Wednesday, September 30, 2015

FOOD NEWS Most people don't have access to this stuff, so I'm filling you all in on the top poop

Yeah, there is a lot of stuff that goes on in the world of food manufacturing and corporate intrigue and mystery. Never important enough for the standard media to report on, why would they, the Kardasian's are making news all the time and they and all their fellow leaders in the world of fluff and whinery (a made up word, the art of whining) take precedence over anything important in your lives. 

Anheuser Busch has made it known they intend to take over Miller in a move that will make the company worth about 275 BILLION dollars and will then control over a third of ALL beer production in the WORLD.

Yesterday, the 29th, the FBI announced that companies that use the new "Internet of Things" should be aware that they need to be diligent about security matters as using the IoT makes them vulnerable to cyber attacks which could be damaging to business practices and safety. No really, they did.

Mondalez International, just about the largest biscuit and cookie maker in the world announced on Monday the 28th plans to introduce Oreo cookies to all of Russia.

J M Smuckers announced that in the next twelve months they intend to introduce over a hundred new products. They are in response to consumer demand for healthier products with a focus on simple ingredients and convenience. Me, I think Smuckers is and has been a leader in the deception of consumers for decades. We'll see how it works out. 

Yeah, one of the weirdest things to be announced last week was from Korea. It seems that the hottest thing at the market there is something called "Honey Butter Chips" and they are just potato chips with honey and butter on them. The company that makes them has increased production by 40% and they still sell out at stores within minutes of them being put on shelves. Now, get this, they are only available in Korea but they have been sold on Ebay for prices up to $103.00 a bag. They sell for a buck and a half at stores in Korea. This one's kind of wacko.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Global Warming, Drought and Desertification, NOT what you might think

You know how all of the big trendy conservation groups and ecological heavy hitting activists and the magazines and really anyone spouting off about how to save the world from the coming disaster caused by global warming are ALL telling us that our problems center around the extensive use of fossil fuels to power our planet?

It's all a bunch of crap.

Sorry, but it's true. Even if tomorrow scientists were to create a magical solar receptor that was cheap, nearly a 100% efficient and within five years at minimal cost every single use of fossil fuels was abandoned; then global warming would continue at very nearly the same rate, desertification would continue unchecked and drought, deserts would grow and sea levels would rise all across the planet as temperatures rose. 

Well, that just doesn't seem right. However, it's very true. The biggest cause of Global Warming has little to do with burning fossil fuels, it's all about the production of meat. Burgers, chicken nuggets, sausages and all things meaty are the biggest factors. Well, granted, it's only one percent, but the fact is that production of meat using modern methods of farming contributes 51% of all greenhouse gas emissions. 

Well that doesn't seem right now does it?

Unfortunately it's true. It isn't just a bunch of cows and pigs farting, that's actually a very tiny part of the total amount. It's all the associated processes involved that are generating not just carbon dioxide but a lot of methane as well. If you believe all the scientists working on this (hey, they have nothing to gain by lying, not like so many many many corporate shills on payroll ordered to give specific results about stuff as is commonplace in the world today) then they tell us that methane is up to four times worse for greenhouse effects than carbon dioxide. Well, so I know this sounds a bit incredulous, so here I will attempt to explain how it happens. First, there is the carbon sequestration effect. Also called the carbon sink. This basically is what happens in the natural wild world. Plants have to capture carbon from the atmosphere and use it to grow. Then animals eat the plants, they remove nutrients and the remaining plant is excreted back into the environment where it decomposes and some of the carbon stays in the soil and effectively traps quite a bit of that carbon so it is unable to go up and form that greenhouse effect that is destroying the planet. It's pretty simple. However what man can change, man changes. And make no mistake, man has dramatically change the carbon sink. 

What seems simple, is pretty complex. First, the production of meat no longer involves the grazing of food animals in open land where the waste could effectively be utilized to help the carbon sink. For the most part, those animal wastes are stored separately and through several means available is then disposed of in a manner that does not capture the carbon. In fact most of the time the waste is put into ponds and allowed to decompose where the carbon is returned to the atmosphere and not the land. It doesn't stop there, most of the animals are now fed soy, corn and some other crops grown specifically for feed. No manure is returned to the soil so artificial fertilizers are needed to grow the plants. Fertilizers are made using petrochemicals. More carbon put into the atmosphere. The drive to manufacture ever greater and cheaper quantities of meats has gone to tropical countries where large corporations are buying virgin rainforests, slashing the trees and planting soy to feed animals destined for dinner tables throughout America and Europe. No trees, no carbon sink, more carbon in the atmosphere. The feed has to be transported to where the animals are raised, transportation uses petrochemicals, more carbon into the atmosphere.

Yeah, the production of meat adds more greenhouse gases than anything else. 

Water. The biggest user of water in the world is not industrial or home use. Or even all the endless golf courses every where. It's the production of meat. A pound of beef takes up to 2000 gallons of water to produce. Most produce or grains take around a hundred gallons to grow a pound of the stuff. Well, broccoli is a lot less. Avocados are about 148 gallons of water to a pound of Avos. In my youth I dreamed of becoming an Avocado rancher, but I couldn't ride a horse.

Anyway, all this is just to show us how the change in the eating habits of mankind is destroying our world. A culture based on a meat diet is not good for humans, and even less so for the planet.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Hey, what's that stuff there in my meat? Ah hah, it's the American Chemical Feast

Well, now that's not something you hear everyday. Well other than the jokes about the worms in the supermarket salmon. But stuff in meat, naw, no one puts stuff in meat, right? C'mon Chef Roy, no one puts stuff in meat, meat is meat. Well, maybe Taco Bell, or Wendy's and earthworms. And pink slime at the golden arches, but real meat. It's just meat.

Silly made up human voice, sorry, we live in the Chemical Feast and stuff is just rampant at the stockyards and pigpens. There are just so many different things making up stuff, I could write a book about them all. Except I don't need to, some one already did. A joint venture of the FAO and WHO and their scientists wrote a fascinating and incredibly scary book titled "Toxicological Evaluation of Certain Veterinary Drug Residues in Food"  Available at Amazon, only 42 bucks. I'm not makin' this stuff up. So, today I don't want to get too scary, I just want to go into a few things about ractopamine. Yes, it's stuff. It's fed to livestock along with their regular standard diet of corn, soy, cottonseed meal, dried and ground up chicken litter including chicken feces and dead chickens, and a variety of other agricultural waste products. And of course lots and lots of antibiotics. Remember, the cattle or pigs pretty much live their lives standing, kneeling, sleeping and over all existing on top of piles of their own piss and shit. They get sick and they get sores and burns and various ailments afflict them because of their living conditions. But cattlemen are trying to help out their livestock, (cattle, pigs and others) by force feeding them a product called ractopamine. The help is indirect, the drug forces animals to put on lean muscle mass faster and grow a bit faster. Thus they only have to live in those conditions a little less time. That's sort of being humane.

So, what is this stuff that has my ire irked. Ractopamine is a class of drugs called beta agonists. Specifically it is a Beta adrenergic agonist that was first created for use in humans as a suppressant for asthma. It was never approved for use in humans because it for the most part killed humans. It increased heart rates, for extended periods of time, and then it did what it was supposed to do, dilated airways and some other stuff. Long term use it was discovered, caused the user to gain muscle mass. This was thought to be a boon to body builders if it wasn't for that unpleasant side effect, death. Along with just the typical stuff, tachycardia, tremors, muscle spasms and high arterial pressure. So it was never approved for human use but that never stopped big pharma from making money on their creations. There was that big big side effect, increase lean muscle mass. And so it came to pass that the manufacturer, Eli Lilly, soon changed its marketing tactics and pursued the livestock meat industry as a potential customer. And with great success. The stuff has become synonymous with American pork, beef and turkey products. So much so that two of the largest importers of beef and pork have recently refused to purchase any American products because of the contamination with ractopamine. Russia and China. The Chinese really want to buy untainted pork for their population and so have gone so far as to purchase the world's largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods with the intent to alter production methods within their own farms to eliminate the use of ractopamine for pork destined for export back to the home country. 

So we really can't talk about ractopamine without talking about the Downer's Decision. This is where we learn the true depths of disdain with which American Corporate leaders hold consumers. It all started back in 2007 when some activists made some movies about the horrific conditions at slaughterhouses. I'm not going to put a link here to the videos, you can look it up if you want, suffice it to say that I was grossed out. And I don't really care about the actual process of killing feed animals, that's not why I'm a vegetarian. But this was ghastly. And it all comes down to what are known as Downers. Animals that are either too sick, too deformed, too doped up, and too wild and uncontrollable to be forced up the chute to be killed for slaughter. In 2009 the State of California passed a law that made it illegal to slaughter for human food any animal that was deemed, Downer. This was also put into effect because of the very real danger of BSE getting into the food supply. BSE is mad cow disease. The problems also encompassed animals that were so grossly deformed with unnaturally occurring muscle tissue that they were unable to walk, or because they were crazed and either unable to respond or wildly uncontrollable. Well, all those were side effects of excessive use of ractopamine. And in some instances, those wild animal's actions mimicked BSE, or again, Mad Cow Disease. The cattlemen's association took the State of California to court, and eventually it went up to the Supreme Court which gave its unanimous decision that those that raise animals for human consumption have the right to slaughter and put into the system any animal they wanted to whether it could walk or not or was acting in any way different from normal. No matter what's wrong, we get to eat it. Well, literally as well as figuratively.

So, anyway, if we look at ractopamine uptake and half life within the system and amounts excreted in 24, 48 and 96 hour intervals and blah blah blah blah, boring stuff, buy the book listed above. We look at the actual figures resulting in why the use of ractopamine is so very popular with American animal ranchers. It makes them extra money. Now, here I get several different figures. Most of the USDA figures show that on average, a farmer can realize an extra 3 to 4 dollars per hog when using ractopamine. Cattle will bring from 7 to 11 dollars per head. Turkeys, about 20 cents per bird. Think about it, in America, profit is so revered, so needed, so required that tunnel vision occurs and the belief that making an extra one third to very nearly a WHOLE cent per pound profit on animals causes farmers and ranchers to just completely look the other way and use a known harmful substance that is banned in over 160 countries as being too dangerous to allow into their food supply.

Well, it's up to me to draw even more conclusions. This is something that I have tried to find out about, and have spent an inordinate amount of time looking with no results. And that is of course, just how much ractopamine gets into the environment. We know how much is excreted (up to 92% in 96 hours) after being fed the stuff, so there really is only one place for it to go. Into the huge piles of animal waste outside the places where they raise the animals. In most of the country, that waste is dumped into holding ponds and allowed to rot. Not so much here in the Southwest. Here it's too dry so they pile it up and let it dry and hope for the big storms to come blow large portions of it away. Yeah, most of the people living here in the Valley of the Sun don't know that a large portion of those huge walls of dust blowing in from the south east comes from all the huge dairy and cattle feedlots down north of Tucson. And the dust contains a huge amount of cattle manure. But that's another story. Elsewhere, the manure from feeding operations is supposed to decompose in those large holding ponds. Supposed to. What I tried to find out was how long it took for the ractopamine within the manure to decompose. So I went to the ScienceLab and tried to find the MSDS. It isn't there. I went to the EPA and they had no data on half life deterioration in the environment. I went to the PAN, no luck. I went to the ATSDR and was not helped. I went to the National Toxicology Program part of Health and Human Services, and found zilch. I went to the FDA, and they seem to believe there is no such problem, they have declared ractopamine safe. Well, except for humans. I probably could go elsewhere, but I am confident that if it isn't in these places, it won't be anywhere else. Why is it a problem, well, let's try to remember that in the past I have talked about animal poop. And this very problem. It seems that the USDA demands that anyone (and let's remember that in America, corporations are people) that owns an animal feeding facility MUST make provisions to contain the waste. The most common and accepted method is a pond to let the stuff stink up the surrounding ten or so square miles and eventually drain it and remove the leftover stuff that didn't turn to methane and further cause greenhouse gas problems. All that's okay, and if severe weather were to hit the area and most of the waste were to wash out into the public waterways, neighboring produce fields or possibly into municipal water supplies; that was perfectly fine and in accordance with the American way of life. Don't believe me? You can read the court's decision here (Circuit Court Decision)  And especially look on page two where they have determined that in areas with normally heavy rainfall occurs, ZERO Discharge is not mandated. So how big a problem is it? We probably will never know. However, if you look ractopamine up in the Wikipedia, we are informed that anyone with cardiovascular problems should avoid meat products containing ractopamine as it could causes serious problems. How much ractopamine is in meat, how much is in our water supplies because of runoff, how much do we breathe in as dust?

Is the concept of making an extra penny per pound in profit such a single minded focus for American producers that they lose sight of what these things are doing to our environment, our bodies and our future?

We indeed live within the American Chemical Feast

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

CHEATS. Oh how American Business Rulers love those cheats. Better living through the Chemical Feast

Cheating, It's not just Tom Brady and a little gas, or the incredibly slow and seemingly stupid lineman back in high school biology copying answers from you so he could pass and go on to make 3 mil a year in the NFL; it's pretty much the American way of life. Cheating encompasses just about every aspect of our existence and is widely accepted by our political leaders, CEO's of every major (and even most of the minor) producers of foods and drugs, and yes, even every single individual consumer. Yeah, it's true, our government has legitimized cheating. And we as consumers, for the majority anyway, don't care. It's all right there, all you have to do is be aware of what you buy and eat, read the ingredients. You'll see it. Most of the processed foods on the shelves will tell you that they are cheats. And most of America, don't care. 

Cheats come in a number of categories. I know this sounds weird, but a lot of foods that we consume as traditional staples in our diets, contain large amounts of added salt, sugar, or fat. These are natural cheats. The addition of these into any recipe by the manufacturer are for the purpose of increasing mouthfeel and taste perception. Yikes, that's a tough one. They don't always increase taste, they increase the perception of flavor. And there is a difference there. Adding larger amounts of these (what are perceived as natural) ingredients increases that perception of flavor. And as we all know, flavor actually is about 80% sensed within our sense of smell. Food processing pretty much
removes most of the natural scents intrinsic within the foods we eat so the addition of basic sensory flavors salt and sweet have a greater perception for consumers. And of course some of the big agrigiants take that concept to the extreme. Here we see the ingredients to peanut butter Cap'n Crunch. If you look at the first line, we see that the amount of sodium is actually above the amount of 2300 mg that the USDA recommends daily. And there is a significant amount of sugar. Over 30% of the cereal by weight, is sugar. But that much sugar is needed to mask the huge amount of salt. And let's not forget that these figures are for a standard serving size of three quarters of a cup of cereal. When I was a kid, I filled a cereal bowl with stuff like this, it wasn't any three quarters of a cup. 

Well, let's get past that, and go on to other flavor cheats. Flavor enhancers. Simple ones we have known about for a long time now are MSG and it's family of derivatives. There is a lot of controversy about MSG, scientists all over the world are publishing findings that show it to destroy nerve cells and interfere with normal brain function. And the manufacturers of the stuff and those agrigiants that use the stuff to enhance whatever flavor is left after processing, cite the US FDA (that does ABSOLUTELY no testing itself on ingredient safety) states that MSG and any product made with concentrated glutamate compounds, is safe to use. (Okay, a side note, the FDA approves the use of azodicarbonamide for food use. The EPA declares it too toxic for use in food. ((FDA and poison)) and only to be used in the US for industrial purposes.) I know, just because the feds say it's safe, I personally don't believe them. Science, being the highly subjective discipline it is and dependent on funding from manufacturers for the most part really will never have any specific definitive opinion on anything. 

But then there are a whole family of other flavor enhancers that are coming into vogue. I've talked about them before, back when I did the "What's in your food" series a few months ago. But they are related, some bad, some not so bad, like the Disodium twins - guanylate and inosinate. Which are not specifically seen to be mutagenic or carcinogenic. At least there haven't been any research done yet on the stuff. Inosinic acid, a whole family of ribonucleotides and the most expensive (therefore rarely used) but probably the safest, Guanylic Acid. And lesser known and used because it is less effective are the Maltol and Ethyl Maltol, which comes from larch tree bark or pine needles. All these compounds and additives are available to food manufacturers and are known collectively by the title of this article, cheats. They have one function, to alter the perceived flavor profile of the manufactured food product in which they are added. Cheats. Cheating. Prestidigitation. Sleight of hand, or perhaps, your food dollars.

Sometimes I think that I'm the only person in America that believes this is wrong.

Depending on your point of view, whether it be that of one of those placing their faith on evolution, or of one that believes that we, the planet and all living things on it were created in one swift wave of the hand, or command of the almighty; none of the cheats were included as standard fare for consumption by humans in any scenario. They all are, created by men specifically for one purpose, to make dull crappy foods bright and vibrant tasting. With as little cost as possible and with few detectable side effects. And of course, to be able to achieve regulatory approval easily. In today's world, that's a big one. The FDA right now has a three year backlog for reviewing new applications for NEW food additives. The EAFUS right now has over 10,000 entries in it. However the scary part is that only 3,500 of those are considered GRAS (EAFUS Everything Added to Food in the US and GRAS Generally Recognized as Safe) So, even the FDA is confused about GRAS, you can go here, and go to item 16 and see how the CFR is disjointed and does not contain a complete list of GRAS ingredients as they just are unable to maintain the database (FDA on GRAS) And the companion piece (EAFUS)

Now I'm all about science, for the most part science gives us a very reasonable view of the universe we live in. Food science though is a bit different, especially the parts about adulterating the food products presented to Americans, and the world, so that they give the APPEARANCE of being wholesome healthy and wondrous. Now I understand the constraints of the socioeconomic system that we live under that forces most families to work more than would be possible for them to be at home and cook healthy food items for themselves and families. I understand that. We've allowed that to happen to us, and this piece isn't about any sort of revolution or anything, it's about trying to torture you with the concept that the food presented to you isn't healthy and in fact, may be damaging to your health over time. Let me see if I can explain that.

Back some time ago, businesses learned of a new process for rice called polishing. They took brown rice and polished it to make it white. The new product was pretty cool. It was easier to cook, it had greater texture appeal, it could be warehoused for years instead of the normal 10 to 12 months that plain brown rice suffered, and of course, it was absolutely lacking in most nutrients. If you ate it, it didn't hurt you. You could eat it for years, and you and your kids would grow to have spindly bones and rotting teeth. But it didn't kill you when you ate it. A little after that some scientists built this really cool high speed roller mill that could take wheat and grind it into very very fine flour and at the same time, remove the bran and the germ. The resulting white flour was a miracle to bakers and business men. It could store for years, it could make incredible products and of course, it made everyone money. It was of course, denuded of all the nutritive value and those that ate it as a steady diet got sick. Well scientists are a willing lot. What they destroy they are willing to fiddle with and find a fix to the problem. Which they did, enhancements of vitamins and minerals helped. And yes, I understand that this was a long time ago, and it isn't the exact same thing as adding chemicals to foods today, but the principal is nearly the same, business leaders and their paid minions, scientists, tell us things are safe without really doing long term testing or as so often has happened, even thinking about the consequences of what they have done.

Now we come to the cheating part. Scientists have created all of these wondrous cheats, flavor enhancers, fillers, emulsifiers, and on and on, chemicals to do so many things. And they test them, and find them to be wondrously safe and proficient at making money for their users. And we get to consume them. Now comes the hard part. Just as in the past, it might take decades to harm us. We all know that apples contain arsenic. At small amounts, it won't kill you. It builds up in your kidneys, liver and brain, but a major part of the stuff you ingest in the form of apple juice or almonds, is excreted in your urine. But we all know that if you concentrate arsenic, and put a small amount in your rich husband's coffee everyday, he will die. The thing is, we don't really and truly know what will happen to people that consume these chemicals on a daily basis after ten, twenty, thirty years. Scientists say they know. 

They are paid to say that.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Football Food my crazy version of pigs in a blanket

Last Saturday the group of friends that were kind enough to allow me to play in their Fantasy Football League, had the team draft. I know virtually nothing about football. But I like my friends, so I made food for the event. My version of Pigs in the Blanket. Started with a basic whole wheat bread dough, the usual, warm water, yeast, a tablespoon honey
and one of sea salt. Add a half cup olive oil and mix in wheat flour until stiff batter forms, then knead on medium for ten minutes. Add in a cup of diced green chilis. 
Make some chorizo, I soak my chorizo spices in a half cup of beer then mix in two pounds ground pork. Form it into little
football shapes and brown in olive oil.

Set them aside to drain. Here you can see them as they start to cook and then as they get a bit brown they give off the color from the


I bought a bunch of Spicy Italian sausages and cooked in the broiler. Hey, it was over a hundred outside, I wasn't going out to use the grill. Anyway, nice and browned.

Then I also took some Mozzarella cheese and cut into long pencil sized pieces. Then It was easy, take a golf ball sized piece of dough, flatten it out on the counter and add a piee of cheese, a split sausage, then a chorizo. Pull the sides together and pinch on the top.

Let them rise until double, bake at 400 until golden. And I also added some cheese to the tops to give them a nice crunch


Some Cajun Delights

I guess the pictures didn't come out all the well, but they tasted fantastic.
Potato and Spinach cakes. Grate using fine grater on food processor four Yukon Gold potatoes. Place into a dish towel and twist it to squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Then in large bowl, beat two eggs with a tablespoon Cajun seasoning. Add the potatoes and break the ball of shredded potatoes up into the individual shreds and toss well. Oops, before all that, take six cloves garlic sliced and add to large skillet with a tablespoon olive oil, cook a minute then add a pound of washed spinach. Turn over a few times, and cover, reduce heat to low and cook a few minutes until all completely wilted. Cool. put the spinach into a towel and squeeze to dry. Chop roughly the ball of spinach. Add to the potatoes and toss well. Wipe out the big skillet and add a quarter cup olive oil and bring up to smoking point. Then plop big half cup portions of the mix into the pan and sort of spread out. Brown well, turn and brown the other side. Remove and set aside to allow to drain. Make the sauce by starting with small dicing a red pepper, four celery stalks and a small onion. Sweat in olive oil and cook until starting to brown. Toss in some diced smoked mushrooms, or for those that eat meat, choose whatever you want. The smoked mushrooms are incredible, I thought they were bacon pieces. Anyway, add a quarter cup unbleached flour and a quarter cup Cajun seasoning and stir well until beginning to brown. Then add two cups or so of some stock. I used vegetable stock I made from trash in my freezer trash bag. (tops of celery, onion skins and whatever stored in the freezer for when you need stock)  Bring to boil, simmer about ten minutes or so. Now take a pack of sour cream and add a package of my Jalapeno Cilantro Dip Mix, set aside. In a nice clean hot pan, add some butter and then fry a couple eggs per person. Take one potato patty, place an egg on it, top with the sauce and then a dollop of that spicy sour cream. Yikes that will wake you all up.  Cajun seasoning recipe at bottom

Cajun Spice Blend - Mix together 2 oz. Cayenne pepper, 2 oz. sweet basil, 2 oz. ground thyme, 2 oz. garlic powder, 2 oz. onion powder, 1 oz. ground chili, 1 tsp. ground mustard, 1/8 tsp ground clove.  When using this mix, always add plenty of freshly ground black pepper.