Monday, November 17, 2008

Annual Airport 'Healthy' Food Rankings: Consider the Source

Each year, local newspaper and television-news editors faithfully assign hapless reporters to cover the annual ranking of airports whose restaurants have the most "healthful" food. The rankings come from a group called the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Predictably, some news outlets -- knowing a cheap local angle when they see one -- run credulous stories saying "Bumbutt Tri-State Regional Airport Scores High on Physicians' Healthy Food List." Or something to that effect.

Seldom do reporters go beyond regurgitating the press release and ask, just what it this Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine that we give so much credence to?

Well, as I have reported in the past, it's a group, mostly made up of animal-rights activists, including some physicians, that campaigns against meat, milk, animal medical experimentation and other perceived threats to health. That inconvenient information never appears in the press material.

First, credit where it's due, because of course we want to encourage healthy eating, and the last time I was in an airport, the amusingly named George Bush Houston Intercontinental Airport, to be specific, I noticed enough butts the size of baggage carts to wonder if some people have ever heard of a nice salad.

The Physicians Committee press release, due out later today, cites airports where restaurants offer good vegetarian options. Ranked at the top were Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit Metropolitan and Chicago O'Hare. At the tail end of a list of 12 were Reagan National, Hartsfield Atlanta and Las Vegas McCarran, with the hilariously named Newark Liberty close, um, behind.

And here is some critical background information on the group. Remember, now, that other pseudo grassroots groups that oppose the Physicians Committee may be funded by the meat or dairy industry! Everybody's got a PR angle.

I have no real beef (so to speak) with the Physicians Committee, except that they really should disclose where they are coming from. And reporters should look it up.


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