24 July, 2007

Killer Soft Drink

A new study about soft drinks has concluded that one soft drink a day will do you harm. Geez I wonder why I am not surprised and neither should you be. Soft drinks all contain additives and preservatives up the wazoo, to stop what's inside from spoiling on the can and leading to a nasty lawsuit when a drink does obvious damage rather than the hidden subtle damage.

Remember the additives? If a soft drink was composed of fruit, water, and carbon dioxide, then I'd say they would be okay in quantities of one a day. But in addition, every soft drink contains additional very processed white sugar or artificial sweetener, and very artificial and unnatural preservatives, colourants, flavourings, modifiers, and, if you're lucky, up to 5% fruit juice. (Which by the way is not guaranteed to be pure fruit juice even if they had trademarked the name "pure fruit juice" because pure fruit juice has to have some form of preservative in it too.)

Of course the soft drink manufacturers immediately struck back with their most powerful weapon, the old "no it doesn't, either, nyah nyah! You can't prove a thing!" ploy. And of course I'm going to believe their research with its vested interest only in selling soft drink - NOT your health - to give me the results that I can trust, as opposed to a whole range of bodies whose research is set up specifically to find out what things are harming my health. But I must be in the minority, because I still see those drinks on the shelves...

The study doesn't actually go far enough for me, there are a few things I'm curious to know. For example, what about soda water drinkers? Are they at greater risk of arterial plaques and heart disease? What about beer? What about microbrewery beers produced without the range of preservatives and additives? Ciders and meads?

Because I'm betting that if you add fizz to something, it will not harm you aside from maybe giving you hiccups, but as soon as you add something whose parent food is a chemical formula, things are gonna get distinctly dangerous.

One last thought. Making all those chemicals costs us heaps in energy and pollution. Processing it all costs a lot in energy and pollution. Drinking it gives you a raft of health problems that are better off avoided. So why?

23 July, 2007

Quick Easy and Cheap Nut Sheller

A quick trip to Instructables and I found that their design can be made a bit cheaper by using nursery plant pots, or three similar shaped pots in three different sizes. I won't add to the designs, it's easy enough to pick up the idea from that and the second article there, and then instead of "expensive fibreglass mold" substitute the words "cheap plastic plant pot" instead... Also see my comment down the page, explains in a bit more detail.

Also note that you can probably use this to crush the shelled nuts if you adjust the spacing closer. In fact if you get two tapers that are not quite identical you could conceivably mill cracked wheat and possibly adapt the idea to a fairly efficient flour mill too...

03 July, 2007

Allergy, Additive Be Thy Name

Doctors are finding an increasing number of young children have allergies. Doctors are"puzzled" by that, and sound a warning that in another six to eight years these kids will be rebellious teenagers and into experimenting, and many will die or end up in ER because they will trigger their allergies.

Taking the last point first. No no no - every report I've heard about kids with allergies says that their allergy has whipped them. They ask to make sure before they touch anything edible, and are generally more careful than most adults I know with allergies. What will be putting these kids in ER is something different.

First, to what's causing the ever increasing allergies, asthmas, type 2 diabetes, and other illnesses. I will crusade against this to my dying day, and I will tell you why it's bad, then tell you what it is, and then you can go to my zencookbook site and grab the free version of the e-book.

The thing that causes these illnesses is bad because: It takes millenia for the human species as a whole to adapt to particular foods. So in Europe, alcohol has been a part of the diet for 8,000 to 10,000 years in some form. And sometime in the recent past, Europeans have developed a gene that allows them to resist alcohol's effects more than say an Asian person. That's not to say that one day a person just became resistant - it took generation after generation of people dying from alcohol and thus failing to pass on their nonresistant genes before this happened.

Our bodies today are what the diets of 5,000 to 10,000 years ago made them into, lean mean WHOLEFOOD digesting machines. And as we've denatured our food and introduced additives we have been seeing increasing incidences of a range of illnesses. Cancers? Almost unheard of in the past. Diabetes mellitus? Oh yes a rare condition, poor unlucky souls that get it. Allergies? What, pray tell, might those be? We did have one boy in the village once, young Mongol, who perished in a most unpleasant way after drinking cow's milk but we aren't sure if that was the cause or not.

If you buy my book (which of course I recommend, natch) there's a listing of the additives and their effects on the human system. Sobering reading, around one third are outlawed in some countries, around half are not good for us in general, and the other half is the half that's least useful (and therefore least used) in modern food preparation and preservation.

Manufacturers need to stabilise food so it doesn't go off and result in a lawsuit. They need to colour and texture and flavour it so that today's flavour-driven buyers will find it appealing.

And you'll find that with the rise of every illness, there's a corresponding rise in the use of the relevant additive... Cancers increasing - a doctor whose children I know had made the connection almost 100 years ago that where white sugar and white bread went, so went cancer. I've noticed that when some additives became approved for food use and water use, the incidence if Type II Diabetes rose several years later...

"Yes," you can say, "our species adapted to new foods over a long time, but only because someone ate those foods and kept eating them."

And you'd be right, except that you're missing out the most important part of the equation: Of those earlier generations, those that first ate a particular item of food, died. So if you want to become a statistic today so that your great great great great great grandchildren won't get cancer from Exxx, you go right ahead.

But for those of us who want very much to not become a genetic statistic, it's far better to avoid that nasty stuff and let future generations grow up not resistant to Exxx...

Lastly, what will be putting those kids in ER. Think about the safe limit for additive Exxx - what is considered a "safe" dose? Well you can bet that Manufacturer A will make sure they don't use too much more than the "safe limit" in their product. And Manufacturer B also won't exceed the fabled "safe" dose. Nor Manufacturer C, and D and E and F. But you, who are going to eat the products from all six manufacturers in the course of your day, you still accumulated a dose six times more than the accepted safe limit of that additive... Now mix in a couple of bad tablets at a nightclub, and suddenly the real reason kidswill be at risk is a bit more obvious.

Why doctors are publicly lying about being "puzzled" when in fact they all have these same figures and statistics and are trained to put two and two together and comeup with Exxx? Who knows, but at least you can know better, and start reading labels for additives as if your life depended on it.

Because, you know, it just might...

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