Back page at the Plaza

About the only thing to be thankful for this election is that the people behind POM do not see Willard as a wonder. Imagine if they could put $35 million into selling that cypher as healthful for America. Worse, imagine if news organizations realized, as the hometown paper did this week, that they could have their bogus elixir and drink it, too. All day the day of the FTC ruling, the home page was blinded by the blight of paid deception. Only the next day was it reported that the ads were not to be believed. But as I keep saying, at least they didn’t get us into a war with yellowcake this time.

Peas, peeled

Take a month or so off the bitching beat and the faux outrages fly right past. Was pink slime really a 24/7 obsession? Dirty eggs and filthier chickens? Chickenshit in the meat aisle? Pink slime from tuna? Salmonella from tuna sushi? You can’t even keep up, and certainly there’s rarely any followup. But I see everyone is determined to beat the food-deserts issue to death on a daily basis — anything that proves the poors don’t have it so bad is front-page news, even though figures lie and liars figure. As my consort always rails, every article/op-ed quoting or written by someone at a think tank should carry prominent notice of which way it leans. (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine? Hide your fur!) Reality may have a liberal bias, but no one figures like a wingnut. (I did catch just enough of the scandale over the bugs busted for coloring drinks at Starbucks, thanks to both Colbert and the Murdoch mouthpiece. No one had better alert vegans to the bugs in their chocolate, their flour and, especially, their raisins. . .)

Food trucks to the train station, SVP

I keep railing that Amtrak really needs to work on its food service, although the WiFi could use some investment, too. I made the mistake on the way of not packing lunch, so I had to forage in the bar car, settling for a wrap made with a tortilla that could have encased a review copy in the mail. But the funniest thing was the very cool barman telling me, when I asked about the “menu,” “Everything’s good.” And that he liked the “Italian baguette” best, with its salami and ham, although he had also heard the egg-and-sausage biscuit was good except that “I don’t eat pork.” Please, no one tell him where bacon comes from.

Flam. A. Sil.

Nobody could top Andy Borowitz’s Tweet observing that G.F.Y. Cheney had gotten a new heart while the Chimp was still awaiting a brain transplant. And probably no one can figure out why Panchito confessed to the condition his condition is in. As my consort asked: “He has gout? Why would I care?” As always, though, the round one revealed more than he intended. No one who thinks “revolting in its bloat” is the best thing in fud should ever be a restaurant reviewer. Images of Nick Nolte assessing ’82 Bordeaux immediately come to mind.

It’s not the molecules, it’s the moochin’

Finally, my compliments to the typist, but overindulgence in sugar, especially by the subsidized poors, is not “the biggest public health challenge facing the developed world.” That would be denial of climate change as the population keeps growing (and as the kkkrazies try to outlaw birth control). Crops all over the stressed world are being wiped out by drought and floods, hurricanes and tsunamis, freak ice storms and aberrant warm winters. I’ll even list nuclear meltdowns, because it’s 30-some years since the push-back against that energy source, and still we’re vulnerable. (I’ll throw in oil spills for the same reason.) You won’t hear it put this way, but we’re simply destroying our own habitat while refusing to acknowledge the planet will still be here, evolving with sugar cane, long after obese and diabetic humans have gone the way of pterodactyls. I’d also believe less in string-pullers if this screed hadn’t targeted the poorest people in this country. A cake a day was antidepressant for my destitute family; deprivation could equal cruelty if sugar got swept away along with HFCS. If you want to regulate the white stuff, please say you mean the little snots on Carnegie Hill will have no access to cupcakes at any price. Otherwise it’s clear sugar is not the only thing that can be spun.

“Pimples happen”

More and more I feel as if I get up on Sunday to find myself back in the late Eighties/early Nineties. A certain slinger just ran a recipe calling for skinless chicken breasts, nonfat milk, low-sodium chicken broth and phyllo dough rather than pie crust. And called it “healthier pot pie” at 615 calories a serving. Trust me: No one who wants to eat a potpie is going to invest time in it rather than nuking a Swanson’s. And anyone who might would just say the hell with it on breaking through toasted toilet tissue to get to the glop within.

Combine fig and flatulence

And this is almost enough to make me wish sheeple could be put to good use with mint sauce. I came home from Italy and read a great story in the Guardian about a new study showing a severely restricted diet could actually cure diabetes. Cure, not control. Sure, it was one study, and the results were beyond dramatic. But the potential could be game-changing in the middle of an epidemic. When I linked it on Twitter, though, I started getting kickback about what a flawed study it must be. Which made me despair. A drug company, or a food importer, can invest millions to produce the desired result, and people will run out and clamor for Fosamax-for-life prescriptions and pomegranate snake oil. Let someone try to inject some science into the debate and skeptics are all, “Where is the video?” Too bad the same rigidity is not required when it comes to things like virgin births and resurrections. Then again, if it were, we would not have Christmas and Easter candy. . .

Hide the fracking

The only surprise of the un-Rapture was that the Pom people were not behind the big con. Then again, they spent a mere $10 million to get an obscure juice certified as a miracle elixir. The cult of the gullible dropped $100 million and still couldn’t get naked Christians into heaven.

Burger fingers & foie gras meatballs

I killed the lunchtime mood on Saturday by mentioning the death of the 575-pound spokesmodel for the Heart Attack Grill just after a heap of French toast, barbecued short ribs, bacon, poached egg, Cheddar and onion rings arrived on one plate, with a huge side of fries. Which was dumb, because the friend who ordered that irresistibly bizarre combination is such a careful eater he can indulge in overkill on any occasion. But you do have to wonder about a country so confused that a restaurant could make international news by proudly promoting killer food while Mrs. O continues to be attacked for suggesting maybe we could all eat better and move around more. As I noted over on the Epi Log, though, lard is the last four-letter villain in the piece. The offending restaurant may have boasted that its fries were cooked in the white stuff, but that’s the least of the problems. Consumption has dropped as asses have ballooned over the decades. Which is just one more reason I wish the Egopedist had been required to do a little more reading before being allowed to step onto the soapbox. A lot happened between the Depression and the Great Backside Inflation. Just Wiki Earl Butz, and not for loose shoes and warm places.

Voted most popular

It was amusing to see a trend story lead off with “A few years ago I noticed.” If it were an oil, that news would be rancid by now. Particularly now that more and more people are finally grasping the sanity ring on the nutrition carousel and noting that fat is not the killer it was cracked up to be. But even that was not as silly as a front-pager on chefs who insist on having it their way. The one that was so desperate for examples beyond dedicated steak restaurants that it had to dredge up examples both nebulous and imprecise. Not to mention seriously dated. Couldn’t that reporter send out a Yelp SOS?

Got sardines?

All the misinformed hoopla over the USDA’s hyping cheese seems to have died down, so no one seems to have noticed the latest insidious development. I succumbed to supermarket “cheddar” on sale and noticed it comes with a new tag: “3 a Day — milk cheese yogurt — for stronger bones.” I could live on dairy, but I really don’t think a nation of cows really needs to be prodded to ingest more fat. If calcium is the goal, the “5 a day” campaign should be upgraded to promote kale and other less-caloric sources. Considering every extra five pounds puts 25 pounds of stress on your hips/knees/ankles, it’s a lose-lose situation.

Domino’s and the right to birth

Apparently I was the only one not stunned by the hometown paper’s exposé of a cheese scandal: An unspecified amount of tax money is spent helping the USDA work with Big Food to use more cheese when more cheese makes Americans fat. My only surprise was that it was the lead story. Really, the most important news of the entire Sunday? With a lede based on a promotion “early last year”? (No credit was given to the first report of this, of course.) And of course my contrarian side was on high alert as I slogged through the acres of type. Question 1: Did the high-fructose guys plant it to distract attention from their contribution to obesity? (This is a paper that got played with Spitzer, not to mention with WMD.) Tax dollars pay farmers to grow the pound-packing corn to excess while the same department warns about fat. Question 2: Didn’t most of the evildoing happen during those lovely eight years when the whole government was for sale? It takes time to root out rot in bureaucracies, especially of the Christian College variety. And we’re supposed to be shocked, shocked that government agencies exist to enrich private business? Question 3: Isn’t the fact that farmers are fucking with nature to produce a glut of milk worth more than an aside? Also, too, would it be better if they just handed out cheese to the poor, as Ireland has started doing? (Neighbors in Arizona who qualified for government commodities always got cheese in a can back in the Fifties and Sixties, when the teabaggers of the time were skinny.) Still, the most serious question is this: Is the American cheese on a Wendy’s burger really even cheese? It has more in common with the plastic encasing each individual slice.

Where is the lard?

Speaking of which, it’s been entertaining to watch the high-fructose corn syrup marketers contort themselves to shed the scary name rather than the crappy ingredient. Turns out “corn sugar” is taken already, so it’s back to the obfuscation table. But at least they’ve accomplished something: They have totally redeemed sugar’s reputation, maybe even polished it. Which is wild considering I came across a clip on my desk from USAWeekend, from March, titled “Healthier alternatives to sugar” (raw honey, agave nectar and stevia). I had had some crazy idea of pitching a story contradicting that. But now that we know the white stuff’s not so bad, I guess it’s not surprising the same magazine is still peddling the biggest lie in food equivalencies. The latest issue has a tout for yogurt as a substitute for sour cream. Yeah. Right. And espresso granita is as richly creamy/satisfying as coffee Haagen-Dazs. But consider this message accomplished: All the blather about cutting calories and fat was balanced by the full-page ad for microwaveable French toast sticks, with sausage, as a great choice for children. Breakfast of fatties.

Chips? Only bad with ketchup.

Another flack-planted piece I read was about a Mexican restaurateur creating a “diabetes-friendly menu.” I think the addled reporter meant diabetic-friendly menu; otherwise everything he indicts Mexican food for being would work just fine to cause the disease. Neither the chef nor the nutritionist he hired seemed to see the easiest answer to “how do you make Mexican healthful?”: Serve real Mexican food. Which is not all “drenched” in cheese or deep-fried. Which does not need to be saved by low-fat sour cream. And if the chef sees himself at risk for diabetes because he’s Hispanic, he might wonder why a cuisine that evolved over centuries only became unhealthy in the land of plenty. Name a chain after tits and look what happens.

Lose weight with figs and flatulence

Also, too, anyone mystified over why twice as many Americans now believe a lie about the Big O’s religion must not pay much attention to nutrition coverage in this country. Far more than 18 percent of the public can be sold absolutely any nonsense about margarine or Snackwells, pomegranate juice or gluten. Put the ad- and profit-driven media behind it and you can even get anyone to believe sugar is a vitamin when dissolved in bottled water.