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The New Food Snobs

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It’s pretty clear we’re never going to solve the obesity crisis in this country with the typically puritan appeals to diet and exercise we hear. The only way we’re going to convince today’s Americans to lose weight is to reach that latent snob in all of us. We’ve got to do it the way the cigar, wine and restaurant industries did it—with magazines that paint a picture of refined elegance for human endeavors that, at their root, amount to no more than ordinary smoking, drinking and popping out to dinner to strap on the feedbag.

For the “non-epicurious,” the magazine of choice would be Mal Appetit, which celebrates the pleasures of eating right rather than well. Features such as “So It’s Soy Again?” “Let There Be Lent!” and “Tastebuds Are So ’80s” would accompany monthly departments focusing on common areas of concern. “Living Lightheaded” would offer tips on reducing food intake while maintaining consciousness; in “Liver and Beets,” you’d see recipes designed to reduce food interest. Finally, in “A Month on a Life Raft,” you’d learn of themed travel excursions featuring various aspects of total food deprivation.

I envision Broccoli Aficionado as a high-gloss, upscale monthly that focuses on what this oft-maligned sprouting vegetable can do for your self-image and self-esteem. Standard travel features like “The Salad Bars of Bangkok” would take readers to some of the world’s most exotic locales, where sultry nights are filled with the guilty pleasures and sensual delights of pak choi and Chinese mustard. In “Corvettes and Kohlrabi,” you’d explore what people in the fast lane consider fast food. And each month would feature an in-depth profile of a Hollywood star. In one issue, Brad Pitt reveals how “something green stuck in my teeth helped land my role in Interview with the Vampire.”

In Juice Spectator, the pulp-vs.-non-pulp O.J. debate will rage on, as the magazine’s profile of James Gandolfini reveals why Tony Soprano “liked some pulp, but not too much.” In “The Secret Life of Cranberries,” author Sue Monk Kidd recalls her childhood and motherless Thanksgiving dinners, before which she had to roll her hair using “Welch’s grape juice cans” because her father wouldn’t buy her bristle rollers.

Cable television could even tap into this expanding market with new programming. The Food Network might debut Jean Valjean’s Kitchen, highlighting the variety of dishes that can be prepared with little more than gruel and perhaps a stolen loaf of bread. And TBS’ Dinner and a Soap Opera would spotlight a variety of tasty soft cereals and soups for seniors looking for more fiber in their diets.

Check your cable listings and supermarket checkout counters now.

Reid Champagne’s bayou cookbook, If You Don’t Know What It Is, Fry It!, is due out this spring.

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