Wednesday, April 16


Although communities are increasingly organizing to take on filth-and-misery-generating livestock farms in their back yards, the hog lobby has friends in more powerful places, namely the state legislature. In Indiana's Senate bill, animal-based farms won't need the building permits all other farming operations (and, in fact everybody) has to get from the state. And the bill's sponsor is - guess what? - a hog farmer himself! How neat & tidy is that!

Meanwhile in South Carolina, a bill to "limit the ability of local government to regulate hog and chicken farms" has already gotten far enough that it's appalling, even if its enemies manage to shoot it down. Instrumental in pushing it through the SC House were House Speaker David Wilkins, R-Greenville, and Majority Leader Rick Quinn, R-Columbia (wow, both from the same party! What're the odds?...) Note that "Wilkins has received at least $5,500 in campaign contributions from farm interests, while Quinn has received at least $2,900." Pork, anyone?

Tuesday, April 15


California is suing restaurants over seafood, says the AP. And why? Because chains like Benihana, Red Lobster, Bennigan's and Outback "were not following guidelines requiring businesses to post warnings when they expose people to carcinogens" - namely, harmful levels of mercury. While downplaying the notion that people should avoid fish if they possibly can, Attorney General Bill Lockyer pointed out that "the fish listed in this lawsuit contain high levels of substances known to cause cancer, birth defects and reproductive harm." And that's when you're eating seafood that's not tainted with deadly botulism or listeria! A lawsuit about disclosing health risks, eh? Did somebody say "McDonalds?"

Monday, April 14


I've avoided making any mention of Dr. Atkins' unfortunate accident nearly a week ago, which has left him in a coma, on life support, because the cause seems unrelated to his irresponsible diet advice. I assume it is in fact unrelated, even though his surgery was to remove a blood clot, which we know can be exacerbated by poor cholesterol and/or high blood pressure, so sure, it's just a coincidence, and so was his cardiac arrest (not a heart attack!) at this time last year. But in another coincidence, the Governor of Alaska, who's been on the Atkins diet for a month or so, just underwent extreme heart surgery to open a blocked heart artery - and didn't even tell his own spokesman what he was going in for. I'm still holding out the benefit of the doubt, but coincidences make you wonder: How many non-famous Atkins dieters are in the hospital every day?
UPDATE 4/23: Another famous Atkins dieter is in the hospital today, having suffered a massive stroke. At present, popular crooner Luther Vandross in critical condition. News reports mention his having been on a liquid diet some 13 years ago, but not the fact that high-protein was his latest yo-yo of choice, as detailed in this ABCNews story from 2001: "In his recent dieting success, Vandross says he has discovered the secret to weight loss. Using a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, he shed 120 pounds. 'I deleted carbohydrates, I deleted starches ... no bread, no rice, no pasta, no potatoes,' he explains. Breakfast, for example, is usually Egg Beaters or a turkey burger." Lest you think he was a couch potato, the story claims that "Along with his diet, Vandross is working out three or four times a week," and points out how "it can still be a struggle for him to stick to his diet. Just weeks ago, he suffered food poisoning..." Yep, that's one of the hazards of a meat-based diet. But not necessarily the worst.