How many kinds of wrong is this?

Mythical Doritos taco shells surface in Fresno –

According to yesterday’s LA Times, Taco Bell started selling Doritos Locos Tacos, a taco made with shell of nacho-cheese-flavored Dorito shell.  Mythic? Legendary? A beautiful thing?

Sounds like a nightmare to me. Time to pull my zucchini-stuffed head out of the sand for a bit here and step up to protest.

Start with health wrong-ness. A Livestrong analysis weighs a 4.5 oz (127.6 grams) Taco Bell taco shell in at

  • 150 calories
  • 6g from fat (of which 3g are saturated)
  • 21g from carbs (of which 2g is dietary fiber)
  • 2g from protein
  • 5mg sodium.

Got it? Not too bad, really. Ok.

Now compare to a 4.5 oz serving of Nacho Cheese Doritos. Livestrong’s nutritional analysis lists serving size as 1 bag weighing 49.6 grams. Assuming the new Taco Bell Nacho Cheese Doritos shell is the same serving size as the original and the same recipe as the chips, it takes 2.6 servings to make a 4.5 oz taco shell. Multiply the nutrition facts for 1 serving by 2.6 and you get a taco shell that contains

  • 650 calories
  • 33.8 grams of fat (of which 7.8 are saturated)
  • 78g carbs (of which 5.2 is dietary fiber and 5.2 is sugars)
  • 10.4g protein
  • 806mg sodium

Given my assumptions and calculations are correct, the new shell provides 500 calories more than their standard taco. This lady has eaten one every day for a week; she’ll be surprised next time she steps on a scale. That extra 500 calories per day equals about a pound of weight gain per week.

And that’s not all. Residents of Fresno and Bakersfield already undergo significantly higher rates of elective heart procedures than other state residents. And coincidentally, they also suffer from enough air and water pollution for the two cities to be named in top 3 “most toxic cities” in the country list.

What about social justice?

Still wrong. The two cities are smack dab in the middle of California’s San Joaquin Valley, a fertile swath of land in the middle of the state where a tremendous quantity of the food in this country is produced, from almonds and pomegranates to kiwi and citrus to alfalfa and hay; food for the animals we consume. But despite the cornucopia of agricultural riches coming from the region, the region has the highest rate of food insecurity in the state. Food insecurity exists either when food is actually scarce, as in a famine, or when people don’t have the time to prepare, or they just can’t afford,  a consistent source of nutritious food. In July of 2011 the area poverty rate was 32.6%.

A standard taco sells for $.89 and the new Doritos Loco Taco sells for $1.19. That’s only 40 cents for an extra 500 calories. Cheap food, to be sure; the equivalent calories in, say a Luna Bar would cost $2.40.

You know the drill from here. Poverty is linked to obesity and diabetes. Obesity and diabetes adversely effect one’s health, and bad health leads to bad quality of life. If you’re lucky enough to have a job you may lose it from all the time you have to take off with doctor’s visits and sick days. Get to the bottom line – multiply by 32.6% of the population living in poverty and you have a financial health-care disaster and a very unproductive potential workforce. Food security = food justice = social justice.

Taco Bell isn’t the only culprit, of course. Last year the Daily Beast listed 41 deadliest fast-food meals at the time, from Wendy’s 1330-calorie Baconator Triple to a 6-piece McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets weighing in at just 280 calories. The problem isn’t in eating a couple of Dorito tacos or the equivalent once in a while. We’ve all done it. Maybe you were was in the Las Vegas airport, flying Southwest, you haven’t eaten in six hours, and there’s no line at Burger King. Or you were in the throes of an awful cold, partner is out of town, kids just finished soccer and still have homework, and a drive through McDonalds is just the thing to keep the peace. Could have been the beer or ten too many and you were hoping the Taco Bell down the street would take some of the pain of the next morning away. The problem is when you’ve got to feed your family of 4 on $5.oo. Night after night. 99-cent burgers or $1.19 Doritos Locos Tacos go a loooong way.

“Let them eat cake” takes on a whole new meaning in this context, hmm?

Mythic? I just say ick.