Category Archives: Food/diet

Feeding Our Cars

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You know we’re at a crossroads in our future when more is spent to feed our cars than the people on this planet.

The Gazette shares this update recently and discloses that more corn is now used to create ethanol than to feed livestock.

Now, this might be because more livestock is being grass-fed (ie. naturally) as opposed to being stuffed with a product that they aren’t naturally supposed to eat, but the more realistic prospect is that we’ve pushed demand for hybrid fuels to stupid levels because of bad planning and design on behalf of our auto manufacturers.

This is the first time since the dawn of the use of domesticated animals that we’ve allowed this change to happen.

Which brings me back to a term that I created a while ago:  euthanol.  Definition:  the generation of a product that effectively starves most of the planet for the benefit of a select few.

Prices: Why Canadians Should Be Outraged!

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I’ve been hearing a lot of talking heads lately yammering on about how we’re facing increases in prices for food basics like bread, meat, produce and other imports from around the globe.

Unfortunately, they’re all morons and they don’t know what they’re talking about.

Canada is a land of abundant resources and a dollar that’s appreciating because of a number of factors, the main one being the decline in the value of the US dollar.  Other factors include demand for our oil, wheat, soy, corn and other consumable products that are increasing in cost to the rest of the world.

As our dollar appreciates, we should be able to buy MORE goods in exchange for fewer dollars.  We should be selling our goods within Canada at Canadian prices, not international prices.

However, because we’ve surrendered our food security and general sovereignty to multinational corporations, most of which price their goods in US funds and then add a 20-50% markup for Canadians, regardless of the value of our currency, we are facing severe price increases.

If you don’t believe me, here’s an example:  Margaret Atwood publishes a book and the US price is $10.95.  The Canadian price is probably something like $14.95.  Canadian paper and Canadian author, but Canadian buyers get hosed.

This is insane.  If Canadians were faced with a 20 to 50% increase in tax rates, there would be rioting in the streets.

What’s also going to happen is that this will spike inflation, prompting our sophisticated economists with the Bank of Canada to hike interest rates, driving up the costs for all of us to borrow money.  Just when we need it most.

However, when the talking heads with mainstream media tell us that these things are unavoidable (eg. Libyan uprisings mean we pay more for food), we owe it to ourselves to call BULLSHIT.

What astounds me is that we live in a land that is filled with political opportunists, but NO SINGLE PARTY has jumped on the opportunity to demand price parity or price improvements for Canadians.

Until then, do yourself a favour and avoid buying from the companies that are behind these lies.  Loblaws and Weston (which is owned by Loblaws) seem to be the central forces behind this big push to increase prices.

Are you unhappy with your mega-corporation?

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It seems 62% of Americans are not impressed with big corporations in the US.  Does anyone know of a similar poll / survey being recorded in Canada?  I know I want less Bell and Rogers in my life …

According to the survey, a large majority of Americans (62%) want major corporations to have less influence in the United States. While this is down from a peak of 68% in 2008, it remains well above the 52% recorded in 2001. Relatively few Americans would prefer to see corporations gain influence, but the 12% recorded this year is the highest to date.

The American people are becoming increasingly angry about the extraordinary amount of power and influence that corporations have in the United States today.  Also, the most recent Chicago Booth/Kellogg School Financial Trust Index found that only 26 percent of Americans trust our financial system at this point.

What’s interesting is that distrust of large entities – including corporations – goes back to the origins of the US.  The origins of the corporation go back to the East India Trading Company, the very same company that Americans (at the time, colonists) rebelled against during the original Boston Tea Party.

In his book entitled “Unequal Protection”, Thom Hartman mentions the East India Trading Company….

“Trade-dominance by the East India Company aroused the greatest passions of America’s Founders – every schoolboy knows how they dumped the Company’s tea into Boston harbour. At the time in Britain virtually all members of parliament were stockholders, a tenth had made their fortunes through the Company, and the Company funded parliamentary elections generously.”

Giant international corporations are not synonymous with “capitalism”.  In fact, they are the anti-thesis of competition, fair trade and market value.

However, I challenge any ‘capitalist’ today to show me where these basic principles exist in the US or Canada.  They don’t and as consumers, we’ve all made the mistake of letting it happen.

It’s easy to reverse this issue.  We need to start taking power from those that control our lives.  Starting with the Usage-Based Billing debate, we need to respond to Bell and Rogers and Canada’s other media monsters with a big F-U and start canceling their services, terminating newspaper subscriptions and boycotting their media and their message.

Americans are showing this distrust towards the corporations that shape their lives and this will come to a head in the US:

As you can see, the gap between those in favor of the size and influence of major corporations and those not in favor has been significantly widening over the past decade.

Not only that, but the latest Chicago Booth/Kellogg School Financial Trust Index shows that Americans have very little trust in the financial system at this point.
The following are some of the key findings from their most recent report….

  • Only 26 percent of Americans trust the nation’s financial system.
  • Only 13 percent of Americans trust big corporations.
  • Only 16 percent of Americans trust the stock market.
  • Only 43 percent of Americans trust the banks.

We shouldn’t be surprised by these numbers.  American resentment of the Big Bank bailouts is growing and more of these people are seen as cry-baby capitalists, wanting socialism for them and capitalism for the rest of us.  Most people are still looking for their own bailouts, but they aren’t coming.  The party’s on and you’re not invited.

Continuing to reduce corporate tax rates, give bailouts and focus on big business will only increase the level of resentment that all North Americans have concerning the companies that interact with them on a daily basis.  Those parties that distance themselves from this noise will do best in the polls in coming months because Canadians and Americans are sick of the disequilibrium.

A final thought:  price increases and more economic instability are right around the corner.  As the US dollar collapses, food and oil prices will start to rise drastically and ‘the average Joe and Jane’ will suffer for it.  Our current slate of politicians can feign ignorance once again (as they did before), but for the record, we see it coming.  There’s an economic shit storm on the way and more bailouts, interest-free loans and other handouts to the biggest in this country will be met with the greatest resistance.

The Big Organic Sellout?

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People should have certain expectations when it comes to farmers and companies that sell organic products and food.  We all seem to have this mystical image of the original concept being lead by ‘back-to-the-lander’ types with pony tails and a patch of marijuana tucked away in their back yard somewhere.

Fast-forward to the present and you’ll have to quickly acknowledge that if you did have this vision, it’s wrong.

This story ( illustrates how several companies – including Whole Foods, Organic Valley and Stonyfield Farm (now owned by Danone) have surrendered to Monsanto – the anti-thesis of organic – by announcing that they will pursue a life of ‘co-existence’ with Genetically Engineered (GE) foods.

And just like that, ‘organic’ risks being seen as a big marketing scam.  The entire effort of generations of people that do not want to risk having their crops and services contaminated by Monsanto’s poisonous approach to farming is now put at risk by a single decision.

Here’s the rationale as to why it all happened:

The Organic Inc. CEOs (ie. those from Whole  Foods, Stonyfield and Organic Valley) are tired of activist pressure, boycotts, and petitions. Several of them have told me this to my face. They apparently believe that the battle against GMOs has been lost, and that it’s time to reach for the consolation prize.  The consolation prize they seek is a so-called “coexistence” between the biotech Behemoth and the organic community that will lull the public to sleep and greenwash the unpleasant fact that Monsanto’s unlabeled and unregulated genetically engineered crops are now spreading their toxic genes on 1/3 of U.S. (and 1/10 of global) crop land.

In order to eliminate any confusion about what’s in your food, the article we cited comes to a conclusion that we support:  truth-in-labeling.  It’s the only way to differentiate real food from modified food and it has to start immediately.

In the US, Dennis Kucinich (D, Ohio) has introduced a bill in Congress calling for mandatory labeling and safety testing for GMOs.  The chances of this being successful are slim.

With this in mind, the other opportunity is to keep applying the pressure:

The Organic Consumers Association, joined by our consumer, farmer, environmental, and labor allies, has just launched a nationwide Truth-in-Labeling campaign to stop Monsanto and the Biotech Bullies from force-feeding unlabeled GMOs to animals and humans.

You can also petition Whole Foods here:

In Canada, most of the information that I’m able to find is stale, but I’m hoping you can help by providing some additional links in the comments.  I do know that there is CBAN and they are encouraging Canadians to get their MP to support Bill C-474, a requirement to assess the economic impact of GE use with food production.

More information can be found here:

Click here to see how your MP voted on the original submission of the Bill.

9 Things to Avoid in Your Diet

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This is a good piece (9 Things to Avoid in Your Diet), but I think they could have made it even better.

How?  Add an ‘ethical’ column to the products and you get a sense of what the broader implications are with each of these products.

What follows are just a few ideas.  Feel free to add your own.

Ingredient Why it is Used Why it is Bad Why it’s REALLY Bad
Artificial Colors
  • Chemical compounds made from coal-tar derivatives to enhance color.
  • Linked to allergic reactions, fatigue, asthma, skin rashes, hyperactivity and headaches.
  • Food from coal?  Really?
Artificial Flavorings
  • Cheap chemical mixtures that mimic natural flavors.
  • Linked to allergic reactions, dermatitis, eczema, hyperactivity and asthma
  • Can affect enzymes, RNA and thyroid.
  • Most artificial flavourings are derived from petroleum products.  That’s right:  oil.  We need to naturalize our food so that when we finally start taxing the hell out of oil, we don’t force ourselves into starvation!
Artificial Sweeteners
(Acesulfame-K, Aspartame, Equal®, NutraSweet®,  Saccharin, Sweet’n Low®, Sucralose, Splenda® & Sorbitol)
  • Highly-processed, chemically-derived, zero-calorie sweeteners found in diet foods and diet products to reduce calories per serving.
  • Can negatively impact metabolism
  • Some have been linked to cancer, dizziness hallucinations and headaches.
  • Donald Rumsfeld is connected with Aspartame and many believe that it’s this connection that prevented the US Admin under Bush from ever investigating claims of defects, tumours and other maledictions related to artificial sweeteners.
Benzoate Preservatives(BHT, BHA, TBHQ)
  • Compounds that preserve fats and prevent them from becoming rancid.
  • May result in hyperactivity, angiodema,  asthma, rhinitis, dermatitis, tumors and  urticaria
  • Can affect estrogen balance and levels.
  • An easy way to avoid preservatives is to eat fresh, organic, real and natural food.  Many people argue this isn’t possible, but think about how real things would be if we as a culture spent money on real food instead of trying to extend the shelf-life.
Brominated Vegetable Oil(BVO)
  • Chemical that boosts flavor in many citric-based fruit and soft drinks.
  • Increases triglycerides and cholesterol
  • Can damage liver, testicles, thyroid, heart and kidneys.
  • This is actually an additive that many countries have labelled as toxic and have subsequently banned in products like pop and power drinks.
  • So here’s the big hint:  stop drinking sugar and you’ll be fine.
High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Cheap alternative to cane and beet sugar
  • Sustains freshness in baked goods
  • Blends easily in beverages to maintain sweetness.
  • May predispose the body to turn fructose into fat
  • Increases risk for Type-2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and cancer
  • Isn’t easily metabolized by the liver.
  • Too many issues with this, but the central idea is that corn permeates our entire food chain.  We need to break that chain and expand from a monoculture.  If we don’t, and something happens to corn (disease, pests, etc), we’re all screwed.
  • Corn is dominated by approx. 3 companies (ADM, Monsanto, Cargill) and they are constantly fighting for ways to monopolize distribution and growth of corn.
MSG(Monosodium Glutamate)
  • Flavor enhancer in restaurant food, salad dressing, chips, frozen entrees, soups and other foods.
  • May stimulate appetite and cause headaches, nausea, weakness, wheezing, edema, change in heart rate, burning sensations and difficulty in breathing.
  • In most cases, MSG is piled on in one specific kind of food:  fast food.
  • Avoid fast food and you’ll be fine.
  • The pervasiveness of MSG in our diets is a reflection of how much we’ve aborted food culture and adopted an unnatural commercial food industry as a cornerstone of our routine.
  • Not only are there financial implications, but the cultural ramifications run deep as well.  We no longer eat together and we need to start enjoying the people we eat with as well as what we eat.
  • An indigestible fat substitute used primarily in foods that are fried and baked.
  • Inhibits absorption of some nutrients
  • Linked to gastrointestinal disease, diarrhea, gas, cramps, bleeding and incontinence.
  • Two words:  anal leakage.
Shortening, Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils
(Palm, Soybean and others)
  • Industrially created fats used in more than 40,000 food products in the U.S.
  • Cheaper than most other oils.
  • Contain high levels of trans fats, which raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol, contributing to risk of heart disease.
  • Palm oil in particular is a MASSIVE problem.  Most palm trees grow in tropical areas and to get these fats in our foods, we’re deforesting pristine woodlands faster than a fatty burger goes through our systems.
  • Solution:  avoid processed and fast foods.

I loved reading about the 9 things to avoid, but I loved the exercise of exploring even more ethical and moral reasons why we need to rethink our ‘demand’ for these products.

Most of the solution comes with a very simple answer: make your own food from natural products, enjoy cooking and take the time to cook (making it a family or functional activity) and stop buying processed anything.