Lindsay-Jean is a Contributing Writer & Editor at Food52.
The Kitchn had a few suggestions for websites that calculate nutritional information for recipes: http://www.thekitchn.com...
I subscribe to the small portions of good food method of eating. An ingredient list tells me everything I want to know. Worst case is I eat too little and get hungry later. Easily fixed with a snack or dessert.
I too would like to see recipes have nutritional values.
I personally would not like to see nutritional values, and not because I'm not conscious of it--I am. I feel, however, that nutritional values can detract from the natural beauty of cooking. It makes it less art and love and more something to be measured within diet and calorie parameters. There are places for this, like on health food sites and, on the flip side, chain restaurants, where, in the latter case, the goal is to dissuade people from eating foods that are harmful to them. But Food52 is neither a diet site nor a place for processed, empty calorie foods. It is good and wholesome food that is celebrated here. Cakes and desserts are going to have lots of calories, and dishes made with lots of butter or cream may not be everyday fair, but I think food choice in this context should be left up to personal judgment and discretion. If one needs more particular information, there are many cites out there that serve as calorie calculators.
I couldn't agree more with ATG117 and appreciate such a well-articulated answer on this. I actually find it unappetizing to see the nutritional information and avoid it. Moderation is best unless one is on a special diet and requires this information. It is also is a very dull conversational topic over dinner although some do find it fascinating.
Nutrition really interests me and only enhances my enjoyment of food. Esthetics and functionality in the same tasty package has always been a win-win at my table.
I do not, however, feel the same way about the current approach to nutrition facts labeling. The label was designed to send a message about how the experts viewed a healthy approach to eating circa 1980. The criteria was very specific and the intent, in this nutritionist’s opinion, was not to inform but to shame and to punish. It is this aspect of the label that I believe ATG117 & ATL have picked up on. To label a product “healthy” remains in many contemporary circles a kiss of death. The current label format is under review and the expected release date is about 2014. I anticipate some leniency in the criteria for total fat and, though I do not hold out much hope, perhaps a more positive approach.
As ChefUno points out, managing weight can be done very successfully with small portions and ingredient reading. For those who prefer a more analytic approach to weight management, however, calories are a useful food metric.
I also feel that knowledge never takes away from art and beauty. I am calorie conscious, not obsessed, but I need the numbers to help me balance my daily eating choices or I gain weight. Sorry, some of us simply can't play it by ear (or eye, or mouth)! Knowing other nutrients are helpful to be healthy as well; many people need to watch salt or cholesterol. Whenever I do a recipe without nutritional information, I have to use the ingredient list to figure it out for myself. That does get tedious, but my health is worth it.
I don't find nutritional information for recipes objectionable (though I rarely consult it), and I certainly understand why some people find it useful or necessary.
But there are practical considerations involved, as well as philosophical/aesthetic ones.
First, as Wendiamm notes, it IS tedious to calculate nutritional information for a recipe. So who do you make responsible for the tedium? The submitter of each recipe? Good luck with that. Someone at food52? That would probably require hiring a full-time employee.
Second, many recipes are written with inexact quantities--chicken stock "to cover," salt "to taste," olive oil "to film the pan," etc, etc. One has to make assumptions about actual quantities in order to do the math, which adds to the work. Do you require recipe submitters to give exact quantities (or a range of quantities)? Or have someone edit recipes to provide them? Both those options seem contrary to the spirit of this site, which is to let recipes reflect the voice and sensibility of the people sharing them.
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