Thursday, January 20, 2011

Food stats

"There are three types of lies : lies, damned lies, and statistics."-Benjamin Disraeli

I was listening to a NPR on my drive to local supermarket when I heard the announcement that they are going to start requiring restaurants to put calorie counts on their menus. My immediate thought was that this was a useless gesture that won't lead anyone to making better food choices. First of all if you really believed that the calorie was a good statistic(I do not-which I will explain) why would you do anything other than purchase the most calories for the lowest price. Well some will be thinking because more calories make you fat(the old calorie in = calorie out logic). This as Paleo eater's have discovered is fallacious logic.

But it started me thinking about what good statistics for food would be. Over the years I have followed the saber-metric movement in baseball, the use of databases in poker, the analysis of weather and its impact on wine prices, and the introduction of usage stats in basketball. Each of these examples can provide a road map of what is wrong with current food statistics. As I drove back from the supermarket my mind started to think about what more advanced food stats/models would look like. So as my daughter is now in day care(insert shameless cute baby photo)

I have some time to write again so I've decided to start posting again. Here is my initial sketch which should improve over time with increased data, analysis, and hopefully some criticism about how hopeless wrong my initial brain storm is. But just so I can look back on myself in a year and laugh here's my sketch.

Food Edge= (calories/(Glycymic load+ other processing costs/time)) + beneficials gained+nutrients(pts/100 g)+minerals(pts/100 g)-long term consequences per use

Cooking Score = Energy expended/cost -reduced processing times -reduced bacterial risk + beneficials killed

Combo/prep score = increased processing efficiency-destruction of nutrients

Paleo Score = Paleo Unit

altered usage based on popluation ancestry-Adaptability ratings

N. Europe
S. Europe
N. Africa
S. Africa
N. America
S. America
C. Asia
N. Asia
S. Asia

Beneficial(bacteria) score = reduced processing time +increased efficiency-beneficial cost

Best foods are those with the highest Food Edge/$

Best eaters are those who pick the foods with the highest edge that they are adapted too, are good preparers and carry a high beneficial score

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