Fascism and Organics: What’s New at Costco?

Costco has jumped on the bandwagon and begun to market to the organic obsessed consumer. The Kirkland Signature line has now begun to mass produce organic products ranging from milk to salad fixings…but something doesn’t seem quite right…

Costco: Where bigger is better!!!!!!!#($&*%#)#$
Costco: Where bigger is better!!!!!!!#($&*%#)#$

Alright, I can’t lie, being the good American that I am, I love going to Costco every now and then and buying massive amounts of crap I don’t need. And now,  for my consumer convenience, I can go there and buy an 18 pound bag of carrots, but no need to worry folks these are organic carrots, produced by the Kirkland Signature brand…

….what?

The way Costco is marketing this shift to organic produce and dairy products is by playing the “we’ll save the economy” card. “Sure organic stuff is expensive, but when Costco can cut the price in half, and sell you about 234325345 times more than you need, why wouldn’t you want to buy it?!”

This is where it gets fishy… Costco says you can buy cheap and still be environmentally friendly.. but then how are they justifying the ridiculous packaging and preparation processes that make these organic products so cute and convenient?

For example, in a Costco article discussing what consumers can look forward to, here is what they have to say about their organic apple line:

  • “These hearty, good-for-you, crisp apples are pre-cored and cut into wedges for the ease of eating…Equally nice is the fact that these organic apples are packed in one-cup, single serving portions.”

Ok, I am sorry, but with all the plastic and energy they are using to package this stuff, they may as well just open a few more nuclear plants around the country and call it a day.

Do apples really need to be pre-sliced and cored for the ease of eating?! Why don’t we just have a convientent robot we can buy that will manually move our jaws open and closed to ease chewing? and then another robot that will wiggle our throats to ease the swallowing process? Are you freaking kidding me?

I am happy that Costco is willing to jump on the organic train (even if it is only for business purposes) but in my humble opinion this is a one step forward, two steps back plan.

Pros:

o Increased demand for organic products=more farms converting to organic practices. (as of now less than 10% of American farms are certified organic)

o Allows the average American to eat a healthy organic diet at their own convenience, perhaps offering an motivation with increased availability to buy organic.

o Lowers prices of organic products (though there is a con to this that I will address momentarily)

o According to Costco, the organic foods are supplied by a ‘variety of regional farmers’

Cons:

o These organic products are still being processed in large plants (how else do you think that this stuff gets distributed all over the country by the truckload…or by the bargeload)

o Costco will never break its fascist ways of slapping their Kirkland name on it and packaging it in a way that costs more than the product itself.

o Plastic packaging and the machines that do so are bad for the environment.

o Though the prices of these products are lower, how many of you can go to Costco and come out spending less than $500 dollars, “Sure honey, we definitely needed that automatic milkshake maker with a built in plasma T.V.”   (I think not)

Therefore, If you are going to go to Costco and buy organic, good for you, but keep in mind that your buying bulk organic is not going to single-handedly solve the world’s environmental problems. It might be better for your health, but you’ll still be breathing in the pollution omitted from their processing plants…

oh, and Here is an article I read about Costco’s new business endeavour to ‘go organic’. The language used in this article seems a little manic to me… Read it for a good laugh. Love the propaganda.

A Spoonful of Mercury helps the medicine go down

After testing a handful of 55 brand-name products containing High Fructose Corn Syrup, it was found that nearly a third of these products were contaminated with Mercury. Grrreaatttttt.

What we origninally thought about the health concerns for high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) consumption (such as Diabetes and Obesity to name a few) have now become astronomically larger with the finding that a significant amount of these products containing HFCS have tested positive for mercury.

To give you a few statistics: Americans consume about 12 tbsp of HFCS daily, severely increasing the likelihood that you will consume one of these mercury ridden products, if you haven’t been eating the tasty stuff already.

According to the USA Today article that I just read:

In the first study, published in current issue of Environmental Health, researchers found detectable levels of mercury in nine of 20 samples of commercial HFCS.

And in the second study, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), a non-profit watchdog group, found that nearly one in three of 55 brand-name foods contained mercury. The chemical was found most commonly in HFCS-containing dairy products, dressings and condiments.”Original Article

While there have also been studies testing that there are products containing HFCS that is made in a way that is mercury-free, you can never be so sure about what you are consuming these days. Just think, how many liters of soda containing HFCS have you been drinking lately? Can you hear your brain cells popping?

OK, ok… So you want to give up the sweet stuff but you can’t break your sugar addiction? Try, Agave Nectar

Agave Nectar: Naturally Sweet
Agave Nectar: Naturally Sweet

What is Agave Nectar?

  • Agave nectar is a produced from the core of the Mexican Agave plant (the same one that makes Tequila! Aye!) It is a natural sweetener that is sweeter than honey but not quite as thick.

Where can I buy it?

  • Basically any health food store, though I have seen it at some big name grocery stores too.

Can I cook with it?

  • Yes, you can cook with agave nectar, but you might need to make some adjustments on your sugar proportions for a regular sugar recipe.

Other Health Benefits?

  • All Natural
  • Low-Glycemic (good news for Diabetics)
  • No Mercury
  • Good for Raw foodists because it is produced at a tempurature under 118 Degrees.
  • Know what you’re eating, this stuff comes straight from the plant, no hidden poison.

So there you have it folks, try to ease yourself off the high fructose corn syrup or you could wind up with a brain as metallic as the tin man’s.  Either that or in an agressive mercury induced rage, cursing to yourself on the side of the freeway onramp.

 

 

The Coke Hits the Fan: No Mentos Necessary

Despite the fact that since the beginning of our recession America’s net worth as fallen an approximate 22.7%, somehow companies like Coca-Cola are still coming up with ways to rise above the rest.

diet_coke_mentos11

Being the good American patriot that I am, I like (have become obsessed) to be in the know about the state of our impressive (depressive?) economy. This morning began with yet another, “Unfortunately today on Wallstreet…”coming from the talking head on T.V. I think hearing those 4 words on an everyday basis for the past 18 months has made them become something of a mantra for me, Ommmmmmmmmmm. *ahem* anyway….

Large companies like The Coca-Cola company that produce the foods that we all know and love (*cough*) are even being affected by the recessive state of our economy… but what does this really mean in terms of the BIGGER picture? How much money are these mega-companies actually losing?

Coca-colas 4Q profit-loss
Coca-colas 4Q profit-loss

Sure it has lost 18% of its revenues this quarter, but what does this really mean? Down from quarter’s profits ($1.21 billion dollars, or $.53 cents a share), the company still earned a measley $995 million this quarter.

Stated in the article found on, http://www.istockanalyst.com:

“Unit case volume grew 4 percent during the quarter, with the volume of trademark Coke rising 2 percent. Last month the company launched a new “Open Happiness” global marketing campaign to renew its focus on soft drinks to appeal to consumers looking to pay less.”

Looking to pay less consumers? Perhaps I might turn you on to a new innovative beverage….WATER

Water is FREE, can be found just about EVERYWHERE (sorry desert folk), and (if you are drinking from a filter or the tap) does NOT create more trash and consume a ridiculoid amount of energy.

oh, and it’s kinda good for you too… at least that’s what I hear.

Moral of the story? In the hellish economy in which we currently find ourselves, do NOT feel like you need to resort to mass produced products and fast food because it is the CHEAPEST option. It may be convenient, but the cheapest options are home-grown fruits and veg, a trip to your local farmers market, and a drink from the tap.

Let’s start thinking economically folks…

Top 5 Most Irresponsible Foods of All time

The Top 5 Most Irresponsible Meals of All Time: what a topic. Here I’ll define irresponisible as both incredibly detrimental to your personal health as well as the health of the environment. Double whammie!

To put it frankly, the following gastronomical abomonations are amongst the ultimate ‘FAILS’ of  national and international appetites. While some of these may not be on the typical menu for many eaters, I thought it would be good to highlight the following to illustrate (in the most exaggerated form) meals that will send you on the express route to a quadruple bypass.

Organized in no particular order I present to you:

1) The Krispy Kreme Cheese-Burger (aka, The Death Wish)

Cheese burger with Krispy Kreme Bun....Your heart will love you for eating this
Cheese burger with Krispy Kreme Bun….Your heart will love you for eating this

So this choice might be self explanatory as to why it does not promote health in any way, shape or form. Looking at the photo, there is also the addition of bacon to this monstrosity. If you are going to eat this, you are asking for some serious health repercussions. A cheeseburger is bad enough, but then you add the trans-fats of 2 Krispy Kremes and you put this iconically American dish completely over the edge.

2) The Bacon Sausage Roll (aka ‘The High-Carbon De-lite’)

The Bacon Explosion
2lbs Bacon, 2lbs Sausage, Cheese, more bacon, rolled, deep-fried, and doust in BBQ sauce (a must)

Here we have another culinary crime folks, The Bacon Explosion. I nickname this meal “The High-Carbon De-lite’ because livestock (beef/cheese) creates 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. It is recommended that you limit your intake of red meat and cheese to promote your general health, but if you plan on eating the bacon roll of death, I would recommend you never ingest meat or cheese again. This would be a life-time dose, an overdose perhaps..

3) Chilean Sea Bass (aka “If-You-Like-The-Taste-Of-Mercury”…)

Chilean Sea Bass, one of the most over-fished aquatic creatures of all time
Chilean Sea Bass, one of the most over-fished aquatic creatures of all time

Also known as “Toothfish” the Chilean Sea Bass has become almost endangered due to overfishing. This creates a ridiculously high demand for the product, bumping up prices, and motivating fisherman to use unethical ways to obtain this deliciously mercury-filled fish. The Environmental Defense Fund states that:

“The longlines commonly used to catch Chilean sea bass often snag endangered albatrosses and other seabirds as they grab bait, and the birds end up drowning. “

The EDF recommends limiting consumption to no more than 2 meals per month, and only 1 meal per month for children.

Therefore, unless you want to end up like Jeremy Piven, having a neurological breakdown from too much Mercury consumption, it’s best to steer clear of the Toothfish. Don’t buy into the lingo of restaurant menus, eating this fish is essentially eating metal. Bite into an old glass thermometer, that might be just as satisfying. 🙂

4) The Twinkie (aka ‘The Indestructable’)

The only American food staple that could survive a nuclear holocaust. Take that Iran!
Twinkies: The only American food staple that could survive a nuclear holocaust. Take that Iran!

I chose the Twinkie as a poster-child for an abundance of packaged foods that are shipped throughout the country and abroad. Not only does the Twinkie lack any kind of nutritional value, but packaging and shipping products like this consume an obscene amount of energy, not to mention nonbiodegradable waste. Just say no. I have faith in you.

5) Commodity Corn (aka ‘The Culprit in American Obesity’)

The subsidized staple of the American diet
Commodity Corn: The subsidized staple of the American diet

If reading Michael Pollan’s fascinating book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma taught me anything, it taught me that our government secretly loves to make us fat by adding corn into EVERYTHING. To be fair though, most of you eat this unintentionally, so I cannot place consumers at blame…

Unlike the corn you might have at a family BBQ, this commodity corn is not even edible in its natural state. To get into our stomachs, it must either be processed and placed under the guise of “High Fructose Corn Syrup” or, fed to our livestock to make them fatter and ready for slaughter in record time!

Commodity corn is a huge subject that I will elaborate upon in further entries, but basically, about 80% of packaged products you eat in the supermarket are basically made up of this corn-in-hiding. And hell, even though we produce so much corn we don’t know what to do with it, its production is subsidized by the government, a vicious cycle indeed. Its addition into our food is unnecessary and does not affect the taste of our packaged foods. We’re technically being used as a garbage disposal

In sum, eating this stuff adds unnecessary calories, and wastes even more energy than it creates in our humble digestive systems.

The goal of this exercise was not to make you stop eating, although some of those pictures might have done the trick… But rather, to get you to evaluate some of the choices you make when choosing your meals.

So what can you do to keep healthy and eat well to benefit both yourself and the environment?

  • Eat Local: Eating fruits and veggies that are grown in your local area will help you maintain a low-carbon diet as these products do not require the massive amount of energy it would take to ship them across the country. This includes fish as well. “Fresh Alaskan Salmon” means it has been flown in, making it 10x more emission intensive than transporting products by ship.
  • Eat Seasonal: When something is in season, it is probably grown in your local area. Eating watermelon in the dead of winter means that watermelon has most likely been shipped from another area, and to be honest it probably does not taste nearly as good.
  • Cut back on the Beef and Cheese: As stated before, livestock is responsible for about 18% of carbon emissions. Cattle that are fed corn produce a lot of greenhouse gases.

For more information on the best and worst meal choices for you and the environment, check out the following websites:

The moral of the story? Eat well and eat WISELY! 😉

Terrorism in the name of food: is this the right approach?

Are special interest groups such as PETA and ALF (Animal Liberation Front) using the right approach to call attention to issues of animal rights and industrialized meat and dairy production systems or does their militant approach ultimately work against them?

Discussing how to approach issues of animal rights with regard to food production has become particularly sticky issue in the past few years. Groups like PETA and ALF are especially prominent in the public sphere, warning consumers that their 1/2lb Whoppers and BBQ chicken wings are not delicious comestibles, but rather dietary abominations in violation of animal rights.

While these groups have worked incredibly hard to express their views to mass public audiences, the reactions that many people have to the general approach have been less than ideal.

I took it upon myself to randomly ask people on the street about their reactions to the “PETA approach” (and also ALF). Here are the highlights:

“PETA ultimately ends up shooting itself in the foot. Sure they are trying to protect the rights of innocent animals, but I can’t stand to hear any of them talk. Their approach is way too militant and it ultimately turns me off to the cause, regardless of whether or not I agree with the issues.” -Maria age 19

“Animal rights groups like PETA, and especially ALF become newsworthy for the crimes they commit: destruction of property, verbal assault, vandalism to name a few… and I guess it just really gives them too much negative attention. I myself am a vegetarian, but these people make me kind of ashamed honestly.. “-John age 30

“It’s a shame that all of these things are happening in slaughterhouses, but at the same time, most people just shut their ears and look the other way because these people are not the type of people you want to get in a conversation with.”- Jessica age 21

“They like talking AT people, not WITH people. I think it’s a fatal error on their part, especially if they are trying to promote awareness to an audience full of meat-eaters.”- Leslie age 55

Obviously this blog is about eating ethically and responsibly. Thus, technically I should be throwing more support to PETA and the ALF. But I was just curious as to everyone’s opinions about how these groups choose to present their issues?

Below is a news segment that was done about ALF and the way their protest approach:

Is it ok for the ALF to break into a building where animal research is conducted and burn it down?

Can vandalism of private property be justified in order to protect animal rights?

On being vegetarian, a cause that is obviously held high on the priority lists of PETA and ALF, Is it possible to eat meat ethically and responsibly?

These are some interesting questions folks… What do you think?

oh and just for fun..

Gastronomic Racism: Italy’s xenophobic foodie.

I was sitting at my desk just doing mindless internet surfing when I came across an news article about Italy’s new effort to ban any new foreign food restaurants into cities. Starting in Lucca and spreading to other cities in the Lombardy region, Italian president Silvio Berlusconi really feels strongly about Italians only eating italian food…. as a means of cultural preservation of course.

Alright so, a little background. I lived abroad for about 6 months in Parma, Italy… home to Italy’s booming food industry, and when it comes to food, Italians are not kidding. There is so much diversity across the different regions in Italy that apparently there is absolutely no room for the cuisines of immigrant cultures from Africa and the Middle East….at least not anymore.

Luca Zaia, the Minister of Agriculture and a member of the Northern League from the Veneto region, applauded the authorities in Lucca and Milan for cracking down on non-Italian food. “We stand for tradition and the safeguarding of our culture,” he said.

Mr Zaia said that those ethnic restaurants allowed to operate “whether they serve kebabs, sushi or Chinese food” should “stop importing container loads of meat and fish from who knows where” and use only Italian ingredients.

Asked if he had ever eaten a kebab, Mr Zaia said: “No – and I defy anyone to prove the contrary. I prefer the dishes of my native Veneto. I even refuse to eat pineapple.”

Mehmet Karatut, who owns one of four kebab shops in Lucca, said that he used Italian meat only.”

Don’t get me wrong. I am a huge supporter of eating local and maintaining national food traditions, but is this taking the “eating local” thing too far, and turning into a gastronomical form of racism? In Italy the culinary culture is synonymous with nationalism, but is this enough justification to completely ban other forms of cuisine?

What if someone is craving a burger, or a kebab? NO! *slaps hand* PASTA FOR YOU!

Anyway, go read the article. It’s a real trip.

And yes, Italians really are this crazy. (If you are Italian and reading this, I hope you are not offended, pero e’ davvero cosi in Italia, tutti politici pazzi.)