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Apr 19, 201810:35 AM
Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

Marketing!

By now you have no doubt heard of the “personalized nutrition coach powered by DNA” called “Nutria.”  It is a “collaboration” with Lean Cuisine, and purports to create a personalized nutrition plan based on your genes. The idea is that Nutria coaches will interpret your DNA and make food recommendations that I am pretty sure include a lot of things like, “Hey, your DNA tells me you’d be SOOOOOO much healthier if you ate a lot of Lean Cuisine frozen meals!”

Please bear in mind that I am not a geneticist. The program could be simply wonderful and not a just way for Lean Cuisine to sell more frozen Salisbury steaks and turkey tetrazzini in the age of no-carb/gluten free/juice cleanse or whatever the current dietary fad is.

But if it is just a marketing ploy, one hopes they didn’t pay the advertising firm too much. Because while I’ll bet you dollars to donuts it’s supposed to be pronounced “Noo-TREE-ah,” I think even folks from outside the deep south are likely to associate the name less with a healthy diet and more with a hideous marsh rat.

Honestly, the whole thing made me think of a way to improve on the concept. What if, instead of taking the result of genetic testing and figuring out which Lean Cuisine would be best for you, we take your DNA and grow meat in a lab? I mean, it’s not technically cannibalism, right? And I bet it tastes better than nutria.

I admit there may be some downsides to that concept, but I’m still thinking of pitching it to one of those genealogy websites that promise to tell you that you’re not really Irish but half Danish and half Inuit. Think of the possibilities, “don’t just eat LIKE your ancestors…”

Perhaps not.

The whole genetic testing thing may be a bit of a trigger issue for me, because I have a recurring nightmare in which somehow my DNA has been submitted to a testing facility and I get a phone call: “Hi, Mr. Peyton? Yeah, this is Barry from Genetest Inc. I’m calling about your DNA? Uh, normally we just ship a packet of materials out, but in your case we felt a phone call was more appropriate… I’m not sure how to tell you this, but, uh… Mr. Peyton, you’re 7 percent nutria.” And then I wake up not knowing what the other 93% is. Horrifying, isn’t it?

I would like to believe that genetic testing is going to lead to all sorts of amazing things in the near future. There’s a great deal of promise for medical treatments and undoubtedly a host of other applications I can’t even imagine. But I don’t want someone to tell me what foods I should eat, because I suspect it’d just cause me more stress when I eat whatever the hell I want anyway. At the moment all I have to worry about is heartburn when I eat something spicy, and that’s enough.

I have enough trouble limiting my intake of foods I know are going to raise my cholesterol. I don’t need someone giving me a list of things I should be eating to stay at an optimal level of health. And that’s even more true if the list is made up entirely of Lean Cuisine frozen prepared meals.

Is that just me?

 

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Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

about

Robert D. Peyton was born at Ochsner Hospital and, apart from four years in Tennessee for college and three years in Baton Rouge for law school, has lived in New Orleans his entire life. He is a strong believer in the importance of food to our local culture and in the importance of our local food culture, generally. He has practiced law since 1994, and began writing about food on his website, www.appetites.us, in 1999. He mainly wrote about partying that year, obviously.

In 2006, New Orleans Magazine named Appetites the best food blog in New Orleans. The choice was made relatively easy due to the fact that Appetites was, at the time, the only food blog in New Orleans.

He began writing the Restaurant Insider column for New Orleans Magazine in 2007 and has been published in St. Charles Avenue, Louisiana Life and New Orleans Homes and Lifestyles magazines. He is the only person he knows personally who has been interviewed in GQ magazine, albeit for calling Alan Richman a nasty name. He is not proud of that, incidentally. (Yes, he is.)

Robert’s maternal grandmother is responsible for his love of good food, and he has never since had fried chicken or homemade biscuits as good as hers. He developed his curiosity about restaurant cooking in part from the venerable PBS cooking show "Great Chefs" and has an extensive collection of cookbooks, many of which do not require coloring, and some of which have not been defaced.

Robert lives in Mid-City with his wife Eve and their three children, and is fond of receiving comments and emails. Please humor him.

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