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Meat-Up in Memphis

T-Shirts & More T-Shirts & More
Order men's and women's T-Shirts, Sweatshirts, Aprons, Mugs, Caps, Tote Bags, Flasks, and more, all imprinted with the Pitmaster Club logo. There's even a spiral bound journal where you can make notes on your cooks.

Cool Embroidered Shirt Cool Embroidered Shirt
This beautifully embroidered shirt is the same one Meathead wears in public and on TV. It's wash and wear and doesn't need ironing (really!), but it is a soft cottonlike feel. Choice of four colors and both men's and women's.

Click here for more info.

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Many merchants pay us a small referral fee when you click our links and purchase from them. On Amazon it works on everything from grills to diapers, they never tell us what you bought, and it has zero impact on the price you pay, but has a major impact on our ability to improve this site! And remember, we only recommend products we love. If you like AmazingRibs.com, please save this link and use it every time you go to Amazon.

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BBQ Stars

SPOTLIGHT

Some Of Our Favorite
Tools And Toys

These are not ads. These are products we love and highly recommend. Click here to read more about our medals and what they mean.

 


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Surely you know somebody who loves outdoor cooking who deserves a gift for the holidays, birthday, anniversary, or just for being wonderful. There he is, right in the mirror! Here are our selections of best ideas, all Platinum or Gold Medalists, listed by price.

Click here to see our list of Gold Medal Gifts


Digital Thermometers Are Your Most Valuable Tool And Here's A Great Buy!

maverick PT55 thermometer

A good digital thermometer keeps you from serving dry overcooked food or dangerously undercooked food. They are much faster and much more accurate than dial thermometers. YOU NEED ONE!

Click here for more info on the Maverick PT-55 Waterproof Instant-Read Thermometer Review shown above. It may be the best value in a thermometer out there


If you have a Weber Kettle, you need the Slow 'N' Sear

slow n sear

The Slow 'N' Sear turns your grill into a first class smoker and also creates an extremely hot sear zone you can use to create steakhouse steaks.

Click here for our article on this breakthrough tool


Bring The Heat With Broil King Signet's Dual Tube Burners

the good one grill

The Broil King Signet 320 is a modestly priced, 3-burner gas grill that packs a lot of value and power under the hood. Broil King's proprietary, dual-tube burners get hot fast and are able to achieve high, searing temps that rival most comparatively priced gas grills. The quality cast aluminum housing carries a Limited Lifetime Warranty.

Click here to read our complete review


The Good-One Is A Superb Grill And A Superb Smoker All In One

the good one grill

The Good-One Open Range is a charcoal grill with an offset smoke chamber attached. It is dramatically different from a traditional offset smoker. The grill sits low in front and doubles as a firebox for the smoke chamber which is spliced on above and behind so it can work like a horizontal offset smoker only better. By placing the heat source behind and under the smokebox instead of off to the side, Open Range produces even temperature from left to right, something almost impossible to achieve with a standard barrel shaped offset.

Click here to read our complete review


Pit Barrel Cooker Smoker

Griddle And Deep Fryer All In One

The flat top does the burgers and the fryer does the fries. Use the griddle for bacon, eggs, and home fries. Or pancakes, fajitas, grilled cheese, you name it. Why stink up the house deep frying and spatter all over? Do your fried chicken and calamari outside. Blackstone's Rangetop Combo With Deep Fryer does it all. Plus it has a built in cutting board, garbage bag holder, and paper towel holder. An additional work table on the left side provides plenty of counter space.

Click here to read our detailed review and to order


Pit Barrel Cooker Smoker

The Pit Barrel Cooker May Be Too Easy

The PBC has a rabid cult following for good reason. It is absolutely positively without a doubt the best bargain on a smoker in the world. Period. This baby will cook circles around the cheap offset sideways barrel smokers in the hardware stores because temperature control is so much easier. Best of all, it is only 9 delivered to your door!

Click here to read our detailed review and the raves from people who own them


The Swiss Army Knife Of Thermometers

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The smart folks at ThermoWorks have finally done it: The Swiss Army Knife of thermometers, two in one. Start with the industry standard food thermometer, the Thermapen MK4, (Platinum Medal winner) truly instant (2 to 3 seconds) precise (+ or – 0.7°F). Then they built in an infrared thermometer ideal for measuring the temps of pizza stones, griddles, and frying pans (also great for finding leaks around doors and windows in your house).

Click here to read our test results and comprehensive review and why it won our Platinum Medal.


Compact Powerful Sear Machine For Your Next Tailgater

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Char-Broil's Grill2Go x200 is a super-portable, fun little sizzler made of heavy, rust-proof cast aluminum. The lid snaps shut. Grab the handle and you're off to the party! Char-Broil's TRU-Infrared design produces searing heat while reducing fuel consumption. A 16 ounce LP gas canister is enough to keep you flipping burgers for hours.

Click here to read our detailed review and to order


The Cool Kettle With The Hinged Hood We Always Wanted

NK-22-Ck Grill

Their NK22CK-C Charcoal Kettle Grill puts a few spins on the familiar kettle design. In fact, the hinged lid with a handle on the front, spins in a rotary motion 180 degrees. It's hard to beat a Weber kettle, but Napoleon holds its own and adds some unique features to make the NK22CK-C a viable alternative.

Click here for more about what makes this grill special


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G&F Suede Welder's Gloves

Heat Resistant Gloves With Extra Long Sleeves Hold The Hot Stuff

If you're using oven mitts at the grill, it's time to trade up. Say hello to these suede welder's gloves. They're heat resistant enough to handle hot grill grates, and flexible enough to handle tongs. The extra long sleeves even let you reach deep into the firebox to move hot logs without getting burned. Our Fave.

Click here to read our detailed review

Click here to order from Amazon


GrillGrates Take Gas Grills To The Infrared Zone

grill grates

GrillGrates(TM) amplify heat, prevent flareups, make flipping foods easier, keep small foods from committing suicide, kill hotspots, are easier to clean, flip over to make a fine griddle, and can be easily removed and moved from one grill to another. You can even throw wood chips, pellets, or sawdust between the rails and deliver a quick burst of smoke to whatever is above. Every gas grill needs them.

Click here for more about what makes these grates so special


kareubequ bbq smoker

Our Favorite Backyard Smoker

The amazing Karubecue is the most innovative smoker in the world. The quality of meat from this machine is astonishing. At its crux is a patented firebox that burns logs above the cooking chamber and sucks heat and extremely clean blue smoke into the thermostat controlled oven. It is our favorite smoker, period.

Click here for our review of this superb smoker


Masterbuilt MPS 340/G ThermoTemp XL Propane Smoker

masterbuilt gas smoker

The First Propane Smoker With A Thermostat Makes This Baby Foolproof

Set ThermoTemp's dial from 175° to 350°F and the thermostat inside will adjust the burner just like an indoor kitchen oven. All you need to do is add wood to the tray above the burner to start smokin'.

Click here to read our detailed review


Professional Steakhouse Knife Set

masterbuilt gas smoker

Our founder, Meathead, wanted the same steak knives used by steakhouses such as Peter Luger, Smith & Wollensky, Morton's, Kobe Club, Palm, and many others. So he located the manufacturer and had them stamp our name on some. They boast pointed, temper-ground, serrated, high-carbon stainless-steel, half-tang blades with excellent cutting edge ability. The beefy hardwood handle provides a comfortable grip secured by three hefty rivets. He has machine washed his more than 100 times. They have never rusted and they stay shiny without polishing. Please note that we do not make, sell, or distribute these knives, they just engrave them with our name.

Click here to read our detailed review and to order


PK 360 grill

Is This Superb Charcoal Grill A Kamado Killer?

The PK-360, with 360 square inches of cooking space, this rust free, cast aluminum charcoal grill is durable and easy to use. Four-way venting means it's easy to set up for two zone cooking with more control than single vent Kamado grills. It is much easier to set up for 2-zone cooking than any round kamado. Beautifully designed and completely portable. Meathead says it is his preferrred grill.

Click here to read our detailed review of the PK 360

Click here to order it direct from PK and get a special deal for AmazingRibs.com readers only


Fireboard: The Ultimate Top Of The Line BBQ Thermometer

fireboard bbq thermometer

With the ability to monitor up to six temperatures simultaneously with either Bluetooth or Wifi on your mobile phone, tablet, or computer, Fireboard is the best digital thermometer we’ve tested.

Click here to read our detailed review


Finally, A Great Portable Pellet Smoker

Green Mountain Davey Crockett Grill

Green Mountain's portable Davy Crockett Pellet Smoker is one mean tailgating and picnic machine. But it's also gaining popularity with people who want to add a small, set it and forget it pellet smoker to their backyard arsenal. And with their WiFi capabilities you can control and monitor Davy Crocket from your smart phone or laptop.

Click here to read our detailed review and to order

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Meat-Up in Memphis 2020

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Beware Of The Marketers

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  • Meathead
    started a topic Beware Of The Marketers

    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.

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    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.

    SOME THOUGHTS ON SUSTAINABILITY AND GMOs

    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.

    SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT ORGANIC FOODS

    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.

    SOME THOUGHTS ON LOCAVORISM

    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.

    SOME THOUGHTS ON FOOD AND HEALTH

    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.

    THE PROBLEM WITH DIETARY AND NUTRITION SCIENCE

    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.

  • Polarbear777
    commented on 's reply
    Yeah but talk about a marketing dream. No wonder the big wigs are investing big bucks, they expect to make even bigger bucks. They know people will eat this up.

    I’ve tried impossible. The taste is very close to very lean beef. They still don’t seem to have the texture/fat or something exactly right.

  • mountainsmoker
    replied
    What does a vegetarian eat anyway. Can anyone tell me? Never mind I found it online I can survive with eggs and dairy.LOL

    Leave a comment:


  • Huskee
    commented on 's reply
    mountainsmoker I'm a bit ignorant of them and their target audience, but like you say I too think the purpose is mainly for meat eaters who want to cut back w/o feeling like they're cutting back. Sounds like they're too realistic for those who simply don't like meat.

  • mountainsmoker
    commented on 's reply
    I have to laugh vegetarians don't want there food to look or taste like meat. Oh well, I read in an article that more meat eaters were eating them than vegetarians.

  • ComfortablyNumb
    commented on 's reply
    Meathead The riskiest thing we do is come out of the womb.

  • troymeister
    commented on 's reply
    Huskee Funny you mention that. My Daughter is mostly vegetarian and says the same thing. She says it's too much like beef for her to eat!!...I find it very interesting as well.

  • Huskee
    commented on 's reply
    troymeister My niece is a vegetarian and she had an Impossible Burger at a restaurant recently, she said it was so close to beef it grossed her out, the taste, texture, even the fact that they use beets in them so the juices were pink. She couldn't eat it. I found it very interesting.

  • troymeister
    commented on 's reply
    I have been trying to learn about the making these products. Processed seems an understatement.

    I have tried Beyond Beef. I actually think it is quite good.

  • Huskee
    commented on 's reply
    Artificially colored & flavored soft drinks top my list of guesses, especially those using artificial sweeteners too. Aside from the water they use, 100% of everything else is a processed chemical.

  • Meathead
    replied
    Just wondering, what is the most processed food of all? Could it be the latest darlings of the health conscious vegetarians, Impossible Beef or Beyond Beef?

    Leave a comment:


  • Meathead
    commented on 's reply
    I agree. The riskiest thing we do is get behind the wheel.

  • mountainsmoker
    replied
    I believe more people die of accidents, smoking(which took me a long time to give up, you do it if you want, no judgement from me,) drunk driving(2 tickets in my20's), there own foolishment, drugs and other things than from processed foods and GMO'

    When owned and ran Nursery the NC State Agricultural Experimental Station was 60 miles away in Fletcher, NC and I often visited it when I owned and ran my Nursery. They were always glad to show me around there labs and fields. It was always interesting. It normally took 8-10 years from idea to market for a seed. That included crossing parents, and maybe again, testing for taste and flavor, pest and disease resistance, quality and size of fruit, marketability and other qualities. Even longer for the native shrubs and trees I was growing. They often had plots of over 100 different tomatoes and the same of other vegetables. It was manned by a staff of several PhD's and there students and a full staff of works knowledgeable in what they were doing.

    Are these processed foods heck yes it just takes time to get to market.





























    Leave a comment:


  • ComfortablyNumb
    commented on 's reply
    Wait a minute, I see dying with five pounds of undigested meat in my bowels a good thing, because I would have ate lots of meat just before I died, and if you are going to go, might as well go with a full, happy belly.

    BTW, I just supported your local economy, my new boots get delivered Monday.

  • Robert M
    commented on 's reply
    What most people don't realize is bacteria and fungi break down most of the nutrients plants absorb. So those who claim natural fertilizers are superior to chemical fertilizers are not completely correct. All the plant sees is nitrogen and does not question where it came from.
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