Hoglinks: No Free Lunch

July 23rd, 2014 by Jean Lardon

As the internet exits its adolescence, it’s becoming increasing obvious that it was the inevitable apotheosis of the American Culture of Convenience.  After all, here was something that looked as big as the globe and came festooned with a banner reading, “You Can Have Anything in the World in the Comfort of Your Own Home, and You Can Have It For Free!” Today’s selection of grace notes suggest that “free” ain’t always what it’s cracked up to be.

  • Interesting evidence that the 23 billion dollar antioxidant supplement industry just might have the whole thing backwards… so backwards that popping an antioxidant pill before exercising confers the same combined benefit as — watching television.  Bewilderingly, dosing yourself with antioxidants actually nullifies the positive effects of exercise.   The problem, it turns out, is that plant foods don’t help us by loading us up with good stuff, they help by tanking us up with toxins.  If you want antioxidants, it’s strictly roll your own.
  • The above makes good sense of the below, a new meta-analysis of over three hundred research studies on whether organic or conventional (and we’ll leave aside how growing something under deeply artificial conditions is designated conventional) which concludes that all those organics depending on their own internal chemical defenses to survive are better for us than their coddled and guarded brethren, the Conventionals.
  • The local fishing industry of Morro Bay, on the Central California coast, was declared an economic disaster some years back, but the train wreck has enabled a very interesting experiment.  The Nature Conservancy bought up quota rights and boats from fishermen abandoning the grounds.  The goal was to put them off limits, but the Conservancy is now leasing those rights back to small, local fishers, on the condition that they fish without trawls — which is to say, fish in a way that doesn’t produce mostly bycatch while also devastating the entire ecosystem.   So the conservationists are allowing fishing and the fishers are agreeing to take less fish (in the short run) but the result is the the preservation of both the fishing grounds and the culture of the fishermen.   If you’re particularly interested, here’s a take on the nuts and bolts lessons from Morro Bay.
  • I’m afraid to go to Vermont.  Not because I’m alarmed by bucolic charm and the kind of independent streak that saw Vermonters declare war on Hitler three months before the rest of the country, but rather because everything I see/read/hear makes it out to be the most perfect corner of the continent from a food and culture point of view.  Consequently, I’m tempted to leave it imaginary and perfect instead of real and less so.  So it’s intriguing to see a story of how the many and varied Flossies and Bessies of Vermont’s storied dairy industry are polluting idyllic Lake Champlain, one cow flop at a time.   Of course, this being Vermont, their solution to the problem may make the state even more beatific.
  • When Top Gun 2 is rumored to be Tom Cruise vs the Drones, is strongly suggests that  (1) we really have entered a brave new world and (2) you can pretty sure reality will be the opposite of Tom-Cruise-wins-on-behalf-of-all-humans.  I’m not personally looking forward to the Aerial Surveillance State, whether administered by the NSA or Amazon, but it looks like there may be some some useful monkey-wrenching to be done, at least until legislators catch up with the tech.  You see, while seven states have made it a felony to photograph what goes on in factory farms, whether as undercover workers or even from a public roadway, they seem to have forgotten the eye in the sky.
  • And finally, light at the end of the tunnel in Novosibirsk, Siberia.  That’s where you’ll find the Red House Bakery/Cafe with their “Coffee To Go” sandwich board outside.  For those of you whose Russian is a little rusty, here’s the translation of picture 7 of 7, top to bottom.


Coffee to Go

One Coffee — 200 rubles

(But “one” here is rendered as “odno” which is the wrong gender. It’s a common grammatical mistake.)

One Coffee — 150 rubles

(“One” here is “odin” which is the correct gender)

One Coffee, Please — 100 rubles

(Politeness gets you one-third off.)

Hello! One Coffee, Please — 60 rubles

(But friendly takes you all the way to the true price.)

Coffee at the Red House — the ideal beverage to go with the non-free lunches which turn out to be what we needed after all.

Cow Drone by Mauricio Lima
Durian Fruit by Duy-Thuong
Antioxidant 7up by Charlie
Morro Bay by Howard Ignatius
Plush Dairy Herd by Rongorongo
Novosibirsk Snow by Alex Polezhaev
Red House Coffee via Larisa Kazakova


Tags:  Food Culture 
Subscribe to Jean's feed: RSS