Friday, April 22


I'm including this only as an example of how the sillier forms of animal exploitation tend to knock themselves out, and are not worthy of the sputtering outrage we might expend on, say, seal-clubbing: The Vernon County spring festival in Wisconsin has canceled the traditional cow-pie bingo event for what the article knee-slappingly calls "liabullity reasons." It seems that "The decision was based - unfairly, says dairy farmer Rodney Johnson - on Baby's impressive but unexpected fence-vaulting escape from the bingo grid at last year's Syttende Mai Festival... Dorothy Jasperson, editor of the Westby Times, said the cow 'knocked down some stuff, scared some little kids and for insurance reasons, they decided to go away from cow pie bingo.'"

UPDATE 4/26: Hey, talk about your fence-vaulting escapes...


The Netherlands has diagnosed its first known case of the human form of "mad cow disease" - variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD). Mad cow disease has hit more than 70 animals in the Netherlands since 1997.

Thursday, April 21


This is one of those "sun rises in the east" facts that stares us in the face daily but few people bother to articulate, so when they do, it becomes news: "The Homeland Security Department is focusing on possible terror threats from radical environmental and animal rights activists without also examining risks that might be posed by right-wing extremists, House Democrats said Tuesday." This was intentionally brought up on April 19th, the 10th anniversary of the worst domestic terrorism on U.S. soil (168 people killed - by right-wing extremists). Here's the kicker, which we all know but forget to bring up: "ALF and ELF are accused by the FBI of committing hundreds of acts of arson or other attacks on property in the United States, causing millions of dollars in damages. None of their attacks, however, have caused human deaths."

Wednesday, April 20


A study of 190,545 men and women over seven years or more has found that "Eating a lot of red meat, and particularly processed meat, increases the risk of pancreatic cancer" - by a goodly margin. "After taking into account age, smoking status, history of diabetes, family history of pancreatic cancer and ethnicity, subjects with the highest intake of processed meat had a 67 percent increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared to those with the lowest intake of processed meat," according to this Reuters report. This is the flip side of another study noted earlier this month, where "a comparison of 585 pancreatic cancer patients and about 4,779 adults without the disease," showed that "the risk of the cancer declines as fruit and vegetable intake increases." It's hard to get more black and white than that, folks. I guess that's what makes complex multi-hued pyramids triangles so useful to certain groups of people.

Tuesday, April 19


Well, somebody's gotta say it: The "New Food Pyramid" ain't a pyramid. Scrapping the advantage of a pyramid as a way to envision relative food portions, the USDA has turned it into a flat triangle comprising narrow colored triangles representing kinds of food. Note that the plant foods have colors matching their own colors, while Meat and Dairy get blue and purple instead of dark brown and beige, respectively. So already we have the cognitive dissonance of calling something that's not a pyramid a pyramid, and pretending that meat and dairy are not colorless also-rans in the nutrition arena.

Additionally, though, the new graphic (which for the first time endorses stair-climbing exercise) eschews specifics and instead points us to the USDA's "Key Recommendations for the General Population." Despite all the blather about "no one-size-fits-all guidelines," we see this one-size-fits-all guideline: "Consume 3 cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products." That's it. No "or soy milk." No "or calcium-fortified orange juice." No "abundant leafy green vegetables." No, the entire non-white population - who are, by majority, lactose intolerant - is told they MUST DRINK MILK as a general recommendation. Even on the "Milk Tips" page there's further obfuscation afoot, as LI is presented as the only possible reason not to drink milk, and so everyone (again: one size fits all) is steered to lactose-free dairy products. Allergic? Ethical? Concerned about BGH? You don't exist!

In short, those who say this "pyramid" is "definitely not very helpful" and that "USDA seems to have bent over backward to avoid upsetting any particular commodity group or food company by not showing any foods that Americans should eat less of" are right on the money. Read PCRM's analysis of the "unscientific" pyramid triangle for more.


A pair of stories appearing today illustrate the opposition of plant and animal foods in terms of human health. The New York Times has a "Really?" feature, which examines claims for accuracy and debunks where necessary. But for this week's claim, "Grilled Meat Causes Cancer," the "Bottom Line" was "Chemicals in grilled meat have been shown to increase the risk of cancer." And further: "For years, studies have suggested that chemicals in grilled meat may be linked to cancer. Now, just in time for barbecue season, the Department of Health and Human Services has added heterocyclic amines - the compounds formed in red meat, poultry and fish during the grilling - to its list of carcinogens. At least one other group of chemicals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which can also collect on meat cooked over hot coals, has been on the agency's list since 1981."

"But there is a silver lining," the Times reports cheerily. "The chemicals are primarily found in meat cooked at high temperatures..." Oh, OK, only high temperatures like those needed to kill E.Coli. So this year we're not going to hear the traditional "cook all your meat at a high temperature" in those pre-summer health stories on how to avoid deadly food poisoning? We'll wait and see on that.

Meanwhile, on the same day, we learn that broccoli and red chili peppers help prevent cancer, according to new studies. Now, note which kind of food is a cancer cause, and which is a cancer fighter. Notice how they always seem to line up in those same columns?

Monday, April 18


Implicit in this story is the acknowledgement of plant foods' primacy in human civilization - something the current media-industrial complex does its best to make us lose sight of. "French botanist Francois Couplan has spent half a century travelling the globe searching for the lost culinary secrets of the plant world to record them for posterity. 'It is amazing the uses different people have found for plants, but also everything that has been lost in a bid to imitate Western lifestyles,' he said."

"His aim is to refresh our memories of the way our ancestors used to live, when for three million years man lived in symbiosis with plants which were their staple foods, as well as providing medicines, shelter and fire."