LTH Home

Salt: More junk science from the food nannies

Salt: More junk science from the food nannies
  • Forum HomePost Reply BackTop
     Page 1 of 2
  • Salt: More junk science from the food nannies

    Post #1 - August 18th, 2005, 4:20 pm
    Post #1 - August 18th, 2005, 4:20 pm Post #1 - August 18th, 2005, 4:20 pm
    The Center for Science in the Public Interest is at it again, climbing back on the anti-salt wagon to bash food processors and fast food restaurants, using scare tactics and questionable statistics.

    What gets me is that few of the major media I've seen reporting on CSPI's latest rant
    have bothered to question either the numbers or the underlying assertion that salt is bad for you. In fact, this is highly disputable.

    A variety of studies have failed to link salt intake to either hypertension or cardiovascular disease. A study in the Sept. 30, 2002 British Medical Journal concluded that evidence does not support that sodium reduction reduces the incidence of cardiovascular events, while an eight-year-long New York study found low urinary sodium to be associated with greater risk of myocardial infarction among treated hypertensive men.

    There is no clear evidence that reducing dietary sodium improves the risk for heart attacks or strokes in the general population.

    This article summarizes some of the controversy on the salt and health question. This one looks behind some of CSPI's examples, and this one offers an overview of CSPI's junk-science positions.
  • Post #2 - August 18th, 2005, 6:48 pm
    Post #2 - August 18th, 2005, 6:48 pm Post #2 - August 18th, 2005, 6:48 pm
    My friend's sister dropped dead at the finish line of the Chicago Marathon around 5 years ago. The reason: She drank too much water and it diluted the salt in her blood. (A good argument for runners to drink Gatorade). Viva la NaCl :!:
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #3 - August 18th, 2005, 9:14 pm
    Post #3 - August 18th, 2005, 9:14 pm Post #3 - August 18th, 2005, 9:14 pm
    I have to admit that I had never reviewed the cspinet.org website before despite hearing all of their ranting and raving in the press.

    What is troublesome to me about their advocacy program is the tone of their literature. While I try to eat a moderate sodium diet (<4gm/day) in order to reduce edema, I have to think that there are any number of causes of cardiovascular disease - lack of regular activity, hereditary factors, obesity, fat content of foods, etc. - that could cause greater risk than the salt content of foods.

    However, any campaign - like Canada's Participaction program of the 70's and 80's which encouraged greater activity - is unlikely to keep the CSPI organization in the news. If there is not a villain, there is not a good news story.
  • Post #4 - August 19th, 2005, 1:14 am
    Post #4 - August 19th, 2005, 1:14 am Post #4 - August 19th, 2005, 1:14 am
    The 29-year-old Ohio woman who collapsed after crossing the finish line in the 2003 Chicago Marathon died of a pre-existing heart defect, not dehydration.

    As reported in the Chicago Sun-Times, autopsy results from the Cook County medical examiner's office showed Rachael Townsend died from an irregular heartbeat caused by mitral valve prolapse, a heart condition that often goes undetected.

    According to the report, the condition is the third leading cause of sudden death in athletes.

    Townsend was a physical education instructor at Ohio University. Race officials originally speculated that her death may have been a result of dehydration or heat.

    There is too much salt in processed food.

    Most of what the CSPI puts out is bullshit.
  • Post #5 - August 19th, 2005, 1:19 am
    Post #5 - August 19th, 2005, 1:19 am Post #5 - August 19th, 2005, 1:19 am
    The death of a female runner in the March 2002 Boston Marathon proved to be from hyponatremia (a diminished amount of sodium in the blood) caused by over-hydration. The same cause was attributed to the death of a Colorado woman who ran the 1998 Chicago Marathon.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #6 - August 19th, 2005, 6:02 am
    Post #6 - August 19th, 2005, 6:02 am Post #6 - August 19th, 2005, 6:02 am
    cowdery wrote:The 29-year-old Ohio woman who collapsed after crossing the finish line in the 2003 Chicago Marathon died of a pre-existing heart defect, not dehydration.


    This is not the death was referring to. My friend's sister died in 1998

    Hyponatremia is caused by over-hydrating, which results in a dangerous decrease in the body’s sodium levels. For the past thirty years runners have been taught the importance of hydration before, during and after running, especially with water. Water is, of course, invaluable in preventing heat illnesses and dehydration—most of the time. But even water can be overdone.

    Once little known, this potentially life-threatening malady has gained increased recognition in the past few years. "We started watching for it more after 1998," says to Greg Ewert, M.D., Medical Director for the Chicago Marathon. Ewert refers to the incident where a female competitor died as a possible result of hyponatremia related complications.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #7 - August 19th, 2005, 7:22 am
    Post #7 - August 19th, 2005, 7:22 am Post #7 - August 19th, 2005, 7:22 am
    When I worked with McDonald's in the 80s, a main enemy was Michael Jacobson and CSPI. It was his organization that was responsible for such outrages as rallying to eliminate beef tallow in McDonald's cookies. Cutting the beef fat from the cookies was, I think, a good thing, and I believe many of the current group of nutritionists at McDonald's would agree.

    I am opposed to the culture of fear that finds danger under every rock. I think, though, that CSPI deserves more than our dismissal. They do some good, as, I'm sure, does ActivistCash (a site LAZ cites), which also lists Ben & Jerry's as supporters of "radical, anti-food technology."

    Who do you trust? Me, I pretty much trust my tongue.

    David "Pass the Salt" Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #8 - August 19th, 2005, 8:14 am
    Post #8 - August 19th, 2005, 8:14 am Post #8 - August 19th, 2005, 8:14 am
    The phrase "junk science" sets off alarms to me -- in Stauber and Rampton's "Trust Us We're Experts: How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles with Your Future" (http://tinyurl.com/9dhdm -- Amazon link), the phrase's creation and careful usage by very specific special interest groups with certain agendas is detailed. Now, today, everyone's a special interest group, and of its own accord the phrase is slowly passing into general usage, but it's still often misapplied: What's really going on here is junk methodology (and junk PR), not junk science.

    To periodically make its point that too much of anything is a bad thing, CSPI makes a lot of noise -- in this, they are not alone. If every few years they manage to squeeze a reminder to eat less crap into the daily barrage of messages reminding us to eat more, that isn't a bad thing. But they're still obligated to get the facts and figures right, and they certainly didn't here.
  • Post #9 - August 19th, 2005, 9:20 am
    Post #9 - August 19th, 2005, 9:20 am Post #9 - August 19th, 2005, 9:20 am
    On the other hand, research indicates that chocolate is good for you (http://www.cnn.com/2005/HEALTH/diet.fitness/08/19/chocolate.health.ap/index.html), but we already knew that.

    Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #10 - August 19th, 2005, 2:39 pm
    Post #10 - August 19th, 2005, 2:39 pm Post #10 - August 19th, 2005, 2:39 pm
    I am sure that the day will come when scientists reveal that the healthiest diet of all consists of Newports, Super Big Gulps, and 7-Eleven walnut brownies. On that day I will proudly say " I told you so" :D :D :D :D
  • Post #11 - August 19th, 2005, 3:50 pm
    Post #11 - August 19th, 2005, 3:50 pm Post #11 - August 19th, 2005, 3:50 pm
    Anyone remember the Woody Allen film Sleeper, where he wakes up in the future where scientists have discovered that coconut cream pies are very good for you?
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #12 - August 20th, 2005, 5:26 am
    Post #12 - August 20th, 2005, 5:26 am Post #12 - August 20th, 2005, 5:26 am
    David Hammond wrote: ActivistCash (a site LAZ cites), which also lists Ben & Jerry's as supporters of "radical, anti-food technology."


    Punctuation makes a difference:
    ActivistCast.com wrote:The Ben and Jerry's Foundation has given $10,000 to Mothers for Natural Law, a radical anti-food-technology group operated by disciples of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

    ActivistCash.com doesn't say B&J supports "radical, anti-food technology"; it says they've given money to a radical group that's against food technology.
  • Post #13 - August 20th, 2005, 4:41 pm
    Post #13 - August 20th, 2005, 4:41 pm Post #13 - August 20th, 2005, 4:41 pm
    LAZ wrote:ActivistCash.com doesn't say B&J supports "radical, anti-food technology"; it says they've given money to a radical group that's against food technology.

    That site's pretty ludicrous at best and at worst an industry sham. Other "radical" groups include Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Humane Society, and the Organic Consumers Association. Their "About Us" page doesn't say a word about them, always a red flag. And while they claim to be tracking "anticonsumer activist groups" (and as documented by Stauber and Rampton in the book I cited, "anticonsumer" is always far more likely to mean "anti-industry" trying to look like a grassroots situation -- and hey, there's the other red flag, the phrase "junk science" right on their home page!), they certainly aren't worried about the industry nonprofits such as the National Food Processors Association and the American Society for Nutritional Sciences. And they're worried about the $800 million those groups have spent "to date" (i.e., ever)? What are the industry groups spending in a year? This site has any credibility with any person interested in the quality of food whatsoever? Wow.
  • Post #14 - August 21st, 2005, 9:27 am
    Post #14 - August 21st, 2005, 9:27 am Post #14 - August 21st, 2005, 9:27 am
    It does seem strange to me that LTH folks, who embrace good food, fresh food, “authentic” food, would ridicule CSPI and its ilk. Though often shrill and hyperbolic, CSPI and other advocacy organizations should be viewed as the allies, not the enemies, of food enthusiasts. Without them, certainly, our knowledge about what is really in the food we eat would be far paltrier, and our ability to make healthier dietary choices would be much more difficult. I’m glad to know, for instance, that when I take my kids to McDonalds, I’m better off, in terms of fat and calories, getting the broiled chicken sandwich than the Caesar salad I used to settle for because I thought it was “healthier”. And all the attacks on “junk science” and the arguments that “the experts are always changing their minds – you might as well eat whatever you want” largely benefit, and in fact are often promoted by, the big food companies. Truly independent nutritionists and food scientists – who are few and far between, since most food research is sponsored by one industry group or another, hence the confusing barrage of news stories announcing “studies” that herald the health benefits of chocolate donuts, or whatever – have held to the same nutritional advice for decades. It’s not sexy, it’s not dramatic, but all the real science has consistently backed it up: Americans would be healthier, by and large, if we ate a lot more fresh fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, and took in considerably less saturated fat. But such advice doesn’t do much for the big food companies, whose income depends on increasing sales of highly processed, and highly profitable, food. That’s where the sodium debate comes in to this, for few nutritionists would argue that healthy people will be much harmed by a few extra shakes of the salt shaker. But food that is saturated in sodium is not especially good even for the healthy, and it’s pretty bad for those with high blood pressure – just check with your cardiologist if you’ve got doubts. And food with that much sodium is highly processed, the kind normally eschewed by fans of this board – no Taco Bell chalupas or Hungry Man enchilada dinners for me, thank you, we’d rather eat at Nuevo Leon. Not everybody has the luxury of being able to seek out fresh, local, authentic food, but because of the pressure put on the food industry by the “food police,” we’ve all got a bit more knowledge and some more choices (the explosion of farmer’s markets, the spread of Whole Foods, and the organic sections now found in many supermarkets are part of this movement.) The real issue, it seems to me, is making the ability to choose healthier foods – all the nice fresh produce we love to get at our famer’s markets, for instance, -- available to working-class folks, whose suffer from proportionally more diet-related illnesses and who have far less access to fresh, less-processed (hence lower-fat, lower sodium) food.
    ToniG
  • Post #15 - August 21st, 2005, 4:42 pm
    Post #15 - August 21st, 2005, 4:42 pm Post #15 - August 21st, 2005, 4:42 pm
    ToniG wrote:It does seem strange to me that LTH folks, who embrace good food, fresh food, “authentic” food, would ridicule CSPI and its ilk.

    Somehow I find it difficult to embrace a paternalistic, prohibitionist group who wants, among other things, to compel me to:

    - Eat no more than 2 ounces of cheese per week.
    - Eat no regular ice cream.
    - Eat no regular hot dogs, sausage, ham, bacon or bologna.
    - Drink no soda pop.
    - Switch from beef to veggieburgers, chicken breast or ground turkey.
    - Switch from butter to low-fat tub margarine.
    - Pay punitive taxes on alcohol and foods containing fat, sugar and sodium.
    - Have to walk more, due to changes in transportation policy.

    ToniG wrote:Though often shrill and hyperbolic, CSPI and other advocacy organizations should be viewed as the allies, not the enemies, of food enthusiasts.

    It's hard to view as an ally an organization that wants to take away my food choices. CSPI continually has filed suit and used its bully pulpit to try to force food manufacturers to tailor food to what it sees as "healthful."

    Flavor almost never figures into its considerations. (Items on what CSPI calls its "Restaurant Hall of Shame" include prime rib, fettuccine Alfredo, stuffed potato skins with sour cream, fudge brownie sundaes and beef and cheese nachos with sour cream and guacamole.)

    CSPI clearly believes that individuals have no right to choose what they eat. If Americans choose to eat what CSPI thinks they shouldn't, CSPI wants the government to prevent them from doing so. For instance, CSPI is trying to get the FDA to declare salt a "food additive," a prelude to mandating lower sodium levels in processed and restaurant foods.

    They want to increase taxes and use other methods to force reduction in consumption of products they consider harmful, including liquor.

    Further, what CSPI views as healthful is subject to dispute. For example, it was largely because of the efforts of CSPI and groups like them that the fast-food industry switched from using natural animal fats for cooking to engineered trans-fats (which, of course, CSPI is now trying get them to stop using).

    And CSPI's numbers are often wrong. In 1998, its report "Liquid Candy" claimed that some teenagers get up to 25 percent of their calories from soda. Later, CSPI quietly admitted it had overstated its figures by 100 percent! However, it still touts the report.

    ToniG wrote:But food that is saturated in sodium is not especially good even for the healthy, and it’s pretty bad for those with high blood pressure – just check with your cardiologist if you’ve got doubts.

    If you looked at the studies I cited -- and there are more -- you'd have seen that this is debatable. It seems that while low-sodium diets can reduce high blood pressure in the short run, in the long run they increase mortality rates. As I wrote earlier, there's no clear evidence that lowering dietary sodium decreases risk for heart attack or stroke, and there certainly is none that including high-sodium foods in a mixed diet is unhealthy.

    What a cardiologist says about salt may depend on how well he or she's kept up with current science. Dermatologists told generations of pimply teenagers that chocolate caused acne and gastroenterologists used to believe that ulcers were triggered by stress and spicy foods.

    ToniG wrote:Not everybody has the luxury of being able to seek out fresh, local, authentic food, but because of the pressure put on the food industry by the “food police,” we’ve all got a bit more knowledge and some more choices (the explosion of farmer’s markets, the spread of Whole Foods, and the organic sections now found in many supermarkets are part of this movement.) The real issue, it seems to me, is making the ability to choose healthier foods – all the nice fresh produce we love to get at our famer’s markets, for instance, -- available to working-class folks, whose suffer from proportionally more diet-related illnesses and who have far less access to fresh, less-processed (hence lower-fat, lower sodium) food.

    I don't know what you do for a living, but I certainly qualify as "working-class." It seems like there's plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables available at groceries in working-class neighborhoods all over this city. But if I choose to eat highly processed, salty, fattening foods instead, that should be my choice.
  • Post #16 - August 21st, 2005, 6:03 pm
    Post #16 - August 21st, 2005, 6:03 pm Post #16 - August 21st, 2005, 6:03 pm
    LAZ wrote:Flavor almost never figures into its considerations. (Items on what CSPI calls its "Restaurant Hall of Shame" include prime rib, fettuccine Alfredo, stuffed potato skins with sour cream, fudge brownie sundaes and beef and cheese nachos with sour cream and guacamole.)


    No one appreciates a self-righteous health nut, and I'm sure Michael Jacobsen would be a drag to party with, but don't you think fettucine Alfredo belongs in at the least the Hat Check Room of Shame?

    I actually gave fettucine Alfredo another chance just a few weeks ago. Hadn't had it in maybe 20 years, but I was at Jimmy's Place, and his preparation featured gorgonzola, so I figured, well, maybe I'll actually find an edible version of this usually too-rich Italian-American creation. Well, it was edible up to about three forkfulls, but after that, the unrelentingly gloppiness had me gasping. It's just a miserable damn dish...however, the gorgonzola helped a little (the sting of rot balances the creaminess), and I would be willing to try it again in maybe 20 years or so.

    Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #17 - August 21st, 2005, 11:04 pm
    Post #17 - August 21st, 2005, 11:04 pm Post #17 - August 21st, 2005, 11:04 pm
    LAZ wrote:It's hard to view as an ally an organization that wants to take away my food choices.

    As opposed to, say, ActivistCash.com. Who needs organic food that isn't genetically mutila -- er, *modified* anyway?
  • Post #18 - August 22nd, 2005, 7:09 am
    Post #18 - August 22nd, 2005, 7:09 am Post #18 - August 22nd, 2005, 7:09 am
    David Hammond wrote:Don't you think fettucine Alfredo belongs in at the least the Hat Check Room of Shame?

    I actually gave fettucine Alfredo another chance just a few weeks ago. Hadn't had it in maybe 20 years, but I was at Jimmy's Place, and his preparation featured gorgonzola, so I figured, well, maybe I'll actually find an edible version of this usually too-rich Italian-American creation. Well, it was edible up to about three forkfulls, but after that, the unrelentingly gloppiness had me gasping. It's just a miserable damn dish...

    First, it's not an Italian-American creation. It was invented in Rome in the early 20th century by Alfredo Di Lelio. Secondly, when well made according to the authentic recipe, it isn't gloppy.

    "The story goes that while honeymooning in Rome in 1927, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford dined almost daily on this rich pasta at Alfredo's restaurant, and in gratitude, presented restauranteur Alfredo Di Lelio with a golden pasta fork and spoon at the end of their stay. Journalists picked up the story and spread news of Fettucchine Alfredo across the Atlantic. Before long, American chefs were improvising. According to Marie Simmons...food writer who is of Italian heritage, an authentic Fettuccini Alfredo is not tricked out with cream or mushrooms or green peas or garlic. It's a mix of sweet creamery butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano, homemade fettuccini, and black pepper. Nothing more, nothing less."
    ---The American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century, Jean Anderson (Clarkson Potter, New York, 1997, p. 213)


    Fettuccine all'Alfredo

    4 quarts water
    1/2 pound good-quality butter (avoid watery brands), at room temperature
    1/3 to 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
    1-2 tablespoons salt
    1 pound fresh fettuccine
    Freshly ground black pepper to taste

    Bring the water to a boil in a large pot.

    Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over very low heat. Whisk in the cheese; continue whisking over low heat until it melts and the sauce becomes creamy.

    When the water boils, add the salt. Cook the fettuccine till al dente (2 to 3 minutes). Drain immediately and place in large shallow bowl; toss with sauce and black pepper. 4 servings.
  • Post #19 - August 22nd, 2005, 8:13 am
    Post #19 - August 22nd, 2005, 8:13 am Post #19 - August 22nd, 2005, 8:13 am
    LAZ wrote:If you looked at the studies I cited -- and there are more -- you'd have seen that this is debatable. It seems that while low-sodium diets can reduce high blood pressure in the short run, in the long run they increase mortality rates.

    Uh, I did. And that's not what the Hooper study concludes. It says that systolic (though not diastolic) blood pressure is (not "can be") reduced by lowering salt intake. "Eleven long term randomised controlled trials of dietary salt reduction (including 3491 participants) provided few data on mortality (17 deaths in total), cardiovascular events, or quality of life but did show significant falls in systolic blood pressure (1.1 mm Hg, 1.8 to 0.4) and urinary sodium excretion (35.5 mmol/24 hours, 47.2 to 23.9) at 13 to 60 months after initial advice." Further, the Hooper study (a meta-analysis of older studies, not net new data) identifies lots of problems with the underlying data, e.g., some subjects didn't follow the rules and may have followed diet restrictions only on days they were being measured. Further still, Hooper, et al, qualified their claims in a subsequent press release from Bristol University, where they explicitly call for further reduction in dietary sodium. In their discussion, they clearly note that even if small reductions in sodium have little or no effect at the individual level, they may still have large population level effects.

    The other study you cite, Alderman, et al, and related work by that team on dietary salt and its relation to mycardial infarction, has been extensively criticized in the medical literature for methodlogical problems, and also because Alderman worked as a consultant to The Salt Institute, a non-profit association of salt producers which distributes copies of Alderman's work widely. But Alderman states elsewhere, "Epidemiologic studies convincingly indicate that blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic, is linearly related to the occurrence of cardiovascular disease throughout the usual range of pressure. Clinical trials support the view that, whatever the pressure, a lower one would be better."

    I'm not claiming to know the science here, nor do I have a wish to lower my own formidable consumption of salt, but the papers you cite do not support your claims for the salubrity of high salt diets.
  • Post #20 - August 22nd, 2005, 9:09 am
    Post #20 - August 22nd, 2005, 9:09 am Post #20 - August 22nd, 2005, 9:09 am
    It does seem strange to me that LTH folks, who embrace good food, fresh food, “authentic” food, would ridicule CSPI and its ilk.


    Considering that earlier campaigns by the CSPI (which is, by all accounts, Michael Jacobson and his fax machine) were against Chinese and Italian food, the real strange thing is that anyone who loves good food, authentic food, ethnic food, and above all the choice to eat what one damn well pleases would want to give more power to the sort of shrill, nanny-state figures who dream of us all sitting down to eat our precisely allotted pills in vast government cafeterias.

    Anti-pleasure crusaders, whether their target is food, sex, alcohol or tobacco (and I hate smoking, but it's none of my goddamned business if you like it out of my presence), are our enemies, not least because they're rarely even right about the science, certainly on a practical level. (For instance, what was the likely effect of making noise about Chinese and Italian food? Not that people ate more brown rice. It was that people ate more processed American crap. It helped Applebee's and Stouffer's, not anybody's heart. Thanks, CSPI!)

    Oh, and by the way, I don't know about the others but Mothers Against Drunk Driving has gone nuts, too. For instance, they push laws banning the right to take home half a bottle of wine from a restaurant, which yes, I suppose means somebody may be discouraged from finishing a Mouton Rothschild Grand Cru in their Chevy, but mainly encourages people to polish a bottle off at dinner before driving home. The problem is, they won their main battle, but god forbid any group with a fundraising list ever disband when they can keep fighting for more and more restrictions....
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #21 - August 22nd, 2005, 9:30 am
    Post #21 - August 22nd, 2005, 9:30 am Post #21 - August 22nd, 2005, 9:30 am
    The Tribune is two parts into a three-part series relevant to this thread:

    http://tinyurl.com/e4p6p

    The story of the Oreo is the story of how junk food became a centerpiece of the American diet, worked its way deep into the national psyche and continues to defy efforts to reform what we eat.

    The Tribune wrote:A Tribune special report in three parts:

    Part 1: Craving the cookie
    Brain research finds much in common between junk food and addictive drugs

    Part 2: Selling the cookie
    How marketers make America feel good about eating Oreos

    Part 3: Reinventing the cookie
    Coming Tuesday: How foodmakers remake the same old fattening fare
  • Post #22 - August 22nd, 2005, 9:40 am
    Post #22 - August 22nd, 2005, 9:40 am Post #22 - August 22nd, 2005, 9:40 am
    Brain research finds much in common between junk food and addictive drugs


    I used to eat Oreos. Haven't had one in 20 years.

    See: "A primer on Drug War panic" Note the note at the end about applying these lessons to scare stories about non-drugs.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #23 - August 22nd, 2005, 10:30 am
    Post #23 - August 22nd, 2005, 10:30 am Post #23 - August 22nd, 2005, 10:30 am
    I think both groups (CSPI and ActivistCash, aka Center for Consumer Freedom) are annoying. But that being said, I find ActivistCash much more obnoxious than CSPI, if only because of its history and donor list. Like TechCentralStation, it's a pseudo-netroots wing of a lobbying firm, and exists solely to do its clients' bidding. At least at CSPI they seem to (mostly) have the general health and welfare of the population in mind, even if they're often misguided and shrill.

    I'll take preachy environmentalists/nanny types over industry shills after higher profits any day.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #24 - August 22nd, 2005, 10:50 am
    Post #24 - August 22nd, 2005, 10:50 am Post #24 - August 22nd, 2005, 10:50 am
    I'll take preachy environmentalists/nanny types over industry shills after higher profits any day.


    I won't. Nanny-statists can only take things away from us. Industry shills keep creating new forms of vibrantly innovative crap, some of which very occasionally turns out not to be crap.

    But anyway, part of my point was that it's a false either/or-- CSPI's hysterical pronouncements, geared to the Pavlovian nanoreflexes of news organizations and thus necessarily skewed toward sensation and simplicity, often encourage people to eat new forms of processed Lite Crap, Healthy Crap, Lo-Carb Crap rather than a nice dish of fish-fragrant eggplant, say. They are themselves a maker of overprocessed, unnatural food news.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #25 - August 22nd, 2005, 10:54 am
    Post #25 - August 22nd, 2005, 10:54 am Post #25 - August 22nd, 2005, 10:54 am
    Mike G wrote:But anyway, part of my point was that it's a false either/or-- CSPI's hysterical pronouncements, geared to the Pavlovian nanoreflexes of news organizations and thus necessarily skewed toward sensation and simplicity, often encourage people to eat new forms of processed Lite Crap, Healthy Crap, Lo-Carb Crap rather than a nice dish of fish-fragrant eggplant, say. They are themselves a maker of overprocessed, unnatural food news.


    I agree wholeheartedly with that, and like I said, I'm not fond of either organization. Just like I'm not particularly fond of PETA or the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. They're all extremists. I just side a little bit more with the less industry friendly extremists.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #26 - August 22nd, 2005, 10:59 am
    Post #26 - August 22nd, 2005, 10:59 am Post #26 - August 22nd, 2005, 10:59 am
    Mike G wrote:
    Brain research finds much in common between junk food and addictive drugs

    I used to eat Oreos. Haven't had one in 20 years.

    See: "A primer on Drug War panic" Note the note at the end about applying these lessons to scare stories about non-drugs.

    Well, I think the story's point is at a much lower level of biochemistry, that the sugar in the treat somehow stimulates the release of opiate-like chemicals into the brain. In general, the definition of a "drug" has largely been political. With noninvasive techniques able to watch how the body treats the consumption of darn near anything, we may have the ability to move that into a more scientific realm. And I decline to see this as dystopian: Who knows, maybe, say, special brownies will turn out to be more beneficial than a few Oreos.

    gleam wrote:I'll take preachy environmentalists/nanny types over industry shills after higher profits any day.

    I'm with you. Compare ActivistCash.com's estimate that all of their enemies have spent a total of $800 million, ever, to the Tribune's observation that Oreos alone are just short of a billion-dollar-a-year business. CSPI may be one guy with a fax machine, but if he occasionally gets a word in edgewise that reminds people it's OK to not be pigs, I'll deal. Exactly how is he being more dishonest than the junk food sellers?

    As for choice, I enjoy a good fattening snack myself once in a while, but I'm amused that the folks who claim to be for choice are the ones who don't seem to want both sides to have a voice. It's hard to have a real choice when you're getting the "if it feels good, do it" side of the story and none other. (And I have to say, recently my CSA delivered a sizable yellow watermelon -- two weeks ago, I didn't even know such a thing existed -- and a very good tub of chocolate malted ice cream has sat forlorn in my freezer while I've enjoyed that watermelon.)
  • Post #27 - August 22nd, 2005, 11:55 am
    Post #27 - August 22nd, 2005, 11:55 am Post #27 - August 22nd, 2005, 11:55 am
    Since this is being framed as an issue about choice, I’ll reiterate that how much choice you have concerning your diet depends very much on who you are and how much money you have at your disposal. I confess that I am in an upper tax bracket, and live in a cushy community. Because of my comfortable status, I have all sorts of options available to me that are not open to families living near the poverty line in, say, Englewood. When I do grocery shopping, I can choose from either Dominick’s or Jewel, both walking distance to my home, or I can drive to Whole Foods if I’m so inclined. All these stores provide aisles of food choices, including an array of produce and high quality meats and fish, with organic selections if that’s important to me. Fresh produce is expensive and perishable, of course, but I don’t spend much time pondering the price of red peppers, my daughter’s current favorite vegetable. Of course, these stores provide all the processed foods I might possibly want as well (well, Whole Foods maybe not). On Saturdays, I visit the local farmer’s market, and load up on tomatoes, which can cost a small fortune, but the taste of real tomatoes makes it worth it to me. If I want to, even though I might grumble about the price of gas, I can drive out to the Costco in Glenview, and load up my minivan with bulk items, although the savings don’t mean all that much to me. I can store the large quantities of meat I buy there in the extra fridge in my basement. When my kids start back to school next week, I can pack a lunch for them that’s as nutritious, or as enticing, as I want it to be, since I am not reliant on the school lunch program. (And when I was pregnant, and nursing my kids, I made sure to eat lots of healthy food, including all sorts of fruits and vegetables. If I was dependent on WIC subsidies, however, the only such item I could have purchased would have been fruit juice.) Since I work only part time, I enjoy the luxury of shopping several times a week, and I can make the effort to prepare meals that are both healthy and appealing to my children. And should we decide to go out to eat, we can choose from a variety of nearby restaurants, offering everything from sushi to fettucine alfredo.

    Within the past decade, say, my food options have expanded, not contracted, despite the purported desires of the “food nannies” to restrict my choices. At grocery stores and restaurants, the selections of processed, high fat, high sodium food have increased – new kinds of Oreos show up routinely – only now there are many more healthy options available to me should I want them. But the family living in Englewood lacks the much-vaunted freedom to choose. Few well-stocked grocery stores, reduced transportation options, little storage space and unreliable appliances, government food programs that put food industry interests ahead of nutritional guidelines, time pressures that make grocery shopping and home cooking tremendous drains rather than enjoyable family experiences – all these factors mean that dietary choices are not entirely up to the individuals involved. Highly processed, high-fat, high sodium food is cheaper and easier to come by, and often it’s the only option for poor families. If we really care about the freedom to choose – and about food – shouldn’t we support public policies, and pressure on the food companies, that serve to make dietary options more available to everybody? I don’t want to take away anyone’s right to enjoy a good dish of fettuccine alfredo, though I gather there’s debate about whether such an item actually exists. But I would like the ability to choose a healthier diet be more available to many more families. To that extent, my criticism of CSPI, and many other food advocacy groups, is that they should direct at least as much attention to the quality of the school lunch program, for instance, as they do to the fat content of high-priced restaurant pasta dishes.
    ToniG
  • Post #28 - August 22nd, 2005, 12:05 pm
    Post #28 - August 22nd, 2005, 12:05 pm Post #28 - August 22nd, 2005, 12:05 pm
    ToniG wrote:(And when I was pregnant, and nursing my kids, I made sure to eat lots of healthy food, including all sorts of fruits and vegetables. If I was dependent on WIC subsidies, however, the only such item I could have purchased would have been fruit juice.)


    Hey, carrots are OK with WIC! :)
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #29 - August 22nd, 2005, 12:30 pm
    Post #29 - August 22nd, 2005, 12:30 pm Post #29 - August 22nd, 2005, 12:30 pm
    Since WIC is now being bounced around as some political football, here is the USDA website describing the WIC (Women, Infants, Children) program.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #30 - August 22nd, 2005, 2:24 pm
    Post #30 - August 22nd, 2005, 2:24 pm Post #30 - August 22nd, 2005, 2:24 pm
    CSPI may be one guy with a fax machine, but if he occasionally gets a word in edgewise that reminds people it's OK to not be pigs, I'll deal. Exactly how is he being more dishonest than the junk food sellers?

    I'm amused that the folks who claim to be for choice are the ones who don't seem to want both sides to have a voice.


    So if I argue with any aspect of the CSPI, I am denying them a voice? I'm stuffing the arteries of America's children myself? I don't get this idea (quite current) that arguing with someone is "silencing" them. It seems to me to be the very opposite, for both them and myself.

    Michael Jacobson is one self-promoting busybody in the world's greatest collection of self-promoters and busybodies, Washington DC. He has proven to be very good at feeding the news organizations the kind of mostly nutrition-free but tasty and addictive junk that they thrive on-- scare stories about food which may have one foot in reality but wildly exaggerate and often produce unintended consequences, and are best summed up by the fact that he is now pushing to ban something he once pushed to see widely used (trans-fats for fried foods). Or, perhaps he is best summed up by the words of H.L. Mencken that "A Puritan is someone who is desperately afraid that, somewhere, someone might be having a good time."

    As for the National Cattlemen's Association, a finer bunch of red-blooded Americans I have never met, and it was my honor to address their convention last Spring on the topic, "Hash Browns and Steak: Two Natural Allies In the War Against Al-Qaeda," as a representative of the Hash Brown Institute.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.

Contact

About

Team

Advertize

Close

Chat

Articles

Guide

Events

more