The Obvious Dysfunction of Functional Foods

Dan Mitchell, writing at Slate's Big Money, discusses "functional foods," a trend that's both painfully obvious and obviously legitimate if you happen to review mass-marketed food on a regular basis.

The idea: Food doesn't just, you know, feed you anymore. It's probiotic. It's antioxidant. It's going to make you healthier and happier, in ways that are difficult-to-impossible to statistically prove. And it's also largely unregulated.

The other side of the coin, the KFC Double Downs and the ridiculous cheesecake-stuffed Pancake Stackers at IHOP, is actually part of precisely the same underlying disease, which Mitchell dissects like a surgeon:

"We've had access to just about all the foods we'll ever need for decades, even centuries. In a low-margin business filled with alternatives, the only way for food companies to grow is to constantly come up with products that are 'new,' or at least appear that way, or that fill some unmet (and previously unknown) need."

So, on that note, brace yourself for a bunch of new cloudberry drinks promising the pro-enlivening properties of "vitamin T" and the new Pizza Hut Pasta Cone, the only cone made out of pizza and filled with a mixture of ranch dressing and spaghetti.

Image source: Flickr member Steve Snodgrass under Creative Commons