Ah, Europe. A place where they eat cigarettes like Halloween candy going out of style yet worry about every little nit when it comes to their food.
“Oui! Next week I may hack up a cancerous thing that used to be a lung but today I will live, dammit, live! The juices of life must be savored to the fullest! The one thing we must absolutely never allow is diphenylamine in our food, you damn foolishly greedy capitalistic yanks.”
I, for one, say thanks. Because, without the European Food Safety Authority banning this, that and the other thing, I wouldn’t be able to say things like: “Oh yeah? Well Kraft Macaroni & Cheese still contains two artificial dyes banned in Europe.” Chef Booyah la de Fuckin’ Dah!
Kraft Foods is an American food company that was owned by a tobacco company until recently when they jury rigged the corporate legalese by rebranding Philip Morris as Altria Inc. and allegedly, in 2007, successfully underwent a Siamese twins separation operation, at least theoretically on paper. That’s because Kraft wants you to know they care about what you put in your body. Kraft Kares ™.
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Factoid: In 2010 Americans expended 250 million tons of trash. 93.2 percent consisted of the Solo 2 oz Plastic Souffle Cup.
I often wonder what it would be like to explain certain aspects of my existence to an isolated indigenous person who was totally unaware of the modern world. I have the feeling that even mundane things like money, banks, interest rates, and mortgage-backed securities with post-load risk factors (fully assumable) would be hard to communicate with hand gestures. (Aside from the obvious one, I mean. I have a feeling they could pick that one up pretty quick.)
“You see, Ndugu, this is what we call a storage unit.”
“Meester Tom, what is this place? It is quite strange. I feel we should not be here.”
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How does bias color the advice and information we get from fair and balanced sources? This graphic might illuminate:
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New blog feature: “News you might have missed – oh holy mother of God!” What should I call it? NYMHMOHMOG? Yeah, that sounds good.
A greasy crime syndicate has been busted in China. Authorities were able to slip in and arrest 32 members of a well-oiled criminal machine. These greedy lard-ass criminals were caught literally living off the fat of the land.
Know what I mean?
As a wise fish in Star Wars once said, “It’s a trap!” Now we now that he meant the wholesome residual stuff that sticks around after good down home cookin’. It was the infamous Grease Trap located near the outer rim and the rebel base on one of the moons of Yavin.
Police seized something like 100 tons of “illegally recycled food oil” in China spanning 14 provinces. Where did it come from? Oil gutters in restaurants, of course.
According to police, six different oil processing workshops were closed including one operated by Jinan Green Bio Oil Co., a company that claimed to convert used cooking oil into fuels. What it actually did was filter the oil, recycle it, then sell it wholesale as “new” back to restaurants. (Not quite extra-virgin but I wonder if it would still qualify as Freshly Pressed?)
That sounds a lot like the slippery version of the circle of life. Anyone besides me hungry yet?
A news report in the Washington Post said that the recycled oil can contain carcinogens and traces of aflatoxin. Aflatoxin? Shit! I better check my medicine cabinet to make sure my doctor hasn’t prescribed me any. Side effects include death and oily anus syndrome. (I’m not sure which is worse.)
Actually, aflatoxin is described as a potentially deadly mold. It goes much better with some dishes than water chestnuts or cilantro.
This isn’t exactly the first food scandal to hit China. Other greatest hits include golden moldies like fish treated with “cancer-causing antimicrobials,” eggs laced with industrial dye, and fake liquor that can cause blindness or death.
And, in 2008, there was the tragedy where milk and infant formula laced with melamine killed six children and made 300,000 people sick.
In America, just this week, a man named Dr. Oz has been making waves by claiming that apple juice (a favorite of youngsters) contains unacceptably high levels of arsenic. No word yet on the old lace.
Industry, the FDA, and some other doctors have been quick to defend the wholesome product.
I have a question: What the fuck is arsenic doing in there in the first place? What levels are acceptable?
Of arsenic, Wikipedia says this:
Arsenic and its compounds, especially the trioxide, are used in the production of pesticides (treated wood products), herbicides, and insecticides. These applications are declining, however, as many of these compounds are being phased out. Arsenic poisoning from naturally occurring arsenic compounds in drinking water remains a problem in many parts of the world.
And, to bring this back around full circle, guess who is the largest producer of arsenic in the world? Yep. China.
While watching the Super Bowl the other day, I caught a couple of car commercials bragging about fuel economy in the 40 mpg range. One of them was the 2011 Hyundai Elantra that claims to get 40 miles per gallon.
40 mpg? That’s it? This supposed to be what is considered good?
That got me thinking. I decided to build a graph.
First, where we were. The initial point on the graph. I picked the Ford Model T. Says Wikipedia: “According to Ford Motor Company, the Model T had fuel economy on the order of 13 to 21 mpg.”
To keep the graph fair, I used the lower value of 13 mpg. This will make the improvement over time that much more dramatic.
I then made a linear line showing the increase in MPG over time between those two points. The 13 mpg of 1908 and the approx. 40 mpg of 2008.
In other words, in about 90 years we’ve gone from 13 mpg to about 40 mpg. Think about that. With all of the advances in technology in the 20th century, that’s all we could do? Wow!
Of course, using only two data points leaves out a lot of interesting activity in between. Here’s a graph that shows detail activity from the 70’s to present day:
Source: PewFuelEfficiency.org (PDF)
This graph shows a nice increase across the board between 1975 and 1987 or so. Of course, you have to notice that in 1975 the average fuel economy was only about 15 mpg. What the hell?
So yeah, the pricing crisis in the early 1970’s prompted that increase in fuel economy. But then look what happens. We get complacent. We have a short memory. For over 20 years fuel economy has remained as flat as a pancake. And that’s just pathetic.
Oil is a finite resource. Put simply, if we could double fuel economy we’d use half as much. (In theory. Of course, if that happened demand would go up, so it wouldn’t be quite that simple.) Even so, fuel economy is probably the single most important lever we could move at this moment in time – if we had the collective will to care.
I’m amazed that car commercials can tout 40 mpg as some sort of achievement when really it is nothing more than a pathetic reminder of how little we’ve done.