Thursday, December 18, 2008

Soda Tax


Miracle Tax Diet


I'm loving Nicholas Kristof lately. Gee-nius. The op/ed piece in the NYT linked to above is about a potential new tax on soda in New York proposed by Gov. Paterson. Some great take-aways from the article, which is short and I suggest you read in full:

In effect, the most promising cure for lung cancer [a tax on cigarettes] didn’t emerge from a medical research lab but from money-grubbing politicians. Likewise, the best cure for obesity may turn out to be not a pill but a tax...
Part of the solution must come from reforming agriculture so that we stop subsidizing corn that ends up as high fructose corn syrup inside soft drinks. Unfortunately, Mr. Obama on Wednesday chose Tom Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa who has longstanding ties to agribusiness interests, as agriculture secretary — his weakest selection so far.

The soft-drink industry will throw enormous resources into defeating the proposed New York tax on sugary drinks. We should stand behind Governor Paterson’s bold gesture. He is blazing a path that other states should follow.

Losing weight is never easy, but one of the most effective diets would start with a soft drink tax.

Obama Names Secretary Of Agriculture


Today, President-elect Barack Obama chose Tom Vilsack, former governor of Iowa, as his choice for Secretary of Agriculture and many in the progressive food community see it as a potential step backward in the fight against obesity, fossil fuel pollution (with increasing reliance on foreign oil) and regulation of big agribusiness. I heard Michael Pollan interviewed on NPR this morning giving his thoughts and one of the most notable things he said was the press conference to announce the new appointee included an intense discussion of the state of agriculture, subsidies and energy, but lacked any sort of true mention of 'eaters' or 'food'.

Pollan and Nicholas Kristof of the Times, having advocated and outreached to Obama in the last couple months, to implore him to change the name of the position from 'Secretary of Agriculture' to 'Secretary of Food' went clearly left unheard. Though Pollan is not completely down on the administration's choices in regard to food policy, his chagrin was notable and he places much of his reliance for 'change we can believe in' on a strong ethanol opponent recently appointed to the position of Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu. "The food system is responsible for about a third of greenhouse gases," Pollan told NPR's Renee Montagne.

"It is responsible for the catastrophic American diet that is leading 50 percent of us to suffer from chronic disease, and that drives up health care costs...It's the embrace of corn-based ethanol that has driven up all food prices," Pollan said. Vilsack, a proponent of ethanol, will hopefully find contention from Chu in this new administration. It seems clear that Obama (who seemingly had/has a real grasp on food issues) is not making quality, sustainability and health (and FOOD) as high priority as energy and business. As Pollan stated, it's hard not to see this choice as 'agribuisness as usual'.

Please refer to these links for some great articles/insights/information:
Vilsack Picked for Agricultural Secretary (NYT)
Michael Pollin on Vilsack, Agriculture --And Food (NPR)
Obama's 'Secretary of Food' (Great Op/Ed Piece in the NYT by Nicholas Kristof)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Paging Edward Said...

original found at: http://www.whoppervirgins.com

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sunday Dinner



When I lived in France, my host mom would rarely cook on Sundays, opting instead to just grab whatever was leftover from the fridge and cupboards and sort of throw it all out on the table for people to gather 'round and munch, picnic-style. I love this idea.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Are these your groceries?


Found: Metropolitan Stop on the G Line, approx. 8PM Monday evening.
Contents: Pumpkin Slices, Crumbled Goat Cheese, another crappy cheese, Stilton!, Vanilla Light Eden Soy Milk, Plastic Wrap, Cinnamon, Brown Rice Rice Cakes.

What can be deduced?

Monday, December 1, 2008

1 in 3

1 in 3 American children are obese.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Quarter Pounder Restaurant


See here.

Last Night, She Said...


Last night for dinner I went to Casa Mono on Irving and 17th. What a place. I had pumpkin and goat cheese croquetas, roasted piquillo peppers stuffed with oxtails and, the kicker, goat confit with saffron honey. Amazing. Ah, New York on a Monday night...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

From Advertising Age:

NIH: Banning Fast Food Ads Will Make Kids Less Fat

Research Also Suggests Benefits From Eliminating Tax Breaks

CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- A ban on fast-food advertising to children would cut the national obesity rate by as much as 18%, according to a new study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research and funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The study measured the number of fast-food ads kids watched and found a fast-food TV-ad ban for children's programming would reduce the number of overweight children aged 3 to 11 by 18%, and for adolescents (12- to 18-year-olds) by 14%. Data also revealed a more pronounced effect on males than females.

Extensive data
The National Bureau of Economic Research describes the study as "the largest of its kind to directly tie childhood obesity to fast-food advertising on American television," based on viewing habits of 13,000 children, using data from U.S. Department of Labor research carried out in 1979 and 1997. The study also reports that eliminating tax deductions associated with TV advertising would result in a reduction of childhood obesity, though in smaller numbers.

"We have known for some time that childhood obesity has gripped our culture, but little empirical research has been done that identifies television advertising as a possible cause," Shin-Yi Chou of Lehigh University, one of the study's authors, said in a statement. "Hopefully, this line of research can lead to a serious discussion about the type of policies that can curb America's obesity epidemic."

The other authors of the study, which appears in The Journal of Law and Economics this month, were Inas Rashad of Georgia State University and Michael Grossman of City University of New York Graduate Center. It's important to note that even the study's authors question the practicality of so much governmental interference in advertising.

"What it all comes down to is the choices parents make for their kids," said Ellen Davis, a spokeswoman for the National Council of Chain Restaurants, which represents the industry. "Parents choose what their children eat and where their children eat. We all know that children have strong opinions, but parents make the choices."

Cause and effect
Amandine Garde, a law lecturer at the University of Exeter who focuses on legal issues surrounding ad bans, said the biggest hurdle to instituting limitations on messaging to children has been proving the relationship between ads and weight. "Now we're seeing the issue being addressed, the causal relationship, which was denied by the food industry for many, many years," she said. "If you have a causal relationship, it makes the case even stronger that there is a need for regulation."

Sweden and Norway instituted bans on all ads to children in the early 1990s, but the legislation sought to avoid exploitation rather than prevent obesity. Quebec has banned food advertising to children during programs geared toward kids, and the Canadian province has shown lower childhood obesity rates than surrounding areas, although there may be a variety of contributing factors.

Voluntary efforts under way
The industry, of course, has been taking steps on its own, hoping to avoid a ban. Major food-industry players, including McDonald's, Burger King, Kraft and Kellogg, have signed on to the Council of Better Business Bureaus' Childrens' Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative. As part of the voluntary program, participants have agreed to devote 50% of advertising dollars geared at children under 12 to messages that promote healthier dietary choices or more-active lifestyles. Healthful-product messages must be consistent with USDA and FDA standards.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

atrophy


There is certainly atrophy of more than just body parts. Ideas, feelings you thought were going to be there til you die often wither questionably. Who knows exactly why or how to piece together a deconstructed view of their demise, but one day they are just a glob of deflated nothingness hanging in your conscience or sub-conscience. I hate cliches, but chips on shoulders are like atrophied body parts; of course you fear the amputation, but isn't it, in the end, better than dragging it around, hoping that some sort of new science or technology will one day revive it? Do we always return to Shelley? And what of phantom limbs, phantom chips? The chip can go away but its phantom will rest on your shoulder, no? Sometimes heavy, sometimes light. Where do these feelings go, in an existential sense....for that matter, where does an amputated limb end up, ultimately? Does it get literally thrown in the trash to decay, or does it get buried? If you had to have a limb amputated, what would you want done with it? Burying part of yourself, knowing that one day the rest will follow. But could it have been saved if we were only a more advanced species? In years to come, could we have dealt with the limb, these chips, these feelings? Atrophy can be caused by a lack of nourishment, disuse, lack of movement or exercise.
"Body Integrity Identity Disorder is a psychological condition in which an individual feels compelled to remove one or more of their body parts, usually a limb. In some cases, that individual may take drastic measures to remove the offending appendages, either by causing irreparable damage to the limb so that medical intervention cannot save the limb, or by causing the limb to be severed." -from Wikipedia. See also: amputee fetishism (acrotomophilia).

Beirut - Nantes
Well it's been a long time, long time now
since I've seen you smile.
And I'll gamble away my fright.
And I'll gamble away my time.
And in a year, a year or so
this will slip into the sea
Well, it's been a long time, long time now
since I've seen you smile

Nobody raise your voices
Just another night in Nantes
Nobody raise your voices
Just another night in Nantes

We saw...
French interlude/ Parlé en français (Extrait de "Le Mépris"/Godard):
Woman _ Ah non, j't'en prie. Mais ço(ça), ça me facine...
Man _ Je t'assure que...
Woman _ Non! Laisse-moi!
Man _ Qu'est-ce que tu as aujourd'hui?
Woman _ J'ai que les hommes me dégoûtent.
Vous pensez qu'à ça de toute façon.

Well it's been a long time, long time now
since I've seen you smile.
And I'll gamble away my fright.
And I'll gamble away my time.
And in a year, a year or so
this will slip into the sea
Well, it's been a long time, long time now
since I've seen you smile

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hard Times, Dickens Style

Things are bad at my job. I don't want to say many details, but bearing witness to this financial meltdown, sitting a stone's throw from Wall Street everyday and having my dad email me to tell me to look up while I'm walking (in case people are jumping from buildings), has all been pretty unnerving. I just sent my co-workers an email with my personal email and phone number just in case it's me or them that gets the axe next. Layoffs are imminent, we've been told.

From my seat, it's sort of fine and actually interesting to witness. I have plans to attend grad school, this isn't my career, I don't have kids, I will make it work. Somehow. For my dear friends here at work, who have many just recently graduated from their master's programs at Yale, MIT, Harvard, Berkley...it's bleak! Imagine completing years of school to be thrown into a job market that was at first booming and so suddenly crashing. We have lost most of our projects, our big names are holding back--who builds buildings during a depression? FDR, and that's about it, which is why our publicly funded project is one of the only ones hanging on.

In literally two months, our situation has become dire. The entire company has changed and will change even more very soon. If there is any field, besides something directly correlated to finance, that this crisis has impacted, it's design and architecture. New buildings are a luxury, architects are expensive and times are tough--naturally, it's one of the first things a company will 'put on hold'. The process of design is also so lengthy, there are so many opportunities before any building even begins to shut down the project. It's hard to get buildings built, actually built. Especially innovative and beautiful, cool ones. Especially in a recession/depression.

My my my. My my.

Regarding the bailout, have we seen any truly positive impacts thus far? Companies are still faltering every. single. day. People are losing their jobs like crazy, especially in New York. A job fair sponsored by Monster.com today had a line stretching an entire avenue and around the block. It's rough. The bailout seems to have completely overlooked a greater problem of capitalism and simple MATH. Will more regulation fix these problems? How could so many institutions be hanging on by such a small margin? It's like they had MY bank account for Christ's sake...any major expense or problem and I'm wiped out. How did we come to this?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Skinny Love


Skinny Love by Bon Iver is probably my favorite song du cette moment:

Come on skinny love just last the year
Pour a little salt we were never here
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Staring at the sink of blood and crushed veneer

I tell my love to wreck it all
Cut out all the ropes and let me fall
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Right in the moment this order's tall

I told you to be patient
I told you to be fine
I told you to be balanced
I told you to be kind
In the morning I'll be with yo
But it will be a different "kind"
I'll be holding all the tickets
And you'll be owning all the fines

Come on skinny love what happened here
Suckle on the hope in lite brassiere
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Sullen load is full; so slow on the split

I told you to be patient
I told you to be fine
I told you to be balanced
I told you to be kind
Now all your love is wasted?
Then who the hell was I
Now I'm breaking at the britches
And at the end of all your lines

Who will love you?
Who will fight?
Who will fall far behind?

Nutrition can be a form of anorexia, no? Nutritionarexia could definitely be something; becoming obsessed with nutritional content in order to monitor and dictate your every calorie/vitamin/molecule intake. I can see it becoming an obsession, an excuse, just like any other eating disorder it has the potential to take over your every thought when buying, cooking, ordering and eating food.

Sometimes I have this weird tendency to buy a bag of chips or something bad for me and toss it out right after I buy it without taking a bite. It's like this mind trick I use to appease the devilish part of me that wants something that I know is bad for me. It completely suffices too! Once I purchase, hold and then quickly purge into the trash the item in question, I am totally satisfied as if I had eaten the whole bag. In fact, it's probably more satisfying for me, as I know that I didn't eat a big ball of junk. I would rather go through this motion and waste a few dollars (cause let's face it, bad food is usually really cheap) than actually eating it. But would advocating this type of psychological trick that works for me be a bad idea? Is it okay to tell people to try these tactics that waste money and, honestly, don't really solve the deeper issue at hand? Is there a deeper issue? Is there always a deeper issue? What if it works? Shouldn't we go to any length to avoid eating this bullshit ever? I can equate it to being mad at someone, writing them a bitchyass letter and then tossing it in the garbage. (Okay, who does that seriously, but ... I've heard it works.)

Could love be like this too? You feel this insatiable urge to purchase it and then, for some, to toss it out as immediately as you bought it. Buyers remorse of love. You become disgusted by it, reject it. It's gross.

To ponder for the week ahead: how is love like food? I'll write more about this soon.

Friday, November 7, 2008

It's like this.


  • Margot Helen Tenenbaum - A playwrighting prodigy, Margot once ran away from home for two weeks and came back with half of one of her fingers missing. She is shown moping in her bathtub, watching television, ignoring her husband. She smokes, unbeknownst to anyone else in her family as she is infamously secretive. She is also adopted, as Royal is quick to point out. Margot is not only a playwright, but also a book critic; she wrote a negative review of Eli Cash's latest book despite the fact that she and Eli are lovers.
  • Richie Tenenbaum - A tennis prodigy, Richie is secretly in love with his adopted sister, Margot. While successful in his tennis career, Richie has a nervous breakdown on court in front of thousands of fans (the film implies his breakdown was because Margot and Raleigh were married the day before) and loses his desire to play tennis soon after. At the beginning of the film, he has been living on an ocean liner for several months. He drinks Bloody Marys with pepper throughout the movie, so much so that he carries a capped pepper shaker in his jacket pocket. The character of Richie is loosely based on former champion tennis player Bjorn Borg. Borg shocked the tennis world by retiring at age 26 and wore the same style headband and trademark Fila polo as Richie and was rumored to have attempted suicide in the years after his exit from the game.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

This is great. From the NYT:

Finally, a Thin President

Published: November 5, 2008

OVER the coming days and weeks, there will be many “I never thought I’d see the day” pieces, but none of them will be more overflowing with “I never thought I’d see the day”-ness than this one. I’m black, you see, and I haven’t gained a pound since college. I skip breakfast most days, have maybe half a sandwich for lunch, and sometimes I forget to eat dinner. Just slips my mind. Yesterday morning, I woke up to a new world. America had elected a Skinny Black Guy president.

I never thought I’d see the day. What were the chances that someone who looked like me would come to lead the most powerful nation on earth? Slim.

Skinny Black Guys of my parents’ generation pinned their hopes on Sammy Davis Jr. His was a big-tent candidacy, rallying Skinny Black Guys, the Rat Pack and the Jewish vote in one crooning, light-footed package. He won South Carolina, but he never gathered momentum. In the end, the Candy Man couldn’t.

No one stepped up for a long time. Michael Jackson was black and skinny, but also pretty weird, and after a while he wasn’t even black any more, although he did retain his beanpole silhouette. We thought we had a winner in Chris Rock, but then he started in with his infamous “There are Russians, and then there are ... Georgians” routine and we decided he was too raw for the national stage. So we waited. Some lost faith. Others gorged themselves on protein shakes, believing that America might accept a black mesomorph. And some of us kept hoping. We were hungry for change, if not brunch.

Like many Americans, I first saw Barack Obama at the 2004 Democratic convention. I remember telling my wife excitedly, “This guy is probably stuffed after a cup of minestrone!”

We knew it’d be an uphill battle. America has a long, troubled history. Last summer, The Wall Street Journal came out and said what all Americans felt, but were too afraid to say aloud: “In a nation in which 66 percent of the voting-age population is overweight and 32 percent is obese, could Senator Obama’s skinniness be a liability? Despite his visits to waffle houses, ice-cream parlors and greasy-spoon diners around the country, his slim physique just might have some Americans wondering whether he is truly like them.” Had he bitten off more than he could chew?

I voted for Mr. Obama, but don’t give me that “you’re racist” line. Skinny Black Guys vote Democratic 90 percent of the time, through thin and thin. Now our day has come.

On the right, there’s been much anxiety over what a Skinny Black Guy administration will look like. Will he paint the White House a warm, Cablinasian caramel, lop off the East Wing for a more svelte profile? Pack his cabinet with Garrett Morris, Dave Chappelle and Jimmie Walker? Such talk is ridiculous, although Mr. Obama doesn’t hide the fact that he keeps Urkel on speed-dial “because you never know.” I’m confident he’ll reach across the aisle to Skinny White Guys, Haven’t Been Able to Get to the Gym White Guys, and If They Were Women They’d Be Called Zaftig White Guys.

He is going to raise taxes on the middle class, though. They were right about that. Skinny Black Guys hate the middle class. No reason. Just do.

What else can we expect from a Skinny Black Guy White House? (I never thought I’d live to write those words!) We’ll turn the corner, or close the menu, as we like to say, on the war on terrorism. The time may come to sit down at the (under-catered) table with the Taliban. The president-elect has a lot in common with these guys. No, not that. It’s hard to get good takeout in the caves of Tora Bora, so you know they’re pretty lean by now. Nothing breaks the ice like, “Is that my stomach growling, or yours?”

There’s a lot of work to be done to get America back on track. There won’t be time for full meals, just light snacking. No problem. With the economy tanking, we’ll to have to tighten our belts. Again, no prob. When Skinny Black Guys say, “I’ll just have the Cobb salad,” it’s not a calorie thing. We’re cheap. It’ll come in handy when cutting the fat out of the budget in time for beach season.

A lot of bigots woke up yesterday to the reality of our modern world. To them I say, just because you have a high metabolism, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a fierce moral vision and the right ideas to fix this country. It just means that you don’t gain weight easily.

Somewhere, the Candy Man is smiling.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It is often said, that, next to great joy, no state of mind is more frolicsome as great distress. -James

I ride the subway many days with the same people. There's a couple I watch scrutinizingly--they have been my hope for true love, in fact. I started to see them in the midst of the commencement of their courtship: awkward Brooklynistas, not quite hipster/not quite professional, obviously moved to 'the city' from somewhere like Missouri or Minnesota. So much left to be discovered, they are roughly my young age (25) with only a partially existential view of what it means to live and love (it is assumed that with age we gain wisdom but perhaps we only grow less naive... a friend recently told me that "[we] gain a kind of more subtantial naivete in the form of hope and care when begin to grow older"). In any case, there was timidity coupled with promise in their eyes. Though are we all jaded, even at 25, are we all rough around the edges? It seems that conviction comes on stronger than ever when you're young and in a new city, so much so that it can be almost blinding -- not quite ego, but not quite explicated thoughts formulated in meticulous detail. These two, I concocted in my early-morning-pre-coffee-loathe-to-go-to-work brain, were less challenging, however. Less convicted than most; that they had come together over their mutual simplicity, in a sense, their ability to disconnect from reality while simultaneously attempting to gain ground in life experience by schlepping through Brooklyn ,working in the city, utilizing public transit (doing the things that we are told will make us interesting when we're older and when we've naturally returned 'home' to 'settle')... in any case, they looked happy. They were cute. They were cute and they looked happy. Neither of them had any striking aesthetic offerings or distinct style--they were sort of cut out of Hipster Granola Journal, thick framed glasses and the like. She wears skirts with boots, but not interesting boots. Just round-toed dark brown boots. I didn't see them every day, only maybe once a week or every two weeks and always, ALWAYS down the train at least half a car--though when I did see them we were in the same car so that I could oh so perfectly observe them. Everyone I know in New York makes stories up about people they ride with on the subway. I pull this Sophie Calle style of voyeurism (or at least I equate it as such to justify it so) I guess not just on the subway, but even in so far as watching people through their windows, making up stories about people in stores and bodegas I frequent, my neighbors, etc. It's the result of a city where everyone is literally on top of each other and you become very close with an intensely small percent of this population. I fall in love on the subway at least once a month, solely in my mind. It becomes elaborate, especially when you're seeing the same people over lengths of time.
So after six months or so of seeing them, I got to the point where I would start looking for an engagement ring on this girls finger--I knew it would have to be coming soon. They were straight smitten, he was probably half a foot taller and, as they grabbed on to the subway handles, she would gaze up into his eyes and they would laugh. They would rarely read or listen to music, preferring each other's company and conversation. They must have seen me gawking at them, but paid no mind. They didn't seem to be showing off their love, but they also weren't hiding it. This is not to say that I am wont for the type of relationship they had. I find myself a bit more, well, raucous or intense in general, less passive, but they were doing it day in and day out, being together in a city and a circumstance that presents challenges and obligations of diversion on a daily basis. They rode together.
You can imagine my unbridled, though downright nervous, excitement when I haphazardly pulled up next to them (right next to them) in our usual car on the G train. And then my stifling suffocating sadness when I heard this conversation soon ensue:
Him: So.... anything new with you and that...duuude?
Her: No, god, shut up.
{They both laugh.}
Him: Sorry! I was just asking. Are there any prospects out there for you?
Her: No.. I don't know. Stop!

It went on like this and I, due to loss of breath, had to sort of retreat. I had my James' New York Stories with me and fell into one at this passage about a man who had recently become un-engaged to a most beautiful woman as narrated from the viewpoint of a good friend:

He turned away and, in the dark empty street, he leaned his arm on the iron railing that guarded a flight of steps, and dropped his head upon it. I left him standing so a few moments--I could just hear his sobs. Then I passed my arm into his own and walked home with him Before I left him, he had recovered his outward composure.
After this, so far as one could see, he kept it uninterruptedly. I saw him the next day, and for several days afterward. He looked like a man who had a heavy blow, and who had yet not been absolutely stunned. He neither raved or lamented, nor descanted upon his writing. He seemed to be trying to shuffle it away, to resume his old occupations, and to appeal to the good offices of the arch-healer, Time. He looked very ill--pale, preoccupied, heavy-eyed, but this was an inevitable tribute to his deep disappointment. He gave me no particular opportunity to make consoling speeches, and not being eloquent, I was more inclined to take one by force. Moral and sentimental platitudes always seemed to me particularly flat upon my own lips, and, addressed to Crawford, they would have been fatally so. Nevertheless, I once told him with some warmth, that he was giving signal proof of being a philosopher. He knew that people always end by getting over things, and he was showing himself able to traverse with a stride a great moral waste. He made no rejoinder at the moment, but an hour later, as we were separating, he told me, with some formalism, that he could not take credit for virtues he had not.
"I am not a philosopher," he said; "on the contrary. And I am not getting over it."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Paying for gyms for obese children

From Yahoo News:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081001/od_nm/us_korea_obesity

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea plans to help obese children pay for health club membership and other activities that can help them lose weight, an official said on Wednesday.

Health ministry official Chun Myung-sook said the rate of childhood obesity had tripled over the past three years due to a changing diet higher in fatty foods and a more sedentary lifestyle.

Under the government plan, elementary school students whose body mass index indicates obesity will be able to receive up to 40,000 won ($33.58) a month to help them bring their weight down.

"Kids won't be able to waste the money on eating sweets. We will give them electronic vouchers that can only be used in designated places," Chun said.

Costs to the government and the economy related to childhood obesity were 2 trillion won in 2006, the ministry said, making the voucher program cost effective.

(Reporting by Kim Junghyun and Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need. -Marx

People tend to ask me often, and rightly so, how I managed to find nutrition from philosophy--two disciplines that seem so unrelated that most people wouldn't even consider them potential bastard cousins. One is steeped in the humanities, the other in empirical data and science. When I was in undergrad, I read a lot of philosophy, including some political/social theory by Marx which had a resounding influence in my life, especially his Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, specifically his alienation theory.

Simply put, Marx's theory explicates the idea that the Industrial Revolution, through the advent of mass production and mass commodification, has made us more alienated from each other as human beings. To paraphrase, Marx says that one of our greatest attributes as human beings is the ability to create, to be creative, to make (and in fact this is what sets us apart from animals) and to be able to share those creations with one another. The idea of mass production not only negates the ability to exercise our minds through creativity (a worker on an assembly line is simply going through the motions that someone else has told him/her to do), but it also extracts this relationship of creator to recipient of the creation. Taking away these enormously important human traits makes us unable to self-realize. When you subtract this formerly very interactive, rich, meaningful exchange, everything becomes simply commodity from unknown to unknown. It all loses so much meaning. To have so much means to value everything a bit less as well.

There are more facets and stronger philosophical implications to this theory that I also draw from frequently, but for our purposes this might work (please ask if you are confused).

Suffice to say, I became fascinated with food in France. This is such a truncated version of a story, but it's a blog and I know people do not care to read forever.

I connected the idea of alienation with this new food movement--mass production, unrecognizable ingredients, 30,000 new products a year hitting the market, of course coupled with fierce marketing campaigns; You begin to see this lack of connection between farm and plate, between creator of product or food itself and consumer of it. You also begin to see a real lack of human connection with food, where it used to be. You're probably starting to get the idea.

Well, reading Michael Pollin's new book, In Defense of Food, the other day I found he summed it up incredibly well when he was advocating shopping at farmer's markets as opposed to grocery stores (pp. 159-161):
"If you're concerned about chemicals in your produce, you can simply ask the farmer at the market how he or she deals with pests and fertility and begin the sort of conversation between producers and consumers that, in the end, is the best guarantee of quality in your food. So many of the problems of the industrial food chain stem from its length and complexity. A wall of ignorance intervenes between consumers and producers, and that wall fosters a certain carelessness on both sides. Farmers can lose sight of the fact that they're growing food for actual eaters rather than for middlemen, and consumers can easily forget that growing good food takes care and hard work. In a long food chain, the story and identity of the food (Who grew it? Where and how was it grown?) disappear into the undifferentiated stream of commodities, so that the only information communicated between consumers and producers is price. In a short food chain, eaters can make their needs and desires known to the farmer, and farmers can impress on eaters the distinctions between ordinary and exceptional food, and the many reasons why exceptional food is worth what it costs. Food reclaims its story, and some of its nobility, when the person who grew it hands it to you. So here's a subclause to the get-out-of-the-supermarket rule: Shake the hand that feeds you...
...Regulation is an imperfect substitute for the accountability, and trust, built into a market in which food producers meet the gaze of eaters and vice versa."

Philosophy has a place in nutrition and now it is time for me to learn the science. To be a comprehensive researcher and writer, both disciplines will come into play, ideally. I want to take this idea that Pollin puts into motion here, even further. Nutrition is becoming part science, part philosophy.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Let's Catch Up Over Soup

We are truly on the verge of a revolution in diet in this country--solid, lasting change will persevere. As Americans we have been on a fast track toward wrecking our bodies as a species constantly barraged by mixed messages, inundated with mass media and advertising, and bombarded by 30,000 new products introduced into the food market a year. It is natural that our understanding has been skewed. But when a book about the history of four meals and a synopsis of modern agribusiness can become a bestseller, it says to me that people are paying attention to the inextricable link between diet and health. Well, diet and mortality for that matter. Even more importantly, we are awakening (some say re-awakening) to the idea that our food choices are linked, in some good ways and some bad, to our environment and also to each other. We're not only seeing wont for delicious, nutritious organic foods, but also for sitting down, slowing down, enjoying foods, savoring them, getting back to simplicity in cooking and flavor, creating a symbiotic relationship with our environs and using the dinner table to fortify relationships.

It feels like such a good time to be going into nutrition.Change is afoot. Look at all the resources I've found so recently posted on the internet. The NYT Magazine's last issue was devoted entirely to food--just a month before election day, one of the nation's most influential newspapers decided that this was a major issue for the American voter. Here are some great articles I found from it:

Please check out this particularly apt article in the New York Times by Michael Pollin, whose latest book, In Defense of Food, I am currently reading. The article is great for a couple reasons, mostly because it sort of summarizes the great points of the book I am reading, but also because I feel like Pollin really emphasizes the idea that a large part of each of our carbon footprints is from agribusiness and, quite simply, the food we eat. It is so easy to forget this when we're toting our canvas bags to Trader Joe's, but in actuality, when you drop that papaya in your basket, you're paying for something that was flown across the globe using gallons of fuel and causing detrimental impacts to our globe. Pollin takes this encompassing look that is intensely admirable--he always incorporates sustainability information and global impacts into his work while at the same time not losing nutrition or the savory, wonderfulness that is EATING and food.

Check out this article for how indicative what we put in our mouths is in regard to our choice for presidential candidate. Something I've explored before.

Here's an article on Obama and McCain and where they stand on Farm and Food Policy. You will not be too surprised by what you find out, most notably that neither of them are taking any strong stances or moves in any direction. Food will be a major political issue in the next four to eight years in this country, but is unfortunately currently being back-burnered for more pressing issues.

Finally, I want to say a little bit about eating seasonally. Many people emphasize eating seasonally because it is simply going to be fresher, taste better and naturally encourage locavorianism. But I also genuninely believe that it puts one in a relationship with the environment that is has been something we've lacked since the beginning of exploration and trade. It's clear that we'll never be in a spot to simply munch what we are able to hunt or gather again (though there are interesting studies on aboriginal cultures in this aspect), we can try to achieve some sort of spiritual connection to our ravaged Earth, even as city dwellers! Isn't eating seasonally (and locally) one of the simplest ways to do so? Doesn't making pumpkin soup around Halloween sound just delicious? Why not carry it a little farther. Here are some easy resources I found for finding out what is good to eat in your location during any particular season:
I still have some questions about stuff... like, are grains seasonal? What about fish and seafood? I'll try to explore this when I have a bit more time, but this is at least a start. I think autumn is the most amazing time to think about foods and start trying new recipes.

!!!!!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Even the Strongest Will One Day Fall

From the NYT:

Fast Food Hits Mediterranean; a Diet Succumbs

KASTELI, Greece — Dr. Michalis Stagourakis has seen a transformation of his pediatric practice here over the past three years. The usual sniffles and stomachaches of childhood are now interspersed with far more serious conditions: diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol. A changing diet, he says, has produced an epidemic of obesity and related maladies.

Small towns like this one in western Crete, considered the birthplace of the famously healthful Mediterranean diet — emphasizing olive oil, fresh produce and fish — are now overflowing with chocolate shops, pizza places, ice cream parlors, soda machines and fast-food joints.

The fact is that the Mediterranean diet, which has been associated with longer life spans and lower rates of heart disease and cancer, is in retreat in its home region. Today it is more likely to be found in the upscale restaurants of London and New York than among the young generation in places like Greece, where two-thirds of children are now overweight and the health effects are mounting, health officials say.

“This is a place where you’d see people who lived to 100, where people were all fit and trim,” Dr. Stagourakis said. “Now you see kids whose longevity is less than their parents’. That’s really scaring people.”

That concern has been echoed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, which said in a report this summer that the region’s diet had “decayed into a moribund state.”

“It is almost a perfect diet, but when we looked at what people were eating we noticed that much of the highly praised diet didn’t exist any more,” said the report’s author, Josef Schmidhuber, a senior economist at the food organization. “It has become just a notion.”

Greece, Italy, Spain and Morocco have even asked Unesco to designate the diet as an “intangible piece of cultural heritage,” a testament to its essential value as well as its potential extinction.

The most serious effects of its steady disappearance are on people’s health and waistlines. Alarmed by the trends, the Greek government has been swooping into schools in villages like Kasteli annually for the past few years to weigh children and lecture them on nutrition. The lessons include a food pyramid focused on the Mediterranean diet.

It is an uphill battle, though. This spring, a majority of children who were tested at the elementary school of this sleepy port town of 3,000, also known as Kissamos, were found to have high cholesterol. “It was the talk of the school,” said Stella Kazazakou, 44. “Instead of grades, the moms were comparing cholesterol levels.”

In Greece, three-quarters of the adult population is overweight or obese, the worst rate in Europe “by far,” according to the United Nations. The rates of overweight 12-year-old boys rose more than 200 percent from 1982 to 2002 and have been rising even faster since.

Italy and Spain are not far behind, with more than 50 percent of adults overweight. That compares with about 45 percent in France and the Netherlands.

In the United States, 66 percent of adults older than 20 were overweight in 2004, and 31.9 percent of children 2 through 19 were overweight in 2006, although childhood statistics are compiled somewhat differently in different countries.

In Greece, the increase in the number of fat children has been particularly striking, parents and doctors say.

“Their diet is totally different than ours was,” said Soula Sfakianakis, 40, recalling breakfasts of goat milk, bread and honey. Her son, Vassilis, a husky 9-year-old who had a chocolate mustache from a recently conquered ice cream cone, said he preferred cornflakes in the morning and steak or macaroni and cheese for dinner.

Dr. Antonia Trichopoulou, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Athens Medical School, said the problem had grown acute with the spread of supermarkets and, especially, convenience foods.

“In the last five years it’s become really bad,” she said. “The children are all quite heavy. The market is pushing a lot, and parents and schools seem unable to resist.”

Advertising geared toward children has invaded Greece full force, stretching into the countryside. On television there are commercials for chips; at supermarkets there are stands of candy. Last year, Coca-Cola sponsored a play about healthful eating.

But facing both aggressive convenience food marketing and obesity for the first time, many rural residents here have little resistance to or knowledge of the dangers.

Dr. Trichopoulou said that some older people might have been tolerant of childhood chubbiness because Greece had for so long been a poor nation where hunger was a recurrent problem.

Outside one of Kasteli’s several ice cream parlors, Argyro Koromylla said, “You don’t want your child complaining or feeling left out, so you give him what he wants.” Her son Manolis, 12, was finishing a cone, a large T-shirt draped over his stocky frame.

Dimitris Loukakis, 44, said he was so concerned about changing eating habits that he had bought a farm to grow traditional crops himself. Sitting at an outdoor cafe by the beach, he and his wife drank iced coffee while their chunky 9-year-old daughter, Maria, nibbled on spinach pie and glumly drank water.

“I’m on a diet; I have to eat less,” Maria piped up, noting that the local school had recently started to teach students about nutrition.

“Some diet,” interjected her father. “We’re trying to keep her off sugar now. If we continue like this, we’re going to become like Americans, and no one wants that.”

The traditional diet, low in saturated fats and high in nutrients like flavonoids, was based on vegetables, fruit, unrefined grains, olive oil for cooking and for flavoring, and a bit of wine — all consumed on a daily basis.

Fish, nuts, poultry, eggs, cheese and sweets were weekly additions. Red meat, refined sugar or flour, butter and other oils or fats were consumed rarely, if at all.

Research on the diet took off in the 1990s, as scientists noted that people in Mediterranean countries lived longer and had low rates of serious disease despite a penchant for patently unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking. But that protection is now seen as rapidly eroding.

A generation ago, the typical diet in all Mediterranean countries complied with nutritional recommendations by the World Health Organization that less than 10 percent of calories come from saturated fats and that less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol be consumed per day.

Today, the typical diet in all of the countries exceeds those limits significantly, Dr. Schmidhuber said. In Greece, average daily cholesterol consumption has risen to 400 milligrams from 190 in 1963. Germany’s is similar. In Portugal, consumption went to 460 milligrams from 155.

In 2002, a British study found that 31 percent to 34 percent of 12-year-olds in Greece were overweight — a 212 percent increase since 1982 — and “it has gotten worse, much worse, since then,” Dr. Stagourakis said. One-quarter of all children on Crete have cholesterol problems, he said, and seeing children with diabetes and high blood pressure is no longer uncommon.

Unlike in the United States, where obesity is more pronounced in adults than in children, in the Mediterranean region the rise in weight problems has been more common among the young. Parents’ taste buds still tend to hew to a more traditional diet.

A survey by the World Health Organization last year of statistics from various countries found that among children in the first half of primary school, 35.2 percent in Spain were overweight — the worst rate — and 31.5 percent in Portugal. The lowest rates were in Slovakia (15.2 percent), France (18.1 percent) and Switzerland (18.3 percent). Greece was not included.

Being overweight, particularly being obese, is associated with a wide variety of medical problems, like diabetes and liver disease. While heavy children may not suffer immediate health effects, they are statistically far more likely to grow into obese adults than their trimmer classmates. And in adulthood the conditions can be lethal.

On traditional Crete, there was no need for calorie counting or food pyramids. People were poorer then, so their food was mostly homegrown, and producing it required more physical activity.

“We ate what we grew and what we could make from it,” said Eleni Klouvidaki, 46, who lives in Kalidonia, a mountain village outside Kasteli, and describes her preferred diet as “whatever’s green.” On a recent day she prepared a meal of her staple mix of zucchini, tomatoes and other vegetables, and tossed it all in homemade olive oil. Now and again, she augments this dish with beans, or meat from her chickens or rabbits.

But she said that as more women worked and shops had moved in, the food culture had changed. “We’ve entered an era of convenience,” she said. “Even in this rural village, the diet is very different than it used to be.”

She, too, occasionally grabs dinner in town, and four nights a week her son, who works in a car repair shop, drives to a fast-food restaurant. “They don’t deliver here yet,” she explained.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Slim Fast Sister

Thanks, Meredith, for showing this to me. Popular Diets Throughout the Years including:
The Liquid Diet
The "Skinny Bitch" Diet
The Ice Cream Diet
The Ayds Plan
The Atkins Diet
Detox Dieting
The Grapefruit Diet
The Zone Diet
The South Beach Diet

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Let's think about this.

From People.com:

Michelle Obama Cooks with Paula Deen

Want to know the way to a man’s heart? Try seafood gumbo – it worked for Michelle Obama!

"It was an impressive first attempt ... I must have really been in love," Michelle Obama told Paula Deen of her attempt to make seafood gumbo – including lobster, shrimp and mussels! – on an early date with future husband Barack Obama. "No, I haven't cooked it since."

"It was so good that once was enough," Deen responded. The wife of the Democratic nominee for President appears on Deen's Food Network show, Paula's Party, on Sept. 20, and the host can attest it was more than her cooking that did the trick with the Senator.

"She was everything I thought she would be: Smart, great sense of humor and loves to talk about family," Deen told PEOPLE of meeting Mrs. Obama.

The pair prepared fried shrimp for Deen's show and Deen said, "I can tell she spends time in the kitchen – she was very relaxed when we cooked. And that lady is a good eater."

Not that it shows. "Did I tell you she is in the best shape ever? Everyone was staring at her amazing arms!" said Deen.

Should Obama win in November, PEOPLE asked Deen what she would cook for them. "Well, I know that Senator Obama loves his chili. And I promised that I would make them my fried chicken if they move into the White House. Boy would that be fun!"

There's a video with it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Monday, September 8, 2008

Bacontarian


From the Urban Dictionary:

1. bacontarian

A person who supplements an otherwise normal diet with large amounts of pork!

They eat LARGE amounts of bacon or pork, in seemingly obscene amounts.
Bubba eats bacon for breakfast lunch and dinner. He is a bacontarian.


2. bacontarian

A person who claims to be a true vegetarian but knowingly supplements their diet with small amounts of bacon, bacon bits, and bacon fat.
My friend Sagar, a true Bacontarian, claims to be a true vegetarian but also eats meals where bacon is added.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

NYU


I'm not sure what's going on over at NYU, at least bureaucratically, but I got into grad school at the last minute.

For a Master's of Science in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics.

After receiving no word for many months about the status of my application (which I sort of just applied for while living in New Haven to see what would happen), in April I emailed them. They strung me along and I finally got a letter claiming I was waitlisted. This persisted for months: me emailing them, waiting, them telling me to wait more, me waiting more, etc. Then finally one day in late June or early July, I received an email asking if I still wanted to be on the waitlist. I wrote back asking them to remove me, as I have a wonderful job which I love and could/would never just abruptly leave.

Not to mention I haven't even looked at the FAFSA, and all of this type of thing.

Soooooo...............I was off the list. Thought I might re-apply or something, but out of the blue the other day, August 26, I received another email congratulating me on my acceptance. Here's what it said:

Dear Ms. Lade:

Congratulations. An admission packet was mailed to day from the Office of Graduate Admissions. As classes begin September 2, 2008 we can update your admission to begin Spring 2009 if necessary.

Sincerely,


I was obviously befuddled, but also sort of delighted and proud. I naturally wrote back saying that I could not attend classes that would have started today, but that I was interested in potentially attending NYU starting spring semester. So, that's where I'm at with it. Still thinking and deciding and pondering and the like.

But exciting nonetheless, to be accepted to graduate school for studies in a field which I essentially have absolutely no background in; coming from a mix of Philosophy and idealism... It feels good. It feels pretty good to have this option.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Where are they now? Jamie Oliver Edition

Remember that slight pudgy cutie pie British chef from like, oh, five years ago? He was like the Pooh of cooking. Jamie Oliver, yep, that's it. Also known as the Naked Chef. Anyway, it's been a while. Last time I thought about him was when I was buying his line of semi-decent pre-made pasta sauces at my local Albert Hein when I lived in the Netherlands in 2005. So, apparently now he's popped up yet again, this time pontificating on British food habits. Sort of interesting:

"Jamie Oliver has launched an extraordinary attack on the British - portraying them as more interested in getting drunk than eating well.

'Unlike French people, and I regret it, we lost our traditions. In gastronomy, the world evolves and changes. And right in front of us, isolated from everything, you have France where nothing changes.'"

Here's the article.

For me, much of the same could be said about American food habits, but, oh wait, we never had an interesting food history to begin with..... Or did we? Something to think about.

Also, I would contend with his point that the tradition of French food never changes--while there are, undeniably and absolutely, many culinary techniques and traditions that remain connected to the culture and will never die, there are also many new Americanized habits that are slowly creeping their way into mainstream French culture. Of course, as always, I'm talking about McDonald's--the one in my Parisian neighborhood always had a line when I would walk by, day or night, and the kids I nannied would BEG me for it. Just like American kids! And, of course, other things too...Pringles in the grocery store, more processed and canned items, more eating on the run than the tradition of sitting and relaxing with your meal, American companies enforcing hour-long lunches, etc. etc.

Mr. Oliver, I would also like to simply say that the British culinary tradition that you are grieving is lacking flavor and style and furthermore many of your recipes were for post-pub grilled bacon and peanut butter sandwiches and the like, so claiming that people are more interested in 'getting drunk at the pub' than what they eat is not quite accurate--they are interested in both, just maybe sequentially is all, at least according to your previous cookbooks...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Quesadilla Burger

The Times just did an article about Applebee's and it's CEO. Sort of fascinating, I guess, especially the point that the author makes that, "The food that Ms. Stewart supervises is consumed by nearly two million people a day. Spending time with her is like having a direct view of what America wants to eat."

So, what does America want to eat these days? What's "hot" on America's plate right now!? What's poppin' in yo mouth outta control!? Ladies and gentleman, I present the Applebee's Quesadilla Burger:

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

MMmmm...okay....?

Published: August 18, 2008
NYT Well Blog

Often, a visit to the doctor’s office starts with a weigh-in. But is a person’s weight really a reliable indicator of overall health?

Increasingly, medical research is showing that it isn’t. Despite concerns about an obesity epidemic, there is growing evidence that our obsession about weight as a primary measure of health may be misguided.

Last week a report in The Archives of Internal Medicine compared weight and cardiovascular risk factors among a representative sample of more than 5,400 adults. The data suggest that half of overweight people and one-third of obese people are “metabolically healthy.” That means that despite their excess pounds, many overweight and obese adults have healthy levels of “good” cholesterol, blood pressure, blood glucose and other risks for heart disease.

At the same time, about one out of four slim people — those who fall into the “healthy” weight range — actually have at least two cardiovascular risk factors typically associated with obesity, the study showed.

To be sure, being overweight or obese is linked with numerous health problems, and even in the most recent research, obese people were more likely to have two or more cardiovascular risk factors than slim people. But researchers say it is the proportion of overweight and obese people who are metabolically healthy that is so surprising.

“We use ‘overweight’ almost indiscriminately sometimes,” said MaryFran Sowers, a co-author of the study and professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan. “But there is lots of individual variation within that, and we need to be cognizant of that as we think about what our health messages should be.”

The data follow a report last fall from researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute showing that overweight people appear to have longer life expectancies than so-called normal weight adults.

But many people resist the notion that people who are overweight or obese can be healthy. Several prominent health researchers have criticized the findings from the C.D.C. researchers as misleading, noting that mortality statistics don’t reflect the poor quality of life and suffering obesity can cause. And on the Internet, various blog posters, including readers of the Times’s Well blog, have argued that the data are deceptive, masking the fact that far more overweight and obese people are at higher cardiovascular risk than thin people.

Part of the problem may be our skewed perception of what it means to be overweight. Typically, a person is judged to be of normal weight based on body mass index, or B.M.I., which measures weight relative to height. A normal B.M.I. ranges from 18.5 to 25. Once B.M.I. reaches 25, a person is viewed as overweight. Thirty or higher is considered obese.

“People get confused by the words and the mental image they get,” said Katherine Flegal, senior research scientist at the C.D.C.’s National Center for Health Statistics. “People may think, ‘How could it be that a person who is so huge wouldn’t have health problems?’ But people with B.M.I.’s of 25 are pretty unremarkable.”

Several studies from researchers at the Cooper Institute in Dallas have shown that fitness — determined by how a person performs on a treadmill — is a far better indicator of health than body mass index. In several studies, the researchers have shown that people who are fat but can still keep up on treadmill tests have much lower heart risk than people who are slim and unfit.

In December, a study in The Journal of the American Medical Association looked at death rates among 2,600 adults 60 and older over 12 years. Notably, death rates among the overweight, those with a B.M.I. of 25 to 30, were slightly lower than in normal weight adults. Death rates were highest among those with a B.M.I. of 35 or more.

But the most striking finding was that fitness level, regardless of body mass index, was the strongest predictor of mortality risk. Those with the lowest level of fitness, as measured on treadmill tests, were four times as likely to die during the 12-year study than those with the highest level of fitness. Even those who had just a minimal level of fitness had half the risk of dying compared with those who were least fit.

During the test, the treadmill moved at a brisk walking pace as the grade increased each minute. In the study, it didn’t take much to qualify as fit. For men, it meant staying on the treadmill at least 8 minutes; for women, 5.5 minutes. The people who fell below those levels, whether fat or thin, were at highest risk.

The results were adjusted to control for age, smoking and underlying heart problems and still showed that fitness, not weight, was most important in predicting mortality risk.

Stephen Blair, a co-author of the study and a professor at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, said the lesson he took from the study was that instead of focusing only on weight loss, doctors should be talking to all patients about the value of physical activity, regardless of body size.

“Why is it such a stretch of the imagination,” he said, “to consider that someone overweight or obese might actually be healthy and fit?”

Friday, August 15, 2008

Los Angeles, I'm Yours

Los Angeles Stages a Fast Food Intervention

Published: August 12, 2008 in the New York Times

A NEW weapon in the battle against obesity was rolled out last month when the Los Angeles City Council decided to stop new fast food restaurants from opening in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

Jan Perry, a councilwoman in Los Angeles, said the fast food moratorium may give residents healthier options.

Even in a country where a third of the schoolchildren are overweight or obese, the yearlong moratorium raises questions about when eating one style of food stops being a personal choice and becomes a public health concern.

The Sisyphean struggle against poor diets has included booting soda from schools, banning trans fat and, more recently, sending New Yorkers into dietary sticker shock with a law that requires calorie counts be posted on menus, right next to the prices.

But this appears to be the first time a government has prohibited a specific style of restaurant for health, rather than aesthetic, reasons.

Jonathan Gold, the LA Weekly food critic who won a Pulitzer Prize last year, said he understands the spirit of the freeze, which is an urban planning measure meant to keep the neighborhood, South Los Angeles, from being swallowed up by drive-though fast food restaurants. (A separate measure by the city provides economic incentives for new grocery stores and restaurants with table service.)

Fast food chains, he said, are like jellyfish in the ocean: with too many in one area, nothing else can thrive.

But he worries that the law could keep out places of more culinary interest. South Los Angeles has the best barbecue in the city, he said, and it has a growing number of cooks from Mexico and Central America making lamb barbacoa and pupusas. “Anytime you try to ban something, there’s a lot of bycatch,” he said.

The moratorium’s definition of a fast food business is any stand-alone restaurant that dispenses food, to stay or to go, and that has “a limited menu, items prepared in advance or prepared or heated quickly, no table orders, and food served in disposable wrapping or containers.” It is up to the city’s director of planning to decide which places fit that definition.

That could keep out people like Sue Moore, who sells a high-quality hot dog from cattle raised on pasture, served with fresh grilled onions on top. She was invited to park her Let’s Be Frank truck at the premiere of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” this week at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood.

She and her partner, Larry Bain, who runs two hot dog carts in San Francisco, say that there’s nothing wrong with fast food if it’s made with good ingredients. They worry that their dogs will be shunned along with dogs made from lesser ingredients.

“Our policy makers abhor nuance and the subtle but distinct qualities that differentiate fast food from food that can be served fast,” said Mr. Bain.

The councilwoman behind the moratorium, Jan Perry, says its intent is not to crush food choices, but to encourage variety and give residents more nutritious options. Making healthy decisions about food is difficult when people have small incomes, the grocery store is five miles away and a $1 cheeseburger is right around the corner, she and supporters of the ban say.

The moratorium doesn’t mean that people who live within the affected 32-square-mile zone will be cut off from the pleasures of an inexpensive cheeseburger and hot fries. More than 45 percent of the 900 restaurants there — the highest concentration in the city — are fast food chains.

The idea is to bring new eating options to the city’s food deserts, the term now in vogue to describe poor neighborhoods whose residents have few places to buy fresh groceries.

“People do not understand what happens in a disenfranchised community,” said Councilwoman Perry, who represents neighborhoods in the area. “The fact remains, there are not a lot of food choices in South L.A.”

Since there is not much land left to develop in the area, the moratorium will allow city planners time to determine what kinds of businesses would be best in an area where rates of obesity and diseases related to it are disproportionately high.

“Anybody who believes fast food is the source of all dietary evil is, of course, being naïve,” she said. Other facets of modern life contribute to obesity. People drive more than they walk. Children play video games more often than stickball. And daily life has become saturated with opportunities to eat.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I Heart Gawker

This bit about the Olive Garden and one of Hugh Hefner's girlfriends is straight hilarious.

Julia Child Gets Even More Badass

I love Julia Child. She was my kinda lady and now she gets even more badass: Turns out, she was a U.S. spy!!!!

From the AP:

Newly released files detail early US spy network

WASHINGTON (AP) — Before Julia Child became known to the world as a leading chef, she admitted at least one failing when applying for a job as a spy: impulsiveness.

Details about Child's background as a government agent come into the public spotlight Thursday with the National Archives' release of more than 35,000 top-secret personnel files of World War II-era spies. The CIA held this information for decades.

The 750,000 documents identify the vast spy network managed by the Office of Strategic Services, which later became the CIA. President Franklin Roosevelt created the OSS, the country's first centralized intelligence operation.

Child's file shows that in her OSS application, she included a note expressing regret she left an earlier department store job hastily because she did not get along with her boss, said William Cunliffe, an archivist who has worked extensively with the OSS records at the National Archives.

The OSS files offer details about other agents, including Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, major league catcher Moe Berg, historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and film actor Sterling Hayden.

Other notables identified in the files include John Hemingway, son of author Ernest Hemingway; Quentin and Kermit Roosevelt, sons of President Theodore Roosevelt; and Miles Copeland, father of Stewart Copeland, drummer for the band The Police.

Some of those on the list have been identified previously as having worked for the OSS, but their personnel records never have been available before. Those records would show why they were hired, jobs they were assigned to and perhaps even missions they pursued while working for the agency.

The release of the OSS personnel files unmasks one of the last secrets from the short-lived wartime intelligence agency, which for the most part was later folded into the CIA after President Truman disbanded it in 1945.

"I think it's terrific," said Elizabeth McIntosh, 93, a former OSS agent now living in Woodbridge, Va. "They've finally, after all these years, they've gotten the names out. All of these people had been told never to mention they were with the OSS."

The CIA long resisted releasing the records. But a former CIA director, William Casey, himself an OSS veteran, cleared the way for transfer of millions of OSS documents to the National Archives when he took over the spy agency in 1981. The personnel files are the latest documents to be made public.

Information about OSS involvement was so guarded that relatives often could not confirm a family member's work with the group.

Walter Mess, who handled covert OSS operations in Poland and North Africa, said he kept quiet for more than 50 years, only recently telling his wife of 62 years about his OSS activity.

"I was told to keep my mouth shut," said Mess, now 93 and living in Falls Church, Va.

The files provide new information even for those most familiar with the agency. Charles Pinck, president of the OSS Society created by former OSS agents and their relatives, said the nearly 24,000 employees included in the archives far exceed previous estimates of 13,000.

The newly released documents will clarify these and other issues, Cunliffe said.

"We're saying the OSS was a lot bigger than they were saying," he said.