Saw this article today in the New York Times about the debate over putting labels on genetically modified food. Of course, this is one of those topics that immediate rips open fierce debate, like the vaccine-autism debate or the Laffer curve or Tom Cruise’s sexuality. In all those cases, the ferocity mainly seems to accrue to the minority that can’t seem to make it’s point without the conviction of the fire it breathes.
I personally am not frightened of genetically modified food, and look askance at the alarmists who shun GMO on principle. One day we might find out it’s harmful. Just like we might find out there are lots of all natural things, like tobacco, that are harmful. But dismissing genetically engineered foods out of hand smacks of back-to-nature idealism. Nature sometimes knows best–say, when an injured brain heals itself. Sometimes it doesn’t, say when lots of women without access to advanced medical care die in childbirth or when uncircumcised males pass more venereal disease than their snipped freres. Food activists have made great strides in uncovering some of our dirtiest food secrets–including the way tastes and smells are manufactured in labs and the way our increasing drift toward protein in our diets could augur environmental and economic upheaval. What they haven’t done is convince everybody that the concept of “Frankenfood” is in itself somehow evil if it had no adverse effects and and actually nourished an overpopulated planet, a world in which water and arable land are going to become scarcer and which could probably use a helpful nudge from human ingenuity in the form of technology. People who automatically fear an assault on the integrity of nature are in essence hawking religion. They mix up caloric intake with karma.
Having said that, one questions the reasoning of multinationals lining up against GMO labels on food. This is an argument of a different abstraction, and you don’t have to hate genetically modified food to think labeling is a good idea. Transparency being the watchword of our age, why would such companies fear honesty? If it was important to put warning labels on rap music, once upon a time, because of the unproven harm it could do to children, wouldn’t it be a no-brainer to label something that’s actually going into our bodies? Isn’t that a choice consumers ought to be allowed to make? If organic food and genetically modified food stood side by side, that’s a marketplace of ideas, not just food.
It also is distasteful that a decision against labeling could be unduly influenced by 8,000 pound biotech companies like Monsanto, who even profit motivated investors sometimes shun for its anti-competitive practices and bad corporate citizenship.
I think genetically modified food is OK, but if I didn’t, I’d demand the right to know when I’m buying it. Even our investments, our children’s toys and our drugs these days come with all sorts of disclaimers. Whether you think it’s necessary to be inside everything or not, GMO labeling sits well inside the pale of a public’s need to know. This wouldn’t be an issue at all if there weren’t powerful companies arrayed against public interest and (my old saw) a weak political establishment steered by anti-government hysterics woefully bereft of its power capital to do anything good for anybody.
Read Full Post »
–*A wedding cake with all 1,000 pages of the prenuptial agreement written on the top in rolled fondant.
–*A cake representation of baby’s first solid poop.
–*A giant bursting cake depicting the Hindenburg disaster.
–*A giant appendix made of marzipan on the occasion of cousin Joey’s appendectomy.
–*A Three Mile Island Cake
–*A highly graphic bris cake
–*Doing a baby shower cake with a pregnant belly on it that lactates soy milk and suffers from anal prolapse in a special display made of ganache.
–*A hysterectomy cake
–*An episiotomy cake
–*A colostomy cake
–*A first menstruation cake with extra cherry filling
–*A cake that has shrapnel from a Vietnam-era dum-dum round tumbling around inside of it, just like Uncle Joe.
–*A cake for the legal team who defended the use of torture during the Bush administration, featuring a dog pile of enemy combatants unprotected by the Geneva Convention.
–*You know what would be cooler than a stripper jumping out of a cake? How about a stripper handing you a subpoena for family court?
Read Full Post »
What cheap gimmicks are we using to get people to watch our online wine show?
–*We’re doing it from St. Bart’s.
–*We’re doing it naked.
–*We never taste Merlots.
–*We only drink Merlots.
–*We’re using the skull of a lowland druid as a spit bucket.
–*We’re using the New York Jets as a spit bucket.
–*The show is hosted by Elmo.
–*The show is hosted by an austere German baby nurse named Benz.
–*We always start by comparing every wine unfavorably to our favorite Northern Rhone that tastes like a French barnyard.
–*We do the show from a French barnyard.
–*We do the show in a burn ward.
–*David Lee Roth will come to your house.
–*We only taste harsh acidic wines from cool climates and measure each by how much sour “O” face it gives you–in a very special segment we like to call “The O Face.”
–*We only taste wines made by adult film stars.
–*We have a special migraines and flatulence segment.
–*Our tag-team hosts include one seasoned sommelier and a spasmodic Borscht Belt comedian who humps the grape vats for cheap yuks.
–*Every week, our on-location show ends in a Jerry Springer-style fistfight after we insult the vintner, usually after our host makes some comment like “Your wine has too much tannin on the back of the palate. You gonna do something about it?”
–*It is as true as anything Aristotle wrote in Metaphysics that your show has a better chance of being watched if Flavor Flav is in it.
Read Full Post »
Posted in Food & Dining, tagged epicurean, fugu, wine on November 24, 2009 |
Leave a Comment »
–*An Oregon Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley
–*A 2004 Cotes du Rhone
–*A double malt scotch aged in peat
–*A debate about Kierkegaard’s defense of Abraham and his murderous intentions toward Isaac
–*A debate about who knows more about Kierkegaard
–*An out and out fight that might have been about Kierkegaard when it started but is now mainly about who is doing all the dishes
–*A fight followed by some Neapolitan ice cream you can scoop your damn self
–*A double maduro cigar
–*A twin sister act from Reno
–*David Lee Roth would love to come to your house
–*A liter of El Salvadoran aguardiente topped off with anise, sugar cane and radiator fluid
–*Reading out loud The Nature of Things by the Roman poet Lucretius
–*Getting the cat drunk
–*A discussion about the ambiguity between major and Lydian modes in music
–*Throwing wet paper towels at the TV screen while “For the Love of Ray J” is on.
–*A phone call from the governor
–*A discussion about Hegel’s concept of antithesis along with a huge bowl of M&M’s that gives us diarrhea.
–*Chocolate chip cookies and porn
–*Fugu fish liver followed by human nerve death
–*Some guy playing guitar, same as he does at the nursing home every night
Read Full Post »