Archive for the 'Rant' Category

Photographic Proof of Breyer’s Falsehoods

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Here’s the photographic proof to verify my allegation that the folks at Breyer’s are telling a falsehood when they describe frozen dairy dessert as being made with ‘many of the same high-quality ingredients’ as their ice cream, ‘including fresh milk, cream, and sugar.’

I’m sure their lawyers will tell you that the phrase “many of the same” and the presence of milk, cream, and sugar in the frozen dairy dessert means that they are not lying.  But as anyone even remotely schooled in logic and rhetoric can tell you, there are two types of lies: lies of omission and lies of comission.

The phrasing of Breyer’s claim is intentionally designed to gloss over the addition of corn syrup into the formula.  Also to gloss over the addition of mono- and di-glycerides, guar gum, carob bean gum, and carrageenan.  Basically, more emulsifiers and thickeners to disguise the lower-quality ingredients, resulting in a different texture and an overall cheaper (read: not worth buying) product.

Click on the small picture for a full-sized photo.

Those Bastards at Breyers

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Breyer’s is no longer ice cream.

Breyer’s now manufactures “Frozen Dairy Dessert.”  According to their website,

Frozen Dairy Dessert products are made with many of the same high-quality ingredients that are commonly found in Ice Cream – like fresh milk, cream and sugar – and offer a great taste and even smoother texture. These products do not fall within the current FDA definition of standardized Ice Cream, so we call them Frozen Dairy Dessert.

The thing is, what Breyer’s does not acknowledge in this description is that a side-by-side comparison of the ingredients in like flavors from before and after the switch, their frozen dairy dessert is partially sweetened by corn syrup, whereas their ice cream was sweetened only with real sugar.

Again, from the Breyer’s website:

In a national side-by-side taste test, our fans tell us they like the new recipe just as much as the original. We’re confident these new products deliver the great taste Ice Cream fans expect but with any product change it’s always possible that you may notice a difference. Frozen Dairy Dessert tends to have less fat than ice cream.

Okay, so
1) the frozen dairy dessert has a somewhat slimy texture (even before I discovered the labeling switch, my immediate reaction to the box of Rocky Road I purchased was that there was something off with the contents) and
2) I don’t want less fat with my ice cream. If I wanted less fat, I wouldn’t be eating ice cream, now would I? Don’t go effing with my dessert formulae in the name of better health and then swap out real sugar for a processed alternative sweetener and then lie about it!

Again, official propaganda from Breyers:

Since 1866, Breyers products have consistently delivered high-quality ingredients, great flavors and smooth creaminess that our fans love, and we remain committed to that Pledge. Our Ice Cream and new Frozen Dairy Dessert varieties continue to use fresh milk, cream and sugar. What distinguishes our Frozen Dairy Dessert from our Ice Cream is that it’s blended in a whole new way to create a smoother texture.

My revision:

From 1866-August 2012, Breyers products had consistently delivered high-quality ingredients, great flavors, and smooth creaminess that our fans loved. In a short-sighted change prompted by allowing individuals lacking a love of high quality foods to make decisions crucial to the integrity of our product, Breyers has ceased to deliver upon our Pledge to quality. Our Frozen Dairy Dessert uses corn syrup as one of its primary sweeteners whereas our ice cream used only real sugar. We blatantly lie by omission about the ingredients in our frozen dairy dessert by not acknowledging the presence of the corn syrup in our marketing materials. What distinguishes our Frozen Dairy Dessert from our Ice Cream is a clear and noticeable drop in quality. We’re stupid pricks who should immediately renounce this change in formulation, fire everyone responsible for it, and issue a huge public apology in the same manner as Coca-Cola did following their New Coke debacle.

A Very Large Small At Wendy’s

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

I stopped at a Wendy’s for lunch today.  Hadn’t planned on it, but circumstances necessitated it.  I don’t normally get combos if I’m eating at such a restaurant, but the chain has been touting their new fries so much, i figured–what the heck, I’ll get a combo.

Small, medium, or large? the order-taker asked me.

How big’s a small drink? I asked her.

20 oz, came the reply.

Say what?!  How big’s a large?

40 oz.

Are you kidding me?  They ought to rename the sizes extra large, mammoth, and ridiculously huge.  And they ought to offer a small, medium, and large to go along with them.  I don’t know about you, but I find 8 oz. of soda to be just right, 12 oz. to be slightly excessive, and 16 oz. to be too much.  To just jump right into the deep end and label a 20 oz drink as ’small’ is mind-boggling, annoying, and just plain rude.

I don’t know if you’ve looked at a soda nutrition facts label lately, but the caloric and sugar information is given based on an 8 oz. portion.  For the root beer I wound up getting today because it would have cost me more not to get it, 8 oz of soda is worth 110 calories and 30g of sugar.  Doing the math, a 20 oz. ’small’ if fully consumed provides 275 calories and 75g of sugar; a 40 oz. ‘large’ is 550 calories and 150g of sugar.

Why is the average American fat and either diabetic or pre-diabetic?  In part because they can save money by consuming more sugar and more empty calories.

I’m sure Wendy’s isn’t alone in trying to pass off 2.5 x the suggested serving size as being ’small,’ but I’d allege that every corporation that has policies in place that push such ridiculousness on the public is culpable for the related health problems that accompany them.  I’d also allege that trying to advertise their way into being perceived as a healthful choice on the basis of offering fresh fruit on the menu is akin to taking one straw off the camel’s back and claiming to have lightened the load.

Deity-smitten, maternal-intercoursing, smug, nonsensical fast food corporations can stick their healthy images in their rectum so long as they participate in such undeniable and insulting foolishness.  I’d go so far as to allege that they were born out of wedlock and deserve to dine on fecal matter and decease.

I’m just saying.

Not Every Turkey Sandwich is the Same

Monday, November 30th, 2009

I don’t like The Family Circus.  Most of the time, I’m content to mutter under my breath about its stupidity or to mock it in the comfort of my own home.  Most of the time, though, its vapidity doesn’t deal with culinary matters.

Today, for anyone who is clever enough to skip over its single pane of vacuousness, Billy is returning his lunchbox to the counter as he tells his mother that nobody at school traded lunches because EVERYBODY (sic) had turkey sandwiches.  I suppose in Bill (and Jeff) Keane-Land, every turkey sandwich is the same: made with only breast meat, on Wonder Bread, with mayonnaise and iceberg lettuce. But, then again, in their world, Eisenhower is still the president.

In the real world, though, there are myriad options for how that turkey sandwich can stand out from the crowd.

Bread choice plays a key role.  Leftover dinner rolls make a great base for a post-Thanksgiving sandwich.  Or, if those are all gone, I like to go for a nice, hearty multi-grain bread that can stand up to the many fillings that might go inside.  Next choice: to toast or not to toast.  I tend to toast.

Condiments?  Yes, please.  Mayo and mustard are okay, and will make a serviceable sandwich… but for a truly remarkable sandwich, I have taken to spreading the bread with cold gravy and cranberry jelly.

Who needs to limit a sammich to breast meat?  Go ahead and use some thigh meat in there.  It’s moister and more flavorful.

But where the opportunity for sandwich creativity really presents itself is in what else goes on it with the turkey.  A variety of lettuces makes a nice touch, of course; but why stop there?  I have been known to put mashed potatoes (irish or sweet); olives; stuffing; cheese; shredded Brussels sprouts; roasted broccoli and cauliflower; and more on my turkey sandwiches.

Of course, once I go through that sort of effort, you can be sure I wouldn’t trade it to some punk kid like Billy Keane.

What sorts of delicacies do you add between your bread to make your turkey sandwiches stand out from the crowd?

Corn-y Sunday

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

On Sunday, I got together with some friends to watch the football game. We all contributed snacks to munch on, potluck style. Turned out, everything was made of corn: Doritos, tortilla chips, cheesy puffs, etc. My contribution: corn on the cob.

I grilled the corn at half time, and when I peeled back the husk, the bright yellow color of the unprocessed corn kernels was quite appealing. I proudly brought my contribution into the living room. I grabbed an ear, anticipating the sweet flavor.

Instead, I bit into flavorless, chewy mush. Turns out the farmer I bought the corn from accidentally sold me feed corn. It must’ve been an accident—I can’t imagine anyone selling something so bland and toothsome on purpose!

But, then again, all of the processed corn crap that we gorge ourselves on on a regular basis: the chips and the flakes and the puffs and the curls: all of that is made from feed corn.

I think if we realized what it is we eat when we eat we would be a bit more discerning. But once it’s been spiced and seasoned, processed and disguised; it turns out, we’re all at the feedlot too: eating the same blah, chewy mush as the bovines do.


The Earl Didn’t Invent It (Duh).

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

The standard story for the origin of the sandwich goes something like this:

“In 1762, an English Noble named John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, was on a gambling spree when he got hungry.  He didn’t want to fold his hand, so he instructed a servant to place a piece of roast beef between two slices of bread.  He could eat with one hand and play with the other.  Thus the birth of what today is the most popular meal in the western world” (Brown, Alton. I’m Just Here for the Food. New York: Stewart, Tabori, & Chang, 2002. p 72).

While Mr. Brown’s book is incredibly informative and I heartily recommend to anyone who wants to understand more about the mechanics of cooking and transference of heat to food, on this topic, he’s just plain wrong.

Anyone who wants the skinny on the real origin of sandwiches should track down a copy of the Summer 2004 issue of Gastronomica, in which Mark Morton divulges the true story behind sandwiches: they have been a common peasant food since quite possibly the dawn of bread; they just lacked a clever name to refer to them and were known simply as “bread and meat” or “bread and cheese.”

As evidence, Mr. Morton provides an exhaustive review of old literature and the number of times the phrases appeared thusly vs. the scant number of times the words were reversed to “meat and bread” or “cheese and bread” and concludes that the phrasing refers to what is a natural meal, especially for those who don’t have the luxury of always being able to sit and dine.  yet somehow, one rich guy eats the same thing in the company of his peers (who if they were paying any attention probably would have noticed their servants dining in a similar manner) and the whole concept gets named after him.

And really, that’s just a view of the western world of cooking.  What about all the folks in the new world who were making flatbreads out of maize and using them to wrap up other foods?  A) these were types of sandwiches that existed well before 1762 and B) the breads got named in Spanish as tortillas, not in the native language of the Aztecs who were making them.  Once again, the language by which we know a phenomenon has little to do with those who invented the item.

But then again, we all know that there’s nothing new about classism.

Stupid Economy

Friday, March 13th, 2009

I was driving out to Canton, OH, this morning along route 30 East.  I passed a place in WV near the PAborder, “House of Pancakes and Waffles.”  I had passed this business many times before but did not have leisure to stop.  It always tore me up not to stop.  After all, waffles are one of my favorite foods and breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.  Top drive past this establishment that promised waffles and breakfasts as its specialties and never to sample its wares seems like such a shame to me.  Today, though, I knew would be different.  I would have a bit of time built into my schedule that I could tarry for waffles and pancakes.

On my way back from Canton, I passed up Mary Ann’s doughnuts (please use drive-thru, as opposed to their perfectly good front door) and Earle & somebody-or-other’s steel trolley diner (too may oldies signs in the window) not only for the excuses parenthetically notated, but also because I knew I had my choice of pancakes or waffles awaiting me at the WV/PA border.

But alas, this afternoon,a s I was returning to PA, the sign that had held out promise of tasty breakfast foods was gone.  In its place was a sign that claimed, “closed for remodeling.”

If it was really just closed for remodeling, though, why would every identifying sign on the building have been removed?

Stupid economy.  If I’d known it would claim my favorite restaurant I’ve never eaten at, i would have eaten there sooner instead of waiting until it was gone.

‘Local Challenge’ to the Co-Op: Remove Fiji H2O

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

Pittsburgh’s East End Food Co-Op has issued a challenge to Pittsburghers: eat as local as possible for one month, from July 15–August 15. “It’s an honor system-based [challenge]; those wishing to participate will simply sign a large poster at the Co-Op and try their best.” For the purpose of the challenge, they define local as being within 100 miles. To encourage participation and help participants along, the Co-Op is inviting people to enjoy a potluck recipe swap and celebration of local fare every Wednesday during the challenge, starting at 7:00 PM. The first event will be on July 16.

I doubt the Co-Op will be distributing Fiji at these events, but should a local food challenge participant wish to, he or she could quite easily wash down their spinach salad, sauteed kale, local-beef loaf, and berry cobbler with a bottle of Fiji water purchased from the Co-Op’s shelf. In other words, you could wash down a 100-mile meal with a 7600-mile beverage.

I have complained to the Co-Op about the presence of this non-local product on the shelf of our local food co-op, and how the very idea of a substance as basic as water being shipped halfway around the world is in violation of the concepts upon which the co-op is built. I received a reply on the topic in October from Mark D. Perry, the Co-Op’s merchandising manager:


Raw Milk Farmer Bucks Regulatory Attempts

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

As reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on May 5,

On a quiet, 100-acre farm in Cumberland County, Mennonite farmer Mark Nolt, his wife and his 10 children have for three years operated a dairy whose best-selling product is one the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture considers contraband: raw milk.

Pennsylvania requires its raw milk producers to obtain a permit, but Mr. Nolt stopped applying for the permit in 2005 and has continued to sell raw milk and dairy products in the face of multiple citations, a court injunction and two raids that resulted in $50,000 of product and equipment being seized from his farm in Newville.

Raw milk has been a hot button topic in Southwestern Pennsylvania for at least a couple of years, and the advocates for access to raw milk are extremely vocal about their perceived right to get unpasteurized milk. They have also been somewhat militant in their insistence that it is the best choice for everyone.

I am willing to concede that there are enzymatic changes in milk as a result of pasteurization. I am not, however, willing to accept every piece of information distributed by the Weston A. Price Foundation (the main proponent of raw milk rights) as God’s honest truth.

In promoting the health benefits of raw milk and the consumption of high fat diets, they rely on photographic evidence reminiscent of eugenics and, whilst complaining that pasteurization advocates rely on studies from the 1930s, distribute pamphlets boasting that “Galen, Hippocrates, Pliny, Varro, Marcellus Empiris, Bacchis, and Antithimus, leading physicians of their day, all used raw milk in treatment of disease.” Well, we’ve had some remarkable discoveries since their day: including the fact that the earth revolves around the sun.


Genetically Modified Beets

Monday, February 4th, 2008

Any reasonably-minded person should be able to acknowledge that engineering food crops to survive applications of herbicides and pesticides is a bad idea. These genetic “enhancements” as they are labeled by their proponents are designed only to increase reliance on poisonous chemicals in conjunction with the growing of our foodstuff. In addition to causing us all to consume more chemicals in our diets, it also leads to higher concentrations of chemicals in our groundwater (and therefore in our drinking water), leading to increased consequences of chemical prevalence throughout the ecosystem (and still more increased human consumption of chemicals, especially any that are bio-accumulative, such as dioxin), especially among the urban poor, who have limited space in which to grow their own vegetables and limited money with which to make purchasing decisions such as opting for the often more-expensive “organic” alternative.

Not to mention that cross-pollination occurs over large geographic boundaries and therefore the genes of the modified crop escape into seeds produced elsewhere. It’s a story we’ve heard many times relating to corn in the Southwest, and the dangers to indigenous corn species throughout Mexico—but it’s not limited to corn.

Highmowing Organic Seeds, which is a joint litigant in a case currently filed against the USDA regarding the agency’s plan to deregulate Roundup-resistant sugar beets, has a very good description of the wide-ranging impact possible from sugar beets to related species including “chard, and red and yellow beets (or ‘table beets’)” and more information about the suit here.