Bizarre Confessions

General => Health & Sports => Topic started by: random axe on April 29, 2010, 10:46:37 AM

Title: Food and Gunk
Post by: random axe on April 29, 2010, 10:46:37 AM
Because of Omnivore's Dilemma, mostly.

So, OK, I do like the book better as I go along, but Pollan and I just don't quite think alike, even if we mostly agree.  He describes high-fructose corn syrup (which needs that hyphen, and to hell with the food industry) as being 55% fructose and 45% glucose, but the thing is that there's a second common form that's 42% fructose and 58% glucose.  I've never seen any evidence that one is healthier for you than the other, but if you don't know that there are two major types you will always get punked for it by the You're A Corn Alarmist people in arguments.  Forewarned, and all.


But . . . OK, he goes into a thing about natural food substances vs 'food science' foodstuffs.  And here's the thing, as I see it:

- There's no reason why natural substances should be ideal foods for modern humans.

Because:

- Humans adapted to eat naturally occurring foods.  Yes.  But the very fact that we're so omnivorous argues that we're not particularly adapted to eat any of them, in particular.  We're opportunists, not specialists.  It does mean that we probably do better with a varied diet, but it doesn't mean we necessarily do better with any varied diet.  It's more complicated than this, but, basically, the odds are extremely low that if we picked our own diet from a huge buffet of all-natural foods we'd wind up eating an optimal diet.

- All-natural foods are practically non-existent, anyway.  Cultivated foods aren't exactly naturally occurring, and even the highest-rated organic foods are often heavily treated with chemicals not natural to them, even if they're chemicals from natural sources.  Obviously, a lot of things that are naturally occurring aren't good for us.  The NutraSweet people used to go on and on about how of course NutraSweet was safe and wholesome because all the chemical compounds in it were also found in bananas and milk, but you could also make sodium cyanide out of the chemical compounds in bananas and milk.

- In any case, humans evolved to survive on various natural foods . . . in accordance with what evolution wanted.  Near as we can tell, evolution didn't want many of us to live past 35 or so, or to delay first pregnancy past our teens, or etc.  Or for diabetics to survive long, just for instance.  My goals aren't the same goals evolution had 50,000 years ago, much less three million years ago.  I don't want to live like a caveman, so there's no logic to me eating like a caveman.

- Science is awesome.  Food science is often awesome.  Without question, science can improve naturally occurring foods.  This strikes me as extremely important and not to be swept under the rug.

- However, science can certainly alter foods without improving them.  And of course a giant food corporation's interests, like those of evolution, aren't likely the same as my own.  Evolution is largely about propagation, and corporations are almost entirely about profits, and neither propagation nor profits at the expense of my personal well-being happens to fit my lifestyle.  Speaking personally.


All of that said, Pollan doesn't seem too soapboxy.  A lot of people get swept away by a single big idea and become too fanatical about it, and he seems much more moderate and reasonable, which is excellent.  And (spoiler, eh?) I'm pretty sure the conclusions he reaches are generally good ones, regardless of the exact nuts and bolts of his reasoning. 

But while I may deplore what is done with corn and how industrial agriculture is run, I don't mean to argue that it can't be a very good, great thing.  Processed foods aren't necessarily bad . . . even if most of the obvious ones at the supermarket or McDonald's obviously are.  But if I buy a bag of flour, I'm certainly pleased that it's uniform and clean and apparently free of thrips and stones.

Still, the government and the consumer have to keep a close eye on these people.  If you just look at what the dairy industry was like a hundred years ago (or what it was very recently like in Japan, where it was largely unregulated in practice) compared to how it is now, you'll know what I mean.  And I think corn could be a much better thing for us than it is, although I'd still prefer to see my meat grown in a vat, or produced synthetically by a kitchen appliance (even though I couldn't afford one).
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: vox8 on April 29, 2010, 11:11:05 AM
But while I may deplore what is done with corn and how industrial agriculture is run, I don't mean to argue that it can't be a very good, great thing.  Processed foods aren't necessarily bad . . . even if most of the obvious ones at the supermarket or McDonald's obviously are.  But if I buy a bag of flour, I'm certainly pleased that it's uniform and clean and apparently free of thrips and stones.

Heh, that's just the thing, Pollan doesn't come to any conclusion - he just provides the information and allows you to decide for yourself.

You need to follow up OD with In Defense of Food which will actually address a great deal of what you are talking about up there. The "whys" and "hows".

The problem with the bag of flour that you are buying is that it is refined white flour. To make it possible for the industrial production and distribution of flour - turning it into a commodity - it is necessary to strip it of the parts of the wheat kernel that are susceptible to spoilage. This is the germ of the wheat and the part of the wheat that is full of the actual nutrients present in wheat. What you are left with is a bag of pretty much nutritionally worthless starch. It has been stripped of it's nutrients and fiber and you are left with something that pretty much turns instantly into sugar upon consumption.

I have got to go pick up my little man, or I would rant with you for awhile. But really, if you like his writing style - IDoF should be next on your list. They are pretty much companion books.

And just in case, do not think that I have bought everything he is selling hook, line and sinker - I haven't. But he makes some very good points and provokes some very good thinking.

Personally, my favorite of his books is The Botany of Desire
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: random axe on April 29, 2010, 04:56:23 PM
Well, I'm in favor of starch, myself, although of course I know what you're saying.  Still, I wouldn't say it's nutritionless -- it's pretty much always enriched, here in the US.  I haven't baked anything myself, I think, in like fifteen years, but right now I have flour that was left over by a tenant; it's Meijer-brand enriched bleached white flour, which is about as generic as you can get.  It's not whole wheat flour, certainly, but it's not nutritionless.

Back when I used to use flour myself, I used to get regerminated wheat flour (King Somebody-or-other brand?) that had a decent shelf life.  I always liked dense baked goods, anyway.  I don't remember the details -- my ex was more of a foodie than I ever was -- but I think they cook the germ separately and then add it back in, or something, but it had a shelf life of months, anyway, and it's not like we bought 50 lb bags.  We used to have a jar of wheat germ in the fridge, too, to add to baked stuff, although mostly because it was traditional.

Not that we were exactly gourmets.  We made chicken nuggets with a coating of crushed Triscuits.  :shrug:

As much as I'm a carboloader by nature, I agree that starch that's too refined is not particularly good for you and not as good for you as less-refined starches, in general, although I've had bulgur bread that damn near killed me.  Also, I like white rice of short and medium grains, brown rice, jasmine rice, basmati rice, even arborio rice, but almost any dish called 'wild rice' doesn't please me.  And I think potatoes have been much maligned at times.

I've heard that flour is bleached not for appearance so much as to speed up the oxidization process and that this somehow keeps it from spoiling, but I don't know the details or if it's true.  Personally, the color of unbleached wheat is at least as attractive, if you ask me.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: vox8 on April 29, 2010, 09:00:07 PM
I don't think I can go much further with this conversation until you read IDoF.

"Enriching" doesn't work. There have been plenty of studies that show that taking supplements is pretty much useless. The body has a very difficult time utilizing nutrients when they have been removed from their natural food carriers. Vitamins and such are absorbed by the body with much greater efficacy when they are consumed in real food.

Stripping a food stuff (here being wheat) of all of it's natural nutrients and then adding back in a few nutrients that 1) "scientists" have decided are needed and 2) that have been chemically separated from god-knows-what other product is not the same as eating the whole food. We are not as smart as we think we are and the complex interactions of nutrients, fiber, acids and whatever in even the simplest foodstuff is beyond our current ability to create.

Wild rice isn't rice - it is a seed.

Polished white rices have very little nutritional value, potatoes are only nutritionally beneficial if you eat the skin.

And oxidation in flour is a bad thing - if bleaching does anything it slows it down.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: random axe on April 29, 2010, 10:53:28 PM
Quote
I don't think I can go much further with this conversation until you read IDoF.

Well, that's fair, of course, since we're not working from the same frame of reference.

But . . .

I naturally agree that stripping the nutritional content out of a food and then dumping a multivitamin into it is not equivalent to eating the original food, and generally isn't nearly as healthful.  Still, government-mandated enrichment procedures are generally (and, I think, quite reasonably) credited with vast improvements in public health, from folic acid to Vitamin D.  Certainly it's possible to absorb nutrition from a synthetic supplement pill; certainly a doctor can cure scurvy with Vitamin C tablets.  This doesn't mean that taking Centrum Complete will allow you to live on a diet of puffed Twinkies, god knows, but synthetic nutrients are not worthless, even if they're generally not as ideal as their natural formulations in situ.

Moreover, I'm afraid to say that the notion that all the nutrition in a potato is in the skin is simply a persistent myth.  In fact, the big starchy bit has a lower density of nutrients but generally contains about half of the vitamins and minerals.  If memory serves, the only thing you lose pretty much completely by discarding the skin is the protein content.  It's much better to eat the skin, too -- and I like to, myself, despite being a ridiculously picky eater -- but the importance of the skin has been exaggerated.  They used to popularly say that all the nutrients in an apple were in the core, too.

And I agree that we're not as smart as we think we are, like you say, but I think a bigger problem is the tendency of money to get involved.  Everybody wants to sell a wonder pill, and so they don't really care if you can't absorb iron and calcium from the same pill.  They know better; they just want your money whether you're getting the benefits you think you're getting or not.  You can't trust corporations more than you can't trust science.

Still, it's all so complicated that it's impossible not to generally approve of any common sense approach that provides easy rules to follow.  What is it Pollan's famous for saying?  Something like 'Eat food, and not too much, and mostly plants.' and of course by 'food' he means 'naturally occurring food'.  I suppose someone could potentially cause themselves problems if they ate nothing but lettuce and drank nothing but apple juice and tap water, but it's obviously a strong rule of thumb.  No argument there.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: vox8 on April 30, 2010, 06:27:59 AM
  Something like 'Eat food, and not too much, and mostly plants.' and of course by 'food' he means 'naturally occurring food'.  I suppose someone could potentially cause themselves problems if they ate nothing but lettuce and drank nothing but apple juice and tap water, but it's obviously a strong rule of thumb.  No argument there.

That comes from IDoF and the entire book is pretty much explaining the why and how of that very simple statement. Again I must emphasize that I have not bought into Pollan with my Pension Fund - but he raises issues in ways that need to be raised - and with the appropriate level of information and detail to engage a wide audience.

While several of your nit-picky issues are indeed factual - if Pollan had gone into that level of detail in either book he would have lost his narrative and a substantial portion of his readership. While you and I would have slogged through the mire created by all of the qualifications, clarifications and footnotes - the general American public would not. They are difficult enough books to read already when viewed from the average American's reading habits. And these are the very people that he needs most desperately to reach.

Critical thinking is not currently a highly valued skill set. While I applaud Pollan for writing at higher than a 5th grade level, I understand his need to gloss over some issues. He takes pains to point out that he is a journalist, not a scientist. I believe your points of contention would be more valid were you reading an article published in a Scientific Journal - but you are not. They are books that are attempting to reach the Great Unwashed Masses and actually make them think about what they are shoving in their Pie Hole, some generalization is bound to occur.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: flipper on April 30, 2010, 11:51:19 AM
Another good set of books for the nutrition science of this are those by Marion Nestle (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_1_11?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=marian+nestle&x=0&y=0&sprefix=marian+nest)

Multivitamins and supplements don't have the necessary phyto-chemicals which are also important to nutrition.  Also the body is a system and what you pair foods with affects absorption, metabolism, anti-pathogen action, hormone resistance, etc.  So diets have evolved over the years to suit the cultures and regions of people where they live.  Also their are individual differences due to genetic diversity and unique ontogenetic history.  Person A may need have an optimum diet of eating X at such and such a time but not with Y, and person B may need something completely different.  Just look at disorders such as Celiac disease or Phenylketoneuria.

The big problem with food technology is they focus on just a few variables (i.e. vitamins, taste, etc.), when the systems biology of eating has countless variables.  True if they were able to account for every variable and every individuals optimal variable mix then it would be fine and dandy.  But given their track record, the regional diets for regional people using natural food (and by natural I'm including cultivation, breeding, GMO, etc.) rather than processed foodstuffs delivered by the food technology giants.  This all is not to say that we shouldn't continue using technology when it comes to food.  Modern agriculture and refrigeration have definitely freed up time for people to pursue other endeavors rather than just hunt and gather all the time.  Without these advancements we'd have probably not be able to carry on a textual conversation in this thread right now.

Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: random axe on April 30, 2010, 04:38:20 PM
Quote from: vox8
he raises issues in ways that need to be raised - and with the appropriate level of information and detail to engage a wide audience.

Yeah, I can agree with and get behind that.  But I'm not reviewing it with an eye to recommending it to a general audience; I'm just giving my own reaction to it.  And I nitpick most things.  It doesn't mean I hate them.


flipper, it's certainly true that there's a lot more to vitamins / minerals / nutrition than they thought fifty years ago, and I'm sure there's still a metric ton they don't know yet. 

Evolution does play a relevant role, of course, but, again, evolution isn't really your friend, either.  And regional diets are less relevant in First World areas where so many people have moved from their ancestral regions.  But the issue of processed foods not being healthy, again, is more the result of corporations seeking profits than food science failing.  The latter, sometimes, yes, of course -- and I'm not trying to argue that science is infallible, god knows. 

But the food industry certainly KNOWS how to make healthier foods.  It's just not their goal.  They don't produce unhealthy foods on purpose so much as that they're producing profitable foods, end of statement.  Corporations are specifically designed to maximize profits, not to serve the public good, and that's why they have to be regulated . . . and not allowed to run the government.

I mean, though . . . :hmm: . . . NASA's doing a lot of food science to produce foodstuffs for people going to Mars.  These have to have a whole hell of a lot of the same basic characteristics that mass-market foodstuffs allegedly aim for:  long shelf life and low spoilage, high nutrition, easy digestibility, extreme portability, pleasant taste and texture, etc.  Don't you think they'll do a better job than Cocoa Puffs?  That's because they're not trying to make a profit.

I realize you may want to hold Tang against them, but (A) Tang wasn't really invented by or for NASA, (B) Tang didn't used to be nearly as evil as it is today, and (C) NASA's options were pretty limited back in the mid-60s.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: random axe on April 30, 2010, 08:25:44 PM
Heh.  Around page 100, he talks about evolution not being your friend, although not in that exact language.  Weirdly, he claims HFCS had never been tasted by consumers until 1980, which may be a typo -- it's about five years too late.

Not crucial.  I'm just saying.

He also says that "One in three kids in America eats fast food every day."  I actually see this claim made a lot, although I have no idea where it comes from.  The thing is, I'm not sure what it's supposed to mean, which strikes me every time I see it.  I previously last saw it in the NY Times, and I'm not saying it's wrong.  But I always see it phrased like that.

It could mean:

1)  Every day, 33% of kids in the US eat fast food.

or

2)  33% of kids in the US eat fast food every day.

Which is kind of a huge difference.  The first possibility doesn't even seem surprising.  Unfortunate, but, yeah, I could totally believe that.  Depending on what you consider 'fast food', I could believe considerably higher numbers, since a lot of school cafeterias serve pizza, cheeseburgers, soda, etc.  And then there are frozen chicken nugget dinners that aren't much different from McD's.  So, yeah, sure.

But do a third of the kids in this country, a horribly malnourished demographic, eat fast food every single day?  I think I could believe that, but it's pretty damned awful if it's true.  Still, when I was at my first high school, like most of the kids, yes, I ate a cheeseburger, soda, and fries at lunch every single weekday.  So that's not so hard to believe, either.

:shrug:

It's bad either way.

Oh, also, the new 'white meat' McNuggets are gross.  Not nearly as good as the old 'mystery gunk' McNuggets, frankly.  The density is all wrong, and they always seem to be too greasy.  I'd even rate them below White Castle's dreaded novelty chicken rings -- if you're going to process the hell out of it, it's OK to be honest about it, I figure.  Although Tyson's nuggets that are shaped like little drumsticks have always mystified me.  Am you supposed to pretend you're eating the bone?  It's like making them chicken-shaped.  Does not compute.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: vox8 on April 30, 2010, 08:40:20 PM
I am pretty sure that it is #2.

33% of children eat Fast Food every day. And I am pretty sure by Fast Food he means food purchased from a large "Fast Food" "restaurant".
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: random axe on April 30, 2010, 09:10:42 PM
Yeah, I'm kind of afraid that's what it is, too.

Ye gods.  That is all messed up.  I can't even imagine eating chain fast food every day even if I went to a different chain every day.

Hell, I couldn't afford that.

Actually, the scariest foodthing I remember seeing in the supermarket, in terms of processed foodgunk, was a Lunchables that a girl I was with pulled off the shelf to show me.  I don't even remember what was so bad about it, but the ingredients made Mexican junk food labels look like an apple.  Hmm . . . Wikipedia says they made them less horrible back in 2005 after complaints.

What struck me the most, though, was how unappealing the thing looked.  Even the crackers looked like crap.  Ew.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on April 30, 2010, 09:32:43 PM
I had the same complaint about the dinosaur shaped fries at the natural history museum. No, kids. CONTAINS NO DINOSAUR. Or even dinosaur descendant.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: flipper on May 03, 2010, 05:31:20 PM
Some of the nitrogen used to grow the ingredients could have been recycled from the dinosaurs.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: random axe on May 03, 2010, 06:20:21 PM
Indirectly.  Coprolite mulch won't decompose in time for this season's marigolds.

But since a lot of fertilizer is made from oil, who knows, eh?  Although sometimes I doubt that much petroleum is formed from megafauna.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: pdrake on May 05, 2010, 02:23:13 AM
i once traded a carving for a piece of coprolite. it's pretty. it's on a shelf in my house. i can post a pic if you want. it's from a dino.

should i read this book or the thread. which one is shorter?  :D
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: random axe on May 05, 2010, 02:45:12 PM
This thread's way shorter, but the book's good and worth reading.  It does definitely pick up some more steam after he gets to the Salatin farm, as vox said.  I want to hear more about how the farm actually operates.  It sounds amazing but also sounds like it must provide full-time labor for at least half a dozen people.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I'm curious about the details.


Just the other day, the NY Times, among other places, ran an article about how Roundup Ready weeds are now encroaching furiously on Roundup Ready crops -- soybeans, cotton, and corn.  The articles all sort of distort the evolutionary process at hand, but that's not really the point, anyway.

One thing that really struck me:  The biggest problem, allegedly, is pigweed, which is to say palmer amaranth.  It's a weed, in that it grows where it's not wanted.  It tolerates all kinds of soils and a huge range of moisture levels, including pretty severe drought, and different amounts of sunlight.  It'll grow in the open and it'll grow in partial shade.  It'll grow more than three inches per day in decent growing conditions, up to a height of more than seven feet.  It'll out-compete even genetically modified, monoculture, ultra-pampered corn.

What a pain in the ass!  Except that (A) it's a native plant, (B) the leaves and fruit/seeds are perfectly edible, and it produces a lot per plant, (C) as a grain, it's extremely high in protein and other goodies, (D) the stalks can be used for making paper, alcohol, and etc, and (E) you can spray weedkillers on it without harming it and without having to pay Monsanto extra money for the privilege.  But you don't need much weedkiller with it, anyway, because it out-competes weeds so well. 

OK, there isn't much of a current market for it.  Some amaranth products are already sold, but not so many, and it would take some time for agribusiness to gear up to process it instead of corn, but you can make most of the same processed gunk out of it, from sweeteners to thickeners to ethanol.  I'm not sure if it can be processed to safely use as silage; I'm told livestock won't eat the leaves and can't easily eat the stalks.  But that stuff is just a matter of industry adjustment.  I don't think people honestly care what their Coco Puffs are made out of if they taste the same.  And this is just talking about pigweed that hasn't been bred or modified as a crop.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.  Of course, until or unless Monsanto and Bayer and etc do modify pigweed (which they'd probably go back to calling amaranth) so that they can license their own brand, this will never happen.  But if ever there were a species of weed begging to become a crop, this might be it.  It's already taking over fields on its own, for crying out loud.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on May 05, 2010, 02:52:45 PM
:galm: One of the few things that annoyed me about Anathem was the blithe assumption that it would be possible to genetically engineer perfect food crops that required little to no maintenance and could support hundreds of people on a few acres year round. Stephenson knows better. Oh well, it was a required plot device, like the longevity treatment in {Red,Green,Blue} Mars.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: random axe on May 05, 2010, 03:35:24 PM
Any crop advanced enough to grow that prodigiously without human intervention would still likely either need automated intervention OR would be so rapacious that you'd have to keep a damned close eye on it.  It would probably also live in a vat or lagoon, not on dry land, and it wouldn't be too appetizing in its natural form.

Niven had giant mats of littoral algae genetically engineered as foodstuff in Bordered in Black, and I think that's plausible, but it's certainly not gourmet, and the entire planet's ecosystem (such as it was) had been created to support the stuff.  George R R Martin described various semi-plausible super-duper-crops in Tuf Voyaging, but they weren't super-duper-enticing . . . and the most prodigious ones also contained organic contraceptives.  :lol:

No, if you want to maximize nutritional production per stere from an organic source (ie, no nanotechnological wishwash) like that, you have to go pretty industrial.  There's only so much sunlight, rain, air, and dirt and only so much surface area.  You need something like labyrinthine vats cooled by a flow of enriched water, possibly under high pressure, supporting microorganisms that detach automatically from the culture surface when they're 'ripe' -- to be carried away by the coolant, which is filtered in the first stage of processing.  If you can make the culture surface emit light ideal for photosynthesis, then that's OK, but you're better off with something engineered to use heat to drive anabolism, probably with something engineered from deep-rock archaea, although I don't think (?) any thermosynthetic species are currently known.  They're probably down there, though.

It's not about individual metabolic efficiency but volume.  You're going to need huge refineries, possibly mostly underground or underwater, using nuclear power to drive huge culture tanks to produce an indefinitely recyclable nutritional slurry that gets processed into food items.  Then you probably have to save the waste and loop it back into the system.

Or you can do the entire thing industrially, without organisms.  Plants are marvelous at the nitrogen cycle, but if you have enough people to feed, you need something that can run the cycle at much higher energy levels than ambient sunlight and without wasting a lot of energy building cellulose and transporting water and fighting gravity.  Protein is a little more complicated but doable with near-future technology.  Soylent everything, yo.  But you need a lot of power, and it'll probably come from fission or fusion.  OR the population could drop like a rock.  We'll see.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: vox8 on May 05, 2010, 04:32:09 PM
Pigweed is eeeeevil.

And just because something is technically edible doesn't mean anyone actually wants to eat it. Have you ever had amaranth? It tastes like CRAP.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: random axe on May 05, 2010, 07:28:06 PM
Well, I'm not sure I'd like tiosinte, either.  And pigweed's only evil if you don't want it.  If it's a dollar a plant and it grows like mad by itself . . . .

I'm sure some university is looking into the matter already, but I'd like to see how it's going.

I've seen amaranth snack foods but not eaten them.  I can't remember if I've eaten anything made with the grain, which obviously isn't a recommendation.  I always hear it described favorably, but I only hear it described by enthusiasts, so that doesn't prove anything.  The leaves allegedly taste like spinach, and I like spinach.  :shrug:

I wouldn't mind working in a food lab, trying to make the stuff palatable and marketable.  I think it's worth a shot.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: random axe on May 05, 2010, 07:35:36 PM
Of course, I should note that the palmer pigweed isn't the same as the amaranth that's commonly sold as food in the US now, so whether or not it tastes good is potentially a very separate issue.

The googles suggest that commonly available amaranth varies in odor and flavor, especially if it's toasted or not before being milled.  Apparently it lacks gluten and can only be used (by itself) for flat breads, which is OK . . . not fabulous, but I usually prefer wheat to corn for flour anyway.  If you cook it like rice, it tends to be very gummy, which isn't my preference, god knows.

It also allegedly has an odor and aftertaste that only some people can detect.  Hrm.  With my sense of taste, I'm almost certainly a detector, as it were, but I'm curious enough now to try to find some so I can try it out.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: random axe on May 06, 2010, 04:49:43 PM
Mmph.  OK, a major pet peeve of mine comes up on p 150 of the edition I have, where Pollan is talking about the origins of organic farming:

Quote
A charge often leveled against organic agriculture is that it is more philosophy than science.  There's some truth to this indictment, if that is what it is, though why organic farmers should feel defensive about it is itself a mystery, a relic, perhaps, of our fetishism of science as the only credible tool which which to approach nature.


OK, there's a problem here with the thinking going on, and although it may seem nitpicky I personally think it actually illustrates a major problem with our culture, although I think Pollan is reflecting it as much as he is personally perpetrating it.  But he moves on without thinking enough about what he himself has just said.

First, is organic agriculture more a philosophy than a science?  If so, how so, and what's the difference, and how much does it matter?  He makes a rhetorical jab at the notion that this is a bad thing, but he doesn't actually resolve it.  I have a feeling he'll get around to it, in some degree, at some point, but the indictment here is really an indictment of science, which is a big deal that shouldn't be tossed off so lightly.

Second of all, there's a severe misapprehension of "science" here.  By definition, science almost certainly is our best tool.  Science is the process of finding out what works and what works best.  If you find and establish a better process, you are doing science, although it might be very unrigorous.  Equating the use of science with science itself is not cool.  If you hate science because you hate agribusiness, then by the exact same logic you should also hate plants, people, and the Earth and sun. 

To be fair, Pollan does make hints at the problem being "oversimplifications" and easy answers, but he still fails to draw a distinction between industry and science, which is not a minor oversight.  Ironically, he goes on to say, on the next page:

Quote
In Howard's agronomy, science is mostly a tool for describing what works and explaining why it does.

Which, yes, that's what science is.  The reality is that organic agriculture is philosophically different from typical industrial agriculture, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse.  Both use science, and both misuse science, especially -- in either case -- when their guiding philosophies get out of control.  The sins of industrial agriculture are rather greater, no argument from me, but I couldn't say how much of that is primarily a problem of scale

I think the bottom line is that there's wise agriculture and there's foolish.  Pollan makes a lot of good points about the evils of corporate organic agriculture, but, really, the problem once again is that corporations look out for themselves, not for the consumer or the environment or the long term.  There are lots of organic farms out that that, with the best of intentions but not the best of science, use entirely natural pesticides that are awfully toxic.  But they're mostly small farms, and the damage they can do is limited as a result.

I mean, I doubt many non-corporatized family farms fifty or more years ago ever had waste lagoons the size of lakes.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: random axe on May 06, 2010, 11:05:45 PM
Oooh . . . I really do mostly agree with Pollan, but he keeps saying little things that drive me crazy.  Writing about big organic farms, he says:

Quote
Instead of toxic pesticides, insects are controlled by spraying-approved organic agents (most of them derived from plants) such as rotenone, pyrethrum, and nicotine sulfate

Being derived from plants doesn't make these chemicals necessarily somehow better for the environment or consumers.  In fact, just procuring and processing these pesticides might be worse than synthesizing them.  I don't know.  But rotenone and pyrethrins are incredibly toxic.  Rotenone is so toxic to insects, amphibians, and fish that they use it when they want to sterilize a large body of water, and a couple of recent studies have shown that eating tiny traces of it on a regular basis can produce Parkinson-like neurological damage in lab animals.  Pyrethrins are toxic enough that you're supposed to wear a gas mask if you sprinkle them on your garden at home.  Either of them is destructive to soil ecology.

He also mentions that organic farms tend to till their fields more frequently to destroy weeds -- and he does say that this damages the soil, but he didn't mention that it also hugely increases soil erosion.  It's part of how we got the Dust Bowl.  And the wisdom of fertilizing crops with chicken manure depends heavily on the diets and health of those chickens.  You gotta watch out for that.  If those chickens were pumped full of horror at an industrial farm, that manure might not be a better idea than synthetic ammonium nitrate fertilizer.

He's not saying this kind of farming is awesome; he says he's not sure if it's better or not.  I'm not sure either.  He just really got me with that "Instead of toxic pesticides" bit.  If they dump enough of just about anything onto those fields to kill off all the weeds and bugs, it's going to be too much of whatever that is to be a good idea.  One of the reasons everyone's so cranky about the Roundup-resistant weeds is that glysophate, the actual herbicide in Roundup, is about the most-effective yet all-around safest herbicide ever discovered.  Roundup itself is less environmentally friendly because of the other ingredients in it, but glysophate itself is more benign than rotenone or pyrethrins. 

Unless you're a jackass factory farm that sprays fifty zillion gallons of the stuff per acre year after year.  The wrong use of any tool is purely stupid, let's face it.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: random axe on May 07, 2010, 11:45:50 PM
The stuff in Omnivore's Dilemma about Earthbound Farm is pretty surprising.  They're actually WAY better in their practices than I would have believed.  I'm impressed.

I'm not knocking Pollan, here, just thinking about stuff he says, like this bit about a ready-to-eat mixed-greens salad sold in a supermarket:

Quote
A one-pound box of prewashed lettuce contains 80 calories of food energy.  According to Cornell ecologist David Pimentel, growing, chilling, washing, packaging, and transporting that box of organic salad to a plate on the East Coast takes more than 4,600 calories of fossil fuel energy, or 57 calories of fossil fuel energy for every calorie of food.  (These figures would be about 4 percent higher if the salad were grown conventionally.)

Well, OK.  But I want to think about this a bit.

First, a green salad like this isn't eaten for its calories, and isn't healthful because of its calories, so it's not valued because of them, either.  (For many consumers, its value lies in its lack of calories.)  So while the ratio is interesting, it doesn't necessarily mean too much, not anymore than that one pound of lard would have well over 12,000 calories.  That obviously doesn't make lard better than lettuce, or a better use of fossil fuel to produce.

Second, you've got to wonder how much fossil fuel energy would be used if that same salad were produced on the East Coast instead, and thus not transported as far.  What if the consumer grew it in the backyard?  Is it possible to grow that lettuce and not use any fossil fuel energy?  I think it probably is, if the rain and sun cooperate and your soil is good and the bugs aren't bad and you eat it pretty much the same day you pick it. 

Local food might very well be more energy efficient, but maybe we should also wonder if the system in question could be significantly more efficient.  And -- if reducing fossil fuel usage is the goal -- if we should be eating pre-packaged pre-prepared pre-washed salads.  I'm not saying we shouldn't; maybe buying separate kinds of lettuce is about equally energy-costly.  I don't know.

Third, he said Earthbound Farm uses biodiesel for its tractors.  I don't know if the ecologist took this into account.  I also don't know if it's significant, all in all.

Fourth, OK . . . at first I assumed that when Pollan talks about food, he's using food calories (kilocalories) but when he talks about fossil fuel he's using real calories, because those are the common usages.  But if that's the case, it means that one gallon of gas (at 31 million calories) could produce over 6700 pounds of salad.  Well, that seems REALLY efficient, frankly.  I tend to doubt it, but if that's the case, then I can't really worry about that end of things too much. 

OK, so maybe he means kilocalories in both cases, in which case it takes a gallon of gas to produce 6.7 pounds of salad.  If so, that should account for about 45 cents of the price of a one-pound bag of salad.  How many servings of salad is that?  Traditional catering references suggest that one serving of a green salad is 1 to 1.5 ounces.  That seems like a pretty damn small salad to me, and the googles suggest that one cup of shredded lettuce is anywhere from 4-9 ounces.  I don't think too many Americans are eating 1 oz salads.  I'd guess, in an average salad, more like 3 oz of greens.  I think there are two or three of those in a typical supermarket bag of pre-washed mixed greens, although it's been forever since I bought pre-mixed salad.

So I'm not too sure what to think in terms of how much fossil fuel goes into a single serving, but it looks to me like a gallon of gasoline should produce about 36 servings of lettuce.  (That's 6.7 lb of lettuces per gallon, times sixteen ounces per pound, divided by 3 oz per serving, if my math is good.)  That doesn't seem too horrible, really.  Certainly it's a better efficiency than you get with steak, anyway.

Oil has a much higher energy density than food does, which is one of the reasons why we don't use engines that burn lettuce.  So the ratio of fossil fuel used to food produced, overall, isn't as important as the relative efficiency of different methods of producing that food.  The four percent difference for semi-industrial-organic vs full-on industrial is significant, given the volumes of agriculture we're dealing with, but I'm still curious how much the local thing helps.  I know recent studies have suggested that local sourcing isn't as efficient as people would like to believe, partly because of issues of scale, but still.

Meijer advertises that they get at least half their produce from local farms.  They don't really qualify this, so I don't know what 'half' means (by weight, volume, price, types?) or how 'local' local is.  It sounds nice, though.  Of course, I mostly live on grain products and some dairy, myself, so their produce section mostly doesn't affect me directly.  If I ate a lot of meat, there's a really terrific local butcher that has great prices on all kinds of meat products, almost entirely from local family farmers and hunters. 

This area is still as much farmland as anything else, and there are still a lot of small farms without full industrialization.  They do grow a lot of corporate stuff in Michigan, though, from the inescapable corn and soy beans to potatoes, temperate fruit (berries, apples, peaches), sugar beets, and syrup big and small.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: random axe on May 07, 2010, 11:46:13 PM
:hmm:

OK, that was longer than even I expected.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: flipper on May 10, 2010, 02:28:29 PM
I grow lettuce each fall/winter in my garden.  In the post bolting phase I usually get Earthbound farms stuff from Costco.  But since it's mostly grown in the Monterrey area, the transport is a non-issue.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: random axe on May 10, 2010, 06:50:10 PM
Lettuce from CA wouldn't bother me too much, as far as that goes.  Support the highway system, and vice versa.  Fruit from South America, etc, makes me wonder about carbon costs, etc.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: random axe on May 13, 2010, 06:22:55 PM
Around p 200 in my Penguin trade paperback edition -- the second half of sub-chapter 2 "Monday Evening" in Part II "Grass", where he's touring the Salatin farm -- Pollan gives a really good summary of the industrial macrofarm, the corn industry, and how we got there (which is to say: what went wrong).  It's only about three pages long and should probably get reprinted as a New York Times column once a year.

The book's gotten really good, it really has, but Pollan's perspective is still sometimes a little confused, which I think is the result of perfectly understandable enthusiasm, but I wonder if by now he's rethought it slightly.  The Salatin farm very much is a product of agricultural science, and of reductionism, and has a very industrial method to it.  It's not the underlying intellectual philosophy that sets it apart from huge disastrous industrial farms but the sense of proportion and (much as I usually hate the term) the holistic conception of it.

The question is one of going too far.  I mean, OK, you can say:  We have too many sick kids.  You've identified a problem.  There are many ways you can approach dealing with it.  If you find yourself killing off sick kids, odds are good that you've gone too far down the wrong path.  Industry sticks with whatever makes money, though.  (That's what corporations are intended to do, after all.)  When you find yourself growing more corn because there's already too much corn on the market and it's killing the profit margin, you should realize you've gone too far.  When you're pinching the tails off of pigs because overcrowding and psychological trauma makes them all bite each others' tails, you should realize you've gone too far.

Salatin says his system doesn't scale up because of its interdependence -- he can't add more chickens without also adding more cows, more pasture, more pigs, and so on.  But the 'holon' stacked system that's the basis of his method is extremely prime for industrialization and expansion.  The method would be to increase specialization without disturbing the overall system, so that you had interdependent teams each running their own holon:  one team running Eggmobiles, one team managing cattle and moving them from pasture to pasture, and so on.

You'd need to duplicate the farm after it reached a certain size, whatever the optimum size happens to be (probably pretty small, by agribusiness standards, but there's no reason why that's a bad thing), and you'd need a very good top manager to keep all the teams working together properly.  But it should be perfectly possible.  Still, there's no reason why you couldn't just have many similar farms that are independently run . . . except that this system requires expert management, so you'd have to have a lot of highly trained farmers.  Even in the old days, farming was like anything else, and half the farmers out there were in the bottom 50% for a reason.


I'm also interested to see if the book goes on to cover pre-modern stacked agriculture.  Pollan did mention fish being added to rice paddies, in passing, but there's a lot more to it.  A lot of pre-industrial agriculture was stacked, after all, in most cultures, and it still is in many places, especially in the Third World.  The same land that Salatin is farming now was very likely cultivated with a Three Sisters polyculture method by the natives for centuries before Europeans arrived, after all.  A lot of 'primitive' agriculture is mixed-use and very low-maintenance.  Sometimes productivity per square foot is low by modern standards, but when population density isn't a problem, you don't have to produce so much food per acre, either.

I'm also curious to see if Pollan compares Salatin's operation to any semi-modern farms run by the Amish, Mennonites, Hutterites, etc.  I realize you can only cover so much in one book, though.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: vox8 on May 13, 2010, 07:51:10 PM
I'm also interested to see if the book goes on to cover pre-modern stacked agriculture.  Pollan did mention fish being added to rice paddies, in passing, but there's a lot more to it.  A lot of pre-industrial agriculture was stacked, after all, in most cultures, and it still is in many places, especially in the Third World.  The same land that Salatin is farming now was very likely cultivated with a Three Sisters polyculture method by the natives for centuries before Europeans arrived, after all.  A lot of 'primitive' agriculture is mixed-use and very low-maintenance.  Sometimes productivity per square foot is low by modern standards, but when population density isn't a problem, you don't have to produce so much food per acre, either.

I'm also curious to see if Pollan compares Salatin's operation to any semi-modern farms run by the Amish, Mennonites, Hutterites, etc.  I realize you can only cover so much in one book, though.

What you are looking for is outside the scope of the book. He is examining 4 different "food chains": 1) most complex and industrialized 2) Industrialized Organic 3) Independent farmer Organic 4) Self Foraged.

After Salatin all you have left is Self Foraged. And really, it isn't like I am giving anything away, I believe that this format is detailed either in the introduction or the dust jacket.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: random axe on May 13, 2010, 08:18:57 PM
Yeah, and fair enough.  Like I said, you can only do so much in one book.

Foraging is a perfectly good strategy for small populations.  In fact, most hunter-gatherer cultures have more leisure time than agricultural or industrial cultures.  We've just got way too many people, especially since we don't make very good use of the resources they represent.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: flipper on May 13, 2010, 08:55:51 PM
Yep I work in an electronic plantation.  No leisure time for me.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: random axe on May 21, 2010, 08:50:02 PM
A-ha!  Finally, near the very end of the Salatin chapter, he goes into some specifics of essential fatty acids and livestock being fed corn or grass.  He even gets it right that grass-fed beef is better for you than corn-fed salmon.  Good jerb.


The "Forager" chapter has a bit of fuzziness that caught my attention, though.

Quote
The prevailing theory as to why, as a species, we left off hunting and gathering is that we had ruined that perfectly good lifestyle by overdoing it, killing off the megafauna on which we depended.

Well, maybe.  It's certainly a lot easier to sustain a considerable population density and group size with hunting when you're the apex hunter, and that's a lot easier when you still have megafauna.  The problem is that it's relatively easy to wipe out all the giant predators (harder to kill an individual but easier to reduce the population to the breaking point) but much harder to wipe out all the smaller ones.  It's easier to wipe out all the grizzly bears in your area than all the wolves, much less all the coyotes.  And grizzly bears may take down bison, but wolves are less likely to, and coyotes generally won't even try.  But if the prey animal you depend on is deer, then the wolves and even coyotes may be competing with you directly.

And it takes a lot more rabbit-hunting, say, to support 200 people than bison-hunting.  But most cultures we know of, historically, wander into agriculture.  I think it's just a vicious cycle.  You start farming, and you settle down, and your population quickly expands.  And then you're locked into agriculture unless a lot of people leave or die.  And even if a lot of people do leave or die, odds are that the remaining population will keep farming.  You don't see many cultures go from agriculture back to hunting and gathering.

Of course, once you domesticate animals, you have to feed them, which is often the biggest part of agriculture.  Plains Indians, still living with selective megafauna (bison), were semi-farmers, in that their culture depended on staying with the herds.  They just didn't need to feed the bison (because they let them roam freely and followed them) and didn't need to protect them (because they'd killed off most of the major predators and, anyway, there were so many bison).  And the population stayed low enough that there were plenty of bison to go around.

If you look at the Maasai, they're slightly further along the agricultural curve -- they take ownership of herds but don't keep them in one place.  Instead, they follow the herd around, letting it graze as freely as possible.  As their population density has gone up in modern times, though, this lifestyle has become a lot more difficult . . . and they're killing off all the lions in their territory, having already killed a large proportion of them in earlier eras.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: mrcookieface on September 09, 2010, 09:15:03 AM
If you were like me as a kid, you picked the actual cereal out of a bowl of Lucky Charms or Frankenberry so there'd only be a bowl of delicious, crunchy cereal marshmallows remaining.

Well, pick no more.  Now you can buy cereal marshmallows wholesale (http://www.cerealmarshmallows.com/).
 
:headbang:
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: mybabysmomma on September 09, 2010, 09:28:29 AM
OH DEAR GOD NOOOO!


Those horrible little things squeak on my teeth and make the hair stand up on the back of my neck.  :thumbsdn: :thumbsdn: :thumbsdn: :thumbsdn: and  :thumbsdn:
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: Talix on September 09, 2010, 09:35:48 AM
Yes!  What is that teeth-squeaking thing??  Augh!
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: random axe on September 09, 2010, 09:53:49 AM
:eek:

I knew you could buy cocoa-style 'petite marshmellows' in bags, but I never understood why actual mini-marshmellows (such as they are) weren't preferable.

We weren't allowed sugary cereals when I was a kid, and when we did get to have them (thank you, grandparents), we wanted Frosted Flakes or (ow ow ow) Captain Krunch.  Or the old Pink Panther cereal, mostly because we were big fans of the Panther.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: stormneedle on September 09, 2010, 01:20:59 PM
Squeaking? Must be from the milk
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on September 09, 2010, 01:30:22 PM
Squeaking? Must be from the milk

Not exactly. It's the tiny mice they use. They come out of suspended animation when rehydrated with milk and squeak in tiny agony as you crush them. It's horrible. But not as horrible as Crunchberries. Those were like crystallized sugar-infused vomit molded into little spheres.

The only good thing about Crunchberries is they cured me of wanting sugared cereal, forever. EVER.

ETA: This is probably why I didn't become a hacker. I didn't get the 2600 Hz whistle.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: random axe on September 09, 2010, 01:49:17 PM
Tch.  Fairly gross, yes, but crunchberries aren't THAT bad.  Not as bad as most 'chocolate'-flavored cereals, for starters.

Sounds like you got the 2600 buttHz whistle.  :harumph:
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on September 09, 2010, 01:53:19 PM
:rollin:

I don't think I can fill out the Internet butthurt response form because this was about 15 years before the Internet existed.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: Hedaira on September 09, 2010, 01:53:58 PM
I bought some cocoa Krispies on a whim. They're okay. Not as chocolatey as I remember, but eeeeeeh.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: mrcookieface on September 09, 2010, 01:58:13 PM
Cocoa Pebbles > Cocoa Krispies
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: random axe on September 09, 2010, 02:08:51 PM
I have a horrible story relating to Froot Loops.  Have I already told that one a dozen times?
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: flipper on September 09, 2010, 02:15:30 PM
Froot Loops made my little brother hyper.  One of the artificial colors in there.  As a kid my favorite cereals were hot Grape Nuts and CW Post which was basically granola.  I never really dug the artificial chocolate or tiny fake marshmallow stuff.

My favorites now are Quaker Oat Squares and Cracklin' Oat Bran.  Great for swim meets.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on September 09, 2010, 02:18:57 PM
Oat bran, great for swim meets?

...

Not asking.


NOT. ASKING.

:bolt:
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: mybabysmomma on September 09, 2010, 02:42:32 PM
I was all about some Frosted Flakes OR Cheerios with at least a cup of sugar on.

Mini Me eats the chocolate mini wheats, they aren't too awful as far as fake chocolate goes.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: mo on September 10, 2010, 10:05:58 AM
My favorite now is Special K Red Berries. I have no idea why the call it Red Berries instead of strawberries, because they really are strawberries. Maybe they want to reserve the right to switch to some kind of artificial strawberry type product if the price of strawberries gets too high. Anyway, it's not the strawberries that I like so much, but the flakes. They're not the normal Special K flakes, whatever the hell those substance-less things are. These are thick crunchy wheat flakes, lightly sweetened.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: eldiem on September 10, 2010, 01:46:20 PM
I always liked lucky charms, peanut butter crunch, any kind of sugary cereal was the best.

Now I stick to Total raisin bran and recently I bought some granola (Kashi, "Cocoa Beach" flavor) that mix into vanilla yogurt and it is YUM and satisfying, even in the appropriate serving size.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: pdrake on October 04, 2010, 05:01:29 PM
fruity pebbles > cocoa pebbles

anything with tiny marshmallows is satan's poop.

now i eat plain corn flakes or cheerios or bran flakes.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: Talix on October 05, 2010, 10:42:21 AM
From Jezebel:



[attachment deleted by admin]
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: mybabysmomma on October 05, 2010, 11:15:49 AM
I am SO posting that at work.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: mo on October 05, 2010, 11:25:57 AM
So it's okay to eat raw steak if you don't drop it on the floor?
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: flipper on October 05, 2010, 02:06:23 PM
Steak should be fine as long as it's handled properly.  Ground beef on the other hand is a no no.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: pdrake on October 05, 2010, 02:26:34 PM
Steak should be fine as long as it's handled properly.  Ground beef on the other hand is a no no.

this is a little vague. if you were to take steak (tenderloin) and grind it yourself you can make some pretty tasty steak tartare and if you slice it very thin you get carpaccio.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: mo on October 05, 2010, 04:49:16 PM
Steak should be fine as long as it's handled properly.  Ground beef on the other hand is a no no.

That's not really true, though is it? You assume that the beef, before it was ground, was not handled properly, right? Because ground beef is not inherently more contaminated than steak, it's just contaminated inside as opposed to outside. At least that's my understanding. Most steaks come from Meat International Conglomerate Inc. (a division of Monsanto) just like ground beef, no? I wouldn't eat any raw meat. On the other hand, I wouldn't throw away a raw steak just because I dropped it on the floor. I wouldn't care if it was covered in cat fur, I'd rinse that sucker off and cook it.

Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: flipper on October 05, 2010, 05:05:57 PM
I was speaking in generalities.  Steaks are usually the larger back and shoulder muscles (striploin, tenderloin, eye, etc.) and sure they can be ground and then be fine.  Ground beef is generally all the stuff they can't sell otherwise which often is contaminated by alimentary canal pathogens (E Coli 0157:H7 among others).  I love carpaccio and will often eat it, but I wouldn't eat raw ground beef that I haven't ground myself.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: random axe on October 05, 2010, 05:43:47 PM
Beef that's ground at the processing plant is often contaminated and can't realistically be cleaned, whereas flat cuts and roasts can be rinsed off before packaging.  Beef that's ground at the supermarket is often less contaminated because there aren't other bits of the animal in close proximity at that point.  The cleanliness of the supermarket's meat department still matters a lot, though.

Beyond that, if only the exterior of the hunk of meat is contaminated, then only the exterior needs to be heated to a high temperature.  If you sear a steak on all sides, the interior can probably be pink and cool and it's OK.  Not so with a hamburger -- it would have to be seared all the way through.

This is basically why the FDA wanted to start irradiating ground beef after it was packaged.  It's not the worst policy idea they ever had.  Personally, I consider raw meat a survival food, and some people find it, uh, difficult to digest, which is part of why it's usually cut into small pieces.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: Hedaira on October 05, 2010, 07:09:58 PM
I read the article currently making the rounds about mechanically separated chicken. I'm not a fan of that stuff anyways - but that pretty much sealed the deal.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: random axe on October 05, 2010, 08:14:40 PM
Processed food is processed.  Processing is like a combination of pasteurization and poisoning.  There's good and bad, but the raw materials you started with really don't matter so much as the details of what gets added.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: mo on November 07, 2010, 09:17:12 AM
You people aren't eating enough cheese, apparently.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/07/us/07fat.html

I'm not sure if this should go here or in the politics threads, because the politics behind this is really fucked up.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: random axe on November 07, 2010, 03:25:42 PM
A lot of regulatory agencies are actually at least 50% promotional agencies.  The FAA and NRC always leap to mind in these discussions.

There's nothing necessarily wrong with a regulatory agency promoting the industry that it regulates -- but it can't do it in a secretive manner, or to the detriment of (or in place of) its regulatory efforts.  A regulatory agency must always put public interest first.

The public, however, is not unified, not loud, and usually doesn't know where to complain or how to get publicity.  Even when the public actually makes an argument in its own self-interest, which is rare.  Industry lobbies, on the other hand, are unified, loud, targeted, and well-funded.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: First Post on November 07, 2010, 05:03:00 PM
Pretty sure they do the same with corn, too. Lot of msgboard scoffing at people who dare to say HFCS is bad lately.

 
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on December 05, 2011, 11:30:18 PM
Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor apparently has a Bacon of the Month club. According to Michael Symon on the Food Network, who can't stop from laughing with delight the whole time he is describing it.

I don't eat bacon that often, but I am really tempted.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: flipper on December 08, 2011, 12:32:48 AM
Sounds like the perfect Chanukah gift.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: mybabysmomma on December 08, 2011, 04:22:01 PM
Only if it's made out of brisket.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: Hedaira on December 08, 2011, 11:00:16 PM
 :hmm:

I just realized I've never actually had brisket.
Title: Re: Food and Gunk
Post by: Dr. Leonard HmofCoy on December 08, 2011, 11:17:48 PM
!!! O that's just wrong. Get thee to a decent Jewish deli, stat.

Or a Texas BBQ joint.

/likes brisket in all forms