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Food Fight!

Group wages war against unhealthy eats; restaurant owners cry foul

Do you have a brief pang of guilt when you ask for that big bucket of popcorn at the movies, knowing it's made with fattening coconut oil? If so, you have the Center for Science in the Public Interest to thank.

The 30-year-old organization has been an important force in educating people about healthy eating, according to an article in The Record of Bergen County, N.J. The CSPI was started in 1971 by some Ralph Nader groupies. But it didn't make much of a fuss about anything until the 1990s, when the group took on ethnic restaurants and their offerings that featured lots of fat.

The group went after familiar fare like fettuccine Alfredo and cheeseburgers with a side of onion rings. It pointed out that a plate of chiles rellenos at a Mexican restaurant had as much saturated fat as 27 slices of bacon. The group also took on movie theater popcorn in 1994, pointing out it was very high in the kind of fat that can cause health problems. The sale of movie theater popcorn took a dive. In some theaters, it was off by as much as 50 percent. Sales rebounded within a year, however.

The CSPI continues to wage the battle for healthy food, in part through its newsletter, Nutrition Action Newsletter. The newsletter includes features on "the right stuff," or health food like hummus, spinach and bran.

To find out more about the CSPI, you can read this information from the group's Web site.

What's not to like about CSPI? There are some who say the group's attacks on certain foods are unfair. To find out more about that, you can check out this CSPINOT Web site, funded by angry restaurant owners.

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