The Death of Calorie Cards: Love it

Love it: dining halls no longer advertise nutritional information

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Apparently, this aphorism applies even when the absent party is an abstruse and foreboding series of numbers that once leered over your meal options. Somehow, old friends who once had nothing but vitriol for the quasi-meaningless card stock feel lost without them, which is a problem in itself.

As much as I commend HUDS’ food literacy program—which has taught me the many splendid varieties of squash—I saw the calorie count cards as a terrible idea at the outset. First of all, the cards were often riddled with errors. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to believe that fried potato wedges are rendered void of calories in the magical vacuum of Annenberg, but when one regularly encounters such fabulous claims they become increasingly difficult to believe. Furthermore, they were often gauged in ridiculous units—14 ounces of pita bread, anyone?

However, my actual beef with the calorie tickers has nothing to do with the incomprehensible nature of the cards, but rather the philosophy behind them. As nice and simple as digits are to grasp, numbers of calories in food don’t always correlate with nutritional value, and the notion that the cards were supposed to be some guide-at-a-glance for healthy choices was inherently problematic. In a way, instead of demystifying Chickwiches and ranger cookies, the cards took attention away from the food itself in favor of abstract numbers; the overwhelming distress the cards caused for people with serious eating concerns far outweighed the “benefit.”

Don’t get me wrong—while I’m happy to bid farewell to such a flawed system, but I’d love to see it replaced with more relevant, accurate, and accessible nutritional information. Until then, friends, if you’re burning to count, burn some calories typing in the HUDS URL and find out yourself.