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How do humans know what’s edible? Nature or nuture? Pink Slime vs GMOs

SO I am going to brave the hypothesis that you can write about Twinkies without having to eat one. Actually I discovered Twinkie image aversion easily overcomes Twinkie the concept, and I don't just mean examples like the phallic Strangelove Slim Pickens hat tip at right, excuse me? Even to look at the dubiously baked confections is unappetizing, so why do we think they're edible? This might be a recurring quandary of mine to which short term memory blinds me. Why don't we try to eat dirt? (Easy for a well fed person to ask.) Where do we get a hunger for breakfast cereals, but not processed pet food? Why do humans stop consuming a fruit at the seed or rind, yet question why those discards fail to interest animal life too? Taste? We grasp that fire consumes nutrients, a toaster sometimes terminally, but how do industrial processes blur how we discern between live food and dead? Is it box art? Which grocery aisle? Sugar and butter are both edible and inedible, with flour it's the reverse --never mind, that's not what I meant to write about, I wanted to address the sudden Soylent Greening of PINK SLIME. I know that vegetarians deride animal flesh for being inhumanely unsavory, but since when have "food activists" been motivated by what's "gross"? Exactly. Gross has yet to stop sausage makers, and obviously the "Pink Slime" assault on ground beef production is food industry astrotruf. It's a PR back-burn against the real public outcry, the wildfire of resistance to Genetically Modified GMO Frankenfoods.

Hillendale Farm bursts pastoral cliche

The recall of salmonella-tainted eggs reaches half-billion as second farm implicated. Wait a minute, we're only up to two farms? What kind of "farm" yields 250 million eggs? Not one you'd picture called Sunny Farms, or Sunny Meadow, or Wholesome Farms, or West Creek. These are the pastoral facades behind Hillendale Farm, the latest source of factory food-sourcing contamination. But the mother of all deceptively cruel trade name conjures "over hill and dale," the expanse of concentrations of cages required to "farm" those chickens.

The Famous burger not most famous

Once again COLORADO SPRINGS STYLE nominates THE FAMOUS for the city's best burger. It ran against the usual lineup of respectable dining establishments plus King's Chef, the token dive, but there were notable omissions worth pointing out. At the crux, The Famous grinds their own hamburger from bits trimmed from nonpareil $40 steaks, but we're talking Iowa corn-fed variety, not prairie grass fed beef. You can find a free-range burger at Adams Mountain, which is listed, and Manitou's The Keg, which is not. The health aspect is a first omission that might have informed local diners immeasurably. Ranch Foods Direct, and their packing house on the west side, is a regional wholesaler of sustainable, safe meat. But they supply only a few local joints, from The Blue Star to Cy's Drive-in, to Barney's. If their burgers didn't make the culinary grade, I think it's worth noting they are orders of magnitude healthier than what the others are serving. Get that word out, and those restaurants charging $12.95 for a burger will allocate some of their cost to better beef. Conways Red Top was also overlooked, whose burger is arguably Colorado Springs' most famous. Red Top's giant burger had its own chapter in Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation. The local chain was praised for its favorable labor practices and better food sources, in comparison to its fast food competitors. Red Top has since made some compromises with its hamburger patties, but they're still a local favorite. I remember once taking some Norb's Whole Burgers from carryout to a Spring Spree park event downtown. Amid brats and roast turkey legs, Hawaiian tacos and the usual concession fare, everyone wanted what we were having. Thankfully STYLE ignored the fast food chains, the ceaseless Carl's Junior ad barrage notwithstanding. Likewise there was no dwelling on the corporate theme restaurants for whom the better burger is a raison d'etre. Those omissions, if you're avoiding the mad-cow feed-lots, meet our approval.

Tapping into the nutrition of life energy

Yes, it's a live fish. The Youtube video upsetting PETA depicts Chinese diners poking at the still gasping mouth of what's for dinner. The plate isn't hot, but watch your fingers! The meat is blackened to a crisp, while from the neck up the fish is kept wet with towels to ensure it doesn't expire before the last bite. My, what a playful presentation with the red sauce! I do wonder about the Chinese obsession with keeping food alive as long as possible. In the video the diners are laughing at the fish's sudden reactions, which leaves the impression they are as surprised as we about this live novelty. But I doubt it is so rare an event among those who can afford it. I remember at outdoor markets in China, watching customers buy slices of fish meat cut directly from the sides of live fish. Does live fish keep longer than dead? Certainly it does. Westerners won't eat a lobster or crab that's killed before it's cooked. No doubt some Chinese think we are fools for believing dead fish is an acceptable substitute for live. Americans are already ridiculed for pretending frozen orange juice is any match for fresh squeezed. Who are Americans to opine on taste? For years we've eaten chickens fed on fishmeal, without realizing what Europeans could tell us from a table's length away, American chicken smells fishy! Now ask an American farmer about sweet corn and he'll brag that it's best boiled while still on the stalk. So there is consensus on a preference for fresh. What constitutes fresh when we're talking meat? If you ask a reptile or spider, it means live. Mammal predators kept at the zoo have to accustom themselves to eating pieces of steak where their nature is to grab from what's on the run. What looks like Steak Tartar to us is what they usually leave to scavengers. Has the human predator diet been converted to scavenger for the sake of convenience and civility? In our contemporary quest for reclaiming nutrition, I'll be curious to know if there's a forbidden energy gone missing from our scavenged meals. I'll let the clip speak for itself about the inhumanity of devouring a meal as it looks on. And I'm really glad that no worse videos have emerged from China. As yet there are no Youtube videos of diners eating monkey brains straight from the skull of a live monkey strapped to the table, nor of the infamous "three squeals" delicacy of live rat fetuses.

Simplifying the Omnivore’s Dilemma

The author of The Omnivore's Dilemma put together a list of eating rules for the New York Times. From 2,500 submissions made by his readers, Michael Pollan gleaned 20. If I lob cheap laughs off the top, like "Don't eat egg salad from a vending machine" and other home-spun wisdoms which help NYT editors trivialize critiques of consumerism, I'm left with eight tips to spark constructive rethinking of our eating patterns. For starters: 1. If you are not hungry enough to eat an apple, then you’re not hungry. 2. You may not leave the table until you finish your fruit. 3. You don’t get fat on food you pray over. 4. Breakfast you should eat alone. Lunch you should share with a friend. Dinner, give to your enemy. 5. Never eat something that is pretending to be something else. 6. Don’t eat anything you aren’t willing to kill yourself. 7. Don’t yuck someone’s yum. 8. Eat until you are seven-tenths full and save the other three-tenths for hunger.

Smart choices graded on a curve

With local produce, organics and natural foods adorning their packaging with seals of approval to differentiate themselves from ordinary supermarket slop, the processed food purveyors have conjured their own green badge. They call it the SMART CHOICES program, and it's extraordinarily egalitarian. Whoever pays gets one. The makers of Fruit Loops, for example, have shown themselves smart enough to buy in. The good news is that food activists are all over this online. Hopefully the hilarious jeers will lead to supermarkets shun the Smart Choices PR group effort to propagandize their aisles. Remember when Wonder Bread advertised that it "built healthy bodies in 24 ways?" They were forced to retract those commercials because that claim was absolute malarkey. Hopefully there exists the regulatory muscle to challenge the processed food multinationals on the misleading wisdom of their "Smart Choices."

the food revolution starts here. only the healthy will survive.

There is a spate of recent films spilling the beans about the corporate takeover of the global food economy. Many are available online or through Amazon and Netflix.   Please watch some of these. Show your kids. Host a screening in your community. Donate a copy or two to the local library or public school system. Encourage teachers to show the films. Spread the word! Subvert the dominant food paradigm! Refuse to play along anymore! Food, Inc., the first enviro-food movie to be screened in major theaters across the country, has brought food consciousness in the United States to a new level. Fresh: The Movie is the perfect follow-up screening to Food, Inc. because it shows the flip side—positive change being created by farmers, students, thinkers, and business people in the U.S. today. French Fries to Go documents Telluride, Colorado's quest to run city buses on recycled fryer oil. Garden Cycles: Faces From the New Farm is the story of three women on a three-month bicycle-powered tour of urban gardens throughout the Northeast. Polycultures: Food Where We Live looks at communities in Northeast Ohio that are coming together to grow a more sustainable, just, and local food system. The Greening of Southie is about Boston's first LEED-certified residential green building and the way it affected a community. Eating Alaska is a documentary by a vegetarian filmmaker who moves to Alaska and marries a hunter. The film looks at the ethics behind food choices and how politics, society, religion, and taste all play a role. Sustainable Table: What's on Your Plate? traces West Coast food production from field to table. To Market to Market to Buy a Fat Pig tours outstanding farmers' markets from Baltimore to Hawaii. The Real Dirt of Farmer John looks at one man and his family farm. Farmer John and his story will have you reconsidering stereotypes about farmers. The Garden examines the largest community garden in the U.S., 14 acres of green in South Central Los Angeles, and the fight to keep it there. The World According to Monsanto looks at this behemoth of a multinational agricultural biotech corporation and their dominance of patents on genetically engineered seeds and pesticides. Seeds of Deception focuses on how genetically engineered food is making its way into our daily diets. Bad Seed: The Truth About Our Food looks at who is controlling the world's food supply and the consequences of genetically modified food on health. The Future of Food examines the complex web of market and political forces that affect what we eat and what we will eat in the future. Food Matters takes a look at the often overlooked connection between food and our nation's current state of health. With the health-care debate raging, watching this film feels extra-timely and important. King Corn investigates the staggering scale of the corn related food economy in the U.S. in an entertaining way. While you're at it check out Carey's two part quest to go corn free. Two Angry Moms shows two angry (and awesome) moms striving to improve school lunch with simple changes, like having fresh fruits

Crying while eating

You've done it. I've certainly done it. Sitting down for a bite to eat, suddenly overcome by emotion. "My GOD. What has my life become?" Or "Why, oh why, are we making WAR when we should be making LOVE?" Or, in my most recent case, "Why the HELL do I spend half my life doing things I HATE?" Perhaps you were already crying but, through your tears, saw last night's leftover lemon chicken and just could not resist. Do not despair. We are not alone. Plenty of good people, people just like us, cry while they eat. The difference is that they have the presence of mind to capture it on video. "We must moan while eating," answered Pecuchet, "for it was by this path that mankind lost its innocence." ~ Bouvard and Pecuchet, Gustave Flaubert, 1881

Ice Cream rBGH opens a pint of worms

Looking for an organic source of dairy products leads inevitably to questions about the most substantive food items of the so-called food group: the fat-rich cheeses and ice creams. Where are the blurbs which eschew rGBH and talk of range-fed dairy cows? Ben & Jerry are being prevented from using a NO-rBGH notice on their labels lest they infer there is something amiss with their competitors. No word yet of a cheese maker who wants to make the move.

Life, Love, Liberty and Lunch

I'm taking over the Bachelor Nutrition Series. Yes, Eric is a bachelor. But he's my bachelor; as such, he's carefully tended and well fed. The Simple Nutrition Series (its new name) should be geared toward those who know something about the body and, as such, desire nutritious fare but who, for whatever reason, find themselves culinarily challenged for a spell. Proper equipment, fresh ingredients, adaptable recipes, sufficient time and talent -- all components of good nutrition -- are in short supply when one finds herself alone, in a dorm room, on a big college campus, hungry for both food and companionship. Yes, the hot pot is small consolation, and stands in the way of starvation. But wouldn't it be great if a moveable feast was a genuine possibility? If the way to the heart is truly through the stomach, shouldn't a girl come prepared for the journey? My lovely Julia graduated from Cheyenne Mountain High School this weekend. Voted Most Likely to Win the Nobel Prize for Literature, and Best Sense of Humor -- both make me so happy! -- she did not win the Next Rachael Ray title. So begins my Fifteen Freshman Recipes Cookbook. Freshman Fifteen #1 -- Tortilla pizzas I will not sing the praises of the lard/bleached-flour combo known as the tortilla. Pure dreck if you ask me. But, in a pinch, it can be the foundation for a nutritious gourmet pizza. The PRESTO Pizzazz Pizza Oven is a stand-alone device that can cook a fresh or frozen pizza in minutes. We experimented with it tonight and discovered a few nutritious alternatives to Totino's, using flour tortillas as our crust. I placed the following items along the counter: marinara sauce olive oil chopped fresh garlic chopped fresh cilantro chopped fresh basil chopped fresh spinach black beans sliced black olives turkey pepperoni sliced roma tomatoes sliced green pepper sliced green onions pineapple tidbits shredded cheddar shredded mozzarella shredded swiss We used the above ingredients in various tasty combinations and had a really lovely time of it. A few combinations we discovered: -black beans, tomatoes, cilantro, green onions, cheddar -olive oil, spinach, garlic, basil, swiss -marinara, pepperoni, pineapple, black olives, mozzarella Each pizza took about six minutes, and ended up crisp and delicious. Not exactly haute cuisine, but definitely a step up from the ramen noodles of my era!

FDA rapists on the loose, again

One of my favorite jump starts to the day is a breakfast of cottage cheese, fresh fruit and almonds. It's is a simple meal, easy to prepare, and represents a near-perfect combination of protein, carbohydrate and healthy fat. It's the almonds that provide the magic. In addition to a low glycemic index, which curtails a heavy duty insulin response, almond intake protects proteins from oxidative damage while delivering vitamin E and other antioxidants, magnesium, calcium, folic acid, protein, fiber and living enzymes. Thank goodness that the USA has a near lock on almond production. 70% of the world's almonds come from California. I can only thank goodness that raw almonds are readily available in our bountiful land, even at most corporate grocery stores. Oh, but wait. The FDA recently decided that all California almonds must be either irradiated or chemically pasteurized prior to sale. Not so for almonds exported to other countries. No. This particular punishment is reserved especially for the American people. What this means is that our pristine, nutritious and beautiful almonds are subjected to gross degradation by FDA rapists. Irradiation exposes food products to extremely high levels of radiation that kill bacteria, parasites and fungi. Never mind that animal studies have shown that irradiation may promote chromosomal damage and cancer. And never mind that toxic radiation demolishes the nutritional value of food. Chemical pasteurization is even more dangerous. The technique used is called propylene oxide fumigation, which makes use of a chemical compound that the EPA has classified as a probable human carcinogen. Here's another interesting note: Propylene oxide was once used in racing fuel, but in 1993 the National Hot Rod Association banned its use because of cancer concerns. Yet this poison is used to pasteurize almonds and other foods – EPA and FDA approved. Oh yeah, baaaaby, just gimme the purple stamp! One comforting tidbit, we needn't worry our purty heads over this because it's all being done without our knowledge or approval. Ya'll know that ignorance is bliss. The FDA -- that trusty public servant -- has allowed almond growers to pretend that it's business as usual. California almond growers may still label their almonds "natural" and "raw" even though they've been corrupted by irradiation and chemical pasteurization. The FDA is tired of being held accountable by the vocal few. They are more than willing and able to fly under the radar. And, obviously, California almond growers are happy to fly with them. One of them should stand tall and expose the FDA for the abusive piece of shit that it is. If they'd take that leap of faith, I'd buy their almonds -- though they be unfit for consumption -- until the poor drugged fallen cows come home!

Yerba maté means love

A few years ago, I went with a friend to a little restaurant in Manitou called The Maté Factor. I ordered maté which, it turned out, was tea. Very dark and bitter tea.   On my recent trip to Argentina, I discovered that this very same maté is consumed by nearly everyone, every day, throughout the entire day. However, it is never drunk during mealtimes, isn't sold at restaurants, and is never -- or very rarely -- offered to tourists. Instead of a teapot, Argentinian maté is usually made in a decorative gourd with three legs attached to the bottom to prevent tipping. The tea is drunk using a pretty silver straw called a bombilla, which has a strainer inside to filter the loose leaves. When more than one person is present, the maté is passed back and forth and everyone uses the same bombilla. Watching the maté ritual reminded me of watching people pass a joint at a rock concert. Similarly, there's paraphernalia associated with the tradition, like a metal thermos of hot water and a small backpack for tea leaves and other necessaries. I was warned early on that, while unlikely, an invitation to maté should be taken seriously. Being asked to share maté is apparently a precursor to going steady or a first kiss or something. So if you're interested, by all means sip.

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