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Beware Of The Marketers

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    Beware Of The Marketers

    Today is 3/5/2019. Since I first posted this on 3/2 your feedback and links have contributed to several modifications, most notably, a complete rewrite of the section on Sustainability and GMOs. Thank you so much.


    It is trendy to say "avoid chemicals, additives, preservatives, and processed foods, buy natural products." Let’s leaven with some facts.

    Chemicals. All foods are made of chemicals. Some of these chemicals are made by nature, some are made by man. Isn’t man made by nature? A force of nature? Some of the chemicals made by man are identical to those made by nature. Some may be worse. Some may be better. Just because a chemical is man-made does not make it bad. Do you take medicines?

    Additives. Not all additives are to be avoided. All spices are additives. Some additives might make healthy foods taste better and encourage their consumption. We blame some things as being an additive because they are hard to pronounce. This is not a scientific category. Name the harmful additive. Carrageen? It’s a gelatin used as a thickener made by boiling a moss. Been done that way since 600 BCE. Sodium nitrite is the stuff used for preserving and flavoring cured meats like bacon and hot dogs. Everybody knows it causes cancer, right. Well guess what, that research has been disproven. Does potassium hydrogen tartrate sound intimidating? Also known as cream of tartar, it is pretty much a powder made from those crystals you sometimes find in wine, a common byproduct of grape juice. You can’t make a decent snickerdoodle without it.

    Do you avoid food additives but take Vitamins?

    Preservatives. Preservatives are among the most important developments in human history and they have save millions of lives. Preservatives keep food from spoiling and becoming dangerous. That alone makes them miraculous. Preserving food also reduces waste which is good for the environment and economies. It means farmers can use less land and fewer fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. They have to grow less food, they can feed more people, keep prices down, and still make more money. Preservatives are your friends. Every preservative in use in the US has been tested for safety. Yes, there may be hidden risks as yet undiscovered, but the key word is risk. The risk is very very low. Compared to the risk of driving a car, infinitesimal.

    Processed foods. Unless you eat only raw foods, you eat a lot of processed foods.Most foods we eat are "processed" or altered from their raw natural state. Cooking is a process, and a pretty darn drastic one. It significantly alters the chemistry of food. Freezing is a process. Brining is a process. Grinding beef for hamburger is a process. Marinating is a process. Juicing an orange is a process. All of them so drastically alter the chemistry of the foods that they no longer taste or look the same.

    Oh, you mean you want to avoid buying processed food. Flour is a processed food, so is sugar, vinegar, yogurt, cheese, butter, ketchup, pasteurized milk, anything in a jar or a can, even sea salt is processed. And please don’t ask me how they make tofu.

    Processing foods may degrade nutrients you say. But they may also release nutrients. Processed foods are bad for your health, you say. But pasteurizing milk has saved millions of lives.

    The issue isn’t processed or not, but how is it processed? What has the processing done for the food? The idea that eating processed foods is bad for us is absurd unless you specify what the process is and what part of the process is bad for us.

    Natural foods. We are told to seek natural products. We are told wine is a natural product. Grapes are grown on meticulously bred vines, pruned, trained, and sprayed carefully. They are picked at optimum sugar acid balance. Cultured yeast is added as well as sulfur dioxide. The juice is fermented in a chilled stainless steel tank, allowing alcohol to form, then filtered, and aged in wooden barrels whose staves contribute chemicals to the brew. How on earth is this a natural process? Ditto for bread and chocolate? Shall we put them on the list with chicken nuggets? Perhaps chicken nuggets are moreprocessed. More than making a mole sauce? Or a soufflé? Not all processing is bad.

    Can we talk about natural? How about a dinner of dog poop with some natural arsenic on top and a side of salmonella? They are all natural products. The word has no legal meaning. It is strictly a marketing term. When I see it I run because I know some marketing genius is trying to seduce me with BS. Perhaps we should eat only raw food? Bad idea. First of all, cooking kills pathogens. Raw veggies sit out in the field exposed to bird poop and cooking releases nutrients that are otherwise indigestible. So processing can be good for us.

    The bottom line. Yes, some additives and chemicals may be bad for us but the risk is low. And some may be good for us. Some processes may be harmful, but some may be beneficial. Our average life expectancy in the US is approaching 80 years, 20 more years than 100 years ago. There are a lot of reasons we are living longer, safer workplaces, better medicine, but safer food is a major contributor. The requirement that milk be pasteurized has saved tens of thousands of lives every year.

    When experts tell us that processed foods, chemicals, preservatives, and additives should be avoided, we need to ask them "Which processes? Which chemicals? Which additives?" And then we need to ask "Where is the research?" Sadly, when I see "Natural" on a label, I see a marketer playing upon the public’s fears, and I refuse to buy it.


    The goal of sustainable farming is to make sure agriculture can meet our current and future needs without harming the environment or our health. Improving nutrition, reducing pesticide and fertilizer use, reducing water consumption and soil erosion while maintaining soil health are keys to the sustainability movement.

    Breeding plants and animals has been going on for centuries to meet specific goals. Just look at all the steer varieties or hog varieties or the dog at your feet for that matter. All created by cross breeding to favor desirable traits. Farmers did it by taking a little pollen from over here and sprinkling it over there. They took a horse and mated it with that donkey and made a mule. Just a matter of mixing up some genes. If you want a really good example of gene mixing, look in the mirror.

    There have been natural mutations of plants going on since the beginning of time. Natural cross breeding, mutations from natural radiation, viruses injecting genes from other species. Since the end of WWII breeders have been using "mutagenic" techniques utilizing radiation and chemicals to tweak the DNA of wheat, rice, peanuts, and pears. Almost all our wheat is human-engineered. The practice has caused no known health problems and brought little objection from the public.

    Nowadays they do it under the microscope. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are cross breeds made by extracting genes from one source and injecting it into another with more precision and more predictable results. The real problem is a society that finds the concept of fish DNA inserted into a vegetable to be creepy. Clearly we have watched too much science fiction.

    There are risks. A new breed could be harmful. A new breed could prove dominant and squeeze out other breeds like zombies. But that risk exists for old-fashioned cross breeding and mutagenics, too. Several conventional and GMO crosses have failed rigorous testing. A few have even gotten onto store shelves and then been removed. The key here is that they must be rigorously tested. Scientists have been too dismissive of the anti-GMO crowd, and government has been lax in demanding extensive testing that should be similar to the testing regimens for new drugs. And of course, long term health problems, or benefits, won’t be known for decades.

    In theory, the benefits of GMOs outweighs the risks. But the theories must be torture tested for new breeds, no matter how they are created. But, as pharmaceutical researchers know, testing cannot prove a product to be safe. Testing can only fail to turn up problems.

    Alas, now when I see "No GMOs" on a label, I see a marketer playing upon the public’s fears, and I refuse to buy it.


    Organic rules say that organic fruits can only be fertilized with animal manure, not synthetic fertilizers. Not a problem for apples and peaches that grow high up in trees. But what about strawberries? They grow on the ground. Right on top of the manure. Now the manure is supposed to be pasteurized, but that's almost impossible to do without heating it with petroleum products. So organic farmers heap the manure in a pile and let it ferment so the temps in the middle of the pile are high enough to pasteurize it. But what about the manure on the outside of the pile? What if they don't mix it thoroughly? So which do you want to feed your children? Organic strawberries grown on top of manure that has hopefully been pasteurized properly, or strawberries grown with synthetic fertilizers that are pathogen free?

    Did you know there are panels of experts who determine what is allowed to be called organic or not? If you grow any members of the cabbage family such as cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, or kohlrabi, you hate white butterflies. They come from a caterpillar called the cabbage looper that loves your garden. These voracious buggers can destroy your crop in short order and make it unmarketable by burrowing into the produce. You know the joke, what’s worse than finding a caterpillar in your broccoli? Half a caterpillar.

    There are two good ways to get rid of loopers. Copper sulfate and bacillus thurengensis. Copper sulfate is a chemical made in a factory. Bacillus thurengensis is a bacteria grown in a factory. If you use copper sulfate, you can’t be called organic, but if you use BT, you can. Because BT is a living bacteria that you can spray on your crop, and when the looper eats it, it grows in the little green bug’s gut and he explodes. So because the bacteria are "natural" they are ok to spray. Unless. Unless it is a dire emergency and the loopers are out of control, then it is OK to use copper sulfate and still be called organic. Anybody wonder how that little escape clause got in there? Would it surprise you to know that most organic farms are now owned by Big Ag like Monsanto and Cargill? And guess who sits on the committees that write the rules?

    It hurts to say this, but the word organic has lost much of its importance. Once upon a time when the hippies started the movement the word organic had strong and powerful meaning, but the regulators have diluted the rules over the years. There are three things I know for sure about organic foods: (1) They probably have been exposed to fewer pesticides, but that is no guarantee that they has fewer pesticides remaining on the final product. Many dissipate naturally or are washed off. (2) Good research has shown that they have no greater nutritional value than conventionally grown foods. (3) They are more expensive.

    Alas, now when I see "Organic" on a label, I see a marketer playing upon the public’s fears, and I refuse to buy it.


    What is local? Is it 5 miles? 10? 100? And why is it so important? If you live in Minnesota and depend on local products, in winter you are going to be eating a lot of preserved and canned goods. Hey, I love pickles and preserves, but every now and then I want some nutritious fresh fruits and veggies. Especially in winter. Besides, in Arizona, it is cheaper to truck in fruits and veggies from Florida which has plenty of water than grow it in locally. And do we really want smelly pig farms in every little town, or is it more socially acceptable to confine them to sparsely populated expanses in Iowa? We live in an amazing time when you can get beautiful asparagus loaded with nutrients and flavor from the Southern hemisphere in winter. So why wouldn’t you?

    Thomas Keller has said "Local to me is an irrelevant term. What’s more important is quality."

    Why would I buy inexpensive pink rocks from a nearby tomato farmer when I can get gorgeous ripe tomatoes from a farmer two states over who carefully selects his varieties for his climate and soil, who cares for his soil and tomatoes and employees, who is extremely efficient in his use of fuel, fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides? Growing tomatoes in Minnesota hothouses is not energy efficient.

    Yes, it costs money to ship those tomatoes and asparagus and coffee to me, and yes, it probably contributes to greenhouse gases, but the solution is to find more efficient forms of energy and transportation. And I hate to tell you, but growing food contributes far more to greenhouse gases than transporting it to market, especially meat. And let’s not forget, driving our cars to and from the farmer’s market has an impact on your carbon footprint. How far are you willing to drive to get to that farmer’s market? In the early 1900s and beyond, famine and malnutrition were common until cheap transportation came to the rescue.

    Yes, buying local supports your community, but the folks who live two states over are also part of your community, even the beef growers in Argentina. If you haven’t noticed, we live in a global community where the prosperity and poverty of all the world impacts us one way or another. Countries that can’t sell their ag products tend to get aggressive.

    Yes, if all things are equal, if the local and distant farmer are growing their food with the same care, then local fruits and veggies (but not meat or grains) will probably be slightly more nutritious, if we buy it soon after harvest and consume it quickly.

    And just what does "farm-to-table" mean? Which farm is far more important.

    "We all sit around drinking coffee talking about this idea of local and there's not a coffee plantation anywhere near us," says Keller. Don’t forget that so much of what we cook is probably from far away. Coffee, sugar, salt, pepper, juices, ketchup, mustard, olive oil, olives, cheese, and most everything in your fridge. Eating local is pretty hard. Eating well is easy.


    Food should not be a source of angst. We fret too much about what we eat. We worry that our food will give us cancer or make us fat. So we are susceptible to a steady bombardment of news, poorly reported news, facts, partial facts, old research, the latest research, pseudo research, myths, and lies. It appears that the only ones who are certain about the subject are the hucksters selling supplements, diets, and lifestyles. The world is ripe with rumors about alleged health benefits and deficits of different foods. I’m here to tell you that worrying about your food will probably kill you faster than anything you eat.

    Although I am not a scientist or dietician I am well informed. I am married to a PhD microbiologist, a former FDA research division head, editor of a food microbiology magazine, with extensive food safety expertise, and highly respected in the field. Here is what I have learned about food and health:

    The most important word is risk. Everything we do carries risk. There is no such thing risk-free living. Or eating. We can try to reduce the risk of something, but it is hard to eliminate it altogether. What we need to understand is that some things are riskier than others.

    Eating arsenic is pretty high risk. Eating undercooked chicken is lower risk, but still risky. Eating a medium rare hamburger is lower risk still, but still risky. Eating a medium rare steak is not very risky at all. The risk of being killed in an airplane crash is practically zero. You have a much higher risk of being killed by lightning. The problem is that, as consumers, we don't know what the risk really is. We can only guess. In the words of Dirty Harry "You've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?"

    Alas, most of what we hear about food and health is written by people in the popular media or on social media who do not understand science or risk assessment. Worse, many are hunting for headlines and soundbites, or are looking to bolster their preconceived notions or political opinions.

    Everybody knows that undercooked or raw ground meat is risky. But did you know that most food-borne illnesses are caused by raw vegetables? That's because fields of vegetables are exposed to contamination from Tweety, Thumper, Bambi, Pumbaa, and Mickey as well as irrigation water contaminated by Porky and Elsie.

    Did you know that sprouts may be the most risky food in the grocery store? That's because the conditions under which sprouts are grown, wet and warm, are exactly the conditions that pathogens love. That makes raw bean sprouts riskier than hamburger.

    By far, by a very long distance, the riskiest thing we do is get in a car. Do you buy only organic food and then use your cell phone when driving home? If you do, you are hereby authorized to eat bacon with every meal for the rest of your short life. Let's get our priorities straight.


    People of a certain age remember when butter was bad and margarine good. Now we learn they both pack the same amounts of calories and some of the fats in margarine are thought to be worse than butter.

    Since the 1970s the American Heart Association has warned us that eating eggs would increase our risk of heart disease. In 2006 they changed their minds and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that consuming 5 to 6 eggs a week did not raise the risk of heart disease or stroke in healthy adults.

    For years we have been told to eat low salt diets. In January 2015 the Journal of the American Medical Association published research from a well-conducted 10 year study that concludes that sodium intake was not associated with mortality, incident cardiovascular disease, or incident heart failure.

    Research in the 1970s indicated that the preservative sodium nitrite used in bacon or hot dogs could cause cancer in laboratory animals. Since then we have learned that the research was flawed and that we consume plenty of nitrites and nitrates in spinach and other natural foods. In 2003, the World Health Organization stated "In the studies on dietary nitrate, no association was found with oral, oesophageal, gastric, or testicular cancer. No other cancer sites have been studied." But millions still think hot dogs and bacon are carcinogens.

    Back in the 1960s somebody found saccharin caused cancer in male rats and the FDA slapped a warning label on it. But how many of us remember reading about the subsequent research that showed that the biological mechanism in rats that made the cancers possible doesn't exist in humans? How many remember that the warning label was removed in 2001? How many of us still think saccharin causes cancer?

    Likewise, millions of people are running around thinking that grilling causes cancer because of one research paper. But they never read the followups that said, pretty much, just don't burn your food and you'll be OK. And that the same carcinogens are in French fries. Only much more.

    In the world of science, everything is always being questioned. That's why you will rarely find me calling a recipe "healthy." I just don't know for sure what is healthy or not and I shudder when I read books and bloggers and celebrities touting healthy recipes or diets. I’m looking at you Gwyneth Paltrow.

    Dieticians and nutritionists seem to have trouble agreeing on what is healthy and what is not. An excellent article in the New York Timesin 2016 surveyed hundreds of members of the American Society for Nutrition about what they thought was healthy. 53% said granola was not healthy, 39% said popcorn wasn't healthy, and 41% said a pork chop was not healthy. That is hardly consensus.

    Here’s the problem with most dietary and nutritional research. So many of the studies are known as epidemiological studies or observational studies. These are not lab studies where a hypothesis is stated, variables are isolated, pristine conditions maintained, control groups studied, data collected, and analyzed. It's not like determining which lasts longer, Duracel or Energizer batteries. Science can do that easily. But we can't take 1,000 people, divide them into two groups, stick them in cages, feed them different diets for 10 years or more, and count how many from each group get sick or die. There are laws to protect research subjects from abuse or poisoning. So the tests often have to be done on animals whose biology may not be similar to ours. And now there are animal activists who object to scientists using animals as subjects. This restriction limits nutrition and dietary science. It is nowhere nearly as advanced as, say, physics, chemistry, agricultural, and other sciences.

    Epidemiological studies are usually based on survey data. Researchers collect information from a group of subjects carefully chosen to represent a larger population. They are then asked a bunch of questions, the data is punched into a computer, and the researchers look for correlations. For example, researchers have noticed that French people are not as obese as Americans, so they try to find out why by studying their diets and other factors. Often they find useful correlations - they drink much more wine than Americans - but the results are inconclusive until tested in the lab.

    Here's an example. In several epidemiological studies it has been found that people who watch a lot of television are fatter than the rest of us. Therefore, one could easily conclude that television causes obesity, right? Perhaps it is invisible radiation from the screen? Electromagnetic fields? Vapors from the plastic? Subliminal mind control? Perhaps it is the flame retardants in our sofas? Perhaps we should ban television, or ration TV watching?

    Or could the obesity be caused by something else? Like snacking while watching? Or cravings caused by commercials? Or lack of exercise?

    This is a crucial, vital, message: Correlation doesn't mean causation.

    Visit the endlessly fascinating website Spurious Correlations. It shows a remarkable correlation between the number of non-commercial space launches around the world and the number of sociology doctorates awarded in the US. Hmmmmm. And visit this fascinating website to see the correlations between the number people who drowned by falling into a swimming-pool and the number of films Nicolas Cage appeared in, or the per capita consumption of cheese in the US and the number of people who died by becoming tangled in their bedsheets, and more.

    Also, beware of single-study syndrome. The gold standard measurement to establish a fact is to have multiple studies that produce the same data. Often one experiment is not enough. Just because we have made a study of something doesn't mean we have studied it.

    People who are afraid of food have invented a myriad of regimens: Vegetarianism, veganism, ovo-lacto, lactovegetarian, pescetarian, semi-vegetarian, flexitarian, omnivore, the Atkins diet, African Mango diet, Paleo diet, South Beach diet, Oritikin diet, Mediterranean diet, Detox diet, Grapefruit diet. Then there are the elimination diets: Gluten free, soy free, sugar free, low sodium, egg free, dairy free, corn free, and who knows what else. Some of these go beyond goofy to downright dangerous.

    What is vexing to me is that people become so devoted to their diets and eating habits they try to convince others to join them. They become prosthelytizers, evangelists, fascists, and preach their food philosophies with the zeal of a cult member. One epidemiological study becomes a fad, then a lifestyle, and then a religion. Like so much else in modern society, lines are drawn in the concrete, neither side listens to the other, and the only facts invited to the party are the ones that support your argument.

    So many diets mix politics and religious fervor with health. Whether killing animals for food is moral has absolutely nothing to do with our health and attempts to conflate them are plain and simple non sequiturs. One can make a legitimate argument against killing animals for food, but there is no room in this debate for health discussions. Likewise one can make a legitimate argument that eating animal products may be unhealthy, but there is no room in that debate for morality issues. Does PETA really think its irritating tactics are working on thinking adults? Probably they don't. They're after impressionable teenagers and insecure grownups, and in the process they pissing a lot of us off with their exaggerations.

    So what's a person to do? Love food! Don't fear it! Take what you hear from the media, from your friends, and especially from the internet, with, ahem, a grain of salt, literally. Keep your BS meter turned on high. You doctor is not infallible, but she knows better than the TV news reporter. When you chose your diets, consider the actual level of risk and before you become devoted to it remember how the landscape changes and how that which is good today can be bad tomorrow. Before you obsess over your lunch, compare the risk of eating a bologna sandwich with putting makeup on your eyes. Or driving your car. Or putting on your makeup while driving your car. Select your food carefully, but don't give yourself an ulcer worrying about it.

    We eat about 1,000 meals a year. If you live to 80 you will have eaten 80,000 meals, plus snacks. It is really doubtful that a few bologna sandwiches, an occasional hot dog, or even a few bags of Cheetos will hurt you. Even if you went on a bender and ate a hot dog for lunch every day for a week. If you at one hot dog a week for your entire life, that would be 4,108 hot dogs out of 80,000 meals. A pittance! Even a dietician will tell you that an occasional small bag of potato chips, a hot dog, a candy bar, a martini are not going to hurt you. Just don't make them mainstays of your diet.

    All my reading and studying has led me to conclude this: Mom was probably right. Eat a balanced diet and everything in moderation. Michael Pollan, a writer who has studied food in depth has famously said "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants" was probably right.

    It is probable that "Standard American Diet" (SAD) probably includes too much meat, too little vegetable, and too few whole grains and nuts. We should probably reduce our portion sizes and eat more meals without meat. We should probably cook from scratch as often as possible. (Notice how I cover my butt with the word probably because what we know to be fact today is sure to be false tomorrow. Given that the nutrition and diet sciences seem to be so rudimentary, we might someday learn that one of the ingredients in Cheetos is good for you.)

    And please please please, when you find a diet that works for you, don't oppress your friends with your food religion. Just swallow your tongue.

    How epidemiology can mislead us
    An example of how epidemiological and observational studies can bring us to the wrong conclusion:

    1) Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
    2) Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
    3) Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
    4) Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
    5) Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
    Conclusion: Speaking English causes heart attacks.

    We all want a long, healthy life, but life should not be an ascetic journey of denial of pleasure so that we can arrive at the end with a perfect body. I plan to watch my diet and take everything in sensible proportion, but deny myself of no opportunity for great pleasure because of some research paper that will be invalidated in a year. As Dr. David Katz, the founding director of Yale University's Prevention Research Center has said "The cold hard truth is that the only way to eat well is to eat well."

    I plan to arrive at the pearly gates with a bottle of French Burgundy in one hand and a rib bone in the other, laughing and regaling anyone within earshot with tales of how great my life was.

    Bless yer pea-pickin' heart, Meathead.

    Edited to add: Gwyneth Paltrow--someone wrote a book entitled "Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything". And, I'd like to throw Dr. Oz under the bus too--any old bus will do.
    Last edited by Willy; March 2, 2019, 04:23 PM.


      I expect to make more posts on this thread and I very much hope that having Meathead bring these topics up makes them "legitimate" topics for future discussions on AR. For now though...

      The Internet has been a boon to folks looking for information. Alas, while a Google search is invaluable, a Google U "degree" is worthless. I find it beyond sad that people think they now can ignore the information offered by true, university-educated experts because anyone can now find a website, or many websites, that offer(s) a different opinion. Hence climate skeptics, anti-vaxxers, food purists and the like. Science is precious, cherry picking is idiocy.

      Here's another one of my favorite anti-science people--The Food Babe--offering utter crap about airplane travel:

      https://www.science20.com/cool-links...el_tips-149397 If the link doesn't get the entire article, you must click on "Read More" for the rest.

      I hope everyone on AR knows enough science to find the link above just hysterically funny. That is, if you've decompressed enough from your last plane flight. LOL

      Edited to add: To summarize, I think Google has made it too easy for ordinary folks to think they are smarter and better informed than real experts. If your education doesn't include university degree(s) in the the relevant fields, you are probably not qualified to have a contrary opinion worthy of discussion.
      Last edited by Willy; March 2, 2019, 07:14 PM.


      • klflowers
        klflowers commented
        Editing a comment
        Just...wow. I was 6-9 before I took my last flight, now I am down to 6-6 after that compression.

      • ItsAllGoneToTheDogs
        ItsAllGoneToTheDogs commented
        Editing a comment
        Wow, that's like having a conversation with some of my family members. Which sadly are so infused into the science thing you would think they wouldn't buy it... but they do. The sad part is, they aren't collecting food stamps or anything but their finances could be in much better shape, yet they spend sooo much money on these special foods.

      • Meathead
        Meathead commented
        Editing a comment
        Good gracious. I knew she was a quack but this is so over the top it sounds like it was written by the Onion.

      Super well written, Meathead , lot of what I been tellin folks fer many years...

      Kerboinged offa a few typos, will quote them, after a while, gotta go run an errand first...

      Fine Job!




        • Meathead
          Meathead commented
          Editing a comment
          I think my grocery carries that line.

        Aw geez! Now I’m going to have to quit speaking English & learn some other language, a skinny one at that. Great write MH.


          Please, do take this in th spirit of good intent, and helpfulness that is intended, an don't hit th "SMITE" button on yer keyboard...

          Unfortunately, an it is almost a curse, I proofread everything. Every.Thing.
          Old Habit, unable to break it, even after 40+ years.

          I spent long many years, handsettin lead printin type in a composin stick, then justifyin it into a chase, ...shims, quoins, proofs, tympans etc.

          Lost Art, commercially, though there are some hobbyists

          That required bein able to read/write accurately, at speed, upside down, an backwards.

          I can read/write in perfeckly good yanqui; I simply type like I speak, fer th sake of accuracy...

          Reckon, I'm fine with folks judgin me by my writins, but I ain't preparin to launch a book, that will git raked over th coals by folks who git paid to predate upon others intellectual properties, even though they mostly cain't create anything useful, on their own...

          Clear, concise, accurate communication tends to impart/maintain/sustain credibility to what people read.

          Anything less draws th tower eye, an undermines one's credulity, even if/when th presenter is degreed, accredited, celebrated, rejoiced, idolized, etc., usw. ...


          There are three things I know for sure about organic foods: (1) They probably have been exposed to fewer pesticides, but that is no guarantee that they has fewer pesticides remaining on the final product.
          I think have is a better fit, here...

          The world is ripe with rumors about alleged health benefits and deficits of different foods. I’m here to tell you that worrying about your food will probably kill you faster than anything you eat.
          Rife. I think rife is what yer lookin fer, here. Abundant.


          • Mr. Bones
            Mr. Bones commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks, Meathead !

            Only tryin to be an extra set of proofreadin eyes...

            Absolutely meant as a contribution, an not a detraction. Reckon ya know me, by now..

            When th Curtain opens, an th wolves attack, ya want no perceivable chinks in yer armour.

            Ya got yer hands full, an this way, I can additionally contribute to yer Great Work!

            If ya wanna be "ripe", then so be it, Good Sir!; I can certainly appreciate a good pun, as well...

            Many Thanks fer sharin these previews with us!

          • jfmorris
            jfmorris commented
            Editing a comment
            I saw those too while reading the article. I figured if these type things will be fixed before the next book comes out.

          • Meathead
            Meathead commented
            Editing a comment
            Actually I really appreciate you guys catching my misteaks (intended).

          Meathead, I'm a huge fan, but I think you missed the mark on several of your points. I'm a biologist by training, and a professional in the sustainability realm for the last 14 years.

          You compare GMOs to traditional selection breeding. The difference is not that it's done with a microscope and more precision, it's that there's the potential to introduce genetic material that would never be possible with traditional breeding. GM scientists can insert genes from mushrooms into cats, and from worms into horses. None of those would be possibly in traditional breeding, and that's the true cause for caution. GMOs are widely used to produce crops that have higher tolerance to agro-business chemicals, e.g. "Round-up ready". The issue is less about the health impacts of directly eating GMOs as the impact of them on the larger ecological system. There are peer-reviewed publications that address the claims that "Round-up ready" canola is safe because there is no way that the resistance to round-up could possibly pass into native relatives, which are considered the weeds that Round-up attacks. Within one year they discovered native mustard "weeds" that had the resistance to Round-up as well, and with no explanation for how the GMO genes might have escaped into native species. When GMO crops lead to weed species that are resistant to Round-up, someone messed up.

          The reason the European Union is resistant to GMOs is not necessarily because of direct human health implications of eating those crops, but because humans do an amazingly bad job of anticipating unintended consequences. From rabbits in Australia to Cane Toads in S Fl, to Kudzu across the SE, people have unleashed biological "solutions" that ultimately wound up to be expensive problems.

          The American grocery store beer industry (Bud, Miller, Coors) is opposed to GMO rice because there are projects that genetically modify rice to produce pharmaceuticals and industrial chemicals, because it's cheaper to produce in fields than in the lab. The unknown consequences are the reason that many are opposed to unleashing GMO crops without sufficient testing. The times that I do drink cheap beer brewed with rice, I'd prefer that they don't have unknown pharma-rice in the mix.

          On the topic of Organics, when you mention that there are chemicals found in organic crops, that's not a failing of organic farmers, it's a failing of their neighboring farmers to keep their chemical compounds from crossing property lines. When you mention sources of contamination from manure fertilizer, or native animals in fields, you miss the point that the way we mass-produce meat in the US leads to significantly higher levels of pathogens than wild animals, or even farmed animals in other countries. Composted manure from animals that aren't kept in incredibly dense agri-business operations have far fewer harmful bacteria. Look up salmonella in eggs from Scandinavia compared to the US. There is essentially zero salmonella in those countries, where it's a huge risk and concern in commercial eggs in the US. In many countries I've visited, eggs are sold on the shelf, unrefrigerated. The reason eggs produced in the US need to be refrigerated is for fear of salmonella because of the way we raise egg-laying chickens in very high density. The eggs from my backyard chickens are good on the counter for 2-3 weeks, and that's in FL heat.

          I'm not anti-GMO, but I do think that a bit of caution is warranted before we dive headlong into releasing GMOs widely. I also think that there's a real difference between the intent to genetically modify organisms in positive ways (drought resistance) and the way that a handful of enormous agri-business companies are attempting to use GMOs to solidify their stranglehold on American agriculture. Honest farmers have been sued by large companies because a patented GMO strain somehow made it's way into their non-GMO fields. That's exploitation of the American farming families that still work their own land. That's the real concern with GMOs, what groups control and distribute them.

          Don't get me wrong, you make some very good points; but the topics you hit in a single post have lots of other angles. I'm a fan of yours because of the scientific way that you address food, meat, grilling and smoking. I look forward to seeing more thoughts from you that delve deeper into the pros and cons of the topics you addressed. Until that point, I'll continue dusting my feral hog ribs with your Memphis dust recipe and wowing crowds here in your old haunt.


          • Murdy
            Murdy commented
            Editing a comment
            "Fishmato" sounds dangerously close to "Sharknado" -- I'm opposed

          • Meathead
            Meathead commented
            Editing a comment
            Sorry I did not respond sooner. I have been reading member comments and revising the manuscript which I will publish shortly. I think I have addressed your issues therein.

          • Robert M
            Robert M commented
            Editing a comment
            You can't state native plants that are immune to roundup was caused by GMO plants with out a lot of study. Hog weed has also developed an immunity, but that is nature at work. same with insecticides, no spraying kills 100% of the targeted pests and the survivors go on to develop an immunity over time. Are GMOs bad, not sure but my concern is more along the lines of what happens in some GMO plant goes rogue and we end up with super kudzu taking over the planet crowding out everything else.



            arboreal has already said pretty much what I was going to add.

            Comparing GMO to breeds of dogs is silly. Why not compare cauliflower to Brussels sprouts? Most people don't realize that cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, savoy, and kohlrabi are the same plant species - just different cultivars (breeds) of Brassica oleracea. Selective breeding of canines and cabbages do not involve the implantation of genes from one species into another species as is the case with some GMO creations.

            For me the real knock against the rush to some GMO's is the impact on the environment, primarily the soil, runoff and effects on various insects.

            I would agree that some people get too worked up by the mention of "chemicals in our food" and I always like to post one of the series of posters a professor created to show how all of our food is made from chemicals:
            Click image for larger version

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            However, there are lots of chemicals we don't want in our food and water and it is becoming more of a battle to prevent such "wayward chemicals" out of the environment.


            • Meathead
              Meathead commented
              Editing a comment
              My bad. In copying and pasting I omitted the credit on the banana analysis: In 2014 James Kennedy, an Australian chemistry teacher

            • Meathead
              Meathead commented
              Editing a comment
              Good points. I will make some changes.

            Click image for larger version

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ID:	644980 Recognizing your wife's impressive accomplishments, I also would like to add that, the Government's limits on pesticides, additives, chemicals, and GMO's is rarely influenced by lengthy, totally conclusive and cummulative studies on humans. I have never trusted the government to be absolutely correct or even close to a real limits of anything or conclusion because as you can see how big pharma and big agriculture bend and twist the agencies final results AND conclusions as result of lobbying with ooddles of money, gifts, free plane trips, free parties, corrupt studies, and phony patents. I grow a lot of my own food and actually know what goes into it. My blueberries have no pesticides of any kind! Water and fertilizer, bio char, elemental sulphur and mycorrhizal fungi, that's it! I have not personally eaten any pesticides a la cart so I do not know if they are really dangerous as the government and press makes them out to be. I eat a lot of Mexican and Chilean blueberries in the winter, both organic and pesticide treated. My only health conclusion I can make from all of this so called "science" is that I am fat from overeating and lack of excercise posting notes to websites like this. Not being poisoned by foreign grown blueberries. Mostly, I have grown week from sitting and eating, not poisons.

            Meathead is right to call of of this out to the floor and recognize that no matter how bad or good salt is for you it will always be extremely healthy if you take all you read and hear with at least one grain!
            Last edited by Lock Stock and Barrel; March 3, 2019, 11:28 AM.


            • Meathead
              Meathead commented
              Editing a comment
              Eeew, sulfur and fungus? Gross! Just kidding.

            • Meathead
              Meathead commented
              Editing a comment
              My wife keeps transplanting MY blueberries and they are all now dead. I need a pesticide for her.

            • Lock Stock and Barrel
              Lock Stock and Barrel commented
              Editing a comment
              The sulfur I added to the soil is used to lower the pH of the soil to 4.5. Not used as dusting sulfur. However, I am sure some Spinosad has drifted to the blueberries!

            This is a draft and I welcome comments, criticisms and edits.


            • mgaretz
              mgaretz commented
              Editing a comment
              Carrageenan is misspelled.

              Also, under natural foods, you spend most of the text on processing, which has nothing, really, to do with natural. So I would rename that section Proccesed Vs Unprocessed or something like that and move the few comments on natural foods into the organic section, renaming it Natural and Organic.

              On processing, I always like to mention honey. Most people would classify that as unprocessed (raw honey, anyway) and also unrefined. Maybe man didn’t do it, but a bee did

            • mgaretz
              mgaretz commented
              Editing a comment
              Sorry, should have said merge the proccesed comments in with the processed section and merge the rest into the organic section.

            Speaking of "processed" and "additives" I have noticed an ever-increasing number of "uncured" meat products on the market. You pick up the package, and it says no added nitrates or nitrites. Then you see the asterisk, flip the package over, and see the qualifier "other than those naturally found in sea salt and celery powder." So how much or how little is considered "uncured?"


            • Polarbear777
              Polarbear777 commented
              Editing a comment
              Celery has some of the same stuff. I also think it’s interesting that many add beet juice to get the red color you would expert from curing.

            • Potkettleblack
              Potkettleblack commented
              Editing a comment
              celery powder is basically nitrates. It's a lie told to reassure the gullible. Uncured bacon is pork belly.

            • Thunder77
              Thunder77 commented
              Editing a comment
              Yes, you are correct. Even Dr Oz is savvy enough to point it out. Although he is still on board with the whole "nitrates will kill you" thing.

            I think Meathead 's comments are spot on. Why is it an issue that GMOs can be transgenic (of mixed species)? What is different about consuming salmon genes spliced into a tomato compared to consuming a meal of tomatoes and salmon? And, speaking of the "unnaturalness" of transgenics, what is so natural about radioactive and chemical mutagenesis, both practices of which are OK by organic ag rules? The organic triticale grain you buy at the No-GMOs "health food" store is a product of chemical mutagenesis involving wheat and rye. It is not "natural". Also of interest is the fact that it is estimated that humans share about 60% of their genes in common with banana plants.

            One of the oddities of organic practices, as codified into USDA regs, is that they are not results based. They are instead based on a somewhat artificial determination of what is "natural", which is pretty silly if you think about it. Instead of basing the decision on what is good, effective practice, on what has the least effect on the environment, etc., everything is based on an artificial idea of "natural". Hence, copper sulfate is OK but "chemical" fertilizers are not. Pyrethrins are OK by organic regs (they come from chrysanthemums), but they are very toxic to bees and other insects, fish and amphibians. GMOs are "bad" for no particular reason, but chemical mutagenesis is fine for no particular reason. Think "traditional breeding" is safe? Read about the Lenape potato: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenape_potato

            It is totally, 100% false that "innocent" farmers have been sued because a GMO product was found in their "non-GMO fields". The only farmers who have been sued, and rightfully so, were those who knowingly used the GMO products without purchasing them.

            Much is made of the fact that GMO seeds must be purchased each year. In reality, this is no different than what has transpired since the introduction of hybrid seeds about a century ago. Farmers of any large scale have not saved seeds for decades. I find it especially angering that people charge that American farmers are being taken advantage of by "Big Ag", as if farmers (who, again, have been buying seed for a century) are too stupid to know what is good for them.

            Why were hybrids adopted? Primarily because of larger yields and/or pest tolerance. As an example, open pollinated (non-hybrid, aka "heirloom") corn was the standard, and only, option up until about a century ago. Yields were on the order of 25--30 bushels per acre. Today’s hybrids (including GMOs) yield from 150 to 200 bpa. (Some of this improvement is due to "chemical" fertilizers as well.)

            It is wrong to assume that eliminating GMO crops will reduce pesticide use. Large scale agriculture has and will employ pesticides, like it or not. No doubt the use of glyphosate (RoundUp) would decrease if glyphosate tolerant GMOs were eliminated, but glyphosate would simply be replaced with other, likely more toxic, pesticides.

            As far as crop contamination, here’s a worthwhile anecdote. I attended an ag conference a few years ago (I do every year) and listened to a speaker from the County Extension Office in Yuma, AZ. Yuma is a big producer of lettuces in winter. One of her big efforts was trying to determine the human health dangers of mice in the fields. Anyhoo, she told how the lettuce buyers (companies) controlled contamination to the point of requiring regular, season-long inspections for BIRD DROPPINGS. If a plant is contaminated, it is staked and any plant within (typically) five feet cannot be harvested. She said a completely picked field can sometimes looked unharvested to a casual observer. FWIW, she also noted that the most commonly contaminated products is sprouts. I can verify that our local Kroger affiliate no longer carries fresh sprouts period. My larger point is that health risks are taken very seriously by all involved in the food chain. F’rinstance, stories of migrant workers relieving themselves in the fields are hogwash. Neither "Big Ag" nor "Big Organic" benefit from the publicity of sick and dead consumers.

            Further fallacies about GMOs are that they aren’t well tested and that "Big GMO" "owns" the USDA. Horsepuckey. GMOs are heavily tested, much more so than conventionally bred (including artificially mutated) crops, sometimes to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. Given that Jerod Broussard works for the USDA, I'd be interested in his comments relative to commercial interference in his daily work.

            Virtually all criticisms made against GMOs are actually criticisms of conventional agriculture at large and were valid before GMOs were a twinkle in Monsanto’s eye. It’s almost criminal that GMOs are taking the blame for problems that existed before GMOs. Sadly, the solutions to many of the problems of modern agriculture—monocropping, fertilizer runoff, soil depletion, pesticide use, overuse of antibiotics--have no easy (read: inexpensive and agriculturally productive) fixes, but they are being addressed. The fact is, GMOs (just now in their infancy) are a start to addressing some of these issues. Development of nitrogen-fixing crops would significantly reduce fertilizer runoff as one example.

            Alas; however, organic agriculture is not really a viable, large-scale solution. The fact is, we currently raise our food on most all of the earth’s land that is amenable to agriculture (plants and livestock both), which is roughly 40% of all non-iced land according to Nat Geo. Not much is left to exploit except the tropical rain forest regions and I don’t think we want to go there. Population projections show we need to feed about 2 billion+ more mouths in the next few decades. Given the fact that organic crop yields are lower than conventional yields for most all crops, large-scale organic farming (I’m not talking about our backyard gardens) is an inefficient use of land—a very limited resource. Organic ag will not feed the world.

            I am a gardener and I practice mostly organically. I have no need to make widespread use of pesticides—organic or conventional. I do use synthetic fertilizers on my 20-tree fruit orchard because twice annual spreading of a large amount of manure is undesirable for several reasons; cost, labor, and cranky neighbors being among them. I also don’t hesitate to use glyphosate against Bermuda grass—nothing organic works.

            We need all the tools we can develop in our toolkit if we’re going to feed the world in the coming decades. GMOs have a promising future that includes enhanced nutrition and land use efficiency. Also, let’s not forget that some already existing GMOs have significantly reduced pesticide use—Bt cotton being one.

            I encourage people to read "The Omnivore’s Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food", both by Michael Pollan (two other less-relevant-to-this-topic Pollan books I can recommend are "The Botany of Desire" and "Cooked"). One of the more interesting takeaways from "Dilemma" is that "Big Organic" is no different than "Big Ag" or any other "Big"; all are interested in self-preservation and all deceive to some extent—it’s called marketing. Another interesting read is a multi-issue series about food and agriculture done by Nat Geo Magazine in 2014. It’s worth the read if you can find those issues. Also consider "The Dose Makes the Poison" by Ottoboni and Frank and "Mendel in the Kitchen" by Brown and Federoff.

            Let me be clear. I am not saying there is anything inherently bad about organic foods. I am questioning the claims that they are better and more nutritious. I do assert that organic agriculture cannot feed the world due to its limitations.
            Last edited by Willy; March 10, 2019, 01:50 PM.


            • Jerod Broussard
              Jerod Broussard commented
              Editing a comment
              The fight over commercial interference is waaaaaaaay over my head. That takes place on a political level I hope to never attain.

            • ddmcwhirter
              ddmcwhirter commented
              Editing a comment
              We've already had one "green revolution" (right term? Can't remember) by which we make food for many more people, who, per the Club of Rome, were going to be starving to death years ago.

            • Meathead
              Meathead commented
              Editing a comment
              As I come down the home stretch on my book I am revisiting the intelligent comments on this page, Thank you for your wise feedback.

            A couple of proof reading comments:

            1) Gwyneth, not Gweneth.
            2) The word "pesticide" covers herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, etc. Weeds are pests too.


            • Bkhuna
              Bkhuna commented
              Editing a comment
              One more correction; Charlatan, not Gwyneth.


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