Thursday, December 19, 2013

Fat Shame.

We've all heard the saying that kids are cruel, but adults aren't much better.  One of the worst things that happens when we grow up is that most of us forget what it was like to be a kid.  If we remembered what it was like, then maybe we would treat each other a little better.

When kids are cruel, it seems to me they are doing 2 things. First, they are experimenting in methods of verbal communication. Second, they are learning how to deal with emotions and emotional arguments.  They learn what language or inflection is threatening, coercive, or hurtful to others.  We learn to be mindful of other people's feeling, but as kids, we hurt a lot of feelings in the process.

Calling someone fat or ugly, or saying someone is ugly or stupid because they are fat is a part of kids figuring out boundaries.  What we are seeing now is adults engaging in the same hurtful rhetoric that they should have gotten over as children.

Adults are cruel.

The way I see it, fat shaming among adults stem from 2 things. Some adults engage in this as a push-back against what they see as political correctness run amuck. 'You can't make fun of anybody anymore!' Adults also see Fat Shaming as some sort of tough love for all of us fatties out there. Fit or even just average people can't wrap their heads around fatness and tend to oversimplify the causes of fatness.

If you think being thin is only as simple as, 'not eating so much' or 'putting the fork down', then you may logically conclude that fat people are just lazy or unaware of how fat they've become.

There is also some dubious health information out there that enable these attacks on people of heft.  We see many stories online where every conceivable ill in society is 'linked' to obesity.  So adults may feel they are fulfilling some duty as a citizen to make you understand that you or myself are just lazy and gross.

Regardless of the reasons, there really isn't a pathology ascribed to fatness where you can pinpoint the exact weight or body fat percentage where heart disease or diabetes starts.  Keep in mind that all the literature talks of 'links', not a causation.

You can't tell someone's health just by looking at them.  Rubenesque Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, was given a clean bill of health that runs contrary to conventional wisdom concerning his large frame. He made a joke at himself by coming onto a late night talk show and eating a donut.  

But notice that despite being healthy, Chris Christie quietly had bariatric surgery done.  Why? Because being fat means you are not taken seriously.  This is a stigma aided by misinformation from public health advocates and fueled by a push back of what some perceive as an overwhelming amount of political correctness.

Here, you see Joe Rogan reacting to fat advocate's reaction to a picture posted by a fit mom with the phrase, 'What's your excuse'.  

Listen to the inflection in Joe's voice and how he talks over his guest who tries to tell Joe that it isn't quite as easy as they think to lose weight.  Unfortunately, his guest is a 'biohacker' with some pretty interesting and unproven theories about weight loss and supplements.

Joe Rogan was a national Tae Kwan Do champion in his youth and working out has been so normalized that he feels ill if he misses a workout.  So from his perspective, anyone can do what he does because he does it.  His guest tried to make a point that certain exercises are probably too hard on large people's joints, but was talked over by Joe's tirade.

So you have this sort of unempathetic 'bro' attitude toward fat people as well as a lashing out against fat people if they speak up about being marginalized.  Athletes get a high from exercise, and fat people feel run over by a truck.  Do these guys think that their tough love really motivated people to go out in public and run/walk/lift weights?

'It's so great to be associated with people feeling good about themselves'

So is Adam Richman saying that fat people feel bad about themselves?  Some do, sure, but our body size is a lot more complex than some mental issue.  The trouble with this statement is that success and confidence are associated with a body shape, and nothing else.  Does Adam Richman really think that he got so big during Man Vs. Food because he lacked self esteem?

We can't all afford to have a dietician design a diet for us and we all don't have the time to break our day's eating down to a 150 calorie mini meal every 2 hours like Adam did to try to recharge his metabolism.

Metabolism is often the answer, too.

I can safely say that I eat much less than I did when I weighed 100 lbs less.  This doesn't seem possible until you account for metabolism.  I used to eat way more, and this, added lots of weight.  At a certain point, I started eating less with only brief moments of hero eating mixed in.  It didn't work.  My metabolism slowed.  Eating doesn't energize me, it makes me fall asleep.  To lose weight is arbitrary, but if I make an effort to weigh a lower number, then the best bet is to do it slowly and incorporate exercise and surround myself with people who won't snicker at me in a gym or make fun of my bike with the oversized seat.

People who have their pictures mocked online aren't motivated by the abuse, they are withdrawn further... depressed, not really wanting to join the cruel world that waits to mock them in person.

In the end, this debate on fat shaming has nothing to do with what people look like, it's about treating people with kindness and dignity.  Don't laugh at a big person trying to lift weights or ride a bike or run...or just go for a walk.  Befriend them.  Introduce them to your girlfriend's single friend.  Let them know it's ok to be a person and exist in the world.

This sums up the feelings many normal sized people have, unfortunately.

I'll leave you with an image of what is in all of our best interests to fight against.  This is Hollywood actor, Nick Searcy.  He plays the Chief on Justified.  Patton Oswalt guested on this show... How would he feel about working with Nick Searcy, knowing how vile he is?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


This is a perfect example of the problem with the food industry...

The problem is not that this is a formed pork patty that is individually quick frozen in a spiral freezer, packaged, shipped to a distribution center, then trucked to individual McDonald locations... those are all monuments to the advancement of modern food technology.

The problem is that people seemed genuinely surprised at the appearance of the uncooked patty.  It shows the genuine disconnect that people have with their food.

What did they think, anyway?  Did they think that we have ribless hogs?  Did they think that raw pork would be shipped great distances while ONLY being refrigerated?

How do I think the McRib is made?  I could be a little off... but I'll give it a shot:

1. Lean pork w/ trim(skin, fat) is boxed in 40 lb blocks, frozen, and shipped to a further processing facility.
2. That frozen pork is put into large grinder mixers w/ various other seasonings and ground in to a frozen mixture.
3. That frozen mixture is put into stainless steel tubs and those tubs are loaded into a Formax or similar type machine that presses the patties into the familiar McRib shape.
4.  Those patties are individually quick frozen in a spiral freezer, packaged, shipped to a distribution center, then trucked to individual McDonald locations.

It's really no big deal and not at all shocking.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

An Investment In Future Shoppers.

I've already blogged about the #GMO debate many times, but I think it's important for me to bring some clarity to the issue, to paraphrase the great Todd Glass.

Ok, so we have the Washington state #GMO labeling initiative I-522. If this passes, then most foods that have genetically modified ingredients will have to have a label stating so.

Why do farmers, scientists, science writers, and people in the industry have an issue with this?

First of all, the label serves no safety or educational function. If you buy the wrong kind of flour, your bread may turn out horrible. If you buy something with an undeclared allergen, you could go into anaphylactic shock and possible die. So it's important to label things like what kind of flour because cake and all purpose flour and flour made with summer or winter wheat may function differently.  We label allergens so people can easily see what to avoid... for obvious health reasons.

If you accidentally buy a food with a #GMO ingredient, nothing different will happen to you. Nothing.

So why label it?

Why would the Organic Foods lobby be funding I-522?

For those of you that don't know, foods classified as 'Organic' must not use #GMO inputs in their production.  So at first glance, it would appear that the Organic Foods lobby would have no dog in this fight... so why be involved?

This is where the label's purpose comes into focus...

Ok, so let's say you are Whole Foods and business is pretty good.  Organic food as an industry has been growing at around 25% a year for at least the last 5 years now. Pretty soon, that growth will reach a lag phase and start to level off.  Whole Foods is aware of this and know that they need fresh customers to sustain year over year growth.

Well, one way to guarantee more customers is to tell people your food is intrinsically better because it isn't #GMO.  

So how do you do that?  

You could list all the ways that non-GMO foods are demonstrably better... but what if you can't prove that?  The other option is the tried and true practice of propaganda.  You don't tell them why your food is better, you tell them the other food is so much worse.  Doubt is easy to grow and impossible to discount completely because one cannot disprove a negative.

So you spread propaganda about #GMO and you associate #GMO with big corporations(unlike mom & pop stores like Whole Foods).  You introduce doubt by saying the studies aren't big enough or long enough or independent enough.

The next step for Whole Foods is to warn people about every product you don't want them to buy... a label.

The label serves as a warning or to put it mildly, a reminder to choose a different food.  Now here's the catch: most grocery stores sell conventional foods and have a small organic section.  The organic section isn't really the big money maker and is subsidized by all the regular groceries. Grocery stores in general operate on a pretty thin profit margin.  So when people read what is essentially a warning label, they will start to buy USDA Organic foods, which means that regular grocers will see sales drop on about 90% of it's inventory.

This is where Whole Foods comes in...

Stores like Safeway and QFC will take a big hit to their private brands as well as the nightmare of having to segregate stock for Washington stores from it's distribution inventory for Oregon, Utah, Idaho, etc.  They may even have to close some Washington stores because of this.  But who will be there waiting with their mostly #GMO free inventory and a distribution system already designed to keep certain foods separated?

Whole Foods.

And you can bet Whole Foods can expect to pick up major market share as sales from their competition drops. It will be a major windfall for them.

Soon, Washington residents may have no major grocer to go to except Whole Paycheck, and Whole Foods will be waiting with open arms.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

False Start.

[Warning: This post is not directly related to food science/food industry]

As I awaken 30 minutes ahead of my 10am alarm and start to prepare for an interview, 2 words entered my brain.

False Start.

In HS, I was either going to be a gym teacher or a chef. I left HS and entered one of the top culinary institutes in the world, but my aversion to 70 hr work weeks and onions made me realize that chef wasn't my dream.

False Start.

I transfer from Johnson & Wales to Ohio State for one quarter before being informed that I didn't get any financial aid, so I became a member of management at KFC where I had been working.

False Start.

A couple years later, I decided I wanted to go back and get my degree no matter what, even if it broke me. I was pushed by family to take any kind of job opening, even if it was something I didn't want to do. I talked myself into accepting a role as a plant manager trainee for Cargill in one of their feed mills... in Vermont.

False Start.

Back to Ohio, I moved in with a friend in his mom's basement. It was the loneliest place in the world. I finally got a job in Fairfield and moved to scenic Norwood. 3 months later, I left that job.

False Start.

I worked several other short term gigs, selling cars, driving rail workers, helping with the Census until I was no longer able to pay rent in my bed big ridden Norwood apt.

False Start.

I moved in with my poor parents living in Ashville, OH(where we had NO roots) and eventually worked a few short term jobs until I got hired on by Kroger for their Quality Training program in Cincinnati. I moved into The Banks luxury apartments on the Ohio river for 30 days, then into my current Clifton apartment. After 5 months of disagreements with how my training was being(or not being) handled, I left.

False Start.

Several short term jobs later and here I am, about to interview for a seasonal position with Macy's on Fountain Place, unloading trucks. I'm actually debating whether or not to wear a suit. Every minute of today hurts. I'm sad and bitter and want none of this. While I'm tired of the false starts, I know there has to be something better than unloading trucks for $8.15/hr. I have a value that is somewhat intangible and doesn't appear on a resume, but nobody is hiring a 'Sit In On Meetings, Make Sarcastic One Liners, and Come Up With Great Ideas' Specialist. I'm hoping another interview comes along to save me from this job IN CASE I am offered it, or from the shame of NOT being offered it.

[Despite what I know about food, I am not awesome at other parts of my life.  I'm just putting my experiences out there, so that maybe other will identify with them and feel at least a little bit comforted.]

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Giant Eagle Poised To Land In Cincinnati?

An article that appeared Thursday on TribLive stated that the real estate developer for Giant Eagle's grocery stores has sold a third of it's stock to an investment firm in a $294 million deal.  Such a deal opens up large amounts of cash which may be used for expansion... possibly into SouthWestern Ohio.

For those unaware, Giant Eagle is a regional grocery chain based in Pittsburgh, and currently has over 200 locations in Western PA and in Ohio as far South as Grove City.

Compared to Kroger, Giant Eagle has a more modern, youthful appeal and a very inviting store layout.  The Market District store(comparable to Kroger's super rare Fresh Fare concept) in the Upper Arlington neighborhood of Columbus offers a vast array of hot prepared foods, exotic meats, a station to make your own nut butter, and a stage for cooking demonstrations.  It blows the competition out of the water and is so nice, you could eat there for dinner with all the available seating.

In the past, Giant Eagle's CEO Laura Shapira Karet has said that the companies expansion strategy would be focused on building stores within its established geographic footprint, but that was well over a year ago.  Giant Eagle is pretty well saturated within Columbus, and Cleveland, leaving the Southern half of Ohio as the most logical step.

I know the perfect place for them.

The Kenwood Collection.

The Kenwood Collection used to be called Kenwood Town Place before there were issues with contractors being stiffed, which led to years of a rusty I-Beam eye-sore, which led to a foreclosure  and now... new developers with a new name.

This property sits on the edge of the massive Kenwood Town Center, featuring H & M, Apple, Oakley, Nordstom, and many other high end shops and restaurants.  This mall is never really slow, as the surrounding neighborhoods of Indian Hills, Silverton, and Montgomery feed it with throngs of affluent suburbanites.

The former Kenwood Town Place was the location of The Kroger Co's Fresh Fare concept, which featured greater meat, deli, and seafood selections as well as a wine tasting section and better prepared meal options.  Kroger pulled out citing low foot traffic, which if true, would have no doubt been due to the lack of progress made on the rest of the property.

The mall that shares land with the Kenwood Collection is currently being remodeled, and will no doubt bring more interest into the already busy mall.  People also visit retailers like The Container Store and Crate & Barrel that stuck with the Town Place project through the low times and will no doubt be a great compliment to whatever fills Kroger Fresh Fare's large square footage.

So all the high end, refreshed mall and the high end, back-on-track mixed use development is missing is Giant Eagle.

I'll admit that this may come off as biased and that's because it is.  I really want to see Giant Eagle come to Cincinnati.  The store is a refreshing change of pace from what you get from Kroger.  Also, Giant Eagles fuel rewards program is at least twice as good as Kroger's.  

While Kroger gives you 100 points for every $100 spent, equaling 10 cents off per gallon, Giant Eagle gives 10 cents off for every $50 spent. So not only are the rewards more straight forward, but you get twice as many.  Also, Giant Eagle offers a fuel perk bounty on certain sale items.  'Buy 4 boxes of cereal, get an extra 15 cents off'.  Where a big spender at Kroger can get a 40 cent discount in a month, you can easily get 3 times as many. Even better, and perhaps the best part is that Giant Eagle's fuel perks accumulate in a rolling 60 or 90 day period; whereas points don't combine between one month and the next at Kroger.

Naysayers will say that Kroger is too strong in Cincinnati, but I would say to them: 1. we already have Meijer, Walmart, Target(some have groceries now), Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Fresh, and Remke-Bigg's and 2. Giant Eagle does well in Columbus, a town lousy with Kroger locations.  So that doesn't matter.  Also The Kenwood Collection is located on I-71, making distribution a couple hours away from Grove City(the next closest location). 

Of course, I'm sure the folks who make expansion decisions for Giant Eagle will want to send multiple shipments of goods 100 miles further to service more than one location.  It's cool, I already have the 2nd location scouted.  As a currently unemployed person, I would be willing to offer my thoughts as a consultant to Giant Eagle at a competitive rate... 

PS... I'm poor.  This is a hard thing to say since most of my readers are fiercely self-reliant, 'up by the boot-straps types', but I was wondering if anyone noticed the PayPal Donate button on my blog?  I'm currently in between jobs and I'm getting behind enough to the point where I don't know how much longer I can stay in my meager apt.  

I'm not asking to be completely subsidized, I'm just asking that those who can, donate.  For my part, I will continue to look for work while posting more than I have been in the past.  I grew up on a hog farm with an outdoor toilet and a wood burning furnace, so hard work is something I grew up on. So while it's easy to grunt, 'Get a job!' and 'Get off yer ass!', please understand I am not a lazy person and I wouldn't so shamelessly promote the donate button if it wasn't getting serious. 

Hopefully, something good will come my way quickly, but until then, hope isn't paying the rent.  Thank you in advance for any donations, and to those who can't or won't donate, I still appreciate you taking the time to read this.


Monday, August 12, 2013

The single most important issue in all of food and agricultural sciences.

Credit to the internet for this meme pic. I think it may be traceable to RDFRS. Beyond that, I don't know.

I replied to a Facebook post in regards to an article posted on the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science Facebook page...  You know how the internet is...  Anyway, I spent enough time on the response that I thought I would post it.  The battle for GMO survival has become the single most important issue in all of food and agricultural sciences. Every scientifically literate person has a responsibility to read up on the arguments for, against, and all of the credible research.

Nothing else has been more closely studied, scrutinized, and validated for safety as GM foods that are approved for market.  No other foodstuff gets more criticism from unsubstantiated claims and from people thoroughly unqualified to discuss plant genomics than GMO.  

For the longest time, subject matter experts in biotech ignored the anti-gmo activists because they just assumed everyone else would see how irrationally hysterical they were being.  So we finally have SME's from both academia and industry speaking on behalf of biotech, but it's almost too late.  

Just as it is with racism, anti-semitism, and creationism, the science minded people will just have to hold on until more smart people are born and understand the scientific principal before we reach a critical mass of science literacy where these fairytale crisis dissipates quietly.  Education doesn't work if the anti side is so dug in and accuses anyone on the pro side of being a 'shill', but that doesn't mean the true SME's and the science literate public won't keep trying.  And similar to opponents of gay rights, the anti-gmo crowd will not be looked upon favorably 20 or 30 years from now.  As I would say to the anti-gay crowd, 'Don't you see where the future is heading?'.

Love it?  Hate it? Have a credible peer reviewed journal link for an article that wasn't already discredited? Post below.

Also... I'm poor.  This is a hard thing to say since most of my readers are fiercely self-reliant, 'up by the boot-straps types', but I was wondering if anyone noticed the PayPal Donate button on my blog.  I'm currently in between jobs and I'm getting behind enough to the point where I don't know how much longer I can stay in my meager apt.  

I'm not asking to be completely subsidized, I'm just asking that those who can, donate.  For my part, I will continue to look for work while posting more than I have been in the past.  I grew up on a hog farm with an outdoor toilet and a wood burning furnace, so hard work is something I grew up on. So while it's easy to grunt, 'Get a job!' and 'Get off yer ass!', please understand I am not a lazy person and I wouldn't so shamelessly promote the donate button if it wasn't getting serious. 

Hopefully, something good will come my way quickly, but until then, hope isn't paying the rent.  Thank you in advance for any donations, and to those who can't or won't donate, I still appreciate you taking the time to read this.


Friday, May 24, 2013


When you think about Memorial Day this weekend, try to have some context as to why it matters.  What makes America so special, that we celebrate the people that fought and died on its behalf?  

As tough as it is now, this is still a place where social mobility can happen, where people can persevere and overcome the obstacles in their life.  Maybe not everybody can be millionaires, but we are ordained by our founding fathers to pursue happiness.  In America, we at least have the best chance to try.

As an example of this, and for the context I spoke of earlier, please read about Chelsea Fearce below.

Chelsea Fearce

Thursday, April 25, 2013

GMO Labeling or How To Best Protect The Right To Misinform Consumers.

It's been a while since I posted, so I thought I would dust off blogger and add another 1AM missive.  It get's harder to write about this stuff because it's already been said before and also there are now a respectable number of subject matter experts who are finally starting to write about food and ag issues.

What follows is a story about proposed GMO labeling legislation, one person's intro to that story on G+, and my comment on both.  It is not necessary to read the story.  You could even skip the intro to the story, but you may lose some of the context of my comments...

From +Malthus John 

The bipartisan legislation would require clear labels for genetically engineered whole foods and processed foods, including fish and seafood. The measure would direct the FDA to write new labeling standards that are consistent with U.S. labeling standards and international standards.

Sixty-four countries around the world already require the labeling of GE foods, including all the member nations of the European Union, Russia, Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand.

“This legislation is supported by a broad coalition of consumer groups, businesses, farmers, fishermen and parents who all agree that consumers deserve more – not less – information about the food they buy.”

According to surveys, more than 90 percent of Americans support the labeling of genetically engineered foods. In fact, many consumers are surprised to learn that GE foods are not already labeled.

Thanks +Bernie Sanders & Barbara Boxer!

Here is the story about the bill that Bernie Sanders(whom I like) and Barbara Boxer(whom I also like) have cosponsored

And here are my comments on the whole matter from my g+ acct:

 It's not because you want to know or that you want a choice, it's that you think there's a difference.  People who already made up their mind based on whatever misinformation they've bought into, probably already buy organic anyway.  This isn't for them.  This proposed legislation is for the minds of the uninformed consumers that the anti-gmo activists want to pollute with unjustified fear and misinformation.
The fact of the matter is that for all intents and purposes, there is no difference between, for instance, corn that is gmo and non-gmo.  For the consumer, there is no difference, but you want to scare them into thinking there might be.  
Anything approved to be on the market has already had allergenicity and toxicology studies validating it's safety, but no amount of studies will ever be enough for the anti-science, anti-gmo activist.  
It's the same as the conspiracy theorist who believes Sandy Hook was faked or the creationist that can never see enough evidence to convince them that evolution is real.  

You are just like them.