Americans have no shortage of things to be prejudiced against: races, religions, men who cut the sleeves off their shirts. Quietly, a new type of discrimination has swept the nation. Not only are the slurs and harassment painful, but they're dividing us—we're rapidly choosing sides, making meaningful debate nearly impossible.
What is this heinous discrimination polarizing our country? It's the low-carb diet rage. The air is rife with anti-carb sentiment, burgers sans buns are standard fare and kids no longer sing "On Top of Spaghetti." This kind of food bigotry has got to stop!
Atkins dieters have shunned all the comfort foods they ever loved—lasagna, bagels, warm rolls, cereal, mashed potatoes—and in turn, are changing the face of many industries, from mom 'n' pop shops all the way to giant corporations.
Our friends on the front line, small businesses, feel the impact of fad diets first. While most food retailers are able to adjust their stocks to accommodate more beef jerky and fewer Combos, restaurants that specialize in carbohydrates find it more difficult to adapt. In Albuquerque, bagel shops, bakeries and Italian restaurants have watched business plummet since the Atkins diet imposed its reign.
Bagel Jo's, the only independently owned bagel shop in town, has taken a beating. What was once a bustling, cheerful shop (on San Mateo just north of Candelaria) is now much quieter, a victim of carbohydrate discrimination. Says owner Patti Templeton of the diet, "It's killing us." What self-respecting bagel-maker could reduce herself to low-carb bagels? Templeton has had to scale back the shop's hours and lay off two employees.
On a larger scale, corporations have also taken notice. Krusteaz, makers of boxed muffin and pancake mixes, has come out with a new line of low-carb baked good called CarbSimple. They claim that 50 percent of low-carb dieters crave baked good more than anything else. We seriously doubt it's low-carb, soy protein muffins they're craving.
The traditional weight loss industry is having a tough time of it as well. Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and Slimfast all point the finger accusingly at Atkins. Nutritionists must find it unbearably frustrating. Imagine trying to promote a balanced diet when people can shove burgers into their faces and still lose weight.
The basic premise behind Atkins, cut carbs so you burn fat instead, has its merits. Eating nothing but cheeseburgers and low-carb muffins does not. More and more people simply invent their own diets. One take is to have real carbs for breakfast and lunch to keep you going through the day but staying low-carb at dinner.
Then again, maybe the way to stop food prejudice in this country is to overthrow and disband the armies of low-carb dieters. They will no doubt be relieved to taste freedom again. Skinny people and those with high metabolisms should unite to fight the good fight. Stick up for the noodles and potatoes of the world. Visit your favorite local Italian spot and assure the ravioli you still love them.