Beef is back in the news as the bogeyman who puts you one forkful away from death.
To some of us who survived the 1980s, this may sound eerily familiar. It's gotten to the point where there should just be a codified -- and interchangeable -- list of foods that will kill us, so that every week we can all check it and give ourselves yet another reason to freak the fuck out and start eyeballing our lawns for a ready source of non-lethal sustenance. Or maybe we could all just chill the fuck out and understand that eating reasonable amounts of anything is fine. No one food will put us all on the highway to hell, and if we choose to ignore the crap-tank of ubiquitous studies focusing on a single food item, then maybe scientists will find more constructive things to study, and we can all get back to eating the occasional delicious, juicy ribeye steak without guilting ourselves into mental illness -- and screwing the beef industry with its britches on.
Since we believe in watching out for the public interest, we've compiled our own list of the five most demonized foods. If only we could combine all of them into an appetizing entree....
How could anyone hate those sweet little yolks surrounded by gooey whites and naturally encased in lovely, delicate shells? Eggs are chock-full of protein, iron and lutein, but it sure seems like the cholesterol and saturated fat they also contain get all the press. First we were told that the cholesterol would kill us, then the saturated fat, then at some point eggs got healthy, then that was dialed back to just the whites. The American Dietetic Association now says that instead of having two eggs, we should have two portions of egg whites and one whole egg. Where are the two discarded egg yolks supposed to go? It's not certain what will kill us all off faster: the yolks or the dizzying, revolving door of information that we are supposed to swallow instead.
Margarine is to real butter as that new lead singer guy is to Journey: He's great and all, but he's not Steve Perry. There are so many butter-y, butter-esque, ersatz butters on the market today that trying to figure out which one will not kill you -- or kill you more slowly than butter -- is about as much fun as listening to a sloppy-drunk asshole singing "Don't Stop Believing" off key. The kicker with margarine is that a lot of brands, due to the necessary hydrogenation to make oil into a solid, end up creating trans fat. Why aren't we supposed to eat butter? Because it's full of saturated fat. How about this novel concept: Eat a little bit of real butter instead of margarine, and if you can resist the urge to melt and mainline it, you'll probably live long enough to find other stuff to eat that will kill you faster.
Chocolate rots our teeth into mossy stumps and turns our smooth complexions into the inside of a Hot Pocket. It also has caffeine, which will cause heart explosion -- ergo, death. Did it ever occur to any food researcher that far from causing mortal danger to humans, chocolate actually saves lives? Aside from the fact that there is no definitive scientific proof that chocolate gives us meth-mouths or volcano-mugs, chocolate dopes our brains with serotonin, which makes us calm and joyful -- so eating a big, fat chocolate bar makes people less likely to murder-death-kill scientific researchers who try to make chocolate into the beast from the pit.
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Cane/beet sugar is of the devil and will make you die. So instead of using sugar, we are supposed to use whatever sweetening agent will make our coffee taste nice without riddling our bodies with Type II diabetes. We have options like aspartame, saccharin and stevia, to name just three, but aspartame tastes like carpet fuzz, saccharin is distinctly pocket-change-metallic flavored, and stevia tastes like someone ate broccoli, beans and beer for a week, then urinated in your mouth. The chemical makeup of any artificial sweetener can only be explained using charts and a laser pointer, always an endearing quality in a commercial food product. Does this make sugar any better for you? Nope. But using a small amount of sugar won't make your brain hurt.
1. Red meat.
The whole "red-meat-makes-imminent-death" assertion would make more sense to the average American if it was simply called "beef-makes-you-dead," because other red meats like goat, horse and sheep usually aren't included in the nationwide media panic campaigns: When was the last time you saw a "Mutton Kills!" commercial? So here's the gist of the argument: Beef has fat. Eating fat-laden beef, in large qualities, will clog your arteries; blood can't get to your heart, so you will die. Now, beef fat is delicious, so buying lean cuts means it won't taste as good, but this option sure beats the hell out of eradicating beef from your diet completely. Willpower sucks bush-berries, but so does having pinhole-sized places for your blood to circulate through. You don't have to stop eating tender, succulent beef -- just don't anoint your mouth with excessive fat globules every day. And change it up every so often with a nice mutton chop, horse burger or goat cutlet. This will at least give researchers something new to scare people with in a few months.