This is an outstanding find, courtesy of Leisureguy. Hold your cursor over any bubble and see the conditions for which there is strong evidence of efficacy. Note how much we hear about is actually below the useless line.
First, let’s acknowledge that things made in China are not inherently worse than those made elsewhere, even North America. China has the capability to make great products. I bought a Descente winter coat a couple of years ago. Made in China. My friend Andre, who turned me on to this extremely high-quality winter-wear, has an older one, made in France. We compared the quality and workmanship, and it is identical. On the other hand, China is a country only now emerging from decades of environmental neglect (and I’m not so sure they are even “emerging” yet), corruption, and widespread poverty (which makes any people do strange things). Successful international companies know that to make great goods in China you have to provide your own oversight in the form of local hands-on supervision from people you can trust. And even then, it can be a problem to get cooperation and disclosure from local authorities.
This is one reason that I will not buy food products from China, if I can help it (see my post, A Fishy Story, from a couple days ago). Is it possible for China to grow organic foods? Possibly…but I wouldn’t trust it, for the simple reason that pollution is so highly entrenched from years of neglect, military proliferation and weapons testing, and recent rapid economic development – one only has to remember what the air looked like during the Beijing Olympics. Maybe, if I had someone from North America, on the farm, who would attest to the procedures and testing, I might start to have some confidence. But as you’ll see from the video below, that’s far from the fact, and Whole Foods should be living much closer to its stated values. Whole Foods, BTW, is my favorite store, but stuff like this seriously damages their franchise (trust) with me. Thanks to Mr. Dario for pointing this out (retirement has its benefits…like time!).
There is a growing rebellion against the bullshit we have been fed for so many years about what constitutes health and fitness. Largely, all the “conventional wisdom” has been about putting a hand in your pocket by making you eat one thing vs. another, or join some fitness club, buy some weight-loss book, or some new piece of technology to make being active easier and less painful. But in the end, as my friend Dr. Jack would say, “It’s all bullshit”…and as a society, the West has become fatter and fatter, less and less fit, and increasingly susceptible to new-age diseases like diabetes and cancer. Greece, with its benchmark-setting longevity and healthful lifestyle (as cataloged in the 1960’s) now has the highest obesity rate in Europe and ranks sixth in the world (Canada, ranks 12th!).
I found this a very cute parody of the Wii Fit ads. In the cause of full disclosure, I admit that some weeks ago I was looking to buy one, but read the reviews, thought about it, and decided not to. Bought a new cross-country ski set instead!:
Bored with your family ride? Miss the days of having a sports car (if you ever had one)? Technology just keeps providing answers to those problems we never knew we had! Have a look and then visit the site at soundracer.se. Thanks to Mr. Bruce for the heads-up on this product line.
What would you expect the ingredients to be in a bag of plain frozen fish or seafood? I don’t mean fillets stuffed with crab meat and cheese, or breaded shrimp, or “marinated” anything. I mean just plain ordinary frozen fish, shrimp, scallops, etc. Just like the fresh kind, but frozen. I think if you’re an average shopper you probably expect the ingredients to be….fish….just fish….frozen.
But believe it or not, something happened in our quest to put fish on the Western table cheaply and more often, ostensibly for its health benefits (low fat, Omega-3’s, etc.). Third-world countries saw an opportunity to develop fish and seafood farms to supply the emerging demand for this simultaneously declining wild resource. But these same countries have, for the most part, notoriously unhygienic water systems, often combining sewage with their fresh and salt-water environments. There’s an old joke about what does the average Asian fish-farm fish see when it raises its head and looks up? Answer: Someone’s rear end.
The result is that just about all frozen non-organic fish coming from Vietnam, Thailand, and other Asian countries, must be frozen in a variety of antibiotic media, the most common being tripolyphosphates, sodium erythrobate, and potassium erythrobate, among others. Some of these, like the tripolyphosphates, also cause the fish to uptake more water, increasing its sale weight.
Sodium and potassium erythrobate, are also found in preserved meats such as bacon and pepperoni, but these aren’t frozen products. Freezing, by definition, should eliminate the need for such additives, and in fact you won’t find them in organic frozen fish and seafood coming from Canada, the US, Europe, or even Ecuador (which has grasped the opportunity and developed quite a thriving and growing organic fish and seafood industry).
I saw Pacific wild salmon fillets advertised today at our local Maxi chain grocery for $4.99/lb. I should have been suspicious, but figured, hey, all stores use lost leaders, so maybe that’s what this is. And I prefer frozen salmon fillets for making my gravlax because I would have to freeze the fresh product anyway to kill the small worms that infect some salmon these days. But it was not to be. The fillets looked good, but the label told the story: Salt, and sodium and potassium erythrobate. I walked away. I could see the ass hovering over that particular pond.
I first heard of Blue Zones a couple of years ago; the consolidation of research involving the longest-lived populations in the world and what they have in common. I was fascinated today (thanks to Mr. Dario for the heads-up) to note how this concept has evolved and how well it has been “translated” into well-grounded information and recommendations for the rest of us. An absolutely great place to cut through all the nutritional and exercise bullshit out there and learn about what really works in real life. Hint: it isn’t dieting, supplements, or crazy exercise. Very worth a visit, here.
If you have 5 minutes, sign up and take the Vitality Compass test. It will calculate your biological age vs. your chronological age. Mine was 44.8 (vs. 56) with a life expectancy of 93.2. Catastrophic news for my kids…there goes the inheritance! Geez…I better put more money in my Registered Retirement Savings Plan….I may need it!
At the top of the web site, on the right hand side, there’s a tab for IKARIA. This is an island in Greece, close to the Turkish coast, where people live astonishingly long and healthy lives. It’s also one of archaeologist daughter’s favorite places, as she spent a couple of weeks there a few years ago.
My wife sent an interesting link to a web site intended to get people started on the road to fitness. It’s called Fit-in 15 and has been developed by the Canadian Chiropractic Association. It’s strictly entry-level, but nevertheless looks very good for getting the ball rolling (no pun intended!). Since she works in rehab, it is particularly useful for her older patients, the disabled, or those who haven’t done any form of exercise in years. May be less interesting to buff bucks like myself, but I thought I’d spread the word. Very, very, simple and intuitive to use, and it’s FREE! Register for an account and you can use the calendar and other functions to set up your own personalized program.
Tom Brokaw has done a very nice tribute to the Canada/US relationship:
If you enjoy outdoor activities and want to track them for fitness purposes, there’s a great iPhone app called Runkeeper. The basic version is available free, but is very limited. For a few extra bucks ($9.99) you can get the “Pro” version that captures a lot more detail, and for an additional annual subscription ($19.95 – optional) you can delve more deeply into the analysis of your fitness data. I’ve looked at a variety of such apps and this one, IMHO, is the best. Very reliable and accurate measurement, with a great Graphic User Interface (GUI) both on the phone and on your computer. Runkeeper automatically sends your data to your personal page on the company’s web site, which allows you to track and analyze your performance in a variety of permutations.
Some of you may recall that a couple of weeks ago, I decided to no longer “exercise” for its own sake, but rather, to get back to enjoying the “real” activities I always relished: Biking, hiking, cross-country skiing, and squash (each in its season, of course). I’ve been using Runkeeper Pro to track my progress and am pleased to report that in the last 14 days, I’ve engaged in one or more of the above activities on 11 days. Not bad for a couch potato, and the real kicker is that I’m having a blast and looking forward to each day’s outing. Today I went cross-country skiing at the Morgan Arboretum twice!
Yesterday’s Montreal Gazette had a small piece about an East-end bakery in my old blue-collar ‘hood, Maisonneuve-Hochelaga. Calling this area “working class” would be bordering on fabrication, since it is a bastion of high unemployment, especially with the decline of heavy industries like ship-building. In fact, when my Dad came here in 1952, it was to work as an electrician on the mighty ships being built by Vickers shipyards. Just a stone’s throw away from our apartment were the Canadian Pacific rail yards (now long gone, the land decontaminated and turned into condos), where trains were serviced. You get my drift as to industrial scale.
Mercifully, the Olympic stadium was build a few blocks from our home and this has kept some onus on the City administration to keep the area clean and relatively crime-free. But it’s no hub of gentrification, to be sure. Making it even stranger to find a bakery of Arhoma’s caliber in this area. The Kommandant just sampled one of their croissant and gave it a mighty stamp of approval, ranking it almost on a par with our favorites from the dirty-Hippy organic market.
Arhoma may come from the Greek word “Archon” which means “ruler” or “lord”. Then again, like “kimono”, it may have nothing to do with Greek (“Yeah, right”, as Mr. Italo would say!). And the owner is French, not Greek. But it would make sense because an “arhoma” would be something of such a superb quality that you could offer it to a king. Anyway, the bakery’s output lives up to its name, not to mention the wonderful selection of goat cheeses. Archaeologist daughter and I each bought a few, including one very stinky goat cheddar with black pepper and lavender, to go on tonight’s organic beef burgers from our friend Analiese’s farm, on one of Arhoma’s onion rolls. Mmmmm, mmmmmm!