Friday, September 3


In an article headlined "Study Raises Concern on Benefits of Fish," the AP reports that the constantly-cited "heart health benefits" from fish like salmon and mackerel are "weakened" when the fish are fed vegetable oil instead of fish oil. Thing is, feeding them fish oil increases the levels of pollutants. "It's yet another fish conundrum for consumers, like the debate about whether the mercury in some fish offsets their health benefits." Yeah, it is like that debate, because both are based on the inescapable fact that animal fat stores and concentrates pollutants just as it does vitamins. But the key difference is that this time, it's not just that the benefits are offset by the new findings, it's that they may be nonexistent. "Norwegian scientists showed that people who ate salmon fed on pure vegetable oil or on 50 percent fish oil and 50 percent vegetable oil did not get any meaningful improvement in the relevant blood tests." (My emphasis.) So to put it simply, unless you want to guzzle dangerous levels of flame retardant, dioxins and PCBs, these fish offer ZERO heart-health benefit. And of course the AP fails to note that there's only a "conundrum" if you're stuck on trying to get your Omega-3s from an animal source rather than an inherently healthful plant-based one.


Once again, the better humans get at studying animal behavior, the clearer it is that our biases, not facts, account for the notion of "dumb beasts." This article in the Christian Science Monitor even riffs on that in its opening sentence: "Bird brains seem to be smarter these days." It continues: "Scientists are finding hints of a higher level of intelligence than expected as they look more closely at our avian friends. The findings raise anew questions of what we consider to be thinking and how thinking works."

A researcher says one new bird study "suggests for the first time that a nonprimate may be able to assess the social relationships between other animals of its own species, an ability thought to be a mark of intelligence." And a second study finds that some jays "can sort out social status in a group without fighting. To figure out who is who by watching how individuals behave toward each other is a high-level skill. Psychologists call it transitive reasoning. Scientists did not expect the birds to be that bright." The jays' behavior "implies a more complex set of cognitive skills" than does even the first study mentioned. Sorting things out without fighting? Sounds like if we look close enough, we may find "a more complex set of cognitive skills" than we have ourselves.

Thursday, September 2


"The pounds may fall off in the first few months but the Atkins diet does not help people lose weight in the long term and it may be dangerous," says a scientific review of research appearing in the latest Lancet. While the diet may be safe to use in the short term - up to six months - scientists found side-effects more worrying in the long term. "[After a year, dieters] start to suffer headaches, muscle cramps and diarrhoea. This is consistent with a carbohydrate deficiency. They simply do not get enough carbohydrate to supply the tissues with blood sugar. That is why the organs start to malfunction."

Wednesday, September 1


...At least according to "raw food evangelist" David "Avocado" Wolfe. In this article he says that when he started speaking tours seven years ago, he knew of two raw restaurants nationwide. The Web site Raw Food Info now lists more than 60.

Tuesday, August 31


"The numbers of sufferers of brain diseases, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and motor neurone disease, have soared across the West in less than 20 years, scientists have discovered." While the article doesn't explicitly mention the known connection between high meat consumption and brain-degenerative disease, it does at least offer: "Food is also a major concern because it provides the most obvious explanation for the exclusion of Japan from many of these trends. Only when Japanese people move to the other countries do their disease rates increase."

Monday, August 30


That's the actual headline of this Salon "expose" on the systematic oppression of dairy farm workers. But of course the guilt only extends that far, since there's no problem with what happens to the cows and their offspring. A good read, but as usual, a glaring disconnect.


"The Better Business Bureau is asking federal regulators to investigate the egg industry over a labeling campaign the organization contends misleads consumers into thinking hens are treated humanely. The bureau said Wednesday that it has asked the Federal Trade Commission to probe United Egg Producers, the industry's largest trade group, over its "Animal Care Certified" logo. The logo adorns cartons containing eggs from hens that are confined in tiny cages, have their beaks clipped and are forcibly starved, the bureau said in a statement."


"To the delight of animal lovers and dismay of gourmands," the California state Assembly last week approved a bill that would ban the sale and production of foie gras. Seems like "delight"ful news. But keep reading: "To win support and appease the state's only foie gras producer, Sonoma Foie Gras, Senate President Pro Tem John Burton, D-San Francisco, agreed to delay the force-feeding ban until 2012." Oh...kay. But at least it will go into law, right? "The measure returns to the Senate before heading to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Although the governor has not said whether he favors the duck dish, Schwarzenegger has poked fun at the bill in interviews about his quest for a part-time Legislature." Oh boy.


85,600 pounds of Chicken Breast Strips have been recalled because they may be contaminated with pieces of metal. Just including this to remind y'all that there are plenty of examples of meat being contaminated by exterior agents - just as is any produce that carries E.Coli or salmonella. What's unique to meat products is the frequency with which it needs to be recalled for stuff that is an integral part of the base product - i.e. fecal matter - that has not been sufficiently eradicated from it.