Reporter’s notebook: the pizza that launched 3,000 words
November 4, 2013 § Leave a comment
In January, there was an email waiting for me from an ASBMB member when I got back from vacation. Congratulating me on my story on omega-6 fatty acids in the American diet that had appeared in the December 2012 issue of ASBMB Today, the member told me that there was another nutrition controversy that needed to be explored: the glycemic index.
I’d never heard of the glycemic index. My dietary attitude is simple and reflects my life motto: Embrace all good things and avoid fakes. Besides, I felt it was too soon for me to do another nutrition story. So I filed the email away.
Early in the summer, after a crazy work day and with no meals ready in the fridge, I declared it to be pizza night. Over the years, I flirted with various local artisanal pizza deliveries, and Naked Pizza is my latest love. There aren’t too many outlets in the region so I consider myself lucky to live in an area with one. I love the taste of the “Ancestral Blend” crust. The pizza isn’t a grease pool. I can’t resist the garlic, cilantro and artichoke combo in the “Superbiotic.”
The Naked Pizza box is, in it of itself, reading material. The box is covered with little comments. While munching on a slice of “Superbiotic” that night, I idly twisted the box around to continue reading. There is was: A box explaining that Naked Pizza pies have a low glycemic index.
I stopped mid-munch—my favorite pizza place seemed to endorse the glycemic index. The next day at work, I pulled up the email I received in January and reread it. The member had sent me a scientific paper that explored the impact of high and low glycemic index diets on chronic metabolic conditions. I began to search PubMed for papers about the index. One of my first hits was a white paper by Health Canada saying that the authority would not use the index on food labels. The paper had just been published. So the discussion over whether or not the glycemic index was a useful measure was still ongoing and seemed to indicate that the controversy was not laid to rest.
I searched the Internet to see if any magazines had covered the index. Except for a few blog posts, my searches didn’t show up anything. Did I have a story here?
Like the omega-6 story, the glycemic index story wasn’t an easy one to write. Because the topic is controversial, it was very important that I came to understand the nuances of the science being disputed. There were times I doubted I had a story to tell. But with firm urging and cajoling by ASBMB Today’s intrepid editor, Angela Hopp, the story began to take shape over the course of three months. You can see the result in this month’s ASBMB Today.
Has reporting on the glycemic index changed my opinion of my favorite pizza? No. I still regularly order it (I now alternate between “Greenhouse” and “Mediterranean” as my favorites), and I’ve gotten friends hooked onto it. Indeed, every time I invite folks over for wine-and-pizza nights, they ask, “Are we getting Naked?”