Well-Aged Beef

There’s been a story circulating lately about a woman who has a fourteen-year-old McDonald’s hamburger that hasn’t molded, rotted, or otherwise gone the way of all flesh. You can see her little article here, where she also says:

Ladies, Gentleman, and children alike – this is a chemical food. There is absolutely no nutrition here.

Not one ounce of food value. Or at least value for why we are eating in the first place.

*eye roll* Ah, yes. Smug foodist nonsense. First off, all food is made of chemicals. Pretty much everything is. Water is a chemical, for goodness sake.

Second, and speaking of water, this burger has no water in it. It’s dehydrated, and so of course it’s not going to rot. This is explained in loving, and occasionally disturbing, detail here.

I’m going to be generous and assume that the writer was simply a bubble-head with an agenda who didn’t understand the basic science here. Now that the real reason behind why this burger hasn’t rotted, I’m sure she will no doubt print a retraction. Also, I’m sure pigs will fly.


No Soda For You!

New York City is putting forth an effort to stop people from buying soda with food stamps. The idea here is that only uneducated, unhealthy, poor people would want to drink soda, and that drive is so strong that the government must stop them from doing so if they are using food stamps.

This is a bullshit argument. I’ll be the first to agree that drinking soda constantly is not healthy and not something you should do. But I don’t think the government should tell people what food and drinks they can and can’t buy with food stamps (beyond alcohol, which is already prohibited). I’ve been on food stamps in the past. I bought soda when I had them, but it wasn’t a huge part of my expenditure. I spent far more money on pre-prepared frozen dinners and the like.

Even now when I buy my own food and drinks, I seldom buy all that much soda, except…

Well, except that I like my caffeine. Every day on my way into work I get a Diet Coke refill of my giant 54oz mug. I almost never actually drink more than half of it, but it’s good to have and helps keep me going. I don’t like coffee and I don’t like tea, but I do sometimes want the jolt of caffeine, and soda is the way I get it.

Now I note with great interest that no one seems to be suggesting we ban coffee or tea from being bought with food stamps. But those don’t carry the same stigma as buying soda with food stamps, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t. They aren’t necessary beverages, after all, and I think most people who drink coffee do it for the buzz.

As far as I’m concerned, if we’re going to ban things because they aren’t as healthy as they might be, let’s ban soda, coffee, any cereals where sugar is the first or second ingredient, any snacks, including chips and cookies, sugar itself and basically anything other than fruits, meats and vegetables. Well, except that there’s people who think meat is bad and unhealthy, so let’s ban that, too.

Ultimately food stamps are a very good thing and while I think there’s legitimacy to banning people from buying alcohol with it, anything else that’s food or drink should be left alone. People, even the poor, will generally make decent food choices if they know what those choices are, have access to them and know how to make them. Perhaps a better idea would be to mandate a course on smart-shopping and basic cooking before getting food stamps. That’d be a hell of a lot more productive.

Ok, That’s Just Silly

The New York Times has an article about people who think it’s cool to eat the sort of diet they think cavemen ate. It’s what they call a “paleo” diet and it offers much humor.

The caveman lifestyle, in Mr. Durant’s interpretation, involves eating large quantities of meat and then fasting between meals to approximate the lean times that his distant ancestors faced between hunts. Vegetables and fruit are fine, but he avoids foods like bread that were unavailable before the invention of agriculture. Mr. Durant believes the human body evolved for a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, and his goal is to wean himself off what he sees as many millenniums of bad habits.

Yeah, that pesky newfangled agriculture. We were doing fine until we learned how to grow food! Oh, if only we’d kept our subsistence diet!

The most amusing thing to me about this article is that these people want every aspect of modern culture and inventions that we’ve developed over the last millions of years, but they don’t want any that center around food. I’ve seen this with other people and movements and it always confuses me. Why is it that a cell phone is a good thing but farm-grown beans are not? Why are computers perfectly acceptable but cooking your food isn’t?

Here’s my favorite line from the article:

“I didn’t want to do some faddish diet that my sister would do,” Mr. Durant said.

Well, no, you’re doing some other faddish diet, you great twit.

Oh, well. They can eat what they like, of course, but I still think it’s quite silly. Just eat a balanced diet of modern foods and get some exercise. You’ll be fine.