Sunday, April 21, 2013

Ridiculousness, Irritants and Outrages

It's been an interesting, sad, pleasant week altogether. Much, I suppose, like most weeks. There were two deadly explosions, one planned by two Chechen nationals, one unplanned. in a fertilizer plant in Texas shortly after our beloved governor made a commercial announcement about bringing business to Texas because there is less government interference with business in our state than anywhere else. Nicely done, Guv. I'm guessing that's why this plant that exploded hasn't been inspected since 1985, and why workers in Texas have the lowest wages, and the lowest percentage of insurance coverage in the country. And, yes, some of this idiocy made me ask questions.

1. While waiting for some programs I actually wanted to watch, I've had to watch the end of the movie "Snow White and the Huntsman" a couple of times. As the credits roll by, there is this disclaimer,"This film is purely fictional. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is unintentional," or something like that. Really? I need to call my family attorney back and tell him that we can't sue; that dwarf character wasn't really modeled after my Uncle Jack? I'd swear it was his life story. But since y'all included the disclaimer I guess we're okay.

2. I've talked before about all the road construction going on in Fort Worth, and how the area being cleared looks like a sad moonscape. Or Mars-scape. I'm sure there will be grass and trees planted when this is over, but for now it is quite depressing to look at. While going to pick my husband up last week, though, I saw the most offensive billboard that a tree-hugger like me can imagine: "Open prairies, meet more open lanes." I have searched for who is responsible for such an offense, but no one comes up in my search. It is probably the city of Fort Worth. Or perhaps the company from Spain that is building the road, and will reap the profit from the tolls. But for those of us who love nature, and even for those of us who simply seek balance (whether or not we actually find it) it is a hateful idea that we can't have both. Why can't we all just get along and recognize the need for infrastructure AND natural areas, such as prairies and grasslands?

3. Another food question: My husband has recently diagnosed himself with lactose intolerance, and so we've started buying lactose free milk. In regular milk one usually gets about one and half weeks' of freshness dating. I noticed on the lactose free milk, we got about two months. Why does removing the lactose increase the fresh factor by so much?

4. Another great irritant that anyone who has ever read The Chariot knows, is Walmart. A few years ago they put out a great ad campaign about how all their stores were going to the low pollution light bulbs. Oh, great. They did something. Can we talk about your many individual stores? I can't tell you how many times I've had to ask the cashiers NOT to put one item per bag. Again, they always say it's what most customers want, which speaks to the hypocrisy of many Americans, and how much fear of germs we allow ourselves to live with, promoted by the media and chemical companies who have "anti bacterial" products to sell....back from the rabbit chase. I accept fault in this case for not realizing I needed to stop at the store, and not having my reusable bags with me. But I also fault other customers for wanting one item per bag. AND WalMart for not making their commitment to greener practices more all encompassing.

5. We hear a lot about student loan debt, free education, the need for more higher education, etc, etc, etc. I worked for six years in a university financial aid office, and have watched my siblings kids, and my stepsons get ready for college. I myself have a great deal of student loan debt that I will likely not live long enough to see paid off. I remember seeing parents in my old office near tears because they were strictly middle class, couldn't possibly save enough to pay for what colleges now cost, and why do some people get a basically free ride while their children get almost nothing but loans. It is a very sad situation, and not one with simple answers. But one feeling I get when I look at congress talking about how to finance college, and I see mostly old white guys being against any kind of help for the middle class to pay for college, and I can't help wondering if their real fear is nothing more than offering higher education to Americans is leading us down that terrible path toward (GASP!!!) socialism. And that word strikes fear into anyone born before 1960. Even though most of them have no idea what it really is, or could ever bring themselves to admit that every successful country is a blend of socialism and free markets. And a better educated population benefits the entire country.

6. There is a group of congressmen called "The Gang of Eight" who are responsible with coming up with proposals for immigration reform. One of the proposals is background checks. There are several states, mostly red and southern, who have proposed certain types of ID being required before people can vote. But all these people think it is too egregious an insult to submit to any kind of background check in order to buy a gun? Stop the silliness over a simple background check, please! PLEASE!!!!

7. Last weekend I saw a commercial starring Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of the global banking firm Goldman/Sachs. I think we all know that Goldman/Sachs is among a small group of bad guy financial firms whose excesses led to the great recession of 2007, and from which we have still not recovered. The commercial was in support of marriage equality. I am all for marriage equality. But is there anyone worse who could have been used to speak to that cause? Was Blankfein trying to find a redemptive factor for himself? Because economic injustice has made him a fabulously wealthy man, and his company obscenely profitable. I'm not sure that any kind of public service announcement will make this man palatable to me until some of the twelve-million people in this country who would love to work but can't find a job, or families who have been put out of their homes by the bad behavior of Goldman/Sachs get some kind of justice. Again, I am for marriage equality. But the image of Lloyd Blankfein is irredeemable to me. I know. That's not a question. Okay-why did they pick him? 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Some Food For Thought

I know, the title is not at all original, but the questions I have this week are almost entirely about food. With one exception, that would take us back to the whole question of cruelty free cosmetics. The reason that some of our formerly good, natural, cruelty free companies have started animal testing is for the Chinese market. China requires all cosmetics to be tested on animals before it can be sold there. I'm not sure what is happening with the EU since they recently started a law saying that they will not allow the sale of any animal tested products. But my question is this-China requires all cosmetics to be tested on animals? Weren't they the ones caught in recent years selling the US products containing toxic ingredients such as lead and melamine? They sold us dog treats and toothpaste, and children's makes no sense to me!!!!

Now some questions to ponder regarding food and nutrition:

1. Cool Whip frosting? It is now for sale at your local grocery store...why? Do they think we are not getting enough chemicals and hydrogenated oils in our diets? Are we really that lazy? I used to eat Cool Whip, but when I became vain about scratch cooking, and learned how much better real whipped cream tastes, I never touched the chemical stuff again. It's not that hard...forget it, it's like buying a gallon of iced tea at the grocery store. Yes, we as a country are that lazy.

2. Can we stop with the cooking shows and food commercials that simply show us beautiful women having food orgasms? I have eaten really good food, prepared by professional chefs, including my stepson, and had some really delicious things. I have eaten those boxed cereals, and enjoyed them. I have never had an orgasmic experience because of any food I have ever eaten. And after eating food I enjoy too much, I am usually too wasted for any other kind of orgasm. Sorry. TMI.

3. My husband used to work for an  ECG (evil corporate giant.) The one that makes an evil chemical frequently used by  farmers to kill weeds. That stuff costs money. So do hormones and antibiotics. So do pesticides that are used to kill bugs that harm crops. So riddle me this; why do organic fruits and meats cost so much more? The farmers who graze their cattle on grass save tons of money, not only on grains that make the cows sick so that they need those antibiotics so they can be healthy enough to sell. Why can't they pass those savings off to the consumer? Is it the "hip" factor of organic, grass fed meat? That kind of beef (if you are a flesh eater) is so much healthier for us; what if the savings on the cost of production were passed on to consumers? Would more people NOT be coming down with antibiotic resistant bacteria and save the country a ton of money on medical care? Bringing down the cost of foods that cost less to produce would be a win/win for the whole country. Why can't the movement for local, organic food be logically sold?

4. This one comes from a quote  that was not from me, and I'm not sure where it started, but it is so provably true: "The pharmaceutical industry does not create cures, it creates customers. For forty + years we've been told that getting our LDL cholesterol numbers down is the a sure way to prevent heart disease. There is evidence out there that the science used to support this hypothesis is improper and incomplete. A gentleman named Ancel Keys, back in the early 20th century studied a bunch of countries that ate a high saturated fat diet, but he discarded fifteen countries that didn't support his hypothesis, thus skewing his results. Travel forward a few decades (this is only a blog, not a scientific journal, so I'll let you find the deeper info on your own,) and the pharmaceutical industry learns that statins can bring down the LDL numbers. They have suggested that EVERYONE can benefit from taking these drugs, and have even proposed giving them to children to prevent the LDL cholesterol numbers from ever getting high. But there are dangerous side effects to these drugs; even the commercials for them tell you that "if you have muscle weakness or pain, call your doctor immediately." Well, by the time you get those effects, some of the damage has been done. They won't tell you that. Another thing we've all noticed is the younger and younger memory problems in folks...statins also contribute to this. Yes, those statins the big pharma are trying to sell our ten year olds will cause brain problems that lead to muscle pain and weakness (fibromyalgia, anyone!) and poor memory. Cholesterol aids brain function. We know this, and our foods are not providing a healthy enough way to get this vital compound. And drugs we are marketed aggressively harm these functions. I guess my question would be why we just buy the marketing of drug companies and figure they side effects won't apply to us?

My husband and I recently attended a nutrition seminar in which the vast majority of what we've been told about food was challenged. If you'd like to get an idea what we were taught there, check out for lots of documentation and information. We saw videos, got websites to check out, in short, the ideas were well supported. Of course, that doesn't mean I won't question some of them. But one thing that the teacher emphasized is that "...we have gotten very good at keeping sick people alive longer." The questions he told us to ask ourselves were these" 1. How do you feel? 2. How's your performance? If one can't answer those questions optimally, in his opinion, those are signs that a change needs to be made. Perhaps some of those ideas could be the diet changes that he suggested in the seminar. But we are living much longer than we once did, with a low quality of life in many cases. So the question I would ask myself is, "How long do I want to live?" The only answer I can come up with is as long as I feel good, can take care of myself and enjoy life. My friends and I joke all the time about how it sucks to get old, but we are all exponentially better off than fifty-five year olds were when we were kids. We are all more active, and have some aches and pains, but mostly all still have our own teeth, and can do much more than we thought we would be doing now. If this continues, lets go on. If we wind up in the next twenty years or so spending our days going from doctor to doctor, counting pills from the dozens of drugs that keep us alive, and more drugs to fight the side effects of the other drugs we take...then no, thank you  very much. Life is for fun, love, adventure. When the medicines I take prevent me from enjoying that adventure anymore, just let it be over. Please!!!