High-fructose corn syrup is the Devil

Well, you know what I mean.


A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.

In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides. The researchers say the work sheds light on the factors contributing to obesity trends in the United States.

“Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn’t true, at least under the conditions of our tests,” said psychology professor Bart Hoebel, who specializes in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and sugar addiction. “When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they’re becoming obese — every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don’t see this; they don’t all gain extra weight.”

[Click to continue reading Princeton University – A sweet problem: Princeton researchers find that high-fructose corn syrup prompts considerably more weight gain]

Curious as to why that is. Also, isn’t it nice that the federal government subsidizes high-fructose corn syrup, keeping its price artificially low? Low price means high fructose corn syrup is used as an ingredient more often than if was a specialty ingredient.


Florida Tomato Shortage

Was wondering why there was such a dearth of good tomatoes in the grocery store. At least the shortage can’t be linked to corruption in the FDA and food corporations

Heirloom Tomatoes

A shortage of tomatoes from weather-battered Florida is forcing restaurants and supermarkets to ration supplies amid soaring prices for America’s most popular fresh vegetable.

Fast-food restaurant chains such as Wendy’s have stopped automatically including tomatoes in sandwiches; now customers have to know to ask.

Even then, consumers might not get what they usually do. At Lloyd’s, a white-tablecloth restaurant across the street from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, signs went up this week warning that only plum tomatoes are available.

“People love having tomatoes in their salad and in sandwiches but we want people to know ahead of time that the quality just isn’t what they are used to,” said Sam Berngard, president of Taste America Restaurant Group LLC, which operates Lloyd’s and two Chicago seafood restaurants.

Fresh tomatoes are in short supply because of the unusual spell of freezing temperatures that hugged Florida in January. The cold temperatures that dented citrus production also destroyed roughly 70% of the tomato crop in Florida, which is the largest source of U.S.-grown fresh tomatoes this time of year.

Reggie Brown, executive vice president of Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, a Maitland, Fla., trade group, said Tuesday that a 25-pound box of tomatoes is trading for $30, compared with $6.45 a year ago.

[Click to continue reading Florida Tomato Shortage Hits Restaurants, Supermarkets – WSJ.com]

Cream Sausage Tomatoes

Winter tomatoes kind of suck anyway, I can wait until locally grown varieties start appearing again. And climate change is thankfully not refuted in this article1.

  1. since it isn’t relevant, probably []

Food Safety and Tainted Tomatoes

If the Drown-The-Baby-in-the Bathtub Republicans ever get their way1, the federal regulatory infrastructure would get stripped, and there would be a lot more deaths from tainted food. The current system of food inspection is pretty corrupt, but least there is some restraint, and occasionally a corporation will commit such a heinous act that they will get sanctioned. Like SK Foods, and their buddies, Kraft, Safeway, and others:


Robert Watson, a top ingredient buyer for Kraft Foods, needed $20,000 to pay his taxes. So he called a broker for a California tomato processor that for years had been paying him bribes to get its products into Kraft’s plants.

The check would soon be in the mail, the broker promised. “We’ll have to deduct it out of your commissions as we move forward,” he said, using a euphemism for bribes.

Days later, federal agents descended on Kraft’s offices near Chicago and confronted Mr. Watson. He admitted his role in a bribery scheme that has laid bare a startling vein of corruption in the food industry. And because the scheme also involved millions of pounds of tomato products with high levels of mold or other defects, the case has raised serious questions about how well food manufacturers safeguard the quality of their ingredients.

Over the last 14 months, Mr. Watson and three other purchasing managers, at Frito-Lay, Safeway and B&G Foods, have pleaded guilty to taking bribes. Five people connected to one of the nation’s largest tomato processors, SK Foods, have also admitted taking part in the scheme

[Click to continue reading SK Foods at Center of Bribe Scheme to Sell Tainted Tomatoes – NYTimes.com]

The Big Tomato

Food corporations claim innocence, but I assume there was a lot of winkin’ and noddin’ going on, just no hard evidence.

  1. Grover Norquist, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and the rest of that group of thugs []

Fumare Meats – Metra Market

Fumare Meats - Metra Market
Fumare Meats – Metra Market, originally uploaded by swanksalot.

Finally made it over to the long-awaited Metra Market. Favorable impression, we’ll be returning

Dick McCracken left banking to pursue his love of good food and sharing his culinary finds with others. Fumare (‘smoke’ in Italian) brings traditionally cured and smoked meats from local producers to Chicago French Market. Items include locally made prosciutto, hams, smoked sausages, bacons and other delights. Menu highlights include an old-fashioned, Montreal-style smoked meat (think pastrami) cured and naturally smoked, peppered and slow-cooked to a well-marbled tenderness.

am actually pretty hungry right now, wish the French Metra Market was open

Reading Around on January 26th through January 27th

A few interesting links collected January 26th through January 27th:

  • Stop CBS From Airing Anti-Abortion Super Bowl Ad « Majority Speaks – Even as the trial continues for the murder of Dr. George Tiller, CBS is planning to air an anti-abortion ad during the Super Bowl game.

    Tell CBS that this is no time to feed the anger and hatred of anti-abortion extremists.

    CBS has a stated policy to reject all ads it deems controversial, including ads from MoveOn.org, PETA, and even the United Church of Christ, which dared to suggest that their church would model tolerance (“Jesus Didn’t Turn People Away. Neither Do We”).

    In fact, CBS execs told the United Church of Christ that CBS rejects any ad that “touches on and/or takes a position on one side of a current issue

  • Can Apple’s iPad Save the Media After All? | Epicenter | Wired.com – early reports indicate that device’s display is crisp, with rich colors. If that’s the case, it will make any well-designed, high-quality publication look good. In addition, magazine publishers can take advantage of the device’s ability to play video by embedding it into articles, and can update their publications with the latest news in real time…

    Condé Nast is preparing a number of iPad ezine subscriptions, including GQ, Wired and Vanity Fair, sources tell wired.com. In an interview before the iPad announcement one senior executive said that while the company it was still very enthusiastic about the iPhone platform — whose downloads already count towards ad-rate-setting circulation guarantees — but was poised to take full advantage of the iPad and was “eager to see what kind of additional functionality they have they baked in.”

    Read More http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/01/can-apples-ipad-save-the-media-after-all#ixzz0dr25Jr9C

  • 1.2 Million Pounds Of Cured Meat Recalled For Salmonella – The Consumerist – "1.2 million pounds of Daniele International salami, sausage, and other cured meat products have been yanked out of stores and recalled due to possible salmonella contamination. The meats are linked to 184 sick individuals in 38 states. At least 35 people have been hospitalized, but none have died."

    Pippy is (internet) famous, again!

Food Allergy False Positives

So the common test of determining food allergy has questionable results, why is it still being used then? I always suspect the profit motive – pediatricians need that second condo in Aspen too…


Grayson Grebe started getting eczema on his cheeks when he was just 4-weeks-old. At 6 months, he was diagnosed with allergies to wheat, dairy, eggs, nuts, oats, rice, barley, chicken, pork, corn and beans; his mother, who was breast-feeding him, had to stop eating them all. At 10 months, doctors cut out 20 more foods, including all fruits and vegetables, and put Grayson on a hypoallergenic formula. Even so, his eczema was so bad that his parents put him in mittens, long-sleeved shirts and long pants so no skin was exposed. “Otherwise, he’d scratch himself until he would bleed,” says his mother, Amy Grebe of Albuquerque, N.M.

At wit’s end, the Grebes took Grayson to National Jewish Health, a hospital in Denver that specializes in allergies and respiratory diseases. Doctors there suspected that his food allergies might not be causing the eczema—and that some might not be food allergies at all. After carefully supervised “food challenges”—giving him tiny amounts and monitoring him closely for signs of a reaction—a number of foods went back in his diet. “We came home with 12 foods he could eat,” says Amy Grebe. “It’s made so much difference in our lives.”

For parents of children with food allergies, this may be both welcome and unsettling news: Many kids whose allergies were diagnosed on the basis of blood or skin tests alone may not be truly allergic to those foods, experts say.

Blood tests measure the level of antibodies, called immunogloblin E (IgE), a body makes to a particular food. But having IgE antibodies doesn’t mean that a person will actually have an allergic symptom when he encounters it.

The only way to know for sure—short of encountering the food in real life—is with a food challenge test in a doctor’s office or hospital. But those can be time consuming, expensive and nerve wracking, especially for parents who have seen a child encounter an anaphylactic shock, a life-threatening reaction in which multiple organs quickly shut down.

[Click to continue reading When Is Your Kid’s Food Allergy Really a Food Allergy? – WSJ.com]
[non-WSJ subscribers use this link to read the whole article]

Big Pot of Smiley Faces

Not that doctors are being malicious, they just are erring on the side of caution, using tools that are notoriously imprecise, responding to worried parents.

“Are these blood tests being overused? Possibly. Misinterpreted? Absolutely,” says Robert Wood, director of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at Johns Hopkins Hospital, who is part of a task force writing guidelines for diagnosing and managing food allergies. “A lot of these kids truly have food allergies, just not to all the foods that they are being told they have allergies to.”

In some cases, the blood or skin tests reveal antibodies to a food that the child has already been eating without problems. It’s easy to dismiss those results. It’s harder to know what to make of IgE antibodies to foods a child hasn’t yet tried. Children with eczema, like Grayson Grebe, tend to have IgE antibodies to a large number of foods, and it can be difficult to sort out which really do pose problems.

Pippen in Meat Locker

Pippen in Meat Locker
Pippen in Meat Locker, originally uploaded by swanksalot.

every time I open the refrigerator, Pippen comes running. Usually he just flops in front of the door, this time he leaped up into the meat and cheese drawer. Nut-ball.

Lots of fun smells I suppose.



Reading Around on December 18th through December 23rd

A few interesting links collected December 18th through December 23rd:

Reading Around on December 15th through December 16th

A few interesting links collected December 15th through December 16th:

  • Local Taste Dept.: On Top of Spaghetti : The New Yorker – Cincinnati-style chili has little in common with the Texas variety except for the ardor of its fans. The core concoction consists of ground beef in a thin, tomato-based sauce that is tangy rather than spicy. (Chocolate is rumored to be a secret ingredient.) In the basic presentation, the chili is poured over slightly overcooked spaghetti and topped with shredded Cheddar cheese; this is known as a “three-way.” Adding onions or red beans makes it a four-way; adding onions and red beans turns it into a five-way. There is no such thing as a six-way, although oyster crackers are the customary garnish. Chili and cheese on a hot dog is called a Coney.Sounds gross to me
  • A Million Times – Louis Sullivan designed the facade of the building that was built by architect, William Presto (Presto!) in 1922. It was his last commission before his death and I just think it’s one of his prettiest. Clad in terra cotta (basically a baked clay) the excellent, intricate design frames the large retail window, bringing your eye to the goods being sold inside. Even though the building is smaller than the ones that surround it, the Krause store seems to stand taller and larger because of its awesome.
  • Superheroes Throughout History – This interesting collection of images by Indonesian artist Agan Harahap, titled “Super Hero”, features famous superheroes (and villains) inserted into iconic war photographs.

    Though it’s not “photography” per se, we found this set of images quite amusing.

Reading Around on December 11th through December 12th

A few interesting links collected December 11th through December 12th:

  • No Moods, Ads or Cutesy Fucking Icons (Re-reloaded) » Squidgate. Update. – I have three comments about the allegations therein. Firstly, the story claims that I was entering the US, not leaving it: this is empirically false. Secondly, I find it interesting that these guys characterise “pulling away” as “aggressive” behavior; I myself would regard it as a retreat. And thirdly, I did not “choke” anyone. I state this categorically. And having been told that cameras were in fact on site, I look forward to seeing the footage they provide.
  • Chicago Eats | Travel | Smithsonian Magazine – In 1951, author Nelson Algren wrote of Chicago streets “where the shadow of the tavern and the shadow of the church form a single dark and double-walled dead end.” Yet President Barack Obama’s hometown is also a city of hope. Visionaries, reformers, poets and writers, from Theodore Dreiser and Carl Sandburg to Richard Wright, Saul Bellow and Stuart Dybek, have found inspiration here, and Chicago has beckoned to an extraordinary range of peoples—German, Irish, Greek, Swedish, Chinese, Arab, Korean and East African, among many, many others. For each, food is a powerful vessel of shared traditions, a direct pipeline into the soul of a community. Choosing just a few to sample is an exercise in random discovery.

  • Butchers trimming pork bellies for bacon at Swift meat packing Packington Plant -1930

  • Earth’s Atmosphere May Have Alien Origin | Wired Science | Wired.com – krypton and xenon now present in the air — and many other atmospheric components as well — may be remnants of gas clouds swept up by the newly forming Earth. Or, they suggest, the gases may have been delivered to Earth by comets, in which the proportions of light isotopes for xenon and krypton are relatively higher.

Stilton Cheese and Stilton England

Strange byproduct of EU food rules: Stilton cheese is not really Stilton cheese, and probably will never be.

John Major is a Twat

STILTON, England — This small hamlet shares its name with a famous curd. But under European Union law, it’s illegal to make Stilton cheese in Stilton.

The bar on producing Stilton cheese here is a curious consequence of EU efforts to protect revered local foods by limiting the geographical area where they can be made.

The EU’s protected list of more than 800 foods and drinks includes famous names like Champagne and Parma as well as lesser-known delicacies such as Moutarde de Bourgogne, Munchener Bier and a Spanish chili pepper called Asado del Bierzo. It even covers Foin de Crau, a hay for animals from the fields of Bouches-du-Rhône in southern France.

But to the chagrin of locals, no cheese made here can be branded as Stilton. That’s because a group of outsiders, called the Stilton Cheesemakers Association, raised a formal stink.

The association, whose members have been making the cheese for more than a hundred years, in 1996 sought to protect the “Stilton” name by applying for a Product Designation of Origin from the EU. In its application, the group wrote that “the cheese became known as Stilton because it was at the Bell Inn in this village that the cheese was first sold to the public.” The 17th-century inn, which still stands in the main street, is the village’s oldest.

[Click to continue reading English Village Tries to Milk a Connection to Its Cheesy Past – WSJ.com]

Gotta love this detail:

One 18th-century notable who dropped by was Daniel Defoe, author of “Robinson Crusoe.” He wrote about the inn, and the cheese he enjoyed there, in a travelogue published in 1724. He remarked that the cheese, unfettered at the time by EU product rules, was known as the English Parmesan, and he offered a mouth-watering description of how it was consumed. The cheese, he wrote, “is brought to Table so full of Mites or Maggots that they use a Spoon to eat them.”

Reading Around on December 6th through December 7th

A few interesting links collected December 6th through December 7th:

  • “Do I have the right to refuse this search?” | Homeland Security Watch – TSA Terrorism Theater is a Joke, and not the 911 kind1 “Within the last few months, I have been singled out for “additional screening” roughly half the time I step into an airport security line. On Friday, October 9, as I stepped out of the full-body scanning device at BWI, I decided I needed more information to identify why it is that I have become such an appealing candidate for secondary screening.

    Little did I know this would be only the first of many questions I now have regarding my airport experiences.

    Over these last few months, I have grown increasingly frustrated with what I view as an unjustifiable intrusion on my privacy. It was not so much the search (then) as it was the embarrassment of being singled out, effectively being told “You are different,” but getting no explanation as to why.”

  • Mark the Spot: Tell AT&T where the iPhone sucks – Well now there is an electronic version of that crosswalk button for me to push whenever my signal degrades. This app, free in the App Store lets you pinpoint your location when the call was dropped. Expect a good constellation of points around my house
  • Oxford American – The Southern Magazine of Good Writing :: Ode to a Pecan Pie – The pecan pie has been on the Brigtsen’s menu for all twenty-three years of the restaurant’s history. It is evidence of Brigtsen’s broader philosophy.

    “I wanted it to be just that: a classic Southern dessert. I am not out to change the world with my food. I am not out to reinvent the wheel. I’m only here to make people happy. And whatever it takes to do that is my goal. I also believe that just because something is one hundred years old or twenty-three years old doesn’t mean it isn’t good anymore.”

  1. or the 9/11 kind []

Reading Around on October 21st through October 28th

A few interesting links collected October 21st through October 28th:

  • Eat More Black Pepper to Increase Your Food’s Nutritional Value [Health] – Black pepper is often thought of as a last minute ditch to save a flavorless dish, but it really plays a powerful role in your bodies ability to absorb nutrients from the foods you eat—even the healthy ones.The amount of nutrients your body consumes from a food is called bioavailability, which is always less than what your food truly contains.
  • They Eat Horses, Don’t They? : Horsemeat is a delicacy in many countries, but not America – CHOW – Eating horsemeat in America is perfectly legal, according to Steven Cohen of the USDA’s food safety and inspection service. If it seems wrong, that’s not the law—that’s, well, you. But bear in mind that the Japanese and many Europeans eat all kinds of horse: horse sashimi in Japan; horse tartare or steak in Belgium; pastissada, or horsemeat stew, in Italy’s Veneto. Fears of mad cow disease in recent years prompted a spike in horsemeat prices in Germany and Italy.If it seems wrong, that’s not the law—that’s, well, you.
  • Auto bailout: Steven Rattner on how the Obama team did it – Oct. 21, 2009 – We were shocked, even beyond our low expectations, by the poor state of both GM and Chrysler. Looking just at the condition of GM’s finances and Chrysler’s new-car pipeline, the case for a bailout was weak.…Everyone knew Detroit’s reputation for insular, slow-moving cultures. Even by that low standard, I was shocked by the stunningly poor management that we found, particularly at GM, where we encountered, among other things, perhaps the weakest finance operation any of us had ever seen in a major company.

Felony Franks

Felony Franks has finally opened [Joe M500 has a photo of the sign, here], and the national news media is noticing:

When James Andrews opened a hot-dog stand on this city’s rough West Side, he thought he was doing a community service by hiring ex-convicts. But some in the neighborhood think the name he chose — Felony Franks — is a crime.

An alderman [Robert Fioretti ]has refused Mr. Andrews permission to hang a new sign or build a drive-through lane. A pastor accused the restaurant owner, who is not an ex-convict, of “pimping out” the community. Members of a neighborhood association have vowed to stay away from Felony Franks until the name is changed and the décor — including paintings of cartoon hot dogs in prison stripes — is removed.

He spent more than $160,000 to refurbish a shuttered Polish-sausage stand on a busy corner in an area that’s a mix of new condos and stately old homes, subsidized housing and boarded-up storefronts. Mr. Andrews hired a dozen ex-cons to cook and serve frankfurters, sausages, steak sandwiches and french fries sliced from raw potatoes.

Customers enter a cramped space framed by cinder-block walls, with no tables or chairs. Near the entrance hangs a mock list of Miranda rights: “You have the right to remain hungry. Anything you order can and will be used to feed you here at Felony Franks.”

Servers standing behind bulletproof plastic — standard for stores in the neighborhood — ask customers, “Are you ready to plead your case?” Among other dishes, the menu lists the Misdemeanor Wiener and the Chain Gang Chili Dog. Side orders, such as fries, cole slaw and garlic bread, are dubbed “accomplices.” The restaurant’s slogan is, “Food so good it’s criminal.”

[Click to continue reading Slaw and Order: Hot-Dog Stand in Chicago Triggers a Frank Debate – WSJ.com]

In poor taste? Possibly, but seems like a pretty minor crime against humanity. Life is too short to become incensed over such silly details.

I’m with Kevin Jones, a Felony Franks employee:

Kevin Jones, 42, who works at Felony Franks, says he doesn’t feel exploited. “Working here allows me to provide for myself and my family,” says Mr. Jones, who says he used to sell crack and served two years’ probation for possession of a controlled substance. “I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 15 years and there’s gunfire every other day and you never hear anything about that, but all of a sudden there’s all this hoopla about a hot-dog stand?”

So You Think You Know Pasta

“Encyclopedia of Pasta (California Studies in Food and Culture)” (Oretta Zanini De Vita)

“I think of her as a kind of Julia Child,” said Mona Talbott, the executive chef at the American Academy in Rome and coordinator of its Rome Sustainable Food Project, founded by Alice Waters. “Julia Child demystified French food. Oretta demystifies pasta.”

Indeed, in its 300-odd pages, the “Encyclopedia of Pasta” ranges from abbotta pezziende, a short pasta that means “feed the beggar” in Abruzzo dialect, to the zumari of Puglia, a long pasta traditionally added to vegetable soups. In between there are the corzetti of Liguria and Piedmont, the little stamped-out coins; pi fasacc of Lombardy, which look like little babies in a papoose; avemarie, which cook for as long as it takes to say a Hail Mary; and several dozen variations on macaroni and ravioli. Each illustrated entry lists ingredients, provenance and how the pasta is traditionally served.

The range of shapes shows that cooking “was a way of self-expression for women to show their creativity and imagination with little or no resources,” Ms. Talbott said. She cited gnocchi ricci, or curly gnocchi, a specialty of Amatrice in Lazio, the city famous for spaghetti all’amatriciana, which are made by kneading together one dough made with flour and eggs, another made with flour, boiling water and salt.

The book also explodes a few myths. Do not think of mentioning the popular belief that Marco Polo had a role in the history of pasta. “Ma no,” she said in a jovial paroxysm of outrage. “When Marco Polo came back they had been eating pasta in Italy for 200 years!”

Instead, she notes in her encyclopedia, dried pasta made with durum wheat was found in Italy starting around A.D. 800. It was spread by the Muslim conquerors of Sicily, and by the 12th century the maritime republics of Genoa and Pisa marketed dried pasta.

“Documents exist to prove this, should there be anyone left — and it appears that there is — who still believes that Marco Polo introduced noodles into Italy in 1296 on his return to Venice from China,” she writes.

[Click to continue reading So You Think You Know Pasta – NYTimes.com]

If I didn’t know better, I’d think I had Italian DNA coursing through my body. Wine, pasta, espresso, poetry, what more could one want?