Yes, it’s crazy. Eric Rimm — professor of epidemiology and nutrition and director of the program in cardiovascular epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School — said in a New York Times article that “it would be nice if your meal came with a side salad and six French fries.”

Crazy that the Internet is losing its sh[that word Michelle Obama said the other day that the Internet also lost it over]t over a professor whose career has been based around moderation, eating whole grains, and sound food policy saying what we all know to be true.


Fries aren’t good for us. Sorry if that truth ruins your fun. Eat them sometimes if you like, with one glass of wine. But you should probably mostly eat lots of vegetables and whole grains and lean protein, like you know you should. Those six fries? That was Rimm being generous. That was Rimm being indulgent. That was Rimm knowing, as he also said, that when it comes to fries and America, “in this country you’ll pry them from my cold dead hand.”

“Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi responded to the six-fry suggestion on Twitter: “I don’t have time for this kind of negativity in my life right now.”

Also Padma Lakshmi, in an interview with “Access” earlier this year, talking about her diet when she’s not filming: “I don’t drink alcohol. I don’t eat fried foods. I don’t eat red meat. I don’t eat any dairy, except like low-fat cottage cheese and non-fat yogurt. I don’t eat sweets.”

So what does she eat? “A lot of vegetables and fruit. I eat fish and chicken and shellfish. I also eat a lot of lentils and beans. When I’m not on the show I’m pretty plant-based.”


Rimm would approve.

At any rate, Lakshmi’s joke about fries made me chuckle. Because it was a joke. She’s a great writer, smart businessperson, and strong role model and advocate for women, and if we’re going to talk about her, we probably have better material than what she eats to maintain her physique.

See, Internet? See what you’ve made me do? See what you make us all do, every day? Expend words, energy, thought, on the trivial when we ought to be talking about, oh, I don’t know, maybe the world’s looming end on at least seven or eight fronts at any given time. (Lakshmi does remind us, in that “Access” interview, that eating meat is bad for the environment.)

You, Internet, are where common sense goes to wither in the shadow of whatever hill we all choose to die on at this particular moment. (A hill made out of fries, apparently.) You underscore just how much we still need adults in the room, to tell us boring, eternal, unsexy things like: If we are going to consume what’s bad for us, we should do it in moderation. You know, the way we do when we mindlessly pick up our phones and start scrolling.

So let’s stop freaking out over Rimm’s six-fry prescription. Moderation is hard. We don’t like to be reminded it’s also good. Ouchy truth! Praise Rimm, who only wants us to live our best lives, which generally means avoiding cardiovascular disease. Praise Obama, who works blue when she’s being her true self, for being that true self on the public stage, and using that public stage to encourage us to live our best lives, and also teach our kids to love vegetables and advocate for sound food policy. Praise the great forces of the universe that there are still adults in the room, and outlets that give them a voice, and sensible people who listen to them, and spheres of our lives not devoted to the latest moment of outrage before we move on.


Now let’s all go spend the rest of our day not freaking out about dumb stuff. There’s plenty of important stuff to freak out about.

Anyway, everyone knows onion rings are better than fries.

Devra First can be reached at devra.first@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @devrafirst.