What Food Labels and Shakespeare Have In Common
Sometimes, writing about fitness and nutrition can be a bit…well, one-dimensional. At least, for me it seems that can happen.
This is certainly my passion, but it’s also my business, and that can—from time to time—make thinking about it at all hours a bit more like work and bit less fun. At times, this can create a kind of creativity block for me, making it hard to really sit down and write as often as I’d like.
On the other hand, things that I do solely for pleasure like reading, surfing, sex, poker and all that…seem to just come a bit more naturally in terms writing about them. And more importantly, they really get my creative juices flowing.
In fact, I’ve had some of my best ideas for training while at the poker table, and although I’ve never stopped in the middle of sex to write a blog post, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t more motivated with both training and writing the next day. So if it’s been a while since I’ve blogged, then chances are, it’s…well, been a while.
However, I AM blogging now, so draw your own conclusions ;)
In any event, what I have been doing a lot of lately is reading; mainly thumbing through old books as I unpack them and set them up in the new digs.
And reading, as one of my main loves, always gets me ready to write.
As I said earlier, I find most fitness stuff to be boring. Most fitness authors never really talk about fitness and nutrition as they relate to anything other than your body.
Well, that shit’s lame, and as you know I’m not like most other fitness guys—as evidenced by the fact that I basically just told you it’s been a while since I’d gotten laid. (Hey, it happens to the best of us).
So, I was thumbing through my copy of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, and I randomly had a thought about certain parallels.
I made a fun video for you below, where I talk a bit about Macbeth and food labels.
Hope you enjoy it.
NOTE: At 2:10, I got a text message which caused my camera woman to laugh. From a girl. Draw your own conclusions.
For those of you who didn’t feel like sitting through 5 minutes of me bumbling through video, here is this gist of what I said.
Many times in life what is said doesn’t give the complete picture of what is meant. Moreover, there are times when telling the specific and exact truth is actually misleading, if you’re only intending to share part of it.
Well, that’s what often happens on food labels.
But first, a bit of Shakespeare: one of my favorite works of the Bard is Macbeth. With it’s dismal backdrop, homage to witchcraft and of course the intrigue of the story itself, Macbeth stands head and shoulders above the teen angst of Romeo & Juliet.
As I mentioned in the video, Macbeth isn’t lied to when the witches drop their prophetical knowledge bombs but he is misled.
Once the witches say unto him: “none [man] of woman born shall harm Macbeth” they are setting the stage for everything that is to come.
Macbeth interprets this to mean he will never be killed by another man, and that piece of “knowledge” factors into every decision he makes for the remainder of the story. Thinking himself to be untouchable, he is brash to the point of recklessness, slaughtering anyone he doesn’t trust or who may suspect him of the regicide of King Duncan.
Well, the only thing that says, “I killed the King” louder than his corpse in your castle is picking off those who think you may have killed the bloody King.
In fact, I’d argue that by assuming the attitude fantastic inherent to one thinking himself immortal, Macbeth rushes headlong into his own doom, for it is those decisions that lead him to his final confrontation with Macduff, who suspected DJ Mac-B (as he’s known in New York) from the outset.
So basically, if you look at it the right way (which I’m obligating you to do, because otherwise my blog post makes no sense), the witches set Macbeth up.
Oh, snap! Not cool, bro.
Without rehashing overmuch what I’ve already stated in the video, this fun bit of literary dalliance does bear some relevance to nutrition.
So, in short (or not so short), don’t take everything at face value. Make sure the facts add up, so to speak.
Leave some love in the comment section!
Comments for This Entry
Brad CampbellNice post, Roman. Keep it up!
November 29, 2010 at 12:23 am
TaylorKinda on subject* Excuse my grammar.
August 9, 2010 at 1:17 pm
TaylorHey John! Kinda of on subject, I was looking at sugar substitutes in the supermarket, and a few brand were about 9 grams of sugar, but 91 grams of maltodextrin. Now please correct me if i'm wrong, (which I usually am) Isn't maltodextrin almost as fast absorbing/digesting as sugar? which would make the sugar substitute pretty much as bad as sugar right? Thanks for your time and this is an awesome blog!
August 9, 2010 at 1:16 pm
Jorge SanchezIt's really awesome tu have you back John. And more awesome to make your comeback with a cool video and a post that reminds us to use our common sense.
August 5, 2010 at 9:34 pm
DavidWhat a pleasure to watch a blog which escapes the prison of fitness obsession and looks at the view from a different perspective
August 4, 2010 at 4:37 pm
CinabelleVery interesting analogy! Thank you for sharing. It will make me think more about what an "actual serving" is and if it is realistic.
August 4, 2010 at 2:52 pm
KerleyCool blog bru!
August 4, 2010 at 1:40 pm
August 4, 2010 at 12:42 pm
Chris "the Kiwi" AshendenYou are, and I suspect, always will be, my favorite person from New Jersey. You are funny lad mate, I love it. Keep em coming! C
August 4, 2010 at 12:29 pm
AniaYou're such a mixed bag Romaniello! "Self-professed pretty boy" and yet kinda smart too? :P Love your blog, it's unlike anything else I've come across (and I've come across millions by now...) Can you get coconut oil cooking spray? I don't think I've even seen coconut oil for sale here (Australia). Gonna do some research now. xx
July 16, 2010 at 9:41 am
SlagathorGlad to hear you've gotten some lately. Does Canadian chicks put out more than americans or did you just get lucky? As for having no friends I remember the days when you were still below 500 friends on Facebook, so it can't be entirely true that people don't love you. In terms off the blog post this turned out to be quite the cliffhanger. I hope you follow this topic up with some tips and tricks up your sleeve to call the bluff on the labels, cause I do agree with you. Food labels - like you and me - are a bitch. For sure. Good to have you back!
July 13, 2010 at 6:46 am
Dave RuelRoman! Glad you started blogging again! was about time bro ;) You're posts are always awesome... very entertaining and true... Nutrition has never been more complicated than it is now, too much choice and too much BS... I just stick to my ''No Labels" foods and make them tasty... Of course not saying all man made foods are bad, I use some... after all why not take advantage of new technologies, but as I always say: no label foods first, labels second...
July 13, 2010 at 6:46 am
JonSmithFair enough. I can use Keepvid to archive your videos as .flv files. Oh, next time you talk to your friend Joel Marion, you can tell him your hilarious ice-cream adventure not only amused my family, Id di what I never do and purchased his/your program. If you think you can do -that- to ice cream and still get cut, what the hell, gotta be worth something.
July 11, 2010 at 1:53 pm
John Romaniello@Jim - thanks so much, sir! I do appreciate the praise. Being very honest, and laying my ego out there to be flayed...at the end of all of this I'd much rather be remembered for my writing and whatever creativity it allows me to display, than for my abs. I'll do my best to keep it comin! @George - I won't hold it against you. I've seen all the movies thus far. Glad you're liking the blog. @Mike Arone - Thanks for chiming in, as always, sir. Food labels are the devil. @JonSmith - Thanks for the kind words, man. Regarding videos, I actually don't have them available for download, unless YouTube offers that as a service. The less tech stuff I try to figure out, the better off we al are.
July 11, 2010 at 10:04 am
JonSmithRoman, superb video as always. You and Dave Tate continue to make this oft-deranged lifestyle we try to live amusing as well as challenging. I'm curious - do you have all your videos in a repository for mass downloading? Streaming is...eccentric, (har), on wireless connections and I'd like to watch them in a somewhat more cohesive fashion.
July 10, 2010 at 4:34 pm
Mike AroneGreat points John...though I only read the Sparknotes version of Macbeth back in the today I respect the analogy. Food labels ARE entirely misleading...everything from portion size to labeling them "all natural." *Like the new design as well
July 10, 2010 at 4:29 pm
SamHey Roman, it's nice to see you back. And I actually just got the complete works of Shakespeare from my parents. My goal is to read it over the rest of the summer. Be an interesting trip into the old English writing style.
July 9, 2010 at 10:02 pm
George @ Gain Muscle NowRoman, I love these outside of the box fitness posts. I also love it that in another article you admit to reading all of the Twilight books. I need to come clean and admit to watching both New Moon and Eclipse on opening night. I took my girlfriend's 15 yr old daughter and 5 of her fanatic friends. Just felt good to get that off my chest. I still feel a little shame...but slightly better. Entertaining as always, -George D
July 9, 2010 at 4:47 pm
JimJohn, one of the first scenes I ever directed in school was the Witches Scene in Macbeth. You have definitely earned your stripes as being a musclehead with an actual brain, and to a teacher and a writer, that's pretty darn gratifying. I know you're kicking your ass out there doing what your'e doing and all these efforts will pay off. You crack me up to no end but once you past the humor and the self-loathing, you actually make some very valid points. Good job, John.
July 9, 2010 at 10:15 am
John Romaniello@ Jessica - your sarcasm, like your input, is always appreciated. I'll do my best to, uh...keep'em coming? The blog posts, that is. @ Craig - excellent point regarding the cheesecake. And I have a whole slew of potential posts after reading Pollan. I dig his style almost as much as his info, so should be good. @ Per - generally, the non-spray coconut stuff should be solid at room temp, yes. Joel has some good stuff that he uses in place of butter, I'll get him to post the name. @ Chris - well, of course we could just eat "real" food, but then you have to cook it. Which as we've seen, I'm only passably decent at.
July 9, 2010 at 9:25 am
chrisGood to know Stratford Upon Avon's favourite son is still appreciated by some over there. I however have a solution to looking at labels and trying to decipher the lies of food companies. BUY REAL FOOD. Problem solved
July 9, 2010 at 7:52 am
PerIf you read this, it means I know my math... Good thing that you're through your "dry spell". After hopefully winning that wager with Vince about dating one of Flavias sisters (and Joels wedding comming up) I'm sure there'll be many more posts in the future. About coconut oil and coconut fat. The coconut oil that I bought at the health store still bares some resemblance to the cheap coconut fat that is available at the supermarket (which supposedly is real crap). Is the coconut oil supposed to be solid in room temperature too, or have I been tricked?
July 9, 2010 at 2:43 am
Craig WellerI saw that somewhere when a client asked me about a "low fat" cheesecake. A regular cheesecake becomes health food by making each slice tiny and cutting the portion sizes small enough to fall under the requirement for "low fat food." Among other such nonsense labeling, if you read Pollan's 'In Defense of Food' you'll find that the pretty little heart from the American Heart Association can be purchased for around, I think, 30,000 dollars and slapped on things like Lucky Charms in order to market them as "Heart Healthy."
July 8, 2010 at 10:28 pm
Jessica (Aust)No! Roman. Say it isn’t so! People don’t tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth all the time? Companies and advertisers manipulate the law to their own advantage in order to sell us stuff? People hear, interpret and believe what they want rather than accept reality or challenge questionable information? In Macbeth’s case “wow I must be immortal – 3 crazy ladies told me”; the cooking spray scenario “there really IS such a thing as calorie free oil”. Well I’m shocked (and sarcastic, which as we know, is awesome). Really nice apartment by the way (not sarcastic) – may you be very happy there and have many, um, creatively inspiring experiences.
July 8, 2010 at 9:57 pm
Brandon@John Romaniello Aw, you're making me blush. Glad to see 4 years of literary analysis for an English Degree is being put to some use. And you capitalized them because they're That Damned Important.
July 8, 2010 at 9:17 pm
John Romaniello@ Bjorn - thanks, brother. I do appreciate being appreciated. @ Brandon - regarding your post about the second prophecy: may I just say what an absolute pleasure it is to have you on my blog =) @ Andre - Brandon is correct; Extra Virgin Olive Oil for low heat, Virgin Coconut Oil for high heat. In related news, I have no clue why I capitalized those words.
July 8, 2010 at 8:36 pm
Brandon@Andre, the best oils for cooking are Olive Oil for low heat cooking, and coconut oil for high heat cooking. Olive is good for you, but fairly delicate and tends to degrade in medium or high heat. Virgin, organic coconut is the best for high heat cooking.
July 8, 2010 at 7:49 pm
MeshelThe workings of your brain astound me sometimes. How you can make the leap from MacBeth to food labels... Think I need to review the food log and (probably) make some changes. Thanks, more work ;)
July 8, 2010 at 6:38 pm
BrandonLet's not also forget the second prophecy. The second prophecy stated that Macbeth will be kind until Birnham Wood marches upon the castle. Macbeth hears that and believes he'll have a long old reign, until the soldiers storming the castle cut the branches off of trees in the woods and use them as camouflage, making the woods march upon the castle. I always believed that the witches had it in for Macbeth, until I found out that they might not have been in the original play. Either way, good analysis, I've been doing a lot of that myself lately.
July 8, 2010 at 5:49 pm
Andrehey John, great blog post. I always thought the same thing. Why does Pam spray have no calories or fat if there is canola oil in it. I also heard from Joel Marion that canola oil is actually bad for you. What other kinds of oil would you recommend when cooking?
July 8, 2010 at 5:40 pm
Björn RösingerHey man nice post i liked it even if i still dont get how you get from Mc Beth to cooking spray lol (j/k i know what you tried to say) And Joel and you dog are not the only ppl who like you :P I will always love you hahaha later bro
July 8, 2010 at 5:31 pm
John Romaniello@ Paul - Some people love me. Like my mom, Joel, and my dog. Joel is questionable, and my dog isn't really 'people' but it still counts. Anyway, the text was a bit more innocuous than that, hence my lack of epic blogging. Glad you liked the post. @ Cheryl - It's pretty amazing what they try to get away with. I'm probably going to do a post about "net" carbs pretty soon, which will be along the same lines. Stay tuned =)
July 8, 2010 at 4:53 pm
CherylLove it - I'm a big fan of reading the serving sizes. Funny how little you can have compared to what you want to stay within the calories/fat/etc. that you want... :/ Glad you are up late thinking about all this.
July 8, 2010 at 4:42 pm
Paul Gabriel MihalescuNobody loves you thats why you have no comments! but cool blog bro, dident know that. Would have been awesome if the txt would have been something like "Down for a threesome with the chick you are?" then you get more inspiration and write the epic blog the next day.
July 8, 2010 at 4:37 pm