Heavy Metal Dogs

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I ran across a disturbing article that got me thinking about food safety.  Trump’s plan to gut most of the regulatory agencies including the FDA puts corporate profits ahead of the interests of the people.  Fortunately, one hot dog maker recalled something like 200,000 pounds of franks after alert consumers found metal in some of the weenies.  There is no report on which metals were found, whether heavy, precious or rare earth elements, but I can assure this, metal won’t easily melt when boiled, broiled or grilled.  It would not have been the intent of the makers of Nathan’s Hot Dogs to provide the consumer a bit of crunch or a metallic aftertaste.  But what would stop an unregulated company from using whatever meat could be procured cheaply, say, horse, dog, chipmunk, squirrel, possum, house sparrow, cat, or rat? For that matter, might we one day find recycled cell phone parts in our hot dogs in the form of rare earth metals that make the meat look fresher and last longer sporting a half-life shelf life of nearly a thousand years? Imagine a heavy metal dog with an expiration date of 2112 guaranteed to produce noble gases.

Top 10 Reasons to Vote Against Trump

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10.  Trump is a serial liar.  I’m not even sure he knows he lies as much as he does.  It’s as if he only has a short-term memory and a very tiny and selective long-term memory.  He seems to remember only slights and compliments.  He said he was against the Iraq war but is on record as saying he was for it.  He says he never met the disabled journalist he mocked at one of his rallies and yet the said journalist had interviewed him multiple times.  He said he respects women but is on record as saying he doesn’t and his actions and comments suggest otherwise.  He said his taxes are under audit, but has provided no proof that they are.  He and his surrogates have said he has given hundreds of thousands of his own money to his foundation but there is no proof that this is true.  He said Hillary Clinton is under investigation by the FBI and she technically is not. He said she is going to lock her up when he is elected and he can’t.  This is something done by Fascist regimes, not in a Democracy. He said he’s going to bring back jobs to America but leaves out that his own businesses manufacture outside the U.S. and buy products made in other countries that are also made in the U.S.  He said he met Putin, then said he doesn’t know Putin.  He has told so many lies and distorted the truth so many times about Hillary Clinton’s record that I’ve lost count.  Fact checkers reveal that Trump routinely lied during the debates and continues to do so at his rallies.  Trump says he is a great businessman, yet his companies have filed bankruptcy papers 6 times.  And amid fraud claims, Trump University folded.

9.  Trump might govern as an authoritarian dictator. He was inspired by a quote from a notable fascist, Benito Mussolini  which reads, “better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep,” and has praised Vladimir Putin repeatedly for being a strong man and for complimenting him for being “brilliant” which turned out to be a bad translation.  Putin himself clarified that he meant Trump is colorful or flamboyant, not brilliant.  Putin salivates at the prospects of using Trump as a puppet, which he seems to be doing to influence U.S. elections. Trump even went so far as to encourage the Russians to hack the missing 33,000 emails. This is outrageous – encouraging a foreign country to commit espionage on the U.S. and some would consider treasonous. Trump prides himself on being a strong man, with large hands and once bragged of being the best baseball player to come out of New York.  His masculine pride notwithstanding, Trump has shown a shocking lack of understanding and respect for democratic principles.

8.  Trump disrepects women.  He is on record as saying he likes to kiss them and grab them because he can get away with it.  A number of women have alleged that he sexually assaulted them.  His response has been that he doesn’t know the women and that after the election he is going to sue them all.  He is also on record as saying that women who obtain abortions should be punished.

7.  Tump has made racist and bigotted comments, calling Mexicans rapists, and denouncing a Mexican American judge as being biased in a case against Trump “University.” He was slow to denounce David Duke, a former KKK grand wizard who endorsed him.  He called for a ban on Muslims entering the country and even suggested the need to close down mosques.  He has essentially blamed the entire Muslim American community in the U.S. for not rooting out the terrorists among them – as if it were their sole responsibiltiy. He has shown very little concern for the humanitarian plight of Syrian refugees and argued that the U.S. should not accept any until we establish a vetting process, which we already have.  Trump has repeatedly dismissed the Black Lives Matter movement, has insisted that blacks live in hell, which many blacks take issue with, and has called for more policing.  He called for the death penalty for the black men who were wrongly convicted and subsequently exonerated for the rape of a central park jogger. And his father’s company, of which Donald was an employee, repeatedly discriminated against blacks in their housing properties and was fined by the Justice Department for doing so. Trump has appealed to white nationalists who blame immigrants for the ills of the country by promising to build a wall that Mexico will pay for to keep them out. Additionally, white supremcists groups including the KKK have endorsed Trump because they identify with his values. And now he is calling for people to go to the inner cities and watch (code for intimidate) for voter fraud in clear violation of the consent decree that the GOP was hit with in the 80’s for committing voter intimidation in New Jersey. One of the more egregious racist actions he has taken was questioning Obama’s citizenship and thus his right to be President. Then Trump tried to partially walk it back by suggesting that it was the Clinton camp in 2008 who started it all.  He tried to suggest that the many years he pushed this crazy birther conspiracy was somehow excusable because the story may not have begun with him.  And to top it off, he’s floated other consipiracy theories about whether Obama even attended Ivy schools demanding that he submit transcripts to prove he did.  This from a man who won’t even release his tax returns.

6. The Trump Foundation appears to be a fraud.  Apparently, people have contributed to the foundation and Trump has used some of this money to settle law suits and to buy a life-size portrait of himself. “Billionaire” Trump has said that he has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Foundation, but there is no evidence of this.  See David Fahrenthold’s reporting.  Not only is the Foundation fraudulent, but his business practices are suspect as evidence by the multiple contractors and small businesses who claim they were not paid for work done for Trump.  That coupled with his anti-union practices make Trump unfit to make anything about America or Americans great again.

5.  Trump refuses to release his tax returns that almost every presidential candidate in modern times has done before him, even his own running mate. He says he’s under audit and will release them after.  Nixon once released his while under audit.  There is nothing in the IRS code that prevents Trump from releasing tax returns while under audit if in fact he really is under audit.  He is obviously hiding something.  Could it be that he isn’t a billionaire?  Could it be that he has never given the charitable contributions that he said he has? Could it be that he does not pay taxes at all?  Actually, the one leaked release indicates that he did not and Trump subsequently said in a debate that the fact that he doesn’t pay taxes makes him smart.  A man who doesn’t pay taxes not because he’s poor but wealthy and privileged is a shameful man who is NOT a patriot.  Tax dollars fund education, defense, roads, entitlements, to name a few.  He is ok with YOU paying for these services and thanks YOU for paying them for him.

4.  Trump claims he is religious but is not, and apparently knows very little about religion.  Not that that religion is a test I use for a candidate, but he has shamelessly pandered to evangelicals suggesting that the Bible is his favorite book.  He does not seem to hold or practice ANY Christian values that I can detect raising doubts in my mind as to whether he has even read the Bible.

3. Trump seems to want to begin a nuclear arms raceHe has said that South Korea and Japan should have their own nuclear weapons.  He doesn’t understand why we have them if we can’t use them and has not ruled out their use in the future.  He is also on record saying that he likes war. What’s more, he has taken a pro-Russian position against NATO calling it ineffective and expensive and intimating that we should break our alliances in Europe. This is what I mean about Trump being Putin’s puppet – his Petrushka.

2.  Trump has no interest in governing.  He had even said that he would leave the buisness of governing to his running mate and simply go around the country making America great again, presumably by holding pep rallies. This is code for promoting his business brand which his children will continue to operate if he became president in an obvious conflict of interest.  He doesn’t seem to get how governing works and that he can’t just rule by decree.  He has repeatedly said that he will appoint supreme court justices without any mention of the senate’s role in the advise and consent process. Actually, the president can only nominate and there is no guarantee that the nomination will be confirmed by the senate or even get a hearing by the judiciary committee.  President Obama’s nominee, Garland, has yet to get a hearing and it has been nearly a year since Justice Antonin Scalia died leaving a vacancy on the court.

1.  His policies would simply be disatrous.  He calls for tax breaks for the rich.  He would end regulations that ensure safe food, water, drugs and air quality.  He would invest in practices that contribute to global warming which he denies is caused by humans.  He would end Obamacare resulting in millions losing health insurance. He might enact protectionist policies and start a trade war with China and Mexico.  The markets would respond disastrously and we would all lose our retirement savings and Social Security which Trump will probably have privatized.  If we are not wiped out by a nuclear war or swept away by rising ocean levels first, his policies will create a depression so deep it will make your head spin.

GMO Apple To Debut in the U.S. By 2017

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The U.S. Agriculture department just approved the first genetically altered apple for the U.S. market.  A Canadian outfit has designed, yes, DESIGNED, an apple that neither bruises nor browns when sliced open or bitten into.  I suppose it stays red and fresh for hundreds of years and has a half life of several billion, longer even than a discarded k-cup.  They reengineered the thing minus an aging protein or something of the like so that it appears fresher than it really is.  While it may not brown or bruise, it might taste just as soggy and mushy as a bruised apple would, unless they’ve managed to artificially preserve the crispness, which I admit would have a certain appeal, that is if they’ve not used something like formaldehyde.  I really don’t like soggy apples but I like the smell of formaldehyde even less.  And in my view, there is a place for soggy and brown apples and that would be in a jug of cider.

The Okanagan Specialty Fruit company that designed the GMO apple is planning to add a logo to the apple sticker in the form of a snowflake which would distinguish it from a real apple.  It’s interesting that the natural and pristine snowflake is their choice of logo for the born in the lab apple.  Maybe they are also planning to produce these apples to make Ice-Wine, which I rather like.  But is an apple even an apple, if it’s DNA has been altered? Isn’t it kind of like Froot Loops cereal?  The loops are not fruit, which is why the cereal is spelled Froot.  And like Cheez Whiz, which is the not the reel deel, the Canadian apple should be spelled to reflect its synthetic properties – say Apel or Aple or maybe Apul.  Since they designed out a protein, I think it only fitting the thing lose an l.

Say Goodbye to Butterfinger, Baby Ruth and yes Crunch too

229 to Butterfinger, Baby Ruth and Crunch because Nestle, the Swiss chocolatier has decided to mess with the ingredients of the classics. I say mess with because according to an article in the Washington Post,  Nestle plans to use natural ingredients in its candy bars as opposed to the chemically laden synthetic dyes and flavors that so many of us have come to love and crave over the years.  Gone will be such iconic ingredients as Yellow 4 and Red Dye #40, that make the bars so attractive to the eye.  Never mind that Red #40 is actually named 6-hydroxy-5-[(2-methoxy-5-methyl-4-sulfophenyl)azo]-2-naphthalenesulfonic acid and was born in a laboratory and not in nature.  And let’s not harp on the evidence that in some studies, Red 40, as it is affectionately known, altered the DNA of mice, and is thought to have the potential to produce serious allergic reactions and even cancer in some humans.  After all, most of us will die of cancer anyway, so what’s the big deal?  

The big deal is that our candy bars are going to look natural and taste like some hipster snack food with achiote tree seeds (fairly traded from the Guatemalan rain forest no doubt) and actual vanilla. Yes, actual vanilla!  If they start using real sugar as opposed to high fructose corn syrup, which I am addicted to frankly, I may just launch a Nestle boycott.  How dare they even consider going GMO free!  This may just be a sinister ploy to regain the German market that banned the GMO laden Butterfinger.

Plot or no plot, Nestle is going after more than the big three, although I really don’t care what they do with the inedible Crunch, maybe one of the worst chocolate bars on the planet, in the same company as the foul tasting Tootsie Roll.  But get this – soon the “neutral” Swiss company will be attacking SweeTARTS.  Without all the dyes, they may soon look like communion wafers or peppermint TUMS and taste like raw agave sap.  If they go designer on us, I’m out.  I don’t want a tart made from real cherries, limes or oranges.  Kids don’t want that either, I assure you.  Real fruit is not candy.  If Nestle keeps mucking with the ingredients, they might get the Germans back, but stand to lose the entire American market.

100% GMO Corn Found in Froot Loops

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Back in the day (which would have been the early 70’s) I ate cereal for breakfast, that and cinnamon toast.  I tried the cinnamon toast cereal but never much liked it as I recall, not nearly as good as the real thing.  Back in the 70’s, cereal actually may have been more of the real thing; today, not so much, with all the genetically modified organism (GMO) grains that go into the stuff, particularly corn, whose seeds have been altered in such a way that they produce toxins to ward off insects and weeds.  As products like cereal made from GMO grains are consumed, we humans are putting ourselves at risk, but just what the risks are, we don’t yet really know because, incredibly, there haven’t been any GMO human trials.  We do know that traces of one of the toxins, Bacillus thuringiensis, known as Bt, produced by the altered plants, has been found in humans.  And now we know that cereals like Froot Loops are made with 100% GMO corn grains that contain small amounts of the herbicide, glyphosate.  These “new and improved” colored loops no longer conjure up images of grapes, oranges, and limes as they once did and now seem much brighter, with an unnatural radiant glow.

DSC_0306If the U.S. moves to follow the 60+ countries that require manufacturers to label their GMO food products, it may make parents steer clear of Froot Loops, which really have nothing to do with fruit, hence the misleading spelling of “Froot”. A froot is as artificial as the grain from which the cereal is made, but it sure sounds healthy.  Wouldn’t it be a little more accurate to call them Glypho Loops? It does have a certain truthful ring to it.

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Keurig Goggles

IMAG0458You’ve probably heard of the angry and vengeful Keurig coffee machine that sprays scalding water at it’s owners or unsuspecting users at car dealerships.  I’m not sure why all this pent up rage in these precision machines, but it may have to do with the dirty “rumor” that the Keurig harbors a slimy, moldy, substance in its internal resevoir that is not easy to clean.  For more on this controversy, see the the popular article circulating all over the web – Why I Kicked My Keurig to the Curb. While it may be true that the Keurig harbors bacteria, so too do most all coffee machines as this article points out. Let’s face it, we live among germs.  Germs are on practically everything we touch.  But most folks who are reasonably healthy can co-exist with them which probably includes you. I would say we’d all be better off not using germicides and other toxic chemicals to rid our daily environments of germs and such.  Why not just spray a little vinegar here and there when the spirit moves and use the surplus vinegar for a bean salad.

We have a well-behaved and relatively new and clean Keurig in our household.  I have no beef with it yet.  It gurgles and grumbles a bit but makes a good cup of coffee.  Actually, I think I am becoming addicted to k-cups and am salivating at the thought of a Columbian Peeks 8 o’clock pod.  Now the rogue machines in question that misfire are a real hazard and should be taken seriously. To Keurig’s credit, they have voluntarily recalled over 6 million of them with details here on which machines are affected and what to do if you have one. If you chose to ignore the warning, please wear goggles, press the brew button and then run like hell out of the kitchen for 45 seconds.

To be honest, after reviewing the literature, I am more concerned with the plastic k-cups from which the coffee originates.  As you know, the Keurig pierces the plastic K-cup, or pod as it’s called, and as I referenced above, that contains the ground coffee and then shoots steaming hot water through the holes it made. Within 30 seconds, out comes the coffee and with it God only knows what but indubitably some chemical compound used in the manufacturing of the pods – see the article from Mother Jones for details on what it could be and what dangers it may pose. But let’s keep a little perspective here: the residue is likely less dangerous than non-dairy creamer and a piping hot cup of Joe in a styrofoam cup.

Save the World With GMO-free Insects

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photo, concept, artwork: Pampi and Lore

The UN says insects might just be the answer to solving world hunger.  Well, as creepy as it sounds, insects are less creepy than genetically modified Monsanto seeds.  I’d rather eat a cricket than corn from a cob the size of a tree trunk.  Yesterday, protesters marched against Monsanto seeds in 436 cities in 52 countries demanding, among other things that food products with GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) be labeled, something the FDA does not currently require.  The U.S. Senate recently rejected an amendment to a farm bill to permit states to require labeling on GMO products.  The vote wasn’t even close as senators from heavily subsidized farm states opposed it with help from the biotech corporate lobby.  The irony here is that GMO seeds that can be engineered to be disease free and resistant to drought, herbicides (other than than the ones produced by the major players) and probably even fire too, threaten nature as much as they do humans.  GMO seeds, like imported fishzilla, killer bees, jumping carp and shiny ladybugs, have a tendency to go rogue and invade the native species.  GMO seeds have a competitive advantage over native crops and could literally drive them out of existence.  Soon corn and soybeans will be the only crops left on the planet.  Get ready to eat lots of popcorn, corn-on-the giant cob, cornflakes, cornbread, corn nuts and grits washed down with Kentucky bourbon.  Is this the answer to world hunger?

Frankly, I’d rather eat honey and a variety of plants, but GMO seeds even threaten our bees.  As goes the bees, so goes our honey, plants and our planet for that matter. According to the New Agriculturist, “bees pollinate one sixth of the world’s flowering plant species and 400 agricultural plants” like beans, carrots, onions, cherries, apples and tomatoes. There is evidence that GMO pollen poisons bees.  And if GMOs poison bees, imagine what it could do to humans and insects.

Which brings me to insects.  I really would rather eat a cricket, grasshopper or termite than a potentially poisonous food source grown in a laboratory.  And the many millions of people on the planet who are starving or severely malnourished deserve healthy food, not a chemically created food experiment.  According to the UN study, insects are healthy, highly nutritious and in abundant supply.  In fact, in some cultures, insects are prized: ants, grubs, waterbugs, crickets, beetles, and scorpions to name a few.  And to raise insects for consumption leaves a much lighter carbon footprint than the production of animals.

Now I know the consumption of insects is mostly taboo in Western culture, but in the not too distant future, I can envision restaurants specializing in insects that cater to an environmentally conscious crowd who are against GMO seeds and devoted to eating healthy while saving the planet.  I have some menu ideas for the enterprising U.S. restauranteur:

Appetizers

Fried Cricket Bits

Beetle Tartare

Entrees

Chipotle Grasshopper:  served with spicy termite oil on a GMO-free sesame seed bun

Barbecued Grubs:  grilled and served on a bed of lightly seasoned sea urchins

Dessert

Starfish:  soaked and served in flaming sangria drink topped with chocolate covered ant sprinkles and anise seeds

Pink Slime – Waste Not Want Not

Governor Rick Perry is in the news again, this time as a spokesman for Pink Slime.  He and some other carnivorous Governors, Republicans mostly, from meat eatin’, beef producin’ states have gone on a campaign to promote the wholesome nutritious goodness of finely textured beef, aka Pink Slime, which they claim has gotten a bad rap.  And maybe they’re right.

Pink Slime is nothing more than a bunch of finely blended left over scraps off the carcass of a cow treated with a spice rub of ammonium hydroxide.  Nothing wasted.  Waste Not Want Not, as the song and saying goes.   The final product is not unlike a can of wiggly Spam or pack of hot dogs that Ralph Nadar once nicknamed “pink missiles”.    What’s the big deal?   The thing is, Americans like to waste.  (As an American, I include myself in the mix, but am not necessarily talking about you, for the record, although you too may see a little of you in the pronoun we.)  We want the choicest cuts, not the scraps.  Or else we want skinless and the leanest cuts as we politely pass on the organs, those so called “sweet meats”.  Ever conscious of our weight, or just plain picky, my was I ever as a child, we don’t eat everything on our plate.  If you’ve ever bussed tables at a restaurant, you know what I mean.

We waste like no other society. We are especially fond of hazardous waste produced by our frenzied fracking behavior, all so that we can waste precious and finite fossil fuels.  We dig, drill, frack and plunder like there’s no tomorrow, as if the Mayan prediction for the end of the world were not only an inconvenient but an inescapable truth.

We are so hopelessly addicted to fossil fuels that we waste billions on tax breaks for the already ungodly profitable Big Oil companies, who scream that billions in profits are not enough.  Who cares, as long as we have cheap gas for our SUVs?

We waste time too. Lots of it.  The idiot box is full of mind numbing dumbness.  Take sports, what a distraction.  I sometimes find myself watching the Golf Channel.  And I don’t know why.  I don’t even like golf.

Bubble Gum Recall

A friend told me that Benadryl had been removed from the market and I was a little worried given my dependence on the stuff during allergy season. And what a season it has been so far. Tree pollen counts at record highs in my neck of the woods in the NE section of the EEUU. To survive, I have taken to taking Clartin during the day, and Benadryl at night. When my friend said that Benadryl was nowhere to be found, in a panic, I went to the FDA website to see what I could find by way of recalls. To my relief, I didn’t see any mention of a Benadryl recall, nor any news of tainted antihistamine. While it may be true that Benadryl has been removed from the shelves of some pharmacies, it may have more to do with reports of antihistamine abuse, than bad antihistamine. But I did find something even more disturbing that has been recalled. Not disturbing that it has been recalled, but disturbing that the thing exists, and even more disturbing and ironic is the reason it has been recalled.

If you can believe it, and I certainly can’t, or maybe I can, there is a brand of bubble gum called Toxic Waste Short Circuits. Wait until you hear why it has been recalled. Brace yourself. ELEVATED LEAD CONTENT! This is why we need the FDA folks.  Anyway, when this company says Toxic Waste, they really mean it.  You have to give them props for their truth in advertising, but what on earth would possess a company to market fake (in this case, actually not fake) Toxic Waste candy. Interestingly, the product is imported from Pakistan and sold nationwide.  I didn’t know we imported anything from Pakistan.

Now, I’m not a conspiracy theorist, and this is probably coincidental, but I wonder if this candy is for export only to the “infidels” of the West.  It does appear that the recalled lots went to Switzerland, Canada and the U.S. And the concept? It’s almost as if the labeling is a bad translation or something. But the packaging gives the appearance that the product indeed is dangerous. I mean look at it – yellow and black stripes of a nuclear hazard and cartoon figure blowing a bubble perhaps moments away from an internal nuclear meltdown and explosion. Sick stuff for kids.

But this concept is nothing new. I seem to remember back in the 70’s a thing called Wacky Packs, those crazy trading cards that had the most bizarre and humorous parodies on product advertisement, clearly aimed at kids. I don’t remember if it came with a stick of gum (remember those?) usually brittle and nasty, but it may have.  How about the card depicting the Band-Ache brand that strips off skin or the can of De-Mented Rotten Tomatoes. I had collected most of those cards in the set by the age of ten. And I have never been the same since.  Maybe there was lead in the gum.  Actually, I think those card stickers liberated my mind a little bit.  There was something subversive about them and they made me think of advertising more critically, all at the tender age of 10.

So I guess I should not get on a soap box and rant against this candy maker for their product concept, but you know, they should lay off the lead.  There’s nothing funny or liberating about a gum ball full of lead.

Nestle Tollhouse Cookie Dough Recalled

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Well, this is the duh, don’t eat raw cookie dough moment.  And especially don’t eat Nestle Toll House cookie dough which is suspected of being contaminated with E. coli bacteria prompting Nestle USA to issue a voluntary recall of the product.  The FDA reports that 66 people have been sickened by the dough – 25 seriously enough to be hospitalized.  7 have developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) which can cause kidney damage and death.  The young and elderly are most susceptible to HUS.

It is not clear how many of the 66 victims ate raw cooking dough, but I would guess a high percentage.   Even handling the tainted dough poses a risk,  therefore the FDA advises consumers to discard any prepackaged Toll House cookie dough recently purchased.

If you must get your cookie fix, have a few Oreos or 4 Vanilla Wafers (not more) or a handful of pink frosted animal crackers, my personal favorite, with a super homogenized, double pasteurized milk chaser (if there is such a thing) just in case.