12 August, 2008

The Parable Of The Frozen Peas

Here's another thought for you, regarding what sorts of tricks "food" manufacturers will stoop to. I've now noticed in several "health" shows that the hosts are at great pains to compare frozen peas (for example) with "fresh" peas. And conclude that the frozen/tinned varieties are better for us.

On how many levels this is wrong, is almost difficult to quantify. First off, it's just bad pop-sci posing as legitimate science. Yes, they got a pet scientist or doctor to venture an opinion, but (and here comes the second level) they're comparing the wrong things, in every case. I'll go to the example of the peas, because that was the one that caught my attention and led to the title of this article.

The show presented the view that peas in a typical supermarket languished in freezers for weeks, and were pretty much a spent quantity by the time you bought them. Frozen peas, on the other hand, were frozen fresh, and thus actually fresher than "fresh" peas.

Can you see all the fallacies? One - calling supermarket peas "fresh" is a misnomer, and these shows confirm that if you buy fresh vegetables at a supermarket you deserve the ill health you'll garner. Supermarkets store "fresh" vegetables to spread the supply out, and thus have control over the buy and sell prices. If you have peas when there's a glut, you command the buy price. And if you have peas when everyone else has run out, you command the sell price. So supermarkets hoard and store.

Two. Before the supermarkets or the canning works get to them, the peas have been held in storage at the farm until they have enough to complete a decent load, or get a decent order together. So before they get frozen, the peas are already stored for some time.

Three. Why are they comparing stored peas with stored peas? There is a world of difference between real fresh peas and peas that have been on supermarket shelves, as much as there is between real fresh peas and frozen peas.

Four. Freezing does destroy nutrients and break down cellular walls, no way to avoid it. And quite often there is at least some level of preservative involved. And in tinned peas, definitely there is preservative needed to keep the peas from spoiling.

It's the same story as all other technology. There may be harm in it but the company or organisation that doesn't adopt it, they will lose. So they do it, and try and justify it. And your job, reader and (hopefully) survivor of the additive onslaught, is to keep an eye on these additives and chemicals, and make sure that the companies that think they see an economic edge in adulterating food, don't get that profit.

08 August, 2008

Venus Puzzles.

It's the time of thew year when contradictions are commonplace - wake up in freezing cold, sweat through a day's work, maybe featuring a rainstorm in an otherwise sunny day.  And then I read another contradictory thing, in the form of this article

The article is unambiguous, it's about the Venus of Willendorf, a small figurine unearthed 100 years ago.  And being Austrian I live the article, it's another archaeological treasure we can use to unravel human history.  But she has - is - a contradiction. 

I'll try and explain what I mean by rabbiting on about another contradiction.  After Austria (starts with A, ends with A, which means it could have been a continent because they all end with the same letter they start with) we moved to Arabia.  And from there to Australia.  Hmmm...  That's not the contradiction, either.  The contradiction about Australia is that in school here, I was taught that the geology here is old, dating back to Gondwanaland before it broke up.  We're taught that we're guardians of the oldest land in the world.

That's an insiduous misdirection, that is.  The whole freaking world (give or take a few island chains) dates back to the breakup of Gondwanaland.  Our bit of Gondwanaland happens to be the best preserved and least buried bit of it, but everywhere else is just as old.

Okay - so what does that prove?  Well - when I came to Australia, one of the things that struck me was how thin the Australian Aboriginal people were.  Australia was a preserved slice of the kind of life that people were having when the Venus was carved.  It's a harsh living, food isn't always plentiful, and people of that era would have been thin, gaunt.  Yet dozens of Venus figurines turned up.  'Sup wit dat?  How come there were so many voluptious-figured women in those times? 

Theory One of mine has it that the Venus was a fad, like blogging.  (Stay with me on this - "traditional" blogging is alreayd being supplanted with microblogging, vlogging, podcasting, and Matrix knows what else.)  Someone made one to communicate a fantasy, or pehaps the most unusual thing they had seen in their life, and it spread just like lolcat memes do today.  So there was perhaps one such large woman, who somehow managed to command enough respect that she had food aplenty.  Or perhaps there was a spate of obesity, some kind of genetic mexican wave that went through the population. 

It's kind of the theory I favour, even though the second theory, as you'll see, would be nicer for humanity.  I mean, there could even have been aliens, the same ones who are mentioned in the Bible as the Giants who bred with humankind and created strange offspring.  It fits, in a von Daniken way.  Large voluptious men and women breed but it's not a stable or viable outcome.  But the figurines remain as silent sentinels.

Theory the second is a bit more mundane, but softer for us.  Maybe there was a time of plenty, once human life got established, in a world that had blossomed after the demise of the dinosaurs.  Maybe that's how women were, kept well fed and able to have many children over their lifespans.  The sad thing is, that they would have been like that for only a generation or two, after that there would have been too many children eating itno the resources, and things like cancers and diabetes would have been exacting a toll. 

But it means there was a Golden Time... 

One last contradiction.  I believe the signs of diabetes and many cancers leave signs in the bones.  So why does it appear that there was no diabetes and cancer back then, in what appears to have been a time of obesity?  Why are we told today that these two diseases are a result of obesity?  What has changed? 

I'm going to go out on a little limb here.  I'm going to say that the things we have in our current obesity cycle that wasn't around back then, is chemicals in our food, and unnatural processing of natural foods.  No matter where I turn to look, everything always points back to human greed and exploitation of one another as the killer.  If one food manufacturer had a conscience, and didn't process, didn't add colours and flavours and preservatives and emulsifiers and coagulants and surfactants and the whole gamut of chemical experimentation they perpetrate on us, they would quickly go broke in this economic climate.  But if the whole lot suddenly got religion, we would find that the "modern illnesses" would vanish overnight. 

Do I keep saying "keep the bastards honest" just like Don Chipp did decades ago? You betcha!  And do I believe if each person reading this did keep just one bastard honest, world health would improve overnight?  You betcha! 

Now go out there and keep the bastards honest!

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