fence … about litigation [against restaurants]. I think it’s an extremely important strategy.”
- Public Health Advocacy Institute’s “Conference on Legal Approaches to the Obesity Epidemic,”, 6/21/03

“CSPI is proud about finding something wrong with practically everything.”
-Washingtonian magazine, February 1994
And he makes silly comments like this about Starbucks: "People expect foods from Dunkin' Donuts to be unhealthy, but Starbucks has more of an upper middle class, healthy, hip, politically correct facade," Jacobson said. "But the food is just as harmful to your arteries."

Perhaps it comes with the territory of being a food tyrant, but Jacobson makes comments like this that have no scientific basis. No matter what Jacobson and his fellow true believers think – and would have you think – going to Starbucks for an occasional Venti Frappa-Whatchamacallit will have no effect on your arteries, and eating a croissant once a week isn’t going to contribute to coronary artery disease.

Jacko really wants you to think that Starbucks’ legitimate community-conscious activities and contributions are just a “fa├žade” that Starbucks puts up in order to addict fat and lazy people to their products, and the fact that people can – but may not – order regular coffee or Tazo tea is Starbucks’ fault. The CSPI wants you to view Starbucks just as you would view the neighborhood drug pusher who contributes money to the community center by day, with the money he makes from selling drugs to neighborhood kids by night.

I think that this kind of statement is – as lawyers say – actionable.

People have choice. There’s been a very important, hot-button issue that has been around for years that hinges on a woman’s right to choose. The ability to choose is what makes us truly free. People like Jacobson want to shackle us to their views. No meat, no cookies, no coffee, no fun. This despotic approach to food can -- and will -- be applied to other things if this garbage is allowed to continue and if people like Jacobson aren’t shouted down by the rest of us.

I’ve been warning this for years. You may think it’s great that smokers have been chased out of public places. But now that these oppressive meddlers have gotten their way with smoking they are moving closer and closer to YOUR habits. Smoking yesterday, fast food today, coffee tomorrow and then what? No drinking in public? Mandatory portion control? A “no doggie bag" policy?

You may laugh, but if Jacobson and his dogmatic disciples are allowed to get away with this nobody will be untouched by this lack of choice.

The CSPI cabal wants you to think that food labeling would help people make better choices. Well this week the Journal of the American Dietetic Association published the results of a study that concluded that consumers probably would not pay attention to the kind of food labels that the “CSPIdiots” are clamoring for. In the study carried out by the University of Vermont Department of Psychology researchers found that 44%-57% of people would not make use of food label information if it was provided in restaurants. Previous research has indicated that people who already have poor eating habits are unlikely to use food labels because they just don’t care. Kind of make sense doesn’t it?

Jacobson himself is on record as saying that food labels may not be enough. From a Time Magazine article, "Jacobson insists that too many people will look past the calorie, fat, carb and fiber counts on the menu. What's needed, he says, is sanity in portions". In the CSPI’s view, “sanity in portions” can only come about through government intervention.

And by the way, the Starbucks’ web site does in fact provide all the labeling information that anyone could ask for. Anybody who really cares about this kind of stuff needs to do nothing more than surf over to to find every detail about every item on the Starbucks menu. Without a barista or in a crowded shop, and from the comfort of their homes.

As a person who works in the fitness business – and has almost 20 years of experience – I would love for people to live a healthier lifestyle. But I know that you can’t force people to do so. If people want to ignore my advice, that’s fine. I’m here to help those who want to be helped, and I don’t care to help everyone. Some of my closest friends are people who eat fast food, are overweight, don’t get enough exercise or sleep and drink too much booze, but I still love ‘em. And I’ll help them when they ask.

George Carlin, when he was more-funny and less-angry, said “Religion is like a lift in your shoe. If you need it and want to use it, great. Just don’t go and nail lifts to the native’s feet.” Michael Jacobson and his ilk are in the business of nailing lifts to people’s feet while telling them it’s for their own good. These people need to go away.


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A.L. Harper said...

I hate it when people try and nail me. Oh no... wait... I like that. I hate it when people try to nail THINGS to me.

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