Bringing Partisan Rage to the Grocery Store

A few weeks ago, The Economist told its readers about a new smartphone app you can use in your grocery store to find out if the makers of a given food or consumer product agree or disagree with your politics:

"A new app called BuyPartisan reveals whether any given product is made by Republicans or Democrats. Using an iPhone's camera, it scans the barcode and reports back on the ideology (as measured by donations to political parties) of the directors and staff of the company in question."

Even the Colbert Report got in on this story (warning before you click: it's not all that funny). After watching it, I'm thinking that half of all Cheerios eaters are gonna need to rethink breakfast.

Of course, any CK reader--regardless of political affiliation--already knows to avoid all branded boxed cereals. It's not a political issue, it's an issue of consumers receiving proper value for their money.

But this brings up a bigger, broader question that I'd like to ask readers: How important is it that the company you buy from shares your views?

And if it's important, where do you draw the line? With what products? If you hear, for example, that the chairman of the company that makes your pasta brand doesn't happen to validate your lifestyle, do you instantly change brands?

And if that's the case, what if your monopoly electric power company leans to the left and you're a Republican? Do you live off the grid? What do you do if you're a Democrat, you need to fill up your tank, and you can't find a left-leaning oil company? Where do you compromise, and where won't you? Or does this even matter at all?

Readers, share your thoughts: does it matter if a company you buy from holds views that differ from yours?


Read Next: How To Be Manipulated By a Brand



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 September 26, 2014

Readers, a quick update: I'm going to put Friday Links posts on hiatus for the month of October while I do a little traveling. You can still expect my weekly article every Tuesday while I'm away, and I'll also moderate comments from the road. See you in a month!

Links from around the internet. As always, I welcome your thoughts.

PS: Follow me on Twitter!

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Let's start off with a few easy recipes:
Making your own Hot Sauce will change your life. (Amateur Gourmet)

Salsa Borracha or Drunken Salsa. (Mexico In My Kitchen)

Sausage, Spinach and Pepperoni Pasta Bake. (Alosha's Kitchen)

Articles:
Shockingly, National Geographic comes out in favor of GMOs. Unshockingly, they believe even with GMOs we can't prevent the coming Malthusian catastrophe. (National Geographic)
Related: More on why Malthusian logic is fatuous.

Really useful (and rational!) debate between three doctors about the best way to eat. Great stuff. (MindBodyGreen)

Why do top experts give wildly conflicting advice on salt? (Forbes)

What does it mean to "listen" to your body? (My Fitness Pal, via 50by25)

Multivitamins do more harm than good. (Greatist)

The problem with nudging. (Jayson Lusk)

Really useful videos on the NY Times website on how to master various cooking techniques. A good page to bookmark and return to. (New York Times)

Excellent site that teaches, once and for all, that correlation does not equal causation. (Tyler Vigen)

Do you have aging parents or relatives? An important list of telltale signs that they aren't "doing fine." (Ombailamos)

16 ways you cause road rage. Uh, #1, #7 and #10 are pet peeves of mine. (Wise Bread)

Four simple steps to deal with doomsday predictions. (Above the Market)

Cracking open a can of Stoicism... and sipping it all day. (Mr. Money Mustache)

Book Recommendation: Clash of the Financial Pundits: How the Media Influences Your Investment Decisions for Better or Worse by Josh Brown and Jeff Macke. Useful and readable dissection of the world of financial news and infotainment. This book helps explain what goes on behind the scenes in the financial media--and it will help you become a more sophisticated 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.

The Food Pyramid: Industry Conspiracy?

I'd like to offer one more perspective on the Broken Food Pyramid, one I'm guessing won't be a popular one: I don't share the seemingly widely-held view that the reason we have a carb-heavy Food Pyramid is because "industry" influenced it.

Don't get me wrong: industry did have influence on the Food Pyramid. Most government guidelines, recommendations and even regulatory actions are made in collaboration with many organizations, including industry. What I'm disputing here is the conspiracy view that the Food Pyramid was made deliberately carb- and grain-heavy in order to enrich the food industry. Note the difference.

Remember, this is the same government that issued the Eisenhower dollar, invaded Iraq (twice) and can't seem to regulate its own banking system. Could our government really engineer a multi-decade, grain complex-enriching conspiracy by issuing false dietary guidelines meant to fool us into eating more carbs?

It would be a lot easier--and far more profitable for everyone involved--to simply export our extra grain (as the grain industry did, interestingly, throughout the 80s, 90s and 00s), rather than create some complex dietary scheme to make sure American citizens ate everything up here at home.

Further, while some industries might have benefited from the Food Pyramid, other politically powerful industries got severely shortchanged. The beef/meat industry is quite powerful, as is the dairy industry, and both punch well above their weight in political influence. So why does the Food Pyramid give them a mere 2-3 servings each when the grain group got 6-11? The sugar industry is powerful too: So why does sugar get a desultory "use sparingly" recommendation?

Each of these industries on their own should have been powerful enough to sway things, and certainly the collective political power of all of them was orders of magnitude greater than the grain industry’s power by itself. So how did Big Grain get so lucky and win the lottery here? It just doesn't add up.

Careful students of logic should note the leap involved between the appearance of someone benefiting and the default presumption of a conspiracy. If this were all a conspiracy to satisfy industry greed, the Food Pyramid would have come out looking quite a bit different: it would contain a lot more meat, more fat, more dairy--and far fewer breads, grains and pasta. Ironically, it would be far healthier!

It's not a conspiracy nor industry greed that drove the Broken Food Pyramid. Rather, there's a far simpler and more rational explanation: our government, based on a once-faulty and now-changing scientific consensus, arrived at a misdirected set of dietary guidelines. Guidelines it's only lately coming to correct.

So let's keep correcting them.


Read Next: But What If Your Farmer Doesn't Want To Know YOU?

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 September 19, 2014

Links from around the internet. As always, I welcome your thoughts.

PS: Follow me on Twitter!

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Don't soak your beans! (LA Times, via Addicted to Canning)

This is how to do a competent food stamp challenge, and show that healthy food doesn't have to be expensive. (Budget Bytes) Related: Why Senator Corey Booker really blew his chance.

Seven ways to turn one dinner into two. (Life Your Way)

Foodies can now pay a fortune to eat "famine food." (Spiked)

"Your food arrives when it's ready." Readers, what do you think of this restaurant trend? (The Amateur Gourmet)

Backlash against The Food Babe. (Bloomberg)

Why no one reads anymore, and what it means for writers. (New York Review of Books)

You will live more curiously if you write. You will see more. (James Somers)

Striking story of a young man's recovery from a traumatic brain injury. (Washington Post)


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.

The Broken Food Pyramid

Marcia at Frugal Healthy Simple recently wrote an excellent, heartfelt post about the Food Pyramid, and how, basically, it's just wrong. It contains too many grains, not enough proteins and fats, and far too many carbs. It's an improper mix of dietary inputs.

But it's worse than just being wrong. When the Food Pyramid came out some twenty years ago, people followed it. Marcia included. And with reason: after all, isn't the government here to help? It has our best interests at heart, right?

Right?

Now that more and more of us know the Food Pyramid's wrong, many of us can't help but wonder: were all our efforts to lose weight, and all those years struggling with our diet and with excess body fat... were we sabotaging ourselves all along by eating too many carbs? As our own government instructed us?

I think you'd be completely justified for being angry.

Granted, people--and governments--make mistakes. And the scientific consensus on many, if not most, issues is in a constant state of flux and iteration. In fact, I'm working on a post right now about the various health and dietary myths that have been thoroughly debunked over the past few decades (the Food Pyramid's "six servings of healthy whole grains per day!" is just one of many), and it really makes you wonder: how many things out there do we believe are true that we just haven't debunked yet?

Think about this for a few minutes and it will make you very humble, not just about government dietary guidelines, but about most the things we think we know. This is the reason Marcia's post--and the entire Broken Food Pyramid debate--resonates with me.

There's often a process of consensus-building that makes some subject domains, dietary science included, appear more "decided" than they really are. In fact, we see consensus thinking in many areas: economics, investing, the social sciences, and not to mention in ideologically contentious domains like climate change, environmental policy, trade policy, tax policy and so on.

But just because elite "experts" reach a consensus and hand it down to us doesn't mean things are as conclusive as they appear.

Worse, even after thinking begins to change in a given domain, the overall scientific consensus lags this change in thinking--often by years, even decades. And since government policy recommendations are determined by whatever consensus is in effect at the time they're created, it's the very last to adjust.

We're seeing this right now with the Food Pyramid. And the process is glacial, to put it diplomatically.

And in the meantime, citizens like Marcia and many, many others are coming to realize: they wished they'd never seen these guidelines when they came out twenty years ago.

Read Next: Who's Watching the Watchdogs? Ethical Problems in the "Ten Riskiest Foods" Report By the CSPI


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.