Top Ten uses of “Top Ten”

Book Review: More than a couple of thousand years ago Rome organized its vast armies into manageable units of 100 highly trained soldiers. Officers leading each of these units into battle were known as centurions, based on the Latin, centuria, for one hundred. Fast forward to today and the book, The 100TM, is on the New York Times Bestseller List. But empire aficionados beware; this manuscript is not about the notorious legions of Rome such as Claudia or Macedonia. Nay, it is about food. Jorge Cruise has written another foodie guide and trademarked the name, The 100TM. There will not likely be any hallmark dispute since the Latin Empire ceased trading aeons ago, and even if Rome had unloaded that trademark along with other intellectual property assets to some suitor it would likely not apply today in the then-undiscovered territories of America. Incredulously, even if it were valid in the United States, Rome’s emblematic military motif would undoubtedly have no legitimate claim to the commerce of cuisine. Nonetheless I find it somewhat perplexing that a Latin number can be trademarked for commerce in 2014.

Rome notwithstanding, Jorge was clever to use a number in his book title, and I do understand how he can claim the Signum ab negotium. Numbers in titles sell. Captivating titles attract our finite attention and sell us. We buy stuff with catchy titles; we click links with catchy titles. Combine numbers with alliteration and you’ve got a sale. How many times have we all clicked links like Top Ten Babe Bikini Bods or Eight Enablers of Enormous Erections? That’s the power of numerals and alliteration for you.

The titular quantity in Cruise’s book defines the amount of calories from sugar he believes you shouldn’t exceed daily. He argues that conventional wisdom assigning an overall caloric intake, such as 2,000 or so daily calories is flawed, where:

Total Calories = (fat * 9) + (protein * 4) + (carbs * 4)

If you use the formula above with the grams of each element in your food you arrive at the total calories, the main metric, Cruise argues, used incorrectly for time in perpetuity by most other diet approaches. Cruise believes that our bodies accumulate weight principally because they react badly to ingesting too much sugar, in large part from over-peddled processed foods. Therefore he says, basically, ignore fat and protein and manage your carb intake, since carbs are, for the most part, sugar and should be treated as such. OK, so say we are in agreement with his thesis; here is the tough part—no more than 100 calories from carbs per day. That’s a pretty tight budget. A single piece of fruit will blow that one as will a juice, a soda, a slice of bread and so on. His foodie critics state that you will indeed lose weight with his draconian approach, but you might as well be a castaway as it is unsustainable for the average human body in continuing need of sustenance.

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Candidate for a Cruise Sanctioned Dinner; Produce on the Left, Protein on the Right, No Sugar in Sight.

Cruise is a faddist exploiting trends for the new nutritional vogue. His career is food fashion and his goal is recurring refreshment revenue. But I don’t really have a problem with faddism and I can’t blame Cruise. We demand fads daily; we establish what is whim worthy; and we create the trend. We constitute crowdmunching. We are that crowd. Extreme ideas create simple messages that communicate well. His ideas are extreme, although somewhat science-based, and he has gotten a book into the best selling list in New York by telling us not to eat American food. I commend him, but I take his precise guidance with a pinch of low sodium. Had he written a more moderate fiber embracing, fruit friendly, go-easy-on-the-flour volume no one would have bought it. He could have called it Jorge’s Balanced Diet for Good Overall Health and distributed it from the 90% off bin at Barnes and Noble. So I get the message; go easy on the carbs. The book is illuminating and worth a read if only for the initial chapters on the history of our diets and associated contemporary human ailments.