Friday, January 8, 2010

BIO BS! - Now I can eat what I like, guilt free!

BIO, Germany, Vietmam, Paris, St. Michel, Carrefour, €, Michael Spector, Tom Philpot, WWED, BIO this, BIO that. Moving from a described 'developing' country like Vietnam to a supposed 'developed' country such is Germany brings on a torrent of BIO assault that I was ill-prepared for. I saw it first in a three-week stint in Paris where we had a charming tiny flat just off St. Michel and we literally attacked every grocery from the local fromagerie to Carrefour because we had not seen food so plentiful and beautifully displayed in quite some time. "They only allow beautiful vegetables in Europe", sung my partner as we trolled the aisles of yet another testament to the power and glory of strict government controls (Nanny State), and the overwhelmingly bourgeois tendency to need to look just fantastically smart and erudite whilst engaged in even the most basic of daily chores - like choosing an avocado.

"Let's see, do I need the regular one or the BIO one?" The BIO one cost a Euro more and it's a little smaller. But oh the nutritional value and my financial ability to keep those bad corporate farm chemicals out of my system make it worth it, doesn't it?

Bollocks. Or so says Michael Spector in his new book, 'Denialism, How irrational thinking hinders scientific progress, harms the planet and threatens our lives'. Spector is a respected New Yorker writer and takes on big pharma, big farm-a and a host of other big Washington lobbyists in stating his thesis that big corporate interest is screwing our planet and our people over somehow.

That said, reviewer Tom Philpot takes Spector to task for his premise and basically says that he points the pistol but doesn't even fire a shot at the interests he purports to be taking aim at.

"In the late 18th century, Edward Gibbon fretted about getting into trouble for his blunt take on the early Christians. Short summary: their intolerance and stupidity unwittingly helped bring down Rome. In the above-quoted passage of his 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire', Gibbon tried to prepare the gentle reader for his coming exposé of early-church idiocy.

Like the great institutions of European Christianity, modern science has amassed tremendous power—and not always lived up to its founding creeds. Science needs a Gibbon— someone who appreciates its intellectual grandeur and potential, but who also can train a cold eye on the 'inevitable mixture of error and corruption' that has accompanied its tenure since the Enlightenment. That Gibbon is not Michael Specter."

Ahh, but that's all a little too high minded for us plebes here at the WWED isn't it? Yes, I thought so. So let me bring it down to two key points I got out of Spector in the middle of his rant that doesn't seem to have much of a target:

1) Spector points out quite rightly that organic food shows NO, I mean NO scientific benefits at all to the well healed who can afford it, although he does acquiesce that it tastes better and I would tend to agree, especially on the tomahtoes (oh, that British lilt I get in Europe. I love it!)

2) And number two: That multiple vitamins show NO, I mean NO, scientific efficacy in those who take them plus eat well and properly from the food pyramid in the first place.

Damn. Case closed! Gimme a cigarette. I can now rightfully piss off a partner and an ex´wife (whom was already pissed-off) again! Yee-Haa! I win. But not really. I can't count the times I've been statistically correct but still lost the war. Vietnam proved that against the Americans with the Chu Chi tunnels and the avoidance of more ordinance than had ever been dropped inside such a restricted perimeter and on so many people (who are basically still kicking ass today).

In Vietnam they would win no points whatsoever for appetizing display, unless of course you consider six live frogs strung together by palm strips and only available by the six-pack. appetizing, but never in a day in Vietnam did I feel that I was eating unhealthily or un-appetizingly. On the contrary. To eat at my street-side deer restaurant and have a deer sate and 6 plump deep fried prawns and a beer for four dollars now seems like heaven.

That other people deny themselves happiness when they feel I smoke too much, drink too much or eat the wrong things is really not my problem is it? I'm happy. I wish they could be happier with themselves - instead of living a life in pseudo-scientific denial.

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