Food activist and NYU professor Marion Nestle positions herself as a defender of the little guy in her personal crusade against “Big Food” — that is, any company that dares to feed millions of Americans. But how much regard does she really hold for the average Joe? In a Sunday Chicago Tribune interview about the great mystery of what a “calorie” is, Nestle let a little bit of her elitism show: “Ordinary mortals cannot count, see, taste, smell or feel a calorie,” she sniffed.
We’ve always suspected Nestle of having a Marie Antoinette side. But claiming that the average eater can’t count calories is a new low, even for “Marion the Contrarian.” If the Neanderthal rabble of ordinary food consumers can’t add calories, we wonder why Nestle promotes mandatory menu labeling in restaurants.
But in many ways, it’s not surprising. Nestle’s anti-corporate food philosophy comes with built-in arrogance. People can’t control themselves, so the government needs to step in. Lather, rinse, repeat. Her vision of a food future includes “Twinkie taxes” and federal price controls on high-calorie foods and drinks. Food, she says, “is too cheap in this country.” As for balance, moderation, and exercise—elements of personal responsibility—Nestle supports them “only in theory.” If that sounds like something the food cops at the Center for Science in the Public Interest would say, consider that Nestle sat on the group’s board of directors for five years.
Not everybody can be so high and mighty as to occupy Marion Nestle’s exalted ivory tower. But enough people have passed second grade math to keep track of what they eat, if they want to.