Thursday, December 27, 2007

Beaver-Butt Juice, Crushed Beetles, Calf Tongues in Our Food, Oh My!

As creative as some people think I am, I really do not make this stuff up.

An excellent article in the November/December 2007 issue of VegNews magazine ("Code Red: Deciphering the Discombobulating Language of Food Labels") discusses crap that is in our food that the government permits without us being notified.

Vegetarians, vegans, and meat-eaters alike should be horrified that certain ingredients are not specifically spelled out for us on our food labels.

According to the article, the Code of Federal Regulations "permits food manufacturers to list a gaggle of ingredients as 'natural' flavors, so long as they are derived from 'nature' without undergoing excessive physical processing conditions during development, such as extreme temperatures or pressures."

WARNING: Don't read the following while (or shortly after) eating!

One such ingredient the federal code covers is castoreum, which is literally extracted from a beaver's anal glands. According to VegNews, the pungent, creamy substance has been used for more than 80 years in baked goods, condiments, and candies. Can you say "gross," boys and girls!

The article goes on to discuss other crap that might be in our food without us knowing it, such as carmine or cochineal, which is the ground-up carcasses of beetles. The additive is said to be used as a coloring in processed foods.

Consumers should be revolting about the practice of food manufacturers not informing us about what is really in our food. Not sure if letters to our representatives or FDA would do any good in changing the law, but feel free to spread the word (instead of a beaver's butt) about this topic to others.

Be sure to order a back issue of the November/December 2007 VegNews magazine to read the in-depth article which gives a detailed list of what is what.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Bumhole of the Month: Diamond Valley Middle School (for suspending student with blue hair)

(Hemet, CA) With all the very serious things taking place at public schools throughout the nation these days, it amazes me that administrators at one California school have the colour of a student's hair as top priority!

These morons, who probably all have one or more college degrees and had to have a full body cavity search prior to being hired, actually SUSPENDED 13-year-old student Leona Searan because a portion of her hair was coloured midnight blue.

According to a recent article in The Press-Enterprise newspaper (Riverside, CA): "The Diamond Valley Middle School student was sent home for violating the school dress code rule prohibiting 'purple, green, blue or other unnatural color' in hair. She returned, still with blue hair, and was suspended for a day. She can't go back unless the coloring is rinsed out or covered. Unwilling to immediately do so, she is on home study until Jan. 11 with permission of the school."

The student's mother, a hairdresser, told the newspaper she wasn't aware that the school had a rule regarding hair colour and was shocked to find her daughter suspended. The mother and father are considering legal action against the school district, according to the newspaper article.

Sadly enough, several local residents sent letters to the editor of The Press-Enterprise chastising the student for considering legal action and said that the student should learn to follow the rules.

Hello? This is the US of A, long may she wave, the land of liberty, of thee I sing, unless, of course, I'm a teenager who wants to be different and express myself by colouring my hair!

Shame on the Hemet school and all the so-called educators and administrators involved in this dispute. I hope they get a much needed education from the 13-year-old student and her parents about civil liberties and freedom of expression, which do NOT necessarily (or at least should not) stop at the schoolhouse door.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Whole Foods CEO is Corrupt and Should Resign!

Because of my sometimes very busy proofreading business, I only recently learned what a slimeball Whole Foods CEO John Mackey is. As a result, I will never spend one dime at Whole Foods or their newly acquired Wild Oats companies. Furthermore, I have written Mr. Mackey directly and asked that he resign as CEO of the company immediately.

Thanks to the December 2007 issue of VegNews
magazine, I became educated very quickly about how Mackey manipulated information and outright lied to the public regarding Wild Oats in order for him and and Whole Foods to benefit financially.

According to the article (originating from The Wall Street Journal), the Federal Trade Commission revealed that Mackey posted more than 1,100 messages over an eight-year period on Yahoo! Finance stock forums under a false identity, trashing rival natural foods grocer Wild Oats before trying to buy the company out. Mackey, according to the article, is asking everyone to forgive him, which is grand of him, but he should still resign his post.

I urge all concerned consumers to join me in demanding the immediate resignation of Mackey. Please send him a letter directly at:

John Mackey, CEO

Whole Foods Market, Inc
550 Bowie Street
Austin, TX 78703

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Fuck Censorship!

This isn't the first and won't be the last time I write a column with this heading. I am sick and tired of other people judging me and trying to control what I read, listen to, watch, eat, and so on. Is anyone else as mad as hell and not going to take it anymore?

When I read the latest assault on free speech, the first thing that came to mind was Saturday Night Live's character from the "old days," Roseanne Rosannadanna, who used to say, "I thought I was going to puke!"

Back in November of this year, some holier-than-thous went on the rampage about rap lyrics. According to United Press International, New York's public advocate (Betsy Gotbaum) sent letters protesting revenue generated through the use of degrading lyrics and racial slurs.

According to the article, the New York City retirement fund holds $5 billion in entertainment and broadcast stocks. The article, which originated from the New York Daily News, went on to state that her criticism comes on the heels of a surge of attacks against offensive lyrics prevalent in rap and hip-hip music.

Just when I thought I was feeling sick enough, I read further on in the article how the Rev. Al Sharpton has rallied in Times Square protesting offensive lyrics and music producer Russel Simmons called for voluntary bans on degrading slang.

At that point, I was literally forced to stop reading the article and guzzle the entire contents of a bottle of Emetrol!

Tipper Gore went crazy with music lyrics decades ago. More recently, I believe the U.S. Congress held hearings about rap lyrics when Eminem became popular, and Senator Joe Lieberman had his day in the sun with that. Lynne Cheney, if I am correct, was involved in all the hoopla too. What's up with vice presidents' wives and censorship anyway?

As far as I am concerned, folks like bad boy rapper Eminem and sex mogul Larry Flynt have done more for upholding freedoms in American than any politician or wife of a politician.

Anyone interesting in reading a "fair and balanced" article about rap lyrics and how they affect (or don't affect) society, please read my 2001 article, EMINEM'S LYRICS: Is Society Rewarding Hate? (2001).

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sex Education Saves Lives

By accident, thanks to the Internet, I happened to catch a recent letter to the editor of Milwaukee's Journal Sentinel newspaper in Wisconsin. I have no clue how old the writer of the letter is, but it is an important commentary (but sad one) on the status of sex education in many parts of the nation.

I am providing a copy of the letter here, followed by a link to a similar letter to a newspaper I wrote about the subject in 1979, when I was about 18.

Here's the recent Wisconsin letter:

Your Opinions
From Journal Sentinel readers (Wisconsin)
Posted: Dec. 10, 2007

Youth need open, thorough discussion

I was appalled by the Elmbrook School District task force's discussion to shy away from proper sexual education ("Task force debates sex ed lesson timing," Dec. 6). I am thankful I was taught in Brookfield's public school system in a comprehensive manner about sex and disease prevention. To deprive children of that in a culture laced with provocative media and sexual innuendo is both a contradiction and a disservice.

Children should learn about sex not only for the prevention of unwanted pregnancies but for the fact that more than half of all sexually active people in the United States will have a sexually transmitted disease at some point in their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Depriving children of education about sexual behavior when they reach the age of curiosity is damaging to them and to society. Young teens should feel comfortable discussing the matter of sexual health with their doctor and their sexual history with their partner. The rising statistics of diseases show the need to be rid of stigmas associated with sexual behavior.

Teaching teens to be ashamed and embarrassed to talk about sexual behavior by beating around the bush with abstinence-only education is asking for ignorance and an increase in diseases among the young population. I encourage the district to reconsider.

Katherine Groth

Click here to read a 1979 letter I wrote to a newspaper on the very same topic in California when I was about 18.
Click here to read a 1979 news article regarding the school board voting against sex ed!