CK Links--Friday April 29, 2016

Links!

Don't forget: The easiest way to support Casual Kitchen is to buy your items at Amazon using the various links here. Just click over to Amazon, and EVERY purchase you make during that visit pays a modest affiliate commission to support my work here. Best of all, this comes at zero extra cost to you. As always, I welcome your thoughts.

PS: Follow me on Twitter!

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Pseudoscience and misinformation in the annual Dirty Dozen fruits and veggies list. (Food Insight)

Transparency and herbal supplements. (The Herbal Consumer)

"The narcissism of small differences." (Grant McCracken)

Geneticists find people who should have devastating diseases... but don't. We have a lot to learn about disease genetics. (Ars Technica)

"The problem with science is so much of it simply isn't." Long, but very worth it. (First Things)

This classic Times Magazine article from the 1990s made a surprisingly compelling case that recycling is a net waste of resources. (New York Times Magazine) (It also generated a record amount of hate mail, which proved an interesting secondary point of the article.)

Intriguing article on privacy in the era of drones. (Consumer Reports)

Travel and the art of losing friends. (Nomadic Matt, via Climb the Rainbow)

How to have enough. (Dividend Growth Investor)


Got an interesting article or recipe to share? Want some extra traffic at your blog? Send me an email!


How can I support Casual Kitchen?
Easy. Do all your shopping at Amazon.com via the links on this site! You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.

Raw Milk: The Irony

I don't have a dog in the fight on raw milk vs. pasteurized milk.

But from a food debate standpoint, raw milk is an utterly fascinating topic. Why? Because it shows how certain food industry issues simply do not line up into a clean political matrix, with a clear "left side" and a clear "right side" telling us what positions we should hold.

In fact, holding a generalized position on the overall food industry can put you on the wrong side of an issue when it comes to a specific food product.

Raw milk is one such product.

To illustrate what I mean, imagine a Brooklyn-based foodie who dislikes and distrusts Big Food, Big Ag, Big Corn and Big Soda and anything else with a capital B, including Wal-Mart and Monsanto. In her view, the food industry clearly puts profits before people, and it should therefore be more heavily regulated by the government. Probably much more.

Further, this idealistic foodie thinks we need to change the default food environment, which she believes contributes heavily to society's obesity problem. This is why she strongly supported New York City's large soda ban, and it's why she also believes we'd be far better off if the government went ahead and just banned HFCS too. In her view, strict policies and regulations like these are good things: they are for our benefit and for our protection.

Now, we may not agree with all of her views, but I think we can at least agree that, in general, her positions are internally consistent. And please note: we at Casual Kitchen are not passing judgment on the merits of these various positions in any way! Reasonable minds can disagree reasonably.

One day, however, this Brooklyn foodie learns about all the incredible merits of raw milk. She discovers, from scanning some websites, that raw milk is delicious, healthful, and far superior to pasteurized milk. She can't wait to become a regular raw milk drinker.

But to her horror, she discovers that her government is as strict with raw milk as it she wishes it would be with HFCS! In fact, the federal government mandates the pasteurization of milk and milk products--for our benefit and for our protection.

Worse, eighteen states strictly prohibit the sale of raw milk under any conditions--including her neighboring state of New Jersey. And even in her home state of New York, raw milk is strictly regulated. In New York it is entirely illegal to sell raw milk at retail stores--again, for our benefit and our protection. Raw milk can only be purchased at specifically licensed and regulated farms, and there are strict rules that these farms must follow, including prominently posting signs warning consumers that this milk does not have the “protection” of pasteurization.

"Wait a minute," she thinks. "Why does the government force pasteurization on us? And how can the government possibly decide it's illegal to buy raw milk? This makes no sense at all!"

Our Brooklyn foodie's confidently-held, generalized position on the overall food industry ended up depositing her on the exact wrong side of the debate over raw milk. She's discovered, to her intense confusion, that she wants a more heavily-regulated food industry--except when she doesn't. Hopefully she'll see the irony.

Readers, what do you think?


Read Next: Oppositional Literature: The Key Tool For Achieving True Intellectual Honesty


How can I support Casual Kitchen?
Easy. Do all your shopping at Amazon.com via the links on this site! You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.

CK Links--Friday April 22, 2016

Links!

Don't forget: The easiest way to support Casual Kitchen is to buy your items at Amazon using the various links here. Just click over to Amazon, and EVERY purchase you make during that visit pays a modest affiliate commission to support my work here. Best of all, this comes at zero extra cost to you. As always, I welcome your thoughts.

PS: Follow me on Twitter!

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You really should start caring more about seeds. (Pacific Standard)

Honey, sucrose, HFCS… it is all the same. (USDA)

There's a schism in the standards for organic foods. (HuffPo)

"Farm to Fable." Farm-to-table restaurants are lying about food sourcing. (NPR)

Food plagiarism: you can't stop it. (Washington Post)

So I finally decided to give up the ghost of weight loss. I don't think I will ever lose weight, or be a "success story." (A Sweet Life)

"You can spend the rest of your life tiptoeing around the triggers you have for these migraines, or…." (A Country Doctor Writes)

Speedreading: Devouring an entire book in a few seconds and discovering it only said what you already thought anyway. (The Kernel) Readers, I recommend reading this article slowly.

How minimalism brought me freedom and joy. (James Altucher)


Got an interesting article or recipe to share? Want some extra traffic at your blog? Send me an email!


How can I support Casual Kitchen?
Easy. Do all your shopping at Amazon.com via the links on this site! You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.

Subservience

One more thought I'd like to share on our friend Diogenes and his striking quote about lentils. Once again, here's the quote:

"Learn to live on lentils and you will not have to be subservient to the king."

Candidly, almost nobody is literally subservient to a king today. Very few people live under an absolute monarchy in the modern era. [1]

But then again, metaphorically speaking, many of us are subservient to many "kings." Some examples might be:

Subservience to a desire to impress others
Subservience to envy, or to status competition
Subservience to extrinsic validation
Subservience to social conditioning
Subservience to consumerism, and identity construction via consumerism
Subservience to short-term gratification
Subservience to money, or to a specific quantity of wealth or income
Subservience to a desired standard of living
Subservience to what you believe you "deserve"

What's worse today is how we enable our enslavement to these things while thinking we're not. At least back in, say, 17th Century France or 19th Century Russia (two object examples of absolute monarchy), everybody knew the score. Today, the scoreboard is harder to see. Our own internal rationalization hamster obscures it by doing things like confusing needs with wants, justifying costly purchases, unconsciously competing with others, and so on.

Today we seem to live in an era of willing, self-enabled subservience while we pretend otherwise.

To me, this extends the metaphor of "living on lentils" in powerful ways. Diogenes' expression lets us consider the word "subservience" in the broadest possible sense, and he gives us a chance to ask a much more provocative meta-question: How can I reduce my subservience?

If you can think of creative ways to do things for less money, you won't be as subservient to a specific quantity of income or wealth. [2] You'll save more money too, which will make you all the less subservient to any future financial pressures you might face.

In contrast, if you require things like large, expensive living quarters, late-model luxury cars, and other typical elements of a high-overhead [3] life, you'll be grievously subservient to your income.

If you can teach yourself to worry less about what other people think of you, you'll be infinitely less subservient to things like the need for extrinsic validation, the need for status, and the desire to impress others.

In contrast, if impressing others is important to you … well, I'm sure you can put the next thought together on your own: you'll be subservient to others and what they want. Worse still, you'll be still more subservient to the constant need for more income and wealth to pay for things you think impress others.

One last thought: It bears mentioning that all of these forms of subservience are voluntary. Every single one of them.

What are you subservient to? Would you like to change it? How?


Read Next: Why Can't I Find People Who Share My Values on Anti-Consumerism and Frugality?

Footnotes:
[1] For political science geeks only: There are only about six or seven countries worldwide with absolute monarchies, depending on whether you count the Vatican as a monarchy or a theocracy.

[2] Another way to put this is to say you are "fragile" to a decrease in your income or wealth. See Nassim Taleb's fascinating book Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder.

[3] A great phrase from the late entrepreneur Felix Dennis' striking (and surprisingly insightful) autobiography How to Get Rich is "overhead walks on two legs."

Bonus! [4] "I am your king!"








How can I support Casual Kitchen?
Easy. Do all your shopping at Amazon.com via the links on this site! You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.

Money Sundays: All-Time Favorite Charlie Munger Quotes

A value investor I follow and respect, Whitney Tilson, recently shared a list of his favorite Charlie Munger quotes in a message to his email subscribers. Charlie Munger, of course, is Warren Buffett's key partner at Berkshire Hathaway, and he is in my view one of history's most insightful (and cantankerous!) investors. I thought the list of quotes and comments below would be useful to Casual Kitchen readers looking to raise their personal investing game. Enjoy!
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Favorite Charlie Munger quotes, from Whitney Tilson: 

• The more hard lessons you can learn vicariously, instead of from your own terrible experiences, the better off you will be... So the game is to keep learning.

• What is elementary, worldly wisdom? Well, the first rule is that you can't really know anything if you just remember isolated facts and try and bang 'em back. If the facts don't hang together on a latticework of theory, you don't have them in a usable form. You've got to have models in your head. And you've got to array your experience--both vicarious and direct--on this latticework of models.

• Most people are trained in one model and try to solve all problems in one way. You know the old saying: To the man with a hammer, the world looks like a nail. This is a dumb way of handling problems.

• Our experience tends to confirm a long-held notion that being prepared, on a few occasions in a lifetime, to act promptly in scale, in doing some simple and logical thing, will often dramatically improve the financial results of that lifetime. If you took our top 15 decisions out, we’d have a pretty average record.

• As Jesse Livermore said, “The big money is not in the buying and selling…but in the waiting.”

• There’s always been a market for people who pretend to know the future. Listening to today’s forecasters is just as crazy as when the king hired the guy to look at the sheep guts.

• All I want to know is where I’m going to die, so I’ll never go there.

• No wise pilot, no matter how great his talent and experience, fails to use his checklist.

• In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time--none, zero.

• We have never given a damn whether any quarter’s earnings were up or down. We prefer profits to losses, obviously, but we’re not willing to manipulate in any way just to make some quarter look a little better.

• To say accounting for derivatives in America is a sewer is an insult to sewage.

• We think there should be a huge area between what you’re willing to do and what you can do without significant risk of suffering criminal penalty or causing losses. We believe you shouldn’t go anywhere near that line.

• Our approach has worked for us. Look at the fun we, our managers, and our shareholders are having. More people should copy us. It’s not difficult, but it looks difficult because it’s unconventional.

• If you rise in life, you have to behave in a certain way. You can go to a strip club if you’re a beer-swilling sand shoveler, but if you’re the Bishop of Boston, you shouldn’t go.

• Spend each day trying to be a little wiser than you were when you woke up. Discharge your duties faithfully and well. Step by step you get ahead, but not necessarily in fast spurts. But you build discipline by preparing for fast spurts. Slug it out one inch at a time, day by day. At the end of the day, if you live long enough, most people get what they deserve.


Read Next: Money Sundays: Is All That Insurance Really Worth It To You?

Bonus: Money Sundays: Two Easy Rules To Value Insurance Coverage


How can I support Casual Kitchen?
Easy. Do all your shopping at Amazon.com via the links on this site! You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.