Food Opinion

Let’s talk about food, kids. Specifically, the snack, chips, sodas, and other junk food that fall from the spiraling coils of the vending machines: all of it is reduced fat, zero calorie, chemically altered versions of the originals. Thanks to Michelle Obama’s push for healthy cafeteria options in public schools, the original, “full-fat” versions of your favorite munchies are capoot.

But fat doesn’t simply disappear. So how is that fat reduced? I did some digging on the back of my Cheez-its box and compared it to the reduced fat counterpart. If you look at all the major nutrients (calories, fat, sugars, sodium), reduced fat Cheez-its seem like the healthier option. However, the danger lies in those unsaturated fats that pop up in the reduced fat label. Sure, now there’s less fat, but it’s more dangerous fat.

The idea behind reduced fat snacks is healthier options for students, but no amount of fat slashing can make things such as soda good for you. “Diet” does not mean healthy. I believe this misconception only drives the obesity epidemic in this country. Even your seemingly harmless cheese-flavored cracker is bad for you in excess.

Moreover, fat reduction in processed foods requires the addition of chemicals. I, having grown up away from the “diet” varieties, can taste that difference. I can taste those chemicals, and those man-made additives make me, literally, sick.

So how do we become a healthier society? Removing chemically-altered snacks from our vending machines won’t fix everything, but it’s a step in the right direction.