The Most Expensive Weapon Ever Built
Monday, Feb. 25, 2013

The Pentagon’s $400 billion F-35 is running into turbulence just as deeper budget cuts loom.

Marine Major Aric "Walleye" Liberman was uncharacteristically modest for a Navy SEAL turned fighter pilot. He had just landed an F-35--one of the 2,457 jets the Pentagon plans to buy for $400 billion, making it the costliest weapons program in human history--at its initial operational base late last year. Amid celebratory hoopla, he declined photographers' requests to give a thumbs-up for the cameras that sunny day in Yuma, Ariz. "No, no, no," he demurred with a smile.

Liberman's reticence was understandable. For while the Marines hailed his arrival as a sign that their initial F-35 squadron is now operational, there's one sticking point. "It's an operational squadron," a Marine spokesman said. "The aircraft is not operational."

The F-35, designed as the U.S. military's lethal hunter for 21st century skies, has become the hunted, a poster child for Pentagon profligacy in a new era of tightening budgets. Instead of the stars and stripes of the U.S. Air Force emblazoned on its fuselage, it might as well have a bull's-eye. Its pilots' helmets are plagued with problems, it hasn't yet dropped or fired weapons, and the software it requires to go to war remains on the drawing board.

That's why when Liberman landed his F-35 before an appreciative crowd, including home-state Senator John McCain, he didn't demonstrate its most amazing capability: landing like a helicopter using its precision-cast titanium thrust-vectoring nozzle. That trick remains reserved for test pilots, not operational plane drivers like him.

The price tag, meanwhile, has nearly doubled since 2001, to $396 billion. Production delays have forced the Air Force and Navy to spend at least $5 billion to extend the lives of existing planes. The Marine Corps--the cheapest service, save for its love of costly jump jets (which take off and land almost vertically) for its pet aircraft carriers--have spent $180 million on 74 used British AV-8 jets for spare parts to keep their Reagan-era Harriers flying until their version of the F-35 truly comes online. Allied governments are increasingly weighing alternatives to the F-35.

But the accounting is about to get even worse as concern over spending on the F-35 threatens other defense programs. On March 1, if lawmakers cannot reach a new budget deal, the Pentagon faces more than $500 billion in spending cuts in the form of sequestration, which translates into a 10% cut in projected budgets over the coming decade. Two years ago, the White House predicted that those cuts would be so onerous to defense-hawk Republicans that they would never happen. But the GOP is now split, with a growing number of members who are more concerned about the deficit than defense.

"We are spending maybe 45% of the world's budget on defense. If we drop to 42% or 43%, would we be suddenly in danger of some kind of invasion?" asked Representative Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican and part of a new breed of deficit hawks who talk of spending as a bigger threat than war. "We're bankrupting our country, and it's going to put us in danger."

House Republican leaders have started to speak of the military cuts as inevitable. President Obama has warned that without a new plan from Congress, there will be "tough decisions in the weeks ahead," like the recent announcement that an aircraft-carrier deployment to the Persian Gulf will be delayed to save money.

The sad irony is that cutting the F-35 at this point won't save much money in the near term, because the Pentagon recently pushed nearly $5 billion in F-35 contracts out the door. Yet sequester-mandated cuts will push both the purchase of additional planes and their required testing into the future with an inevitable result: the cost of each plane will rise even higher. Unfortunately, that won't be anything new for the F-35 Lightning II.

< How Did We Get Here? >
The single-engine, single-seat f-35 is a real-life example of the adage that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. Think of it as a flying Swiss Army knife, able to engage in dogfights, drop bombs and spy. Tweaking the plane's hardware makes the F-35A stealthy enough for the Air Force, the F-35B's vertical-landing capability lets it operate from the Marines' amphibious ships, and the Navy F-35C's design is beefy enough to endure punishing carrier operations.

"We've put all our eggs in the F-35 basket," said Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn. Given that, one might think the military would have approached the aircraft's development conservatively. In fact, the Pentagon did just the opposite. It opted to build three versions of a single plane averaging $160 million each (challenge No. 1), agreed that the planes should be able to perform multiple missions (challenge No. 2), then started rolling them off the assembly line while the blueprints were still in flux--more than a decade before critical developmental testing was finished (challenge No. 3). The military has already spent $373 million to fix planes already bought; the ultimate repair bill for imperfect planes has been estimated at close to $8 billion.

Back in 2002, Edward Aldridge, then the Pentagon's top weapons buyer, said the F-35 was "setting new standards for technological advances" and "rewriting the books on acquisition and business practices." His successor voiced a different opinion last year. "This will make a headline if I say it, but I'm going to say it anyway," Frank Kendall said. "Putting the F-35 into production years before the first test flight was acquisition malpractice. It should not have been done."

The Pentagon and its allies say the need for the F-35 was so dire that the plane had to be built as it was being designed. (More than a decade into its development, blueprints are changing about 10 times a day, seven days a week.) "The technological edge of the American tactical air fleet is only about five years, and both Russia and China are fielding fifth-generation fighters of their own," argues Tom Donnelly, a defense expert at the American Enterprise Institute. "Preserving the cumulative quantity-quality advantage requires that the United States field a full fleet of fifth-generation fighters now."

Others suggest that no nation is close to fielding weapons in sufficient quality and quantity to challenge U.S. air dominance anytime soon and that the rush to develop the F-35 was more internal than external. "There's always this sexual drive for a new airplane on the part of each service," says Tom Christie, the Pentagon's chief weapons tester from 2001 to 2005. "Persistent, urgent and natural."

The resulting bastard child was a compromise, not optimum for any one service but good enough for all three. Neither the Air Force nor the Navy liked its stubby design. The F-35C's squat fuselage puts its tailhook close to its landing gear (7 ft., compared with 18 on the F-18 it is replacing), making it tough to grab the arresting cable on an aircraft carrier. Its short range means aircraft carriers ferrying it into battle will have to sail close to enemy shores if the F-35C is to play a role. It can fly without lumbering aerial tankers only by adding external fuel tanks, which erases the stealthiness that is its prime war-fighting asset.

Cramming the three services into the program reduced management flexibility and put the taxpayer in a fiscal headlock. Each service had the leverage generated by threatening to back out of the program, which forced cost into the backseat, behind performance. "The Air Force potentially could have adopted the Navy variant, getting significantly more range and structural durability," says John Young Jr., a top Navy and Pentagon civilian official from 2001 to 2009. "But the Air Force leadership refused to consider such options."

Yet if the Navy, and Young, were upset with the Air Force, the Air Force was upset with the Marines. "This is a jobs program for Marine aviation," says retired general Merrill McPeak, Air Force chief of staff from 1990 to 1994. "The idea that we could produce a committee design that is good for everybody is fundamentally wrong." He scoffs at the Marine demand for a plane that can land vertically, saying, "The idea of landing on a beach and supporting your troops close up from some improvised airfield, à la Guadalcanal, is not going to happen."

Focused on waging two post-9/11 wars, the Pentagon let the F-35 program drift as costs ballooned and schedules slipped for a decade. The Marines' F-35 was supposed to be capable of waging war in April 2010, the Air Force's in June 2011 and the Navy's in April 2012. In a break with Pentagon custom, there now is no such "initial operating capability" date for any of them; each is likely to be delayed several years.

Regardless of the plane's merit, the lawmakers pushing for it are hardly disinterested observers. The then 48 members of the Joint Strike Fighter Caucus, many of whom sit on key Pentagon-overseeing panels, pocketed twice as much as nonmembers in campaign contributions from the F-35's top contractors in the 2012 election cycle. Those lawmakers' constituents, in turn, hold many of the F-35 program's 133,000 jobs spread across 45 states. (F-35 builder Lockheed Martin says jobs will double once the plane enters full production.)

Complicating matters further, the Pentagon and Lockheed have been at war with each other for years. Air Force Lieut. General Christopher Bogdan, a senior Pentagon F-35 manager, declared last summer that the relationship was "the worst I've ever seen--and I've been in some bad ones." But the two sides insist the worst is now behind them. Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson said last month that the aircraft has topped 5,000 flight hours, stepped up its flight-test schedule and is steadily pushing into new corners of its flight envelope. "Our maturing production line, operational-base stand-up and expanded pilot training are all strong indicators of the F-35 program's positive trajectory," she said. Deliveries of fresh F-35s more than doubled in 2012, to 30 planes.

Pilots love the F-35. There are few gauges, buttons or knobs in the cockpit. "What you have in front of you is a big touchscreen display--it's an interface for the iPad generation," says Marine Colonel Arthur Tomassetti, an F-35 test pilot. "You have an airplane that with very small movements of your left and right hand does what you want it to do. And if you don't want it to do anything, it stays where you left it." That makes it easy to fly. "I'm watching the emerald-colored sea up against the white sand," Tomassetti says of his flights from Florida's Eglin Air Force Base along the shore of the Gulf of Mexico. "I remember lots of flights in other airplanes where I never had time to do anything like that."

But military technology has been moving away from manned fighters for years. Drones, standoff weapons and GPS-guided bombs have cut the utility of, and need for, such short-leg piloted planes. Their limits become even more pronounced amid the Pentagon's pivot to the Pacific, where the tyranny of distance makes the F-35's short combat radius (469 miles for the Marines, 584 for the Air Force, 615 for the Navy) a bigger challenge.

Computers are key to flying the plane. But instead of taking advantage of simplicity, the F-35 is heading in the other direction: its complexity can be gleaned from its 24 million lines of computer code, including 9.5 million on board the plane. That's more than six times as much as the Navy F-18 has. The F-35 computer code, government auditors say, is "as complicated as anything on earth."

Computers also were supposed to replace most prototyping and allow all three kinds of F-35s to roll off the Texas assembly line at the same time, just as Avalons, Camrys and Venzas are rolling out of Toyota's huge Kentucky plant. "Advances in the technology, in our design tools and in our manufacturing processes have significantly changed the manner in which aircraft are designed and built today," Paul Kaminski, the Pentagon's top weapons buyer, said in 1997.

But Lockheed is no Toyota. Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine, the bible of the aerospace industry and a traditional supporter, published an editorial last fall that declared the program "already a failure" on cost and schedule and said "the jury is still out" on its capabilities. It suggested pitting the F-35 against existing fighters--Air Force F-15s and F-16s and Navy F-18s--for future U.S. fighter purchases.

J. Michael Gilmore, Christie's successor as the Pentagon's top weapons tester, reported in January that all three versions will be slower and less maneuverable than projected. Weight-saving efforts have made the plane 25% more vulnerable to fire. Only one of three F-35s flown by the U.S. military, he added, was ready to fly between March and October.

Such problems inevitably lead to delays, which relentlessly drive up the price. "Lockheed Martin and the F-35 program have not shown any kind of sensitivity to costs," says Richard Aboulafia, who tracks military aviation for the Teal Group, which analyzes the defense business. "That makes for a vulnerable program."

And dark clouds are gathering. Pentagon and Lockheed officials know they need to sell hundreds of F-35s to a dozen nations to reduce the cost of each U.S. plane. But Canada announced in December that it is considering alternatives to its planned buy of 65 F-35s after an independent analysis pegged their lifetime cost at nearly $46 billion, roughly double an earlier estimate (the estimated U.S. lifetime cost: $1.5 trillion). Australia recently suggested it wants 24 more St. Louis--built Boeing F-18s, almost guaranteeing a reduction in its planned purchase of up to 100 F-35s.

< The Right Kind of Plane? >
While debate swirls around how to build the F-35 right, there's a more important question: Is it the right kind of plane for the U.S. military in the 21st century? The F-35 is a so-called fifth-generation fighter, which means it is built from the ground up to elude enemy radar that could be used to track and destroy it. Stealth was all the rage in military circles when the Pentagon conceived the F-35. But that was well before the drone explosion, which makes the idea of flying a human through flak and missiles seem quaint. "The Air Force," Aboulafia says, "eagerly drank gallons of the fifth-generation purple liquid."

Improved sensors and computing are eroding stealth's value every day, says Admiral Jonathan Greenert, the chief of naval operations. Eventually, he warns, they will give potential foes "actionable target information" on stealth platforms.

The Air Force feared "additional fourth-generation fighter acquisition as a direct threat to fifth-generation fighter programs," Air Force Lieut. Colonel Christopher Niemi, a veteran F-22 pilot, wrote in the November-December 2012 issue of the service's Air & Space Power Journal. Its refusal to reconsider buying new fourth-generation F-15s and F-16s in lieu of some F-35s "threatens to reduce the size of the Air Force's fielded fighter fleet to dangerously small numbers, particularly in the current fiscal environment."

A stealthy jet requires sacrifices in range, flying time and weapon-carrying capability--the hat trick of aerial warfare. All those factors have played a role in the fate of the Air Force's F-22 fighter, the nation's only other fifth-generation warplane. It has been sitting on runways around the globe for seven years, pawing at the tarmac as the nation waged wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Yet the F-22, built to fight wars against enemies that have yet to materialize, has yet to fly a single combat mission.

If sequestration happens March 1, F-35 officials have made it clear they will be forced to slow production and delay flight tests. Both steps will make each plane that is ultimately bought more expensive.

But thanks to $4.8 billion in Pentagon contracts for 31 planes pushed out the door barely 100 hours before the original Jan. 2 sequestration deadline, much of the program will continue on autopilot.

"The F-35 program has built up a good buffer by getting the most recent lot of aircraft awarded in time," says Todd Harrison, a defense-budget expert at the independent Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. "That means Lockheed and all the subcontractors have a backlog of work that won't be affected by sequestration, so they can continue working as planned for the time being."

Apparently the F-35 may end up being pretty stealthy after all.

≪ 人類史上最も高価な兵器 ≫











< 何故こうなってしまったのか >












しかしここ数年で、軍事技術は有人戦闘機に背を向けてきている。ドローン、*スタンド・オフ兵器、*GPS-誘導爆弾は、短距離飛行有人戦闘機の実用性や需要を低減させた。有人戦闘機の飛行距離の限界は、太平洋の中軸になるという国防総省の戦略にあっては、さらに声高に叫ばれ、その戦略における*距離の過酷さ(tyranny of distance)という意味では、F-35の短い戦闘行動半径(海兵隊:469マイル、空軍:584マイル、海軍:615マイル)がより重大な問題となる。
(*訳注 スタンド・オフ兵器:相手の対抗手段より射程の長い兵器)
(*訳注:GPS:衛星利用測位システムGlobal Positioning System)
(*訳注:距離の過酷さ‐tyranny of distance:軍事用語で、航空機と海上輸送力を使って迅速に増援軍や補給物資を輸送する能力をいう。例えば、この意味で米軍にとっての沖縄は、「太平洋の要石」として軍事上の地政学的重要性をもつ)



しかしロッキード社はトヨタではない。Aviation Week & Space Technology誌は航空機産業のバイブルで根強い援護者だが、昨秋の論説で、費用と日程の面ですでに「失敗が明らかな」計画だと断言し、「その能力についての結論は未だ明確ではない」と書いた。米国の将来的戦闘機購入に際しては、空軍のF-15やF-15、海軍のF-18など既存の戦闘機とF-35戦闘機を、じっくりと比較検討すべきだと、その記事は提案している。




< 本当に最適な航空機だろうか? >


「第四世代戦闘機の追加購入は、第五世代戦闘機計画の危機に直接つながる」と空軍は怖れた、とF22のベテラン・パイロット空軍補佐官クリストファー・ニーミは、空軍のAir & Space Power Journal2012年11-12月号に書いた。何機かのF-35の代わりに第四世代戦闘機F-15とF-16の新規購入を再考することを空軍が拒否したことは、「空軍の実戦配備された航空隊の規模を危険なほど縮小させる恐れがあり、とりわけ現在のような財政状況の下にあってはそうなのです」。






Give (Frozen) Peas a Chance — and Carrots Too
By Dr. Mehmet Oz
Monday, Dec. 03, 2012

There's nothing like a block of frozen spinach to make you feel bad about your family dinner.
There's good food and bad food and pretty food and ugly food--and then there's the frozen-spinach block. By any rights, this is not something you should want to eat. The picture on the box looks lovely, and the very idea of eating spinach is healthy. But what you find inside is a frosty, slightly slimy, algae-colored slab.

Somewhere out there--maybe just a five-minute drive from your house--a farmer's market is selling fresh, organic leaf spinach that might have been sprouting from the soil an hour ago. This, as we're told by any number of glossy cookbooks, TV cooking shows, food snobs and long-winded restaurant menus, is how we're supposed to eat now. It may be more expensive than that frozen block of spinach. And more perishable. And more complicated to prepare. But it's all worth it because it's so much healthier than the green ice from the supermarket. Right?

Wrong. Nutritionally speaking, there is little difference between the farmer's-market bounty and the humble brick from the freezer case. It's true for many other supermarket foods too. And in my view, dispelling these myths--that boutique foods are good, supermarket foods are suspect and you have to spend a lot to eat well--is critical to improving our nation's health. Organic food is great, it's just not very democratic. As a food lover, I enjoy truffle oil, European cheeses and heirloom tomatoes as much as the next person. But as a doctor, I know that patients don't always have the time, energy or budget to shop for artisanal ingredients and whip them into a meal.

The rise of foodie culture over the past decade has venerated all things small-batch, local-farm and organic--all with premium price tags. But let's be clear: you don't need to eat like the 1% to eat healthily. After several years of research and experience, I have come to an encouraging conclusion: the American food supply is abundant, nutritionally sound, affordable and, with a few simple considerations, comparable to the most elite organic diets. Save the cash; the 99% diet can be good for you.

This advice will be a serious buzz kill for specialty brands and high-end food companies marketing the exclusive hyperhealthy nature of their more expensive products. But I consider it a public-health service to the consumer who has to feed a family of five or the person who wants to make all the right choices and instead is alienated and dejected because the marketing of healthy foods too often blurs into elitism, with all the expense and culinary affectation that implies. The fact is, a lot of the stuff we ate in childhood can be good for you and good to eat--if you know how to shop.

Of course, there's a lot to steer clear of in the supermarket. Food technologists know what we like and make sure we always have our favorites. So alongside meat and fruits and veggies, there's also pasta, jelly, chips, pizza, candy, soda and more. Is it any wonder two-thirds of us are overweight or obese? Is it any wonder heart disease still kills so many of us?

So let's take a tour of the supermarket in search of everyday foods we can reclaim as stalwarts of a healthy diet. We'll pick up some meat and some snacks too, and we'll do a fair amount of label reading as we go. We'll even make a stop at the ice cream section. (I promise.) But let's start in the most underrated aisle of all: frozen foods.

< Frozen, Canned--and Good? >
It was in the 1920s that the idea of freezing fresh vegetables into preserved, edible rectangles first caught hold, when inventor Clarence Birdseye developed a high-pressure, flash-freezing technique that operated at especially low temperatures. The key to his innovation was the flash part: comparatively slow freezing at slightly higher temperatures causes large ice crystals to form in food, damaging its fibrous and cellular structure and robbing it of taste and texture. Birdseye's supercold, superfast method allowed only small crystals to form and preserved much more of the vitamins and freshness.

In the 90 years since, food manufacturers have added a few additional tricks to improve quality. Some fruits and vegetables are peeled or blanched before freezing, for example, which can cause a bit of oxidation--the phenomenon that makes a peeled apple or banana turn brown. But blanching also deactivates enzymes in fruit that would more dramatically degrade color as well as flavor and nutrient content. What's more, the blanching process can actually increase the fibrous content of food by concentrating it, which is very good for human digestion.

Vitamin content is a bit more complex. Water-soluble vitamins--C and the various B's--degrade somewhat during blanching but not when vegetables are steamed instead. Steaming is preferable but it takes longer, and many manufacturers thus don't do it. The package will tell you how the brand you're considering was prepared. Other vitamins and nutrients, including carotenoids, thiamin and riboflavin, are not at all affected by freezing, which means you can eat frozen and never feel that you are shortchanging yourself.

Canning is an even older type of preservation; it's also quite possibly the single most significant technological leap in food storage ever conceived. Developed in the early 19th century by an inventor working for the French navy, canning is a two-step process: first, heat foods to a temperature sufficient to kill all bacteria, and then seal them in airtight containers that prevent oxidation. Not all food comes out of the can as appetizing as it was before it went in. Some fruits and vegetables do not survive the 250F heating that is needed to sterilize food and can become soft and unappetizing. And in decades past, food manufacturers had way too free a hand with the salt shaker. That is not the case any longer for all brands of canned foods. A simple glance at the nutrition label (which itself didn't exist in the salty old days) can confirm which brands are best.

As with frozen vegetables, fiber and nutrient content usually stay high in canned foods. Some research indicates that carotenes, which can reduce cancer rates and eye problems, may be more available to the body following the routine heat treatment. What's more, canned foods are bargain foods. In an April study led by dietitian Cathy Kapica of Tufts University, nutritionists crunched the cost-per-serving numbers of some canned foods vs. their fresh counterparts, factoring in the time needed to prepare and the amount of waste generated (the husks and cobs of fresh corn, for example). Again and again, canned foods came up the winner, with protein-rich canned pinto beans costing $1 less per serving than dried, for example, and canned spinach a full 85% cheaper than fresh.

< Food on the Hoof, Fin and Wing >
I live in a vegetarian household, so I simply don't have the opportunity to eat a lot of meat at family meals. But I am not opposed to meats that are served in an appropriate portion size and are well prepared. Your first step is deciding what kind of meat you want and how you want to cook it.

There's no question that free-range chickens and grass-fed, pasture-dwelling cows lead happier--if not appreciably longer--lives than animals raised on factory farms. They are also kept free of hormones and antibiotics and are less likely to carry communicable bacteria like E. coli, which are common on crowded feedlots. If these things are important to you and you have the money to spend, then by all means opt for pricier organic meats.

But for the most part, it's O.K. to skip the meat boutiques and the high-end butchers. Nutritionally, there is not much difference between, say, grass-fed beef and the feedlot variety. The calories, sodium and protein content are all very close. Any lean meats are generally fine as long as the serving size is correct--and that means 4 to 6 oz., roughly the size of your palm. A modest serving like that can be difficult in a country with as deep a meat tradition as ours, where steak houses serve up 24-oz. portions and the term meat and potatoes is a synonym for good eating. But good eating isn't always healthy eating, and we're not even built to handle so much animal protein, since early humans simply did not have meat available at every meal. Sticking with reasonable portions two or three times a week will keep you in step with evolution.

Preparation is another matter, and here there are no secrets. Those burgers your kids (and probably you) love can be fine if they're lean and grilled, the fat is drained and you're not burying them under cheese, bacon and high-fructose ketchup and then packing them into a bun the size of a catcher's mitt.

Chicken is a separate issue. In my mind, there is nothing that better captures where we have gone wrong as a food culture than the countless fried-chicken fast-food outlets that dot highways. Fried chicken is consumed literally in buckets--and that's got to be a bad sign. What's more, even at home, frying chicken wrecks the nutritional quality of the meat.

Indeed, chicken is so lean and tasty it can actually redeem a lot of foods that are otherwise dietary bad news. I don't have a problem with tacos, for example, if you do them right. A chicken taco is a better option than beef, and a fish taco is the best choice of all. All the raw ingredients are available in supermarkets, and what you make at home will be much healthier than what you get when you go out.

There's even goodness to be found in some of the supermarket's seemingly most down-market fish and meats: those sold in cans. One great advantage to canning is that it does not affect protein content, making such foods as canned tuna, salmon and chicken excellent sources of nutrition. Canned salmon in particular is as nourishing as if you caught a fresh salmon that afternoon. It's also easy to prepare: you can put it on a salad or serve it with vegetables and have dinner ready in minutes.

Let's also take a moment to celebrate the tuna-salad sandwich, which is to lunch what the '57 Chevy is to cars--basic and brilliant. Sure, there are ways to mess it up, with heaping mounds of mayonnaise and foot-long hoagie rolls. But tuna is loaded with niacin, selenium, vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids, and a sandwich done lean and right, on whole-wheat bread with lettuce and tomatoes, is comfort food at its finest with little nutritional blowback.

Still, some of these cans are land mines. Plenty of products include flavor enhancers such as sugar, salt and MSG. And there are canned meats that really are nothing but bad news. Vienna sausage is the type of food that keeps us heart surgeons in business. As for hot dogs and luncheon meats like salami and bologna, just don't go there. They're way too high in nitrites and sodium to do you even a bit of good.

< Guilty Pleasures >
To me, ice cream is a sacred food. When I was a boy, my father would drive me to the local ice cream store on Sundays. We would spend the half-hour car ride talking, and I got to know my dad better through these conversations. It wasn't really about the ice cream; it was about time spent together. I even made the decision to become a doctor in that very ice cream store--something, perhaps, about the sense of well-being I was experiencing. I have used ice cream as a family focal point with my own children, and to this day it is an indicator of an occasion. Ice cream should be in your life too. What's more, it's not even a bad or unhealthy food.

For starters, the protein and calcium in ice cream are great. And some of the ingredients in better ice creams are good for you too, including eggs (yes, eggs, a terrific source of protein and B vitamins and perfectly O.K. if your cholesterol is in check) and tree nuts such as walnuts, almonds, cashews and pistachios. As with most other foods, the problem is often the amount consumed. A serving size is typically 120 ml, but that's a rule that's almost always flouted, which is a shame. Overdoing ice cream not only takes its toll on your health but also makes the special commonplace. I often say that no food is so bad for you that you can't have it once--or occasionally.

Peanut butter has none of the enchanted power of ice cream. It's a workaday food, a lunch-box food--and an irresistibly delicious food. The allegedly pedestrian nature of the supermarket is perfectly captured in the mainstream, brand-name, decidedly nongourmet peanut butters lining the shelves. But here again, what you're often seeing is a source of quality nutrition disguised as indulgent junk.

Peanut butter does have saturated fat, but 80% of its total fats are unsaturated. That's as good as olive oil. It's also high in fiber and potassium. But many brands stuff in salt and sweeteners as flavoring agents, so read the labels. Sometimes supermarket brands turn out to be the best.

And guess what? Preserves and jams without added sugar can be great sources of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium, and whole-wheat bread is high in fiber, selenium, manganese and more. So by shopping right and being careful with portions, we have fully redeemed that great, guilty American staple: the PB&J.

Snack foods are a different kind of peril, but if there's one thing Americans have gotten right, it's our surpassing love of salsa. Year after year it ranks near the top of our favorite snack foods, especially during football season. I think salsa is a spectacular food because it's almost always made of nothing more than tomatoes, onions and cilantro and usually has no preservatives. And remember, those tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that helps battle disease and inflammation.

Another great south-of-the-border staple is guacamole. Its principal ingredient is, of course, avocados, which are loaded with the happiest of fats: the unsaturated kind that help prevent heart disease. They are also rich in vitamin K (over 50% of your recommended daily intake from just half an avocado) and vitamin C. But keep portions in check to hold the line on both calories and sodium.

Finding something to scoop up those dips is a problem. Tortilla chips fried in lard and covered with salt are simply not a good idea. Baked pita chips (ideally unsalted) are great, but there's no way around the fact that they're pricier than tortilla, potato and corn chips.

< The Beauty of Simplicity >
Pretty much any aisle in any supermarket has foods that you might think mark you as a culinary primitive but are worth considering. Pickles? Sure, they're loaded with salt, so read labels and exercise care, but they're high in vitamin K and low in calories, and the vinegar in them can improve insulin sensitivity. Baked beans? Pass up the ones cooked with bacon or excessive sweetening, but otherwise, they're a great source of protein and fiber.

Meanwhile, the condiments section has mustard--extremely low in calories, high in selenium and available in a zillion different varieties, so you'll never get bored. Popcorn? Absolutely, but go for the air-popped, stove-top variety instead of the microwavable kind covered in oils and artificial butter flavorings. And chocolate! Ah, chocolate. Stick with dark--65% cocoa--and don't overdo the portions. I know, that's not easy, but do it right and you'll get all the antioxidant benefits of flavonols without all the calories and fat.

Throughout the developed world, we are at a point in our evolution at which famine, which essentially governed the rise and fall of civilizations throughout history, is no longer an acute threat. And we know more about the connection between food and health than ever before--down to the molecular level, actually.

This has provided us the curious luxury of being fussy, even snooty, about what we eat, considering some foods, well, below our station. That's silly. Food isn't about cachet. It's about nourishment, pleasure and the profound well-being that comes from the way meals draw us together.

Even foods that I have described as no-go items are really O.K. in the right situations. I recently enjoyed some fantastic barbecue after a long project in Kansas City, Mo., and I certainly ate the cake and more at my daughter's wedding. As with any relationship that flourishes, respect is at the core of how you get along with food--respect and keeping things simple.

≪ 冷凍豆を、そして冷凍人参を見直そう! ≫








< 冷凍・缶詰食品――食べても大丈夫? >





< 肉、魚、鳥を食べる >









< ちょっと後ろめたいが捨てがたい楽しみ >








< 簡素さの魅力 >





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