Re: Nannies

1

Yeah, remember how smoking bans are always totally uncontroversial?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-10-09 11:59 PM
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If the precipitous decline of the Dunkin Donuts donut is any indication, trans-fats were actually a pillar of our culture.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 12:20 AM
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The major problem is that you can't tell what they are in or what they aren't in. I'm only somewhat troubled by people making an informed choice that kills them slowly. But what transfats do is hide in seemingly ordinary food (and the information about them is itself hidden--very few people know how devastatingly bad for you transfats are). And then you eat it unknowingly.

It may not be just heart disease. It is possible they are endocrine disruptors or cause infertility. The stories still out on what else they might be doing.

This doesn't even get into the problem that there is so little healthy food available in many areas. It's like transfats are all you've got in some places. Go into most convenience marts. If you want to avoid seriously unhealthy food, there is literally NOTHING edible in them. Piles of food that no one in their right mind should eat.

This is where you need the state to intercede because over what's in food the individual has so little power and so few options. We have to eat. I suppose those nanny-state folks assume the person who cares should be burdened with growing his own food.

The analogy with cancer is exactly right.


Posted by: ozma | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 12:44 AM
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But trans fats are so tasty! Nomnomnomnom.


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:07 AM
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God I hate the nanny state. You'll pry my bacon from my cold dead fingers! (Yes, I know we're not talking about bacon)

On the other hand, I hope all the people who oppose mandatory labeling get cancer. If you're going to add a partially synthetic substance with serious health consequences to my godamn food, I don't think it's asking too much that you mention it on the label.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:16 AM
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||

Anti-drug war Kellog boycott.

Kellog has dropped its contract with Michael Phelps, because of the picture of him smoking marijuana. The Drug Policy is pushing people to boycott Kellog products and to let Kellog know that that's why they're doing it.

Here's a link with the telephone number to call.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 5:27 AM
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Sorry, I've been boycotting Kellogg for decades, for selling really horrible food. So I wouldn't make a difference.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 5:56 AM
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The best defense of the transfat ban I heard was the argument comparing it to infrastructure. Aren't you glad the government regulates the amount of lead in your water pipes?! Eh?! EH?!! is basically how the argument went.

Clearly, I'm not remembering exactly how the argument was persuasively reasoned----but it was! Maybe it was at Sausagely's blog?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 6:05 AM
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7: Yeah, I don't really eat their food much either, though there were a couple of cereals that I liked.

You could still contact them and tell them thatyou're boycotting them because of their prudishness about marijuana.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 6:08 AM
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Maybe it's because cancer is a much more unpleasant way to die than a heart attack.

One massive heart attack, and it's over pretty quickly. Cancer, on the other hand, tends to be lingering and painful, and the bastards won't even let you smoke a little grass to make it easier.

(I'm not saying this is a good reason. I'm generally in favor of nanny-statism, although the "war on drugs" has gone way too far.)


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 6:39 AM
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Doesn't it matter whether we're talking about Mary Poppins, or that reality show super nanny?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 7:01 AM
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Isn't the war on drugs itself an instance of nanny-state-ism?


Posted by: paranoid android | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 7:10 AM
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I think the big difference between smoking and trans fats (and alcohol and other unhealthy metabolites) is the question of second hand smoke.

As one who is inclined to defend people's right to go to hell in their own way, I have no quarrel with putting warnings on food containing trans fats, or on beer bottles, etc., but then people can heed those warnings or not, depending on how much they like beer and fish and chips. They may die sooner, but it's their call.

But if I choose to ignore the health warning on a packet of fags, I'm making everybody in the room breathe my smoke, so I appreciate the case for making smokers go away and do it in private. I don't enjoy being smoked at. I couldn't care less about people scoffing kebabs when I'm not, because I'm not partaking of their poisons.

Big difference.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 7:11 AM
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I support the transfats labeling, but I'm still nervous. I'm afraid that eventually they'll come after what they call "binge drinking" and what I call "having a couple of beers."


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 7:14 AM
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There was an email argument at work about "third-hand" smoke- whether the smell on the clothing of smokers or people who had been around them is bad for you. The State should ban smokers from wearing clothes!


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 7:19 AM
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We shouldn't conflate a ban with mandatory labeling. Banning things IS a nanny-state thing to do -- it's other people deciding they know better than you what is good for you. Occasionally this is appropriate, but more often (much more often, in my experience), it is not.

Mandatory labeling is other people deciding you deserve information. And you know, I'm basically fine with that. Especially because it's a social counterweight to the massive amounts of money that corporations spend trying to convince us that their products will make us healthy, happy, wise, attractive, whatever.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 7:19 AM
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The State should ban smokers from wearing clothes!

Especially the State of North Dakota, between December and March. No the smell of old smoke on clothes is a fucking smell; IMHO less noxious than most commercial air fresheners. People vitiate good arguments with that sort of crap.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 7:25 AM
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15: Relevant NY Times link about third-hand smoke.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 7:35 AM
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That article is the kind of stuff that scares me as little actual information and very loose standards for arguing. There is no information on whether the amounts of the toxins are significantly above baseline levels. And they conflate something known to be bad for a variety of reasons (smoking with the kid in the car) with '3rd hand smoke.'

I like the quote "Your nose isn't lying," he said. "The stuff is so toxic that your brain is telling you: 'Get away.'"

By that standard, you should stay out of the 2nd floor men's room for at least 45 minutes.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 7:46 AM
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Actually, give the restroom an hour. Sorry.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 7:47 AM
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One of the things that makes me cautious about mandatory labeling and setting maximum allowable amounts of trans fats (or any other thing) is that pretty quickly the regulatory body becomes an organ of the industry it regulates. The labels are adjusted to make the ingredient less harmful sounding, and the maximum amount ends up being adjusted to suit industry.

I'd be much happier with labeling by independent groups answerable solely to the consumer, sort of the way kosher foods get labeled. You look at the little parade of glyphs on the back or side of the package and if you see the one(s) you trust you go ahead and buy. The problem with that, of course, is that industry would put together a set of its own groups to certify stuff as wholesome and then advertise the hell out of their creation while working to obstruct the truly independent groups.

Perhaps the UUs would be interested in a program to put little glyphs on products certifying them as healthy, sweatshop free, non-exploitative, environmentally sound and all the rest. The interrobang would be the perfect glyph for this, IMO.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 7:51 AM
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19: The rogues gallery of compounds at the end of the article is the best -- OMG! Cigarette smoke contains butane!!!one!!!


Posted by: Klug | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 7:58 AM
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The thing that bothers me about transfats is that, if I understand it correctly, they don't serve any culinary purpose. The non-transfat Crisco is indistinguishable from regular Crisco to the consumer; it's just had the transfats filtered out somehow, which costs money. For something that's a pure cost/health tradeoff, that's not intrinsically desirable in any sense, I'd think that either a ban or aggressive labelling is appropriate.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 8:05 AM
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Third Hand Smoke seems to me much less worrying than the routine outgassing of chemicals from the plastics that are everywhere around us.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 8:16 AM
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12: Yes. That's why I described it as having gone too far.

I'm all in favor of mandatory warning labels on cocaine and heroin.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 8:24 AM
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23: I don't know about Crisco (there's a non-trans-fat version?), but I do think it makes a difference for many products. Trans-fats store better than other fats.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 8:29 AM
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26: I could be wrong. But I thought the deal was that artificially hydrogenated fats store well, and give you good mouth-feel, and all that convenience-food goodness. And the artificial hydrogenation process creates a certain amount of trans-fats. But if you filter out the trans-fats, the artificially hydrogenated fats you're left with still work fine. The problem is cost and availability of the non-trans-fat ingredients, not that they function differently.

Maybe I'm mixed up, though. I'll go google.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 8:34 AM
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Eh, you could be right. I thought artificially hydrogenated fats were "transfats".


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 8:35 AM
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Anyway, I don't see how labeling alone could be enough in this case. Kids can't read labels. I suppose you could combine mandatory labeling with a prohibition on sales to persons under 18 years of age (along with lots of public health funding for "don't feed trans fats to your kids!" messages), on the cigarette/alcohol model. But that's a lot of trouble. If there's a segment of society very interested in keeping them around (a la cigarettes), then maybe it's worth all that trouble. But I don't think that's the case, so banning seems simpler.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 8:44 AM
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I have a somewhat related question about smoking. I work in a building that is entirely non-smoking, and there are even signs up on my floor saying "NO SMOKING," which I would hardly think is necessary. But every morning when I come into my building, one of the janitors has clearly been smoking either in the supply closet or the men's restroom. Every single morning, the hall smells strongly of cigarette smoke.

We're on the 7th floor, but it takes less than a minute to go outside. It's really not hard.

I am not a rat, and given that our school has been forced to lay off a staggering number of employees and is looking to cut more, I worry about being the excuse for someone's termination. I'm the only person who works on that floor that early in the morning, aside from my students, who have also noticed it. I'm really not obsessive about whether anyone inhaling 1/20th of a drag of a cigarette is going to kill them. I just think it's really bizarre and rude.

Do I say something? I see the guy who does it and he always skulks off really quickly, because he clearly assumes no one is there. And it's not my right to reprimand him. Do I talk to someone in administration? Do I do nothing? I am inclined to do nothing.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 8:47 AM
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I'd go with your inclination to do nothing. If you feel like you must do something, I wouldn't go past a friendly "Dude, you're going to get busted; I'm not going to tell anyone, but I know you smoke up here, and if I busted you, someone who gives a shit might. Look out for yourself."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 8:51 AM
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I knew a professor who would stick his head out the window of his office to smoke. I guess that's more considerate, but not at all discrete.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 8:51 AM
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33

I guess that's more considerate, but not at all discrete.

You're saying he did it continuously?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 8:52 AM
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33: Based on the number of times I saw him with his head out the window, I'd say it was a fairly common occurrence. This was about '94 and I was his RA.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 8:55 AM
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30: I definitely wouldn't rat him out, but why not a friendly "sorry to bother you, but would you mind going outside to smoke?"


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 8:55 AM
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36

Paging Standpipe.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 8:56 AM
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There's a prof at my grad school department who just shuts his office door and smokes like a chimney, and the windows don't open in that building.

When I was a freshman in college (1995-96) I was put on a smoking hall. It seemed ludicrously dated that they asked high school seniors whether they'd like a smoking room or not, and then put the smokers all together, but they did. (I did not smoke; I just got put there.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 8:58 AM
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37: Guinea pig.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 8:59 AM
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It seemed ludicrously dated that they asked high school seniors whether they'd like a smoking room or not, and then put the smokers all together, but they did.

Dated why? I'm confused. Hotels still ask this. And in dorms, you'd actually be living in the same room with the smoker. I'd think that could be a real annoyance for a non-smoker.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 9:05 AM
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Speaking of dated, I remember a high school trip where somebody asked the teacher if we could dip on the road. The teacher said it was fine as long as I was O.K. with it. We were riding in my parents' van (without my parents) and he was worried about the mess, not cancer or the strict rule against tobacco on school functions.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 9:12 AM
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Dated why? I'm confused. Hotels still ask this.

Hotels aren't public state universities.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 9:13 AM
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I'm generally a little suspicious of trends that take certain elements of food (transfats are in meat and dairy in small amounts) and declare them to be bad. (Margarine was supposed to be so much better for us than butter, right? Right? Eggs are bad? Red meat?)

But this isn't a ban, just more information, and I am cranky in the direction of industrial food production given the ad on my TV explaining how good HFCS is. It's natural! It's made from corn, the Good Mom says.

So I figure they don't deserve a whole lot of charity when it comes to the assumption that they'll label things accurately and with an eye to health.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 9:15 AM
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41: you expect the university to ban smoking in dorm rooms? (And many people would still prefer not to live with a smoker even if smoking was banned; see third-hand-smoke, above).

I don't know. My college did the same thing, and it didn't strike me as dated. (On the other hand, the ban on persons of the opposite sex in the dorms after 9 pm? Struck me as dated.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 9:17 AM
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Those HFCS ads creep me out.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 9:21 AM
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you expect the university to ban smoking in dorm rooms?

I don't personally care if they do or not, but yes, I would expect smoking to be banned indoors everywhere on a college campus.

On the other hand, the ban on persons of the opposite sex in the dorms after 9 pm? Struck me as dated

Yes, that's bizarre, too.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 9:23 AM
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There are colleges that let people smoke in dorm rooms?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 9:23 AM
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47

33 is awesome in its nerdiness.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 9:28 AM
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39: Yes, it is. My roommate first semester my freshman year LIED on the questionnaire used to sort roommates, and said he was a non-smoker.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 9:31 AM
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48. What was he, some kind of sociopath?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 9:42 AM
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46 - I wouldn't actually have cared at the time if my roommate smoked, so I put that down on when I was filling out the "assign you to a dorm" form. This resulted in ending up with a roommate who smelled like bongwater, which wasn't actually what I had in mind.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 9:43 AM
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49: No, just a chickenshit who didn't want his parents to find out that he smoked.

Fortunately, there was another such chickenshit down the hall, and he and I swapped rooms second semester.

(I don't know why parents would look at a child's roommate questionnaire.)


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 9:51 AM
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(I don't know why parents would look at a child's roommate questionnaire.)

Most likely he didn't eighter, but didn't want to take any chances.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 9:53 AM
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I can eat fifty eggs!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 9:54 AM
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Eighter? Damn near swallowed her whole!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 9:55 AM
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Dr. Melik: This morning for breakfast he requested something called "wheat germ, organic honey and tiger's milk."
Dr. Aragon: [chuckling] Oh, yes. Those are the charmed substances that some years ago were thought to contain life-preserving properties.
Dr. Melik: You mean there was no deep fat? No steak or cream pies or... hot fudge?
Dr. Aragon: Those were thought to be unhealthy... precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true.
Dr. Melik: Incredible.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 9:58 AM
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My public high school had a smoking area for students, outdoors but with an awning to keep out rain and snow. If you were under 18 you needed a parental permission slip, at least in theory; I think that under 16 were not supposed to smoke at all. Teachers knew to stay away because the space always reeked of a substance for which parental permission was insufficient. It was a different time.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 10:09 AM
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I shared an office for a while with a fairly brilliant (but fundamentally crazy) physics sort who would smoke in his back half of the office when I was not there (it was banned in the building). When I came in unexpectedly I would hear rapid crumpling of paper. When I finally confronted him with my "I would prefer you not smoke in here, but it isn't something I get too wound up about; but if I die in a fire because you're putting out your cigarettes in the wastebasket then I'll really be pissed off" speech, he started off by denying that he smoked. Jesus. I recall (although my boss at the time denies it) having a positive on my performance review one year being "can share an office with X (brilliant but crazy physics guy).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 10:16 AM
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If there's a nanny state, do we withold its taxes?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 10:18 AM
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Those HFCS ads creep me out.

On the plus side, they provide a ready, snarky response to everyone who starts in with they "You know what they say... " bit.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 10:26 AM
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3: But what transfats do is hide in seemingly ordinary food (and the information about them is itself hidden--very few people know how devastatingly bad for you transfats are). And then you eat it unknowingly.

This is sad to me: the definition of 'seemingly ordinary food' has apparently morphed, and no longer means, you know, fruits and vegetables, grains and beans. I don't know, though, do transfats appear in ye mighty staff of life as well? And in, say, basic dairy products (cheese)?

What is this seemingly ordinary food that one finds in a convenience corner mart? That has transfats in it? We need to pull back from the (non-)education people have received about their foodstuffs.

Of course we shouldn't conflate mandatory labelling with outright banning. A massive public education campaign is called for! If only.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 10:50 AM
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I don't know, though, do transfats appear in ye mighty staff of life as well?

Yes.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 10:54 AM
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My mighty staff of life is completely trans-fat free ... ladeez.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:00 AM
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60: You're not suggesting that my cheetos aren't "ordinary foodstuffs" are you??


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:00 AM
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63: Whatever they do, they will not take my Oreos away from me (a basic offender of the trans-fat variety of ordinary foodstuff). I know they're gross and disgusting, but they take me back to pure childhood bliss and dammit, every once in a while I want to sit back with a glass of milk and be happy.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:03 AM
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60: Trans fats are made by bacteria in ruminant animals (e.g., cows). Dairy is probably the largest "natural" source of trans fat in a typical western diet.

It's been suggested that the reason saturated fat looks so bad in epidemiological studies is because it's confounded with trans fat -- the major sources of saturated fat in the diet are beef and dairy products, which also contain trans fat.


Posted by: amb | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:05 AM
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61: Yeah? Which? What kinds of bread?

I confess that I buy mostly expensive bread from small local bakeries (I get these when they're priced at day-old prices, half off, then I freeze 2 loaves and half a dozen rolls and so on for a week or two). This works okay at half price, though I feel like a vulture at times when I descend on the day-old bin.

I'm uncomfortably travelling back and forth between what feels like a privileged attitude on my part, and sympathy for those who have to buy what I think of as crappy bread. Mandatory labelling about transfats isn't going to help those people.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:07 AM
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It'll help them if some crappy bread has transfats and other crappy bread doesn't, wouldn't you think?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:08 AM
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Mandatory labelling about transfats isn't going to help those people.

Unless it shames the companies into offering a trans-fat-free version of cheap bread.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:08 AM
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53: God, I wish that research would be widely disseminated. When I was home over Christmas I had my dad tut-tutting at me because I like to eat eggs for breakfast. I was like "dude, that 3-eggs-a-week" think is way outdated. He did not believe me, and I did not have the internets in my pocket.

I sent it to him, but man, when it comes to conceptions about food, people are very, very bad at changing their minds.

Especially when it seems right that eggs should be bad for you, since they're so fucking delicious.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:09 AM
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42 - The solution is my Unitarian Universalist Interrobang of approval. You know it's wholesome because people with a desperately confused theology but a deep concern for humanity have examined it and found it wholesome.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:09 AM
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64: There is nothing either gross or disgusting about an Oreo. They are food of the gods! Also the subject of UNG's first really big culture shock moment in the U.S. in which, after my purchase of a package led to his excitedly telling everyone he met for days about this amazing product he'd discovered. "Yes, UNG, Oreos are very good."


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:12 AM
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66: Not those sorts of bread, no. But many of your grocery store pre-sliced loaves of bread (including deceptively healthy looking wheat bread) had/have trans-fats in them. (I've noticed a resurgence of labeling with many claiming to be trans-fat free so I suspect that many of the makers have removed them). But because trans-fats tend to be more shelf- stable, you do see them in any number of "seemingly ordinary" products, if not, obviously, in your dried beans and fresh fruit.

I think the issue of packaged foods is a bit separate from trans-fats labeling; in some ways I agree with you quite a bit about what people should be eating and in others I'm quite sympathetic to the fact that people really don't like to be told what they should be eating, particularly if they see one route as more expensive and more time-consuming (regardless if it actually is). Those people who do consume a lot of packaged foods should be alerted to potentially harmful ingredients, in my opinion, even if we do want to also try a national re-educational program on eating well as well.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:13 AM
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71: Ah, I feel that I am among my people. I particularly love the double-stuff (ordinary ones hardly seem worthwhile), and when I discovered that they make chocolate covered Oreos, I feared for my health. But I've gotten my addiction under control (it helps to be single - when you realize that you, by yourself, consumed that ENTIRE package it's a bit more difficult to delude yourself about the health costs associated with Oreo eating).

(And that's a rather adorable story, even if my impressions of UNG are otherwise unfavorable).


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:15 AM
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Trans fats are made by bacteria in ruminant animals (e.g., cows).

I am too lazy to look this up right now, but from past reading on the topic, that's not at all what I understood to be right. Although, see 28.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:17 AM
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and when I discovered that they make chocolate covered Oreos,

These are really the yummiest thing ever.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:19 AM
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Those people who do consume a lot of packaged foods should be alerted to potentially harmful ingredients

The people who consume the packaged food are not label readers. That only happens in the commercials. Label readers are yummy mummys with Master's Degrees from non state schools.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:22 AM
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I read labels for transfats. I'm male, not particularly attractive and went to two different state schools.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:24 AM
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Okay, it seems yes, there are things that are technically called trans fats that are in dairy products, but they're different from the things we usually call "trans fats" and are thinking of banning. The dairy ones seem to be healthy, even.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:25 AM
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But you're not in the commercial, are you? Didn't think so.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:25 AM
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And 72 only reinforces the point. Breads that are designed to sit on the shelf at room temperature for months and months are not ye mighty staff of life. They might vaguely resemble it, but that's deceptive food marketing. Those things have enormous ingredient lists, most of which is chemical crap.

I think the answer to parsi's question really is "no", these things aren't in ordinary/"natural" foods.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:29 AM
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The people who consume the packaged food are not label readers. That only happens in the commercials. Label readers are yummy mummys with Master's Degrees from non state schools.

I don't know. On the one hand, I'm inclined to agree with you. On the other hand, have you seen some of the labels that companies are putting on their own food? They're pretty noticeable. (Granted, this is not the same thing as a governing body putting on a label).

Also, if you'll note from my love of Oreos (I love the juxtaposition of my comments), some of us with master's degrees (from a state school, alas) do in fact consume packaged food and read labels!


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:29 AM
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65: Trans fats are made by bacteria in ruminant animals (e.g., cows). Dairy is probably the largest "natural" source of trans fat in a typical western diet.

Interesting, thanks.

Generally, yeah, we'd like to see companies shamed into offering non-transfat options. I expect that the non-transfat options might wind up more expensive, though who knows. I'm not clear on the industrial reasoning behind use of transfats in the first place: something about shelf-life, as someone said above.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:30 AM
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Okay, it seems yes, there are things that are technically called trans fats that are in dairy products, but they're different from the things we usually call "trans fats" and are thinking of banning. The dairy ones seem to be healthy, even.

Which is odd, since the dairy ones are a particular example of the more general class which is supposed to be so unhealthy, and Wikipedia isn't really explaining what determines which ones are unhealthy and which are not.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:30 AM
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I read labels and eat packaged food.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:31 AM
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I tried buying non-artificial bread once. I ate about 1/8 of it and then it went stale. This happened twice. Maybe if I lived with six other people or hosted a lot of dinner parties I would buy non-artificial bread.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:31 AM
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You know, not all shelf-stable foods are bad things. (I feel like I'm making the argument that I rather hate about industrial agriculture feeding the world). We have food science for a reason. It sucks when it goes awry, but I don't think you're going to be able to dismantle the current system and go back to the glory days of weevil-ridden flour, tainted meat, and poorly canned fruits and vegetables.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:32 AM
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Trans fats are useful because they're solid at room temperature. So are ordinary saturated fats, but we were told to be afraid of those. (I'm sure there are some other shelf-stability benefits with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils versus, say, lard, but being solid is the biggest one).


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:33 AM
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On some googling, I think my 23 was wrong. I thought that transfats were a contaminant that occurred in artificially partially hydrogenated fats, but it looks as if they are the same thing; the substitutes seem to be mixtures of saturated and unsaturated fats (I'm not 100% clear on this, and if someone understood the chemistry of it all better, I'd be interested). So, while my sense is still that there are good substitutes, 23 shouldn't be relied on.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:33 AM
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86: I don't think they're all bad things, no, but they're worth distinguishing from ye mighty staff of life.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:34 AM
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Healthy? That's going a bit far, isn't it?.

Some sources (like cheese) look epidemiologically neutral, and other source (like butter and cream), look very, very, bad. Personally, I think it's more likely that there's something in cheese that's good (K2? something else? who knows?) than it is that there's something besides trans and saturated fats in butter and cream that's bad.


Posted by: amb | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:34 AM
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I read labels and eat packaged food.

Me too. "Hey, look at that! These Cheetos really aren't very good for me at all!"


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:37 AM
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Hmm, I think I must have a different understanding about what constitutes ye mighty staff of life.

Then again, I probably eat more like parsimon than not. I buy my bread from a local bakery. I subscribe to a CSA. I have like, six different kinds of dried beans in my pantry (woo, swipple!). But I'm also aware that this is a very particular choice and it's not something that available to everyone, as much as I wish it was. I think trying to disseminate more information about food (and labeling is one way of doing this) only helps the situation and makes it more likely that we'll be able to shift the system at least the tiniest bit.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:37 AM
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90: well, if you consider the European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology more reliable than Wikipedia, I guess you could say that. (Have you read The Wisdom of Crowds?)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:37 AM
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Then again, it might just result in my second most common attitude towards food, which is, "Well, something's gotta kill me. Might as well be something I enjoy. Bring on the Oreos."


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:38 AM
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86: I liked Omnivore's Dilemna but I thought a flaw was that he basically had the McDonald's meal (eaten in the car for God's sake) be the only real representative of "industrial agriculture" (yes, yes I know, industrial organic). In doing so, he really missed the "space" where most in the US people eat.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:44 AM
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Healthy? That's going a bit far, isn't it?.

Not to mention that the wikipedia article says they're suspected of being the cause of "old person smell".


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:46 AM
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95: Totally agreed.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:47 AM
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15: When people who've been smoking for a long time and really reek of it, I start hacking. Sometimes I have to leave the room.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:53 AM
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92: I have like, six different kinds of dried beans in my pantry (woo, swipple!)

You really don't need to be apologetic about this. There are plenty of non-swipple people who stock dried beans. The swipple theme is played out, flawed. Ignore, ignore.

In any event. No one is arguing against the wisdom of mandatory labelling. Where's soup biscuit? He's the man around here for discussion of industrial agriculture, though that's more about high-fructose corn syrup.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:55 AM
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Speaking of high-fructose corn syrup, I'm going to have to go buy Swedish Fish to make it through the afternoon.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:58 AM
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Mm. Swedish fish. Damn you, MH.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 11:59 AM
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This quotes what appears to be real science (several studies) drawing different conclusions from the study linked in 90. It points to a clear need to differentiate between natural and artificial trans fats.

I of course have no personal basis on which to judge the credibility of these various results.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 12:01 PM
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85: By the way, Ned, I think there's something wrong with you.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 12:03 PM
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I will use this phrase from the Wikipedia article on transfats as the title of my memoir: "the decreased rancidity of partially hydrogenated oils"


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 12:06 PM
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103: Nah. I assume he's talking sandwich bread and natural stuff really does tend to go bad quicker than a single person can use it up. I'll occasionally bake a loaf, and it usually turns blue before we finish it (less than a week).


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 12:06 PM
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Don't eat the blue bread.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 12:11 PM
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But I thought it would go nicely with the blue cheese!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 12:12 PM
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Fine, eat the blue bread. Nobody's gonna call dibs.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 12:13 PM
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Ned in 85: I tried buying non-artificial bread once. I ate about 1/8 of it and then it went stale. This happened twice. Maybe if I lived with six other people or hosted a lot of dinner parties I would buy non-artificial bread. Put it in the freezer.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 12:13 PM
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Of course! Bread without preservatives gets stale in two days, moldy in like 5 days. Maybe I'm doing something wrong.

I do put bread in the freezer, but didn't think of taking it out a couple of slices at a time.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 12:18 PM
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What you must do Ned is buy some delicious butter, and the bread will take care of itself. Or at least that's the way it works at my house.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 12:21 PM
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They say red meat'll kill you. That's bullshit. Green meat'll kill you!


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 12:21 PM
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105: I assume he's talking sandwich bread and natural stuff really does tend to go bad quicker than a single person can use it up

I assume he's talking about that, and I guess you don't eat much bread singly. I put the rest of the loaf in the fridge after a day or two, yo.

Is there an argument afoot for preservatives? Gosh, what is one to do about foods that one doesn't know how to preserve?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 12:23 PM
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Regarding packaged foods that make claims about no transfats: be very skeptical. If you see the words "zero grams transfats per serving", that's not the same as no transfats. The CPG industry prevailed upon the FDA to permit them to advertise thusly any product that contains less than 0.5 grams per serving, because, you guessed it, they are allowed to round down!

And do you think the CPG manufacturers modified the portion sizes to slip in under the limit (e.g. The individual bag of chips that contains 1.3 servings)? Of course they did.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 12:23 PM
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114: Snort. This is not a surprise. More generally speaking, the notion that people want to have their junk food but not have it be junk food is a little weird.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 12:34 PM
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115: Weird, yes. But where would the chip aisle at Whole Foods be without that notion.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 12:37 PM
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The fact that it's bad for me isn't actually the primary draw of junk food.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 12:44 PM
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More generally speaking, the notion that people want to have their junk food but not have it be junk food is a little weird.

? Snacks didn't originate with trans-fats or the convenience store; there's been stuff in the niche that we think of as junk food forever. Nuts, dried fruit, pretzels, whatever -- what's weird about wanting to eat little snacky things that are no more deadly than the rest of what you eat?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 12:47 PM
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the notion that people want to have their junk food but not have it be junk food is a little weird.

The industry term is "salty snacks". For the chips anyway.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 12:47 PM
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118: I think she meant more "trans-fat free" Oreos, and "Low-fat" Twinkies and all that.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 12:50 PM
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I assume he's talking about that, and I guess you don't eat much bread singly. I put the rest of the loaf in the fridge after a day or two, yo.

Personally, I find that bread gets kind of dried out in the refrigerator. Freezer's okay, but I usually think of that after I see the first little blue speck....


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 12:53 PM
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118: Nuts, dried fruit, and so on, are not, in their unadulterated states, junk food.

People are welcome to want snack foods, but wanting Oreos and Cheetos not to be unhealthy is asking a bit much.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 12:56 PM
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Freezer's okay, but I usually think of that after I see the first little blue speck....

Serious question: that's fine to freeze and then eat, right? My wife and I have had disputes about this. If you freeze it, the mold should all die.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 12:56 PM
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118, 120: Even talking trans-fat-free Oreos -- what's so strange about having a product you like and wanting it to be as un-bad for you as possible?

Also, I am now desperately craving Oreos. Thanks so much Parenthetical!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 12:58 PM
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My homemade bread lasts nearly a week, when we leave it that long. The thrice-risen, couple-tablespoons-fat recipes are pretty reliable that way. Breadboxes are not fancy technology.

I'm *more* baffled by the idea of having good bread in the house and not eating it up.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 12:58 PM
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...oh, and Brock, I wouldn't eat frozen mold unless I was willing to eat fresh mold. Thing one, I believe some of the toxins are by-products and still there if it's dead, and thing two, it can probably sporulate and survive freezing. Put it in the freezer before it's moldy.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 12:59 PM
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123: Sure. And if milk goes sour, you can freeze it and drink it later because freezing kills the bacteria.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:00 PM
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but wanting Oreos and Cheetos not to be unhealthy is asking a bit much.

Um, wanting them not to be particularly more unhealthy than you'd expect sweet/fatty foods to be seems perfectly reasonable to me. What, the transfats are some kind of deserved punishment for people who eat packaged food?

123: Dude, no. Just no. You're a lawyer. You can afford to throw away the moldy bread. In fact, even if you weren't a lawyer you'd probably be able to throw away the moldy bread.

And freezing doesn't kill mold spores. This is how mold survived in temperate climates over the winters before central heating.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:00 PM
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People are welcome to want snack foods, but wanting Oreos and Cheetos not to be unhealthy is asking a bit much.

It's asking a lot, but I don't see why people wouldn't want it if they could have it.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:00 PM
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123: Just in generally, you should probably goes with your wife's viewpoint in any food-related argument.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:01 PM
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People are welcome to want snack foods, but wanting Oreos and Cheetos not to be unhealthy is asking a bit much.

But we want much! And we deserve it!

You probably also think you can't wear pin stripes and love rock'n roll.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:02 PM
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Even talking trans-fat-free Oreos -- what's so strange about having a product you like and wanting it to be as un-bad for you as possible?

Nothing, but expecting to get very far along the un-bad-for-you curve is a little silly.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:02 PM
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I probably shouldn't troll on food-safety issues. Freezing won't do anything for moldy bread (or any spoiled food) except make it cold and stop it from getting worse as fast as it would have otherwise.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:03 PM
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wanting Oreos and Cheetos not to be unhealthy is asking a bit much.

Okay, seriously, what is so wrong with this? I mean, I'm not asking for high-fiber, vitamin enriched Cheetos -- though if they can do that and make them still taste the same, score! They taste yummy. If they can taste yummy and be less unhealthy, why not?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:05 PM
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126/127/128: Huh. Well, okay. There seems to be consensus on this point. I know the mold spores are still there (I mean, you can still see the mold spots on the bread, so something's obviously there), but I felt pretty confident that freezing killed any badness associated with them. It's never seemed to bother me (whereas eating moldy bread that hadn't been frozen has made me sick), but maybe I've just been lucky.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:07 PM
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Brock, all you need to know is one simple kitchen mantra: when in doubt, throw it out.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:08 PM
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(whereas eating moldy bread that hadn't been frozen has made me sick)

You know, most people would get to this point and think "Hm. Maybe I should stop eating moldy bread." I'm intrigued by the fact that your approach was "Hm. Moldy bread makes me sick, but I'm unwilling to give it up. How can I eat moldy bread safely?"


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:09 PM
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And Di is a nicer person than I am. But I knew that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:10 PM
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Does moldy bread really make you sick? I seem to remember knowing someone that ate it routinely.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:11 PM
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128.1, 129:

Okay. There you go. People should be able to have convenience foods that aren't really bad for them, but only mostly bad.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:12 PM
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136, 138: Are you all forgetting that Brock was raised during the Depression? There's no way he's going to throw out bread that's very nearly edible.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:13 PM
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139: I depends on the type of mold. If I was hungry enough and had only moldy bread, I'd toast it, not freeze it.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:14 PM
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Unfrozen only a few years ago, our modern concepts of food safety frighten and confuse him.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:15 PM
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What a minute. Brock, have you considered the possibility of a connection between eating rotten food and this wasting syndrome you've been laboring under?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:16 PM
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You're the one who eats apple cores, LB. I honestly expected your support on this.

Oh, and to 142, I almost always toast bread (frozen or fresh, moldy or not). Does that make it okay?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:18 PM
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143: And you could so parachute out of a Ford Tri-Motor.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:18 PM
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145: I very much doubt toasting makes it any safer to eat moldy bread. Just more palatable.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:20 PM
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In Brock's defense, it's not unknown around these parts to shave off the small spots of blue from the crust of a loaf and still generate a slice. This would only occur for a day, in desperation. I treat bread much like cheese in this regard: surface mold, eh, not so much.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:22 PM
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I mean: not so much of a problem when caught early.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:23 PM
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144: I don't actually eat a lot of rotten food. This is more a philosophic point of disagreement than a day to day argument.

Funny story though (although I think I've told it here before?): this part summer I was eating some cottage cheese that had been open in the refridgerator for, it turned out, a little too long. The texture was fine, and it looked fine, but instead of cottage cheese it tasted exactly like blue cheese. Which freaked me out at first, but then I thought (1) well, blue cheese is basically just rotten cheese, and it's safe to eat, and (2) I actually like blue cheese better than cottage cheese anyway. So I ate it all. Anyway, that was a bad idea. And now to this day I've got sort of an aversion to cottage cheese, even the fresh stuff. (Actually, it didn't have a terribly bad effect on me. But I fed quite a bit to my toddler, too, and it made him pretty sick.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:24 PM
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Are you all forgetting that Brock was raised during the Depression?

No, Brock grew up as a preindustrial European peasant.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:28 PM
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Okay, the parenthetical in 150 made me laugh. Poor kid.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:29 PM
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This is more a philosophic point of disagreement than a day to day argument.

And generally, I'm more sympathetic to the 'cut the mold off and eat the rest anyway if you're hungry' position than I sound. It was just the freezing food that had already gone bad bit that threw me. (Also, you fed spoiled cottage cheese to your toddler? Dude.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:34 PM
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I didn't really think it was spoiled, or I wouldn't have eaten it. I thought it had turned into blue cheese.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:38 PM
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154: I say again, dude.

There's a whole bunch of organisms out there that will colonize your food. Some of them make it nicer, and then we have yogurt or blue cheese or something like that. But those are well known and controlled organisms; trusting some random volunteer mold that showed up in your fridge to not make you sick is truly, deeply, incautious.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:42 PM
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I'm pretty sure that at the time I'd recently read Emerson's essay about how there's no such thing as dangerous food spoilage. (Which I can't find now to link.) I trusted him.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:44 PM
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I thought it had turned into blue cheese.

Heh.

This bread is all fuzzy. Oh, and peaches are fuzzy. Have some peaches, Little Brock!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:46 PM
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I really like the taste of milk that is just about to turn.

Sifu, who's a much bigger fan of smelly cheese than I am, finds this disgusting.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:46 PM
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Sifu is correct.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:47 PM
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I thought it had turned into blue cheese.

Somehow I don't think that will hold up in court.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:47 PM
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It was a bad decision, granted. In retrospect I really don't know what I was thinking. Mostly that: I'm used to rotten food making me want to retch. But after I got over the initial shock of not tasting what I was expecting, this tasted suprisingly good. So I thought it was probably harmless.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:47 PM
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Brock will have the only kid on the block with no food allergies or asthma.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:49 PM
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I'm used to rotten food making me want to retch.

Just how often do you eat rotten food?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:50 PM
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Sorry, I see you already answered my question.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:52 PM
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Your problem was not that it was spoiled cottage cheese, but that it was cottage cheese to begin with. Cottage cheese is gross.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:57 PM
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162 may be right.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 1:59 PM
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To return to the transfat nanny state question above, civic context really does matter. Here in New York City, people are eating from restaurants for at least one meal a day. A lot of people don't have kitchen access. In some poor neighborhoods, the grocery stores are terrible. Really young kids at the Bed-Stuy public library sit outside and scarf down french fries and stir-fry from the local take-out places.

NYC's new law basically means that chain restaurants and institutional cafeterias have to switch healthier oil for the really bad oil. That could actually have a measurable impact on some people's health. Now, the ban on transfats is being combined with some other public health measures, like expanding greenmarket access and so forth, but I'm in favor of this degree of nanny-statism. I mean, it's not as though you can't buy Crisco or Oreos.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:00 PM
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Sifu is correct.

I also like almost-black bananas. I'm practically the garbage disposal of roommates.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:05 PM
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I like pea soup when it starts to ferment. It gets tangier.

I did Google research on food poisoning and the general results were:

1. You can be infected by live parasites: e.g. raw fish, raw hamburger, trichinosis. The animal has to be infested. Ergotism is caused by an infection of the living plant.

2. Botulism is from improper canning practices.

3. Hepatitis, salmonella and E. coli are mostly spread by human hands dirty with feces. But animals can spread it too. (Do NOT put tiny pet turtles in your mouth!!) Incubation (as on a steam table) increases the risk.

4. Flies and other insects spread many diseases, usually by feces contamination.

What I did not find was diseases spread by airborne bacteria or fungus spores. This was just a Google research, of course. Your input is requested.

What I concluded is that if the raw food is not infected, if it is not touched by dirty ands or dirty insects, and not canned, the risk from eating "spoiled" food that was left out is minimal, and it often tastes better. In Taiwan people just cover leftovers with a screen hemisphere instead of refrigerating. Many tasty foods are spoiled, including aged meat. All my life I've been carelees about this with never an ill effect.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:08 PM
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Jesus, I almost killed Brock and his kid. Whoops.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:10 PM
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It was tasty though, John, I'll give you that.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:12 PM
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In my original piece I did say "Remember, medical advice found on the internet can kill you". Pretty god damn good disclaimer, if you ask me.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:15 PM
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Especially if it comes from somebody with a URL containing the word "Troll".


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:20 PM
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Well, John used to have a respectable domain name. And he published a book, too. If that's not credibility, what is?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:24 PM
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Another phobia I have (previous thread) is tropical parasites. They can be incredibly horrible. I like temperate-to-subarctic climates. Food poisoning is nothing.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:26 PM
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Tropical parasites? I thought it was reef creatures?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:27 PM
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Jesus.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:28 PM
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Is that your phobia, Cala?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:31 PM
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Reef creatures too. By and large, my other two phobias are pretty rational. People who casually infect themselves with tropical parasites, or who fracture their skulls just for the fun of it, often have problems down the road, no matter how much fun it seems at the time.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:32 PM
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Oh, no. I'm just trying to figure out how Brock has survived to adulthood.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:33 PM
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169: I did learn from an expert in a food-borne illness case once that kosher butchering dramatically reduces (eliminates?) the risk of e. coli contamination of beef products. Once you consume the infected product, it can take days to incubate before you get sick.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:33 PM
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175: I actually have that fear also. I like a good couple of months of freezing weather. Keeps the insects from forgetting why being warm-blooded rules.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:33 PM
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Cause there's nothing abnormal about being afraid of Jesus. Lots of people have that fear.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:35 PM
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181: Kosher butchering is even more effective at reducing contaminated pork products.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:35 PM
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Seriously, Cala et al., a bad decision I'll grant, but I don't think it was quite as unreasonable as you make it sound. It tasted good. Spoiled food is supposed to taste bad. Q.E.D.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:36 PM
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Spoiled food is supposed to taste bad.

I do know people who consider all cheese spoiled food and refuse to touch it.

Well, one person, anyhow.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:39 PM
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176, 79: The reef creatures got me once and it was *not good.*


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:39 PM
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185: OK, maybe, but that reminds me of how you aren't supposed to eat mushrooms picked wild unless you've spent years and years studying: by the time you taste it to find out if it's bad for you, it's too late.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:41 PM
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Moray eel? Sting ray? Lascivious squid?

My brother had a coral cut that didn't heal for months, and also a jellyfish sting that he thought would be fatal. His Hawaiian buddies just laughed at him. Back-country Hawaii s a rough crowd.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:43 PM
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185: There are more factors! E.g. this was not the same color as it was when it was started out. "Bleu cheese is good; this cheese is blue-colored; therefore, blue-colored cheese is good" is not a valid bit of reasoning.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:44 PM
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175: My Mom had a case of Putse Fly larvae in her arm once. Got them out by smothering them in vaseline (they poke little breathing tubes up through the skin) and then letting natural body processes expel them over the course of a few days. Apparently it's quite painful while they are alive, since they are eating living tissue, but only itchy after they are dead.

A friend of mine got a case of Putse Fly while he was doing his mandatory national service (in his case teaching English to kids in a rural village). Unfortunately the guy he was serving with fancied himself a bit of a bush doctor and convinced my friend that the only solution was to heat a spoon red hot and then press it down on the infected area, cooking the larvae and the adjacent flesh.

My Mom's method is better.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:45 PM
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Despite my bad advice to Brock, I'll continue as before.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:45 PM
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189: Fire coral, the length of both arms and legs.* After passing through a phase of searing pain and then pain and itching, it goes systemic and takes forever to go away. Monstrously unpleasant.

*I was wearing a shortie and sort of hugging a rope about 60 ft. underwater. I was told to hug said rope by my -- insane, moronic, fundamentalist -- dive instructor.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:47 PM
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189: Leave the tiki in the cave to prevent stuff like that.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:48 PM
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Togolosh, thanks for the nightmares.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:48 PM
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190: no, it looked indistinguishable from any other cottage cheese. No blueness.


Posted by: Brock Landesr | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:49 PM
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191: What nation was your brother serving?


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:50 PM
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197: Sorry, friend, not brother.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:51 PM
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I can tell you, Togolosh's story is nothing. I used to know a nice, cheerful little old parasitologist lady (a single career woman born about 1920). She collected bizarre parasite stories and shared them with the people she knew. She looked like your grandma.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:54 PM
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199: I'm just going to stop going south of Washington, PA.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 2:58 PM
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198 - Botswana. The have mandatory national service ("Tirelo Sechaba") for people going on to post-secondary education, though I think that may be only if they are getting state support. Quite a few of my friends did it and generally reported that it was a positive experience. It's a good way to get the future elite of the country to have some exposure to conditions in rural areas, and it provides low cost skilled labor. It's sort of a post high school domestic Peace Corps.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 3:03 PM
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I thought the modern view was the parasites are good for you. (Not all of them, obviously.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 3:04 PM
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Brock, that it wasn't blue actually makes your case worse, you know.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 3:05 PM
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Choose your parasites, and friends, carefully.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 3:08 PM
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203: no, actually I don't. Eating cottage cheese that had turned blue seems out of the question.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 3:09 PM
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Emerson, how do you know what my grandma looks like?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 3:12 PM
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203, 205: I think in the interest of avoiding a climate where people don't feel comfortable sharing their interesting life decisions, we should all applaud Brock for sharing and move on to the parasites.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 3:13 PM
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I also like sharing my overuse of "sharing".


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 3:16 PM
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She just has that parasitologist air about her, JM.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 3:19 PM
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We parasites are very friendly.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 3:22 PM
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Leeches are cuddly and harmless compared to the average parasite. They're also a valuable resource for the fishbait industry.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 3:25 PM
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Don't forget our contribution to modern medicine, JE
http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2004-07-07-leeches-maggots_x.htm


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 3:29 PM
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Also, I am now desperately craving Oreos. Thanks so much Parenthetical!

Sorry. If it makes you feel any better, MH got me craving Swedish Fish. Also, I don't ask that my Cheetos and Oreos be healthy; I know they're not. Which is why I eat them judiciously. But it would be nice to have them without trans-fats, if it were possible. (I suspect but do not know that Trader Joe's version, Jo Jos or what have you, might be lacking in the trans fats).

When I was little I was convinced I was going to become a epidemiologist/parasitologist (and an archaeologist and a paleontologist and pretty much anything besides a historian). I would read and read and read about horrifying tropical diseases, regale my family with the stories of rotting flesh over dinner (see, I don't just harass vegetarians, I harass everyone!), and consistently self-diagnose myself with horrifying diseases (I wasn't a hypochondriac, I just liked to come up with what my symptoms might possibly be). My interests shifted, fortunately, or I'd be the woman in Emerson's 199.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 3:31 PM
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JE, you should check out this episode of Radio Lab for the story of a guy who gets infected with a botfly larva and lets it grow until it metamorphoses and crawls out of his scalp.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 3:39 PM
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213: As I said, though, Ouzel, she was happy and, for the right person, entertaining and informative. There would have been nothing to regret. Of course, for me her singleness is a plus.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 4:02 PM
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(they poke little breathing tubes up through the skin)

[whimper]


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 4:13 PM
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There's a particular microbe that infests Doug fir roots in cool climates, and human feet in tropical ones ('rice foot'). I didn't know any foresters who got a case in solidarity, but they kind of thought about it. (Then decided to be in solidarity with healthy trees.)

Emerson is not the only person to claim that all the things that colonize milk and are bad for you smell bad; I think that's in Joy of Pickling, which is generally of the belief that you can Tell a pickle gone wrong. (But not botulism, and I don't know about garum.) I bet this works more often than not, but our current standards of food-safety are higher than 51% non-poisonous... I cut moldy bits off food that is dry or solid on the inside, in the belief that the hyphae don't penetrate very far. So, apples and everyday bread, trim and eat; peaches and stollen, out they go.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 4:23 PM
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One of her parasite stories was interesting because of how the infection was noticed. A 14-year-old African girl was taken to the doctor because she performed so poorly in her class's scheduled half-mile run. I just cannot imagine an entire class of American 14-y-o girls competing in a half-mile run.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 4:27 PM
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Dude, Emerson, have you ever heard of the Presidential Fitness Test? At 12 I had to run a full mile, and made it in around 6 min., if I recall correctly.

She just has that parasitologist air about her, JM.

Do you think she's going to eat this baby?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 4:37 PM
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As I said, though, Ouzel, she was happy and, for the right person, entertaining and informative.

I think it's that for the right person bit that makes me happy I've at least slightly learned how to rein in my interest in horrifying things. (Though, not really). But I'd love to have met this person; I can imagine being absolutely fascinated by her.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 4:47 PM
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It's a sort of Nolde looking baby.

My parasitologist friend went to India every year after retirement. She denied that she was looking for cool parasites. Architecture and sculpture and food.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 5:03 PM
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I meant Munch.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 5:08 PM
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Over the course of making that painting I gained a lot more respect for the poor devils who had to make all those fucking puttis, that's for sure.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 5:39 PM
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Over the course of doing that painting I gained a lot more respect for the poor devils who had to make all those fucking puttis, that's for sure.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 5:40 PM
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Goddamn server.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 5:41 PM
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It's actually quite good. One kind of Olmec statue has that impassive sleeping face, and that's the thing I'll always remember about my son's face while he was being born, the calmness. The first thing he did when he hit the air was raise his eyebrows.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-11-09 5:44 PM
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There are different saturated fats and some look pretty neutral (stearic, lauric) and others are bad (palmitic). eggs don't have much anyway, its still milkfat thats not good, and palm oil. coconut is better for a saturated fat, if you need one (for making granola or ice cream or something)

and they each can be 'bad' to various degrees for the different things they do, like blood cholesterol, inflammation, fat storage, etc. and polyunsaturated fats are probably just as bad, corn oil is really common.

one of the worst things: that darker bread gets called 'wheat bread' instead of white bread, when its usually just a little carmel colour added. also 'multigrain bread'

sourdough bread lasts longer on the counter than industrial yeast bread.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 02-12-09 10:06 AM
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mostly i am against food labeling because thats how the antitobacco started out, and now its a few decades from being illegal entirely. noone sensible ever mans those consumer groups. its always MADD sorts on the one side and the industry on the other.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 02-12-09 10:14 AM
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However, consumer groups don't have any money or power, unlike the industry, so I wouldn't get worried about their irrational hold on lawmakers.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-12-09 10:15 AM
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I don't agree with Yoyo about tobacco. I really hope it disappears from use, no matter how much annoyance people feel while it's happening.

However, I recently found our that our local ricin terrorist got his start in a MADD group. Once he got on the extremist slippery slope, he went all the way to the bottom.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-12-09 10:21 AM
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mostly i am against food labeling because thats how the antitobacco started out, and now its a few decades from being illegal entirely.

Well, if it's approaching illegality that would seem to be because labeling alerted the public to a real and serious health risk and led to subsequent public awareness of health risks imposed on innocent bystanders. I.e., any illegalization is not about nanny-statism, but about prohibiting people from harming others with their filthy, filthy vice. Probably not an imminent danger, unless evidence shows up that second hand trans-fat is harmful.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-12-09 10:24 AM
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Transfats can cause very slippery floors if you aren't careful.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-12-09 10:25 AM
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I really hope it disappears from use, no matter how much annoyance people feel while it's happening.

A gradual disappearance from use is probably wise, though. Can you imagine an entire nation of smokers all simultaneously cut off? Cranky!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-12-09 10:26 AM
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why would you hope for anything involving someone else's personal life. it isn't yours.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 02-12-09 10:53 AM
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I hope your toes fall off, Yoyo. I'm not a libertarian. I can hope whatever I want.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-12-09 10:56 AM
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Of course you can hope whatever you want, John, but it doesn't seem unreasonable for someone else to ask you why you would hope for a particular thing.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-12-09 11:32 AM
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Well, except it's totally unreasonable and outdated to suggest that smoking doesn't affect non-smokers' lives.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-12-09 11:37 AM
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After the seat-reclining conversation, I think we've established that the concept of reasonable or unreasonableness is empty and meaningless.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-12-09 11:38 AM
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You really think that's a reasonable position to take, LB?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-12-09 11:38 AM
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Mu.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-12-09 11:44 AM
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it's totally unreasonable and outdated to suggest that smoking doesn't affect non-smokers' lives.

Same with driving, though.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-12-09 11:48 AM
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Brock, the question of why someone would hope for an end to smoking is not mysterious. Yoyo was asking why I was thinking about what people I don't know chose to do, which I assumed was the normal libertarian objection to nannyism, etc.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-12-09 12:05 PM
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241: Ergo, we regulate driving such that we prohibit doing so in ways likely to harm others.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-12-09 1:40 PM
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243: Not really.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-12-09 1:45 PM
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244: Well that sucks, then. Ergo, we should regulate vehicle emissions such as to minimize the harm to others.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-12-09 2:01 PM
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However, as the article says, even the most advanced catalytic converter can't stop it. And the amount of auto exhaust inhaled per American surely dwarfs the amount of cigarette smoke/American. I'm not sure I really have a point, except that we live in a toxic soup of carcinogens, and I'm very skeptical of the statistical methods behind the 2nd-hand smoke warnings. They wouldn't have passed the FDA's muster in a pharmaceutical trial.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-12-09 2:12 PM
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246: So what are you saying -- I needn't have bothered quitting smoking?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-12-09 2:28 PM
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