Thursday, September 15, 2011

Spitting tacks

So, young Atilla has reached the age where he needs to start chewing on nails. Or something. Apparently, between 7 and 12 months, he's supposed to be knocking back 11mg of iron a day.

Doesn't sound too hard, right? But then They, by whom I mean "those busybodies who are never shy to tell us that we're doing everydamnthing wrong", give us this deeply confusing leaflet about how much iron is in different foods, and how much gets absorbed by the body. And doing the sums, to get 11mg into his system, he has to eat around 440g of lamb's liver a day.

That's pretty much a whole liver. Assuming one of the larger sheep breeds.

There are only 40 million sheep in New Zealand. Some back-of-the-envelope calculations tell me that there are probably 30,000-40,000 children in that age range. Which means they should be chomping through the entire sheep population approximately every four months.

Now I know why adults so seldom eat offal here - the kids are troughing it all.

Unfortunately, baby Tilly doesn't like liver. But of course that's not the only option. He could get the same results from eating a kilo of lean steak, or about 2kg of pork. For vegetarians, the best option seems to be baked beans - you can get by on around ten litres a day, or slightly less if you can also find room for several bowls of cornflakes and a flagon or two of red lentils.

It comes as no surprise to learn that this leaflet is published by Beef & Lamb New Zealand Inc, easily the most powerful lobby group in the country.

However, the "11mg" figure is supported by the US National Institute for Health. (The UK authorities recommend a relatively modest 7.8mg.) But still, I seriously doubt if any child in the history of the world has ever followed these dietary guidelines. Which kind of makes me want to see the research, if any, behind them.


Michelle said...

Perfect post-lunch digestif for me. Very clever piece, vet. My son ate mostly peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for 2 years (quite the stubborn boy) and still grew up to be a strapping 6'2" of American Beefcake. I don't know how that happens but apparently it can.

mumsie said...

Haven't those sheepfarmers learnt about Popeye and his spinach?
Chucks to them, a little of what you fancy does you good. I believe in a good balanced diet using freshly cooked food as far as possible. You and your brothers were not fed on liver, or on special 'supplements' and on the whole you have grown up a healthy bunch - so there. Use you instinct!

vet said...

Michelle, thank you. That's exactly the reassurance I was looking for. Though I can't quite bring myself to mix peanut butter with jelly (or jam, even).

Peanut butter with cheese, now; there's a winning combination.

Mumsie, as far as I can tell from the tiny sliver on the chart, he'd need to eat about 40kg of boiled spinach, on a daily basis, to get his daily iron requirements, and I for one don't much fancy trying to feed it to him. But your point is well taken.