Friday, July 30


There's a hilarious brouhaha over a poster the London underground introduced, then withdrew, as part of an anti-smelly-food campaign: "The offending advertisement depicted a man on a subway train surrounded by salami, strings of sausages and Parma hams, above the words "Please don't eat smelly food." Hmmmmm. What do all of those "foods" have in common? But it wasn't the meat producers who complained, it was Guido Cerboni, economic affairs chief at the Italian embassy in London, who said the poster was "offensive and harmful to Italian products." Uh... Guido: Olive Oil? Pasta? These Italian products are in no way slurred by the poster. Get a grip. The real joke here is that the poster shows how disgusting meat is. Mustn't have that!


Much as I might parody the use of the term as though it represents an ideology, I got nothing against "flexitarianism," especially if it's a stop on the path to veganism, as will undoubtedly be the case for some. The good thing about it, of course, is that flexitarians buy vegetarian and vegan foods, increasing their market share and helping extend their reach. One vegan-food purveyor is David Lee, whose Field Roast Grain Meat Co. "turns out a growing line of flavorful, meat-like loafs, roasts, slices, patties and links made primarily from high-protein wheat-gluten flour, vegetables and seasonings." I've had one of these loafs and it was tasty. And he acknowledges that his average consumer is "the emerging 'flexitarian.' They eat tofu one night, meat the next."

As for Lee himself, "the enterprise reflects Lee's own vegetarianism, his rejection of animal farming as 'cruel and unethical' and his belief that all life has value." Great, except that "As for all those flexitarians, Lee says he is one. 'I really am a vegetarian, but I need to be honest and say I'm not hardcore. I don't buy meat myself, but if I go to your house and you serve meat, I'll eat it,' to avoid wasting food or embarrassing his host." Well, that's his choice, of course, but I believe the offical term for this eating plan is not so much "flexitarian" as "wuss."


These two stories have next to nothing to do with each other except that their common hook is the "exploding" of a myth. In "New study explodes myth about vegetarian diet," we learn that PCRM has shown that "patients easily transition from a standard omnivorous diet to a low-fat, vegetarian diet that helps people lose weight, lower blood pressure, and otherwise improve their health." Meanwhile, across the pond, Fox myth 'exploded by study', assures the Guardian: "Urban foxes in Britain now number 33,000 and their country cousins 225,000, according to the most accurate estimate ever, says the University of Bristol. An estimated 20,000 to 25,000 foxes are killed by hunting with dogs every year, with some 100,000 dying on the roads. Prof Harris said: 'This study found that fox numbers were more heavily influenced by habitat. This suggests that there is no reason to expect fox numbers to rise when hunting is banned.'" Interesting thing is, even though it's in quotes in the headline, no permutation of the word "explode" actually occurs in the article.
UPDATE 8/5: Reuters finally picks up the story: It's Not So Hard to Switch to a Vegan Diet: Report

Thursday, July 29


In this cutesy promo piece we learn that one of the two stars of a movie whose entire supposed point is the quest for White Castle hamburgers actually can't stand the things and would not consume them even for his art. "Kal Penn on eating White Castle burgers: I'm a Vegetarian. Unfortunately White Castle doesn't make veggie burgers...I actually said, 'Look, if you have a spit bucket, I'll just take the bite and spit it out.' They said 'Don't you think that's kind of gross?' 'Well, yeah, but...' So, they made these soy patties and put them in the White Castle buns. They were the most delicious things.

Wednesday, July 28


A Pennsylvania meat company voluntarily recalled 170,000 pounds - 85 tons - of hamburger containing Canadian beef prohibited for possible mad cow, the USDA said on Wednesday. Not surprisingly, our country says the error was entirely Canada's.
UPDATE 7/29: Meanwhile, it certainly wasn't the United States' fault that another 38 tons of beef in South Korea was destroyed because it mistakenly contained beef from the U.S. banned for - yes - mad cow. Those damn Koreans, why weren't they paying more attention? Or maybe it was the Mexicans' fault...
ALSO: RCALF says the Canada thing violated an injunction, and Tom Daschle wrings his hands over the whole matter.

Tuesday, July 27


Here's news that I missed late last week: The USDA has sent an FSIS team to investigate the Pilgrim's Pride plant where workers were filmed abusing chickens, though the USDA insists there couldn't be any food-safety issue there. Nawwww. Spokesman Matt Baun said that "depending on the results of that investigation, we may share some of that information with the local authorities who are pursuing the animal abuse side of the situation," he said. The Reuters story continues that "some U.S. consumer groups have questioned whether the alleged animal abuse at the Pilgrim's Pride facility also could hint at lax food safety within the plant. But Baun said federal inspectors would catch any bruised carcasses." Oh, OK, great. Federal inspectors. Whew. EXCEPT... "Baun also confirmed that the Moorefield plant participates in a special USDA program that some consumer groups have criticized for handing too much inspection responsibility over to company employees." Ummmmm... WTF? And spelling out what I said on the first day, "Pilgrim's Pride workers were seen squeezing some chickens with such force 'that the birds expelled feces.' Consumer groups questioned whether that could have spread fecal contamination, a problem in poultry processing." Ya think?

Meanwhile, looking for any way to direct blame away from themselves, Pilgrim's Pride said Monday the surreptitious video taper should have reported findings earlier "so we could have taken immediate action." What a laff riot. Why didn't they take "immediate action" to monitor the kill floor back in 2002 when they caused the biggest meat recall in history?

Oh yeah, and speaking of which, more than 18 tons of cooked chicken is being recalled because it may be contaminated with, yes, listeria. The recall covers 14-pound boxes of "Tyson, Fully Cooked Chicken Breast Filet Fritters with Rib Meat, 3806" and 20-pound boxes of "Spare Time, Fully Cooked, Chicken Breast Fillet Fritters with Rib Meat, 3806." But when you go to the store, try to ask yourself, what will the next recall cover?


I would've included these in the last post, but those results were specific for women, while these are for everybody. New studies show that the risk of gut cancers can be reduced by eating fruits and vegetables. Onions, apples, celery and broccoli are all highlighted as being particularly beneficial. And antioxidants are best delivered through whole plant foods, not through supplements, another study found: "This study indicates that vegetables and fruits provide more antioxidant protection than supplements." Add this to the pile of pro-plant research.


That's the conclusion of two unrelated studies that just came out. A 14-year study in Japan on 9,300 people found that women who ate one egg per day were 22 percent more likely to die than those who ate only a couple eggs a week - regardless of factors such as age, smoking habits and body weight. And those who ate two or more eggs a day showed a still higher death risk. Hmmmm. Also, "women who get a lot of their dietary protein from vegetables [rather than animal products] are at reduced risk for having their gallbladder removed. As reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the researchers studied data from some 121,000 women participating in the Nurses' Health Study. Over 20 years of follow-up, 7831 women underwent gallbladder removal, also called cholecystectomy."


There's another story like this about every week or so, pointing out that an individual's animal abuse is often an indicator for later criminal violence against people. This one is a little more pointed: "Animal abuse should be treated as a serious public health issue with far-reaching ramifications, rather than an unfortunate anomaly, a visiting US psychologist says." I bring it up because no one else seems to be tying this fact to the shocking allegations that former NBA star Jayson Williams shot and killed his pet Rottweiler "Zeus" after losing a $100 bet, then pointed the gun at the other bettor and threatened him. All of this occurred about six months before Williams shot and killed limousine driver Gus Christofi.

Here are the details: "Prosecutors said former New Jersey Nets player Dwayne Schintzius told detectives he had bet Williams $100 he could drag the attack-trained dog out of Williams' house without being bitten. When Schintzius made good on his claim, Williams got a shotgun and blasted the dog twice, once in the side and once in the head. When Schintzius and another houseguest ignored Williams' command to remove the dog's carcass, Williams reloaded the gun and pointed it at Schintzius, according to prosecutors. He allegedly threatened Schintzius that he would be next if the dog was not removed." Why is it so hard to understand that people who are hateful to animals are hateful people?

Monday, July 26


It may be too close to call this one, but there's a move afoot to ban wild-animal acts in circuses across Belgium. Not surprisingly, the circus owners are raisin' a hoot & holler with the same appeals to "tradition" as we hear over here. The story notes that "seventy communes in Belgium have already outlawed the presence of wild animals in circuses on their territory." Not having any idea how Belgium is divided up or how many communes, which seem to be equivalent to counties, the country as a whole contains, I can only say that sounds like a good start.

UPDATE 8/4: The ban is rescinded as overreaching the authority of the animal welfare minister's office. It will be interesting to watch this develop, as "the Conseil D'Etat has organised a series of meetings with circus representatives in August and September. Witmeur said they would seek to find 'a compromise suitable for all' but that conditions for circus animals would have to improve. 'We need to make a lot of progress for their well-being,' he said." We'll have to wait and see what that means in reality...


OK, I'm back. If any of you were wondering about the post that said "Blogging from Summerfest," that was created during a demo on blogging. I've deleted it. Now on to the news that's been piling up.