Category Archives: Culinary

Nitrates And Nitrites

The junk nutritional science:

…a 2005 study by scientists with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute with investigators supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, found that sodium nitrite infusions led to the production of nitric oxide which increased blood flow and protected the hearts and livers in mice undergoing experimental heart attacks and liver injuries, reducing heart muscle and liver tissue damage.

All of this experimental research is preliminary but does illustrate that in the past 15 years, “we’ve gone from considering all of these things to be toxic and carcinogenic to realizing that [nitrites are] playing a fundamental homeostatic role,” said Dr. Ferric Fang, M.D., professor of laboratory medicine and microbiology at the University of Washington in Seattle. They’re a normal, natural part of a healthy body and not chemicals to fear.

So, hotdogs and processed meats are condemned as junk food because they contain nitrates, which they don’t, while vegetables are declared health food because they’re free from the same chemicals, which they’re not. It may be awhile before people will get to the point of calling bacon and hotdogs health food.

Woody Allen’s notion in Sleeper is looking more and more prophetic.

[Update mid morning]

Some disgusting anti-bacon propaganda.

Appalling Nutritional Ignorance Among Doctors

on parade:

The event, which sold out all 4,000 tickets in 25 minutes, offers something to make every swine lover swoon: unlimited bacon samples, a bacon-eating contest, educational lectures, a bacon-themed songwriting contest and crowning of a new bacon queen. Organizers plan to serve up about three tons of the fatty strips.

They’re also prepared for a bit of oinking from outsiders.

A group of vegetarian doctors has been skewering Iowans over the event for months. Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, says he wants to publicize the flip side of bacon.

He says the PCRM plans to hand out fliers with warnings about how bacon “rotting in your mouth” potentially has various health risks, including cancer and diabetes.

I am aware of zero scientific evidence that anyone has ever gotten diabetes from eating bacon. And this is great:

Growing up in Fargo, N.D. …Dr. Barnard chowed down on bacon.

Both his father and grandfather were cattle ranchers. His palate changed, though, when he went off to Washington, D.C., for medical school.

A pathologist told Dr. Barnard, then 22 years old, to unlock a morgue freezer, pull out a body and help him examine the patient, dead from a heart attack.

The patient’s arteries were “hard as a rock,” Dr. Barnard recalls. The pathologist replied: “There’s your bacon and eggs, Neal.”

Soon, the medical student began to leave his carnivorous ways behind.

Primitive thinking like this is how ignorance is propagated. “You are what you eat.” “Big chief make crops grow.”

And we’re supposed to rely on these people for nutritional advice? And then let them force-feed our kids awful meals?

Hey, if you have ethical problems with eating animals, then be a vegan, but don’t delude yourself that it’s healthy, or that even if is for you that it will be for others. Now I’m curious as to what his cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels are.


What’s amusing about this kerfuffle is that the chimichanga is the Mexican-food equivalent of chop suey, which is a dish invented in San Francisco, and no one in China had ever heard of. It’s not from south of the border, but originated in Tucson, at the best restaurant in town when it comes to Tucsonian cuisine. And most places in other locales don’t really know how to do it, often adding beans or rice, making it a mere fried burrito. It’s best filled with carne seca, an El Charro specialty that is also not widely available. The other things that are local to southern Arizona, but hasn’t made it much farther is a cheese crisp (flour tortilla topped with monterey jack and broiled open face to melt it, with or without jalapenos, then sliced and served like a pizza) and green-corn tamales. I was eating them in the seventies when I lived in Tucson, working for the L-5 Society, before most people had ever heard of them.

[Update a few minutes later]

I see that Prudence Paine is amused at the ignorance as well. Though I take issue with her denigration of them. They are excellent, and better than most Mexican dishes, in my opinion. I suspect her antipathy toward them is based on a misplaced fear of fat. When I used to eat them in Tucson, they were fried in lard, and that’s actually much healthier than low-fat, or vegetable oils. The bad thing about them is the flour tortilla itself, not the fact that it’s fried.

Creeping Totalitarianism

Thoughts from Lileks on school lunches:

I’m trying to think of a situation in which it’s permissible for a government official – not a school employee, even, but someone representing an agency outside the school – ask my daughter what she had for breakfast, then send me a letter informing me I have fed her the wrong thing, and must correct my ways. I can’t even imagine a state official demanding to look in her lunch to see if it conforms with national standards. If this is true . .

A preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because a state employee told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious.

The girl’s turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the agent who was inspecting all lunch boxes in her More at Four classroom that day.

The Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs — including in-home day care centers — to meet USDA guidelines. That means lunches must consist of one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables, even if the lunches are brought from home.

And I say “if,” because years of getting collar-hot over this or that, only to find out that the situation was 17% less objectionable, which converted the situation from Ridiculous State Imposition to Idiotic Overreach Compounded by Misunderstanding and Mulish Defensiveness. But it seems to be holding up.

If this happened to us I would have to have a conversation with some people. Her lunch is simple: a piece of whole-wheat bread, a slice of bologna, half a slice of cheese, a bag of grapes, a ration of almonds, and a Roarin’ Waters pouch of flavored fluid with no sugar. It doesn’t have a vegetable because she wouldn’t eat it. In the case of this kid, the school made her a new lunch that included a vegetable, and she didn’t try it, either. You can lead a kid to watercress, but you cannot make them them eat.

There are two issues here. First, the overreach in general of having a bureaucrat police the contents of lunches brought from home. But the second is that junk science involved. There is abundant evidence that grain is not good for everyone (and perhaps not really for anyone), and yet the federal government demands that it be included in every meal. So even if one thinks that it’s acceptable for the government to act as a nanny food policeman, the law they enforce should conform to actual healthy nutrition, rather than the discredited food pyramid. As Glenn says, we used to have a remedy for this sort of thing that’s unfortunately gone out of fashion. It involves hot thick hydrocarbons and bird coverings.

More Media Dietary Ignorance

So, here we have a young woman in the UK who has has eaten nothing but Chicken McNuggets™ her whole life, and is in poor health, but a mystery remains:

…despite a diet that regularly means she eats at least a third more than the 56g of fat recommended by experts, she manages to keep relatively trim.

This may be down to the amount of exercise she does or to her metabolism.

Or maybe, just maybe, eating fat is not what makes you fat.

It is an awful diet, to be sure, but not because of what’s in it (fat) but because of what is not (healthy vegetables). It has a reasonable balance of protein and carbs (though it would be better if the carbs weren’t a batter, and could be a little lower). It’s the lack of nutrients that is killing her, not the fat.

The Waw Of Nawthuhn Aggression

Against Paula Deen.

As I noted earlier, some of this is rooted in nutritional ignorance:

You don’t get diabetes from fatty foods, or the Inuit, who traditionally lived on whale blubber and seal fat, would all be diabetic. Well, actually they are now, but they never were until they started eating flour and sugar, which is the problem with Paula Deen’s cooking as well.

But most of the criticisms I’ve seen have focused on the fat, rather than the carbs, so this is just a battle in the overall ignorant (and deadly) war on dietary fat. Not that there isn’t some anti-southern bigotry involved as well, of course. Like that against Christians, it’s the only other acceptable form of bigotry among the politically correct elite.