Was it back when, disfigured by goiters, we began adding iodine to salt? Perhaps it was when the dairy industry wised up and started pumping milk with rickets-preventing vitamin D?
No matter its genesis, the so-called nutraceutical market (i.e., a class of foods that ostensibly provide a health benefit beyond basic nutrition) is one whose growth rate is matched only by our nation's waistline.
Didn't have time to knock back that multivitamin this morning? No worries, a glass of Minute Maid Multi-Vitamin will provide sixteen "essential" vitamins and minerals to your nutrient-starved system. Don't like fruit juice? Don't despair: A twelve-ounce can of Diet Coke Plus may not have the same vitamin kick, but it sure will cure your zinc jones.
These days everything from cholesterol-lowering spreads to probiotic-rich candy bars to vitamin-enhanced waters ensure that, raw fruits and vegetables be damned, our nutritional levels stay red-lined.
Of course, these hunky products do have a drawback: What if, heaven forbid, you find yourself in some desolate Third World country where the natives still cling to the antiquated notion that good nutrition comes from a varied diet rich in fruits and vegetables? In other words, what do you eat in a land unpenetrated by so-called functional foods, a land where water is simply water, butter has cholesterol and your diet soda provides little more than one calorie?
I suppose you could pack it in, but that's not very functional.
There's a better way: I've seen the future in a glass of milk.
Or rather, I've seen the future of function, and it is the Unistraw Delivery System, here encountered in a ten-pack of Sipahh Milk Flavoring Straws Cookies and Cream artificial flavor.
What, you may ask, is a Unistraw Delivery System?
Essentially, it's a recyclable straw made of clear plastic with slotted filters at both ends. The Unistraw Delivery System, or UDS, is stuffed with "Unibeada," soluble granules that are engineered to approximate, in the case of Sipahh Milk Flavoring Straws Cookies and Cream artificial flavor, the taste of "cookies and cream" when combined with milk. And it accomplishes this feat at least as well as Nesquik apes the taste of chocolate.
But wait. Cookies and cream? That doesn't sound too healthy.
It isn't. In fact, at fifteen calories per straw, it's a slip of a thing nutrition-wise, providing no more than two grams of sugar and three grams of carbs. But the nutritional value of a Sipahh Milk Flavoring Straw Cookies and Cream artificial flavor is not really the issue.
What's at issue is the potential of the UDS, a device Unistraw International Limited says will soon provide a delivery system for vitamins, minerals, probiotics, herbal supplements and even pharmaceuticals when paired with milk, water or juice. Carry a few of these straws with you and you can turn a glass of water into a sports or nutrition drink anywhere, anytime.
But Unistraw won't stop there. They're also looking at the 21-and-over market, turning the UDS into a portable instant cocktail: Just sip a bit of tequila through, say, a margarita straw... et voilà! you're in Mexico, amigo!
So go on! Enjoy yourself!
Just don't drink the water.