Respectful Insolence

I’ll admit it: I’m a bit of a beer snob. I make no bones about it, I like my beer, but I also like it to be good beer, and, let’s face it, beer brewed by large industrial breweries seldom fits the bill. To me, most of the beer out being sold in the U.S., particularly beer made by Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors can easily be likened to cold piss from horses with kidney disease (you need protein to get beer foam, you know), only without the taste. I have to be mighty desperate and thirsty before I will partake of such swill. I will admit that there is one exception, namely Blue Moon, which is manufactured by a division of MillerCoors, but that’s the only exception I can think of. Ever since I discovered Bell’s Oberon, a nice local (well, statewide, anyway) wheat ale, I can do without Blue Moon. Sadly, Oberon is only brewed during the spring and summer months; so when I want a similar bit of brew during the winter months sometimes I’m tempted by Blue Moon. Otherwise, I’m generally happy with one of the many craft and microbrews made by local brewers such as Short’s Brewing Company (whose brewpub I had the pleasure of visiting about a month ago) and Bells Brewery.

Despite my general hostility to Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors products as examples of everything that is wrong with American beer, I have to say that I almost feel sorry for the people running those corporations right now. Unfortunately, they’ve fallen victim to the latest quack making a name for herself on the Internet by peddling pseudoscience. As is my wont, I’ll go into my usual excruciating detail shortly. But first, to whom am I referring?

Enter the font of misinformation that is The Food Babe

Like my good bud Mark Crislip, who recently wrote about her about her mind-numbingly stupid antivaccine post, until recently I had no idea who the “food babe” was, but unfortunately, I learned about the black hole of misinformation that the Food Babe during her infamous “yoga mat chemical” campaign.

There’s no doubt that the Food Babe is photogenic and also has a talent and penchant for making her utter ignorance of chemistry and science work for her as a powerful P.R. tool that has catapulted her from an obscure food blogger to a guest on television shows such as The Doctors and that repository of all medical crankery and quackery, The Dr. Oz Show, where The Great and Powerful Oz himself praised her activities as part of the “Oz effect.” Her name is Vani Hari, but she is much better known by her blog name, The Food Babe.

Unfortunately, when faced with a young, telegenic, clever but scientifically ignorant blogger who used her popular website and blog to gather a bunch of signatures rooted in the same “yoga mat chemical” ignorance she promotes, Subway caved, even though there is no good evidence that azodicarbonamide is harmful and lots of good evidence that it’s useful as a maturing agent. Basically, when it’s added to flour, it makes bread dough rise better. It also improves the handling properties of dough, making it drier, more cohesive and more pliable, allowing it to hold together better during kneading. No wonder uber-quack Mike Adams is so impressed with her. The two are kindred spirits, given how Mike Adams has been doing, in essence, the same sort of thing with a mass spectrometer, using it to measure heavy metals in various foods and supplements as fodder for fear mongering campaigns to demonize the food industry, not to mention to undercut competitors in the supplement business.

A little under two weeks ago, The Food Babe turned her ever-scientifically-ignorant sights on one of my favorite beverages of all, beer. As befits her growing skill at using PR combined with rants against genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and scary sounding chemicals (i.e., all of them), she targeted large breweries like MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch, charging that they had all sorts of nefariously toxic “chemicals” and GMO-derived products in their beers and challenging them to publish their complete ingredient list. As typically happens when The Food Babe takes aim at a corporation, these beer behemoths hemmed and hawed for a couple of days as they figured out a response—and that response was, ultimately, to cave just like Subway:

Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors, two of the world’s biggest beer makers, are posting online what’s inside bottles of Budweiser and Miller Lite after pressure from a food blogger.

The two companies on Thursday posted the ingredients of some of their most popular brands, and promised to be more transparent in the future. The announcements come a day after blogger Vani Hari posted a petition on FoodBabe.com to get major brewers to list what’s in their beverages.

Anheuser-Busch posted the ingredients for its two top-selling brands on its website, tapintoyourbeer.com. It lists the same ingredients for Budweiser and Bud Light: Water, barley malt, rice, yeast and hops. The company, which also makes Beck’s, Busch and Michelob beers, said it will list the ingredients for all of its other brands online “in the coming days.” It’s the first time Anheuser-Busch has detailed the ingredients of its beers.

Here’s the problem. All you have to do to see that this won’t satisfy Hari is to go back to her original charges and petitions. Of course the main ingredients of beer are water, barley malt, rice, yeast, and hops! That’s how beer is made. The original petition paints the issue as a comparison of Coca Cola and Windex having to reveal their ingredients but beer not having to do so. Then there’s a video featuring Hari starting out gushing about how her husband “loves beer” and that’s why she wanted so badly to find out what’s “really” in beer. There’s then a list that scrolls down the screen to her right of—you guessed it!—a whole lot of chemicals with scary-sounding names plus—of course!—the dreaded GMOs:

I was tempted to leave the deconstruction of Hari’s claims to the reader as an exercise, to see how much you grok science-based medicine, but then this would turn into the all-time shortest Orac post in the history of this blog, and we can’t have that, now, can we?

Scary chemical names and origins as a propaganda weapon

I must confess. I didn’t know that there was caffeine in beer until I perused the list that flew by in Hari’s video above. It seems rather counterproductive. On the other hand, I do like the occasional Irish coffee, which also combines alcohol and caffeine. Never mind. In any case, her strategy is very transparent, but unfortunately it’s also very effective: Name a bunch of chemicals and count on the chemical illiteracy of your audience to result in fear at hearing their very names. However, if you have any background in chemistry, much of what Hani is doing is almost painfully transparent, a veritable insult to one’s intelligence and training. Here are some examples.

Particularly hilarious are some of the “evil” chemicals listed, which include

  • Calcium phosphate, dibasic
  • Calcium phosphate, monobasic
  • Calcium phosphate, tribasic

What’s the difference between these three forms of calcium phosphate? I know the answer because my undergraduate degree is in chemistry. To make it very simple, these are all different forms of calcium phosphate that differ in the ratio of calcium ion to phosphate ion that depends upon the charge on the phosphate ion. Calcium ion holds a +2 charge, and the ratio of calcium to phosphate in the salt must be neutral. That’s it. Monobasic calcium phosphate contains a one-to-two ratio of calcium to phosphate, because the phosphate in this form holds a -1 charge. It’s acidic; so when it reacts with alkali it produces carbon dioxide and a salt, which is why it is often used as a leavening agent to make baked goods rise. Dibasic calcium phosphate has a one-to-one ratio of calcium to phosphate, because the phosphate in it has a -2 charge, having lost one hydrogen ion. It’s sometimes used as a dietary supplement and a tableting agent. It’s also more neutral, and a lot less soluble in water. Tribasic calcium phosphate has three calcium ions to two phosphate ions, because the phosphate ions have a -3 charge. Now here’s the thing. In aqueous solution, there is always going to be a mixture of these three forms, because at a pH of around 4 (the pH of most ales and lagers) different proportions of the phosphate ions will have differing numbers of hydrogen ions associated with them, from one to three. I could go into a lot more detail, and almost certainly chemists reading this might take issue with my simplification, but in reality what we’re talking about is a combination of calcium ion and phosphate ion in aqueous solution at a pH of around 4-4.5. Listing them as three different chemicals is deceptive. Sure, in solid (i.e., crystal) form they have different properties, this means little in dilute aqueous solution.

She pulls exactly the same deceptive trick with sodium phosphate, the three forms of which are basically sodium salts of phosphoric acid as formed at different pHs. At low pH, more of the phosphate will be monobasic; at high pH more will be tribasic. Again, it’s an equilibrium where the proportion of mono-, di-, and tri-basic forms of phosphate depends on the pH. In fact, that’s how you can make phosphate buffers of any pH you want: Vary the proportions of di- and monobasic forms of phosphate, like so. In chemistry, according to the Bronsted-Lowry acid-base theory, an acid is a proton donor and a base is a proton acceptor. Boiled down to a very simple explanation, that’s where the “basic” in mono-, di-, and tribasic comes from, the number of protons the phosphate group can accept.

In her petition, Hari complains:

When I called and emailed these companies, they gave me the runaround about their ingredients — providing basic information but not the full story.

Who can blame them? Surely MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch were aware of the deceptive “yoga mat chemical” gambit used by Hari to such effect earlier this year. I wouldn’t give Hari the time of day, either. Unfortunately, companies live and die by public perception. It’s far easier to give a blackmailer like Hari what she wants than to try to resist or to counter her propaganda by educating the public. And, make no mistake, blackmail is exactly what Vani Hari is about. (NOTE ADDED AFTER PUBLICATION: Forbes blogger Trevor Butterworth calls this sort of strategy “quackmail.” Damn. Another term, like “quackademic medicine,” that I wish I’d thought of. Meanwhile Jay Brooks calls it “yellow journalism,” which to me is being far to kind to the Food Babe, who has demonstrated her intolerance of dissent and outright intellectual dishonest time and time again. That’s why I think Tom Cizauskas is more accurate to refer to what the Food Babe does as “calumny.”)

Oh, no, there’s antifreeze in my beer! Or is there?

I’ve frequently deconstructed and, at times, mocked what I like to call the “toxins” gambit as applied to vaccines by antivaccinationists. Basically, the toxins gambit is a fallacious trope in which antivaccinationists list the scary sounding chemicals in vaccines and use that list to portray vaccines as full of “toxins.” Of course, they don’t take into account the simple fact that the dose makes the poison and these chemicals are present in vaccines in such a small quantity that they are not dangerous. Another tactic often used as part of the toxins gambit is to pick scary-sounding chemicals in vaccines that sound dangerous but aren’t, at least not in the concentrations in vaccines. A great example is formaldehyde. There are, indeed, trace amounts of formaldehyde in vaccines from the manufacturing process, in which formaldehyde is used to kill the viruses used and/or to denature the proteins from the viruses. However, formaldehyde is a normal product of metabolism, and the amount of formaldehyde in vaccines is minor compared to the amount in the body and the amount to which we’re exposed every day.

And that’s part of what you need to know before you read the Food Babe “expose” that started this whole thing. It’s nearly a year old and called “The Shocking Ingredients In Beer“. This rather lengthy article is a rather long example of just that, the toxins gambit. Her entire list consists of various ingredients with no context given other than the scariest—deceptively so—spin. No concentrations are provided, ignoring the principle of dose-response and the dose making the poison. She lists propylene glycol, of course, as being in “antifreeze.” Of course, propylene glycol is also in vaccines, and, ironically enough, it’s the carrier used in most e-cigarettes. In any case, as has been pointed out to me multiple times, propylene glycol is an ingredient that has been generally recognized as safe (GRAS). Indeed, here’s what the FDA website says about it:

Propylene glycol is metabolized by animals and can be used as a carbohydrate source. Propylene glycol can be ingested over long periods of time and in substantial quantities (up to 5 percent of the total food intake) without causing frank toxic effects. Propylene glycol monostearate is readily hydrolysed in vivo and the propylene glycol and fatty acid moieties enter their respective metabolic pathways. At lethal or near lethal doses (6 g per kg or more), however, it has been reported to cause kidney damage in several species and toe deformities in chicks. These doses contrast with the few mg per kg per day estimated in Section III of this report to be the human daily dietary intake of propylene glycol. The Select Committee has weighed the available information and concludes that: There is no evidence in the available information on propylene glycol and propylene glycol monostearate that demonstrates, or suggests reason to suspect, a hazard to the public when they are used at levels that are now current or that might reasonably be expected in future.

The CDC has more information.

Because it falls under the category of GRAS, propylene glycol has been widely used as a moistening agent in cosmetics and for various purposes in food. None of this stops a staff writer over at that wretched hive of scum and quackery, NaturalNews.com, to crank up the fear mongering even more, complaining that it’s derived from petroleum and natural gas fossil fuels. I like to call this, for purposes of medical and food uses, the fallacy of origin. In other words, the claim is that, because a substance originated from a source that sounds toxic (or just plain disgusting), it must be bad for you.

And, if you listen to brewer Mitch Steele, it’s not even in beer! It’s used as a food-grade substance in external chilling systems, but he’s never heard of it being added to beer, concluding, “The only way propylene glycol could get into beer is by a leak in the cooling system,” and saying that when he worked at Anheuser-Busch they used to test the beers regularly to make sure they were glycol-free. Another brewer, Steve Parkes, points out that the main reason such substances are listed is because every production process aid has to be listed, regardless of whether it’s in the final product or not. Steele also points out that food dyes are not commonly used in beer.

Hilariously, after her initial barrage of idiocy about beer, the Food Babe noticed some of the blog posts quite rightly criticizing her for her disingenuous fear mongering and grandstanding and responded. It’s all the same blather about the evils of GMOs and corn syrup and such, but one paragraph does deserve a particularly heapin’ helpin’ of not-so-Respectful Insolence:

There are a few blog posts circulating that indicate propylene glycol is used in the external chilling system at breweries and that it’s never is added to beer. They go as far to say that the only way it could be in beer is if there is a tank leak. Well, I’m not talking about leaking tanks here. The chemical Propylene Glycol Alginate (PGA) is added to some beers as a stabilizer for foam control and it is sold as an additive under various commercial names such as Stabilfoam. Another potential source of PGA is as a carrier for some “natural flavors” in fruit-flavored and cider beers. Propylene Glycol is added to many foods and drinks, it’s a very common food additive and I see it on ingredient lists everywhere at the grocery store. I know this because ingredient lists are on those items – but rarely on beer. In Germany, Propylene Glycol Alginate is listed as an ingredient on this bottle of Corona as “E405 Alginat” (the European food additive number for Propylene Glycol is E405), and you will also find it on this ingredient list on Sinebrychoff’s website in Finland. So, I’m really curious to know if and what other beers Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors may add this ingredient to.

So she found one beer that uses Propylene Glycol Alginate to stabilize its foam. Sounds damning, right? Wrong. Anyone who’s ever taken organic chemistry should be able to see immediately that her claim is silly. Propylene Glycol Alginate is not the same thing as propylene glycol, as a quick visit to something as easy as Wikipedia would reveal, if the Food Babe had even a modicum of chemical knowledge to realize it. Because it’s convenient, here’s the Wikipedia entry:

Chemically, propylene glycol alginate is an ester of alginic acid, which is derived from kelp. Some of the carboxyl groups are esterified with propylene glycol, some are neutralized with an appropriate alkali, and some remain free.

What this means is that propylene glycol alginate is alginic acid (derived from kelp) with propylene glycol groups attached to some of the carboxyl groups. It is not the same chemical as propylene glycol, not even close. It is not antifreeze. And the Food Babe is still an idiot.

Not to be deterred, The Food Babe tries the same gambit over isinglass (dried fish bladder), gelatin, and casein (milk protein). In particular, isinglass bothers her:

But, Guinness beer also contains isinglass, a gelatin-like substance produced from the swim bladder of a fish. This ingredient helps remove any “haziness,” solids, or yeast byproducts from the beer. Mmmmm… fish bladder sounds delicious, doesn’t? The sneaky thing this beer company does like many of the companies mentioned here today is create an illusion of using the best ingredients when in actuality what they tell you publicly on their websites is a complete farce.

The funny thing is, this is nothing new. Guinness has been using finings (substances to clear the beer) containing isinglass since the mid- to late 19th century and is generally considered natural. It’s used to help any remaining yeast and solid particles settle out of the final product, because as the isinglass passes through the beer it attracts particles from the fermented beer that create an unwanted haziness, forming a jelly-like mass that settles to the bottom of the cask, where it’s easily separated from the beer. Beer will clear on its own, but isinglass speeds up the process and doesn’t affect the final flavor of the beer. It’s also been noted that isinglass is not that commonly used today in the beer brewing process. In other words, isinglass is nothing more than a form of gelatin derived from fish swim bladders rather than from the bones and/or connective tissue of cattle and other domestic animals.

There is a question among some vegans whether mere contact of one’s food or beverage with animal matter and the possibility that trace amounts of animal matter might remain in it are enough to make such foods or beverages off-limits, but if that’s the case then vegans shouldn’t drink most beers, many of which use gelatin instead of isinglass as a clearing agent. There are also a huge number of foods in whose manufacture gelatins from various sources are used. What’s not so funny is that the emphasis on isinglass as having been derived from fish bladders is deceptive, given how few beers are manufactured using it. It’s there for no other purpose than to scream, “Oooh! Fish bladders are used to make beer! Yucky! We must stop this yuckiness!” Of course, isinglass resembles fish bladder about as much as gelatin resembles a cow, but that doesn’t stop our intrepid Food Babe for making in essence, an argument against yuckiness about isinglass and substances like castoreum, an exudate from the castor sacs of the North American Beaver that is used in some perfumes and as food additives, of which she asks, “Do you eat beaver butt?” In other words, if the source is yucky to the Food Babe, it must be unhealthy. Yes, her “reasoning,” such as it is, is just that vacuous.

Indeed, the Food Babe has postulated her very own rule:

When you look at the ingredients [in food], if you can’t spell it or pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t eat it.

As everyone’s favorite chemist Joe Schwarcz said, Hari should then stay as far away from cyanocobalamine as possible. Not only is it hard to pronounce but it has cyanide! Oh, wait. That’s vitamin B12. Josh Bloom helpfully provides a whole list of difficult-to-pronounce chemical names for some very common substances, some of which are necessary and quite healthy.

Oh, noes! GMOs!

Perhaps the most horrific thing of all about beer to the Food Babe is that MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch apparently use GMO-derived products to make their beer:

Most beers brewed commercially are made with more GMO corn than barley. Many of the companies I contacted dodged the GMO question – however Miller Coors had a very forthcoming and honest response. They stated “Corn syrup gives beer a milder and lighter-bodied flavor” and “Corn syrups may be derived from a mixture of corn (conventional and biotech.)”, admitting their use of GMOs.

And:

Dextrose and maltose can come from a variety of substances that are sweet, but likely are derived from GMO corn because it is super cheap for a company to use corn instead of fruit or other non-GMO sources. With cheap beer – you are not just getting a cheap buzz, you are getting the worst of the worst. Just like with cheap fast food – if you don’t invest in your beer – you will be drinking a lower quality product like Pabst Blue Ribbon that is made from GMO Corn and Corn Syrup.

Hey, Vani, don’t diss my PBR! I lived in Chicago, and that’s blasphemy! (Actually, PBR is one of the only beers manufactured by “big beer” that I can stomach, at least when it’s on tap, but it’s not one of my favorites.)

In any case, this is pure silliness, nothing more than tying GMO fear mongering to scary chemical name fear mongering. They’re too crappy tastes that test crappy together. I don’t feel the need to discuss the lack of validity of the anti-GMO nonsense that’s being peddled, other than to point out that the most “damning” studies presented by anti-GMO activists to convince people that GMOs are pure evil have been thoroughly discredited by multiple sources. In any case, it’s the naturalistic fallacy all over again. The basic fact is that the wheat, barley, and other grains used to make beer have been constantly genetically modified over many centuries through selective breeding, as has nearly every plant commonly farmed by humans for consumption. Ditto the very yeast used to ferment the grain products into beer. Indeed, there are many different strains of yeast maintained by many different laboratories, often with the help of scientists. Indeed, yeast are quite adept at swapping genes quite promiscuously; so in the wild yeast is constantly being “genetically engineered.”

In the end, Hari recommends German beers, because the Germans have stricter beer purity laws, organic beers (because, organic, of course), and craft beers and microbrews, because they use higher quality ingredients and are apparently less likely to contain GMOs. Ironically, this is good advice but not for the reason Hari thinks. It’s good advice because such beers tend to be much, much better than the mass-produced, tasteless brews concocted by massive companies like Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors.

As for whether beer is healthy or not, that is an entirely different matter. There are many reasons to recommend not drinking a lot of beer. Beer is an alcoholic beverage, and too much alcohol contributes to a number of diseases, such as cirrhosis and various cancers. It also has a lot of calories, which can contribute to weight gain when consumed in excess—or even not in excess if the extra calories are enough to put one “over the top.” None of these reasons include any of the reasons Hari lists, such as use of GMO-derived grains and sugars and the various scary-sounding chemicals that are in beers. Whatever grain of a possibly reasonable point (such as whether various food colorings are necessary) is completely drained by her tsunami of pseudoscientific nonsensical fear mongering about chemicals, because chemicals she can’t pronounce are to her inherently bad.

Who is this “Food Babe,” anyway?

It’s a marker of just what a double-edged sword the Internet is. While the Internet is the most fantastic piece of technology ever devised for spreading knowledge and empowering anyone to speak up, there’s a dark side. That dark side consists of people like Vani Hari. No Internet, no Food Babe, no chemically illiterate, scientifically ignorant rabble rousing. How did she get her start? What are her qualifications?

The second question is easy to answer. She has no relevant qualifications. She isn’t a scientist. She isn’t a doctor. She isn’t a dietician. She has no training in nutrition. It’s not for nothing that she’s been referred to as the Mike Adams of food activism, which is not a compliment. In any case, according to her Wikipedia entry she has a B.S. in Computer Science and began her career as a banking consultant. In a story about how she got her start, Hari said:

I suffered from a lot of health problems early on in my career. I got a really cool job that demanded a lot of hours and traveling, so I was away from home eating whatever people in the office brought in. I got so sick and so overweight that I gained about 30 pounds within a few months, that I had appendicitis. A lot of people think that appendicitis has nothing to do with the way you eat, it’s a random occurrence, a lot of doctors think that it is just random, but I have no doubt that the reason why I had appendicitis was because of the way I was eating. It was kind of that life changing moment that brought me to bring health as my number one priority,” said Hari.

Hari, after learning and reading book upon book about living clean, taught herself how to eat and live a healthy lifestyle despite a busy schedule. From reading and learning, she decided to she wanted to spread her knowledge, so she began blogging.

“I said, ‘OK, yeah I will start a blog.’ So I started it last year in April, and I write about things I do on a daily basis,” said Hari.

Yes, it would appear that the Food Babe got her education from popular books and Google University and somehow got the messianic bug to save the world! Maybe a better way to describe her is the Jenny McCarthy of the food industry. Of course, I don’t mean that as a compliment. Just as Jenny McCarthy has been a prime force spreading fear and ignorance about vaccines, Vani Hari has been a malignant force promoting ignorance about food. Sure, mixed in with all the pseudoscience, antivaccine beliefs, and admiration of cranks like Russell Blaylock, is the occasional bit of good advice about eating more vegetables, avoiding too much processed food, and recipes that, for all I know, might actually be tasty. But the price is too high, buried as the occasional trivial bit of good advice is under the tsunami of nonsense.

She sure does have a talent for self-promotion, though. Come to think of it, that’s a lot like Jenny McCarthy, too.

Comments

  1. #1 Mike
    June 23, 2014

    “I like to call this, for purposes of medical and food uses, the fallacy of origin. In other words, the claim is that, because a substance originated from a source that sounds toxic (or just plain disgusting), it must be bad for you.”

    This is the underlying basis for both homeopathic and organic quckery. People who espouse organic really need to be seen as people who espouse homeopathy. These are markers of the most serious kind of antiscience thinking.

  2. #2 Renate
    at home
    June 23, 2014

    Why isn’t the food babe complaining about that nasty chemical alcohol?

    In all honesty I was on holiday and the person organising it and driving us, was pretty deep into some idiocy himself. Listening to the man would be dangerous. He claimed he visited something like 20 websites on a daily basis and I didn’t ask which ones, but I could make an educated guess with Natural News, Whale.to and simular sites. Judging from his words that sea-salt (of course not the white variety, which was refined, which was bad) isn’t bad for your health and bloodpressure, that ayurveda was good and that oil-pulling also was good for your health. The man blabbered about fluor in table-salt, which should be very bad for your health, because it was a nasty chemical, used in fertiliser. This story he told when we visited Bad Kreuznach, which is famous for it’s radon baths. Excuse me, isn’t radon dangerous, because it’s a bit radio-active?

    With all his talking about health, one should suppose he didn’t smoke. Well, he smoked while driving and of course refused to wear a seatbelt.

  3. #3 Denice Walter
    June 23, 2014

    But isn’t it rather gauche to refer to one’s self as “babe”?

    No, I’m sure she started writing about food and scores of random people just remarked, ” You’re such a babe and you like food so you should call yourself ‘Food Babe’”.

    She follows a tried and true pattern which I recognise from accomplished woo-meisters:
    find a possible problem with a product people use frequently and frighten the hell out of them about it. Another method is to frighten them about events over which they have no control whatsoever.

    ( e.g. today Mikey writes about various cataclysms and Ragnaroks about to happen in the very near future:
    bank collapse, nuclear plant disaster, superbugs, nuclear war, EMP attacks, oil shortages, water shortages, soil depletion, AI takeovers, giant meteors strikes, Dust Bowls, oceans rise, the Yellowstone caldera erupts….
    wait, I thought he scoffed at AGW. )

    At any rate, these fearmongers cause stress ( about which woo-meisters ALSO frighten people ) and then offer up solutions to relieve that stress. This is attention wh0ring at its finest.. well, I suppose I shouldn’t ever call a group which includes a woman that.. so Mike and Gary are attention wh0res and Vani is an attention *babe*.

    People enjoy drinking and I’ve noticed the proliferation of products ( esp wines) which are organic, sulfite-free, produced in ‘green’ wineries etc.
    I even had some in a woo-centric Northern California town.

    Beer is another market but I’m sure that there are many frightening ingredients:
    is chlorinated and fluoridated water used or is it pure, mountain spring water?
    Are the grains used organic or not and are they GMO monstrosities?
    Will that yeast cause YOU to have a yeast overgrowth?

    HOWEVER amongst ultra-purists, all alcohol products are forbidden: they cause the death of brain cells and advocates I survey claim to never have had a drop.
    Which doesn’t make sense if you analyse their abilities.

    If people are scared about consuming standard fare, they will seek out boutique products which will lead to enrichment of those who provide the specialities. Woo is all about creating niche markets for products and services.

  4. #4 Rebecca Fisher
    June 23, 2014

    Of course the main ingredients of beer are water, barley malt, rice, yeast, and hops! That’s how beer is made.

    I beg to differ. Beer does not contain rice. Budweiser may contain rice, but beer doesn’t.

  5. #5 Eric Lund
    June 23, 2014

    Why isn’t the food babe complaining about that nasty chemical alcohol?

    Or that horror of horrors, dihydrogen monoxide!

    I believe it was the output of Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors that Monty Python had in mind when they described American beer as being like making love in a canoe: f***ing close to water.

  6. #6 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    June 23, 2014

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with demanding transparency regarding our foods. After that, FoodBabe just goes off the rails and shows her ignorance. No wonder Mikey likes her.

  7. #7 Anton P. Nym
    Koobikal Hel
    June 23, 2014

    I anxiously await the Food Babe’s insistence that brewers remove from their beers that substance notoriously used in the manufacture of Styrofoam, dihydrogen monoxide. (It’s also used in nuclear reactors! How dare they put it in our beer!)

    — Steve

  8. #8 Lancelot Gobbo
    June 23, 2014

    “Then there’s a video featuring Hari starting out gushing about how her husband “loves beer”…..”

    And can we blame him? He has a lot to put up with.

  9. #9 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    June 23, 2014

    I find it discouraging that the same people who make Bud and Busch also make Franziskaner, Hoegaarden, Bodington’s, and Leffe. Clearly they know how to make better beer – they choose not to.

  10. #10 Johanna
    June 23, 2014

    I’m told that Budweiser as made in Europe is an entirely other animal that the Bud served up in the States. Can anyone speak to that?

  11. #11 Rebecca Fisher
    June 23, 2014

    @Johanna: There’s a proper pilsner lager called Budweiser Budvar which comes from the Czech Republic. Anhauser-Busch pinched the name decades ago. It’s far superior to “Bud”.

  12. #12 Denice Walter
    June 23, 2014

    @ Johanna:

    I don’t know but will venture that perhaps it’s the water (?)

    If you’ve heard those old tales that sourdough bread is excellent in SF because of the water and that pizza is great in NYC because of the phenomenal NY state tap water used to make the dough.

  13. #13 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    June 23, 2014

    Anton — and we should expressly remind them that dihydrogen monoxide is used as a neutron moderator. If we call it a coolant, they might figure it out. ;-)

  14. #14 Denice Walter
    June 23, 2014

    Do you mnean to tell me that I regularly make use of a neutron moderator to wash my hair?
    Now *I’m* worried!

  15. #15 Chris,
    June 23, 2014

    Rebecca Fisher: ” It’s far superior to “Bud”.”

    Yes it is. We had some in Vienna years ago because we saw it on the menu. It was good beer.

  16. #16 Narad
    June 23, 2014

    It’s nearly a year old and called “The Shocking Ingredients In Beer“.

    Give or take 30 years.

    Seriously, though, PBR? The new old Schlitz is vastly superior. (Anheuser-Busch is also contract-brewing some of Goose Island’s larger runs.)

  17. #17 Peter Dugdale
    June 23, 2014

    The strict German laws on beer purity are only applied to beers sold locally in Germany. Export beers have to be treated to make sure they don’t go off.

  18. #18 Narad
    June 23, 2014

    ^ (“Contract brewing” isn’t the right term, as they’ve merged, but you get my drift.)

  19. #19 Bob J.
    June 23, 2014

    I think I’ll have a sausage on a roll and a beer for lunch. What does “the babe” say about grilled onions?

  20. #20 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    June 23, 2014

    So far as I know, Anhauser-Busch Budweiser in Europe is the same as it is in the Americas. Budweiser Budvar is different.

    When in Europe I don’t drink American or Australian beers unless there’s no good option.

  21. #21 Denice Walter
    June 23, 2014

    @ Bob J.

    Altho’ I am certainly not ‘the babe”, let me have a stab at that ( without looking anything up):
    -a roll has gluten, acrylamides, HFCS, non-sea salt, YEAST
    - sausage has MEAT, heterocyclic amines, non-sea salt, nitrates, HFCS, preservatives/ additives, MSG, saturated fats
    - beer has…. well, we just read that.

  22. #22 Denice Walter
    June 23, 2014

    Grilled onions are just super. But not super enough to cancel out the above.

  23. #23 Johanna
    June 23, 2014

    Anhauser-Busch Budweiser in Europe is the same as it is in the Americas. Budweiser Budvar is different.

    I was speaking of A-B Budweiser, yeah, but only on the basis of anecdata. A few friends had A-B Budweiser in Ireland and swore it was an entirely other beast. In hindsight, I can’t help wondering if maybe that encounter was preceded by a voluminous quantity of Guinness…

  24. #24 Shay
    June 23, 2014

    Voluminous quantities of Guinness have been known to result in lapses of judgment…

  25. #25 reader
    Primo - Schlitz
    June 23, 2014

    Never forget that unlettered concern over quiet changes in beer and food ingredients is not entirely paranoia.
    http://www.beerconnoisseur.com/the-fall-of-schlitz

    Sometimes even Harvard grads disasterously muck with their and our food chemistry.

  26. #26 Narad
    June 23, 2014

    Even though I had a Primo in my beer-can collection when I was a kid, it never sank in that the stuff was a Hawaiian brand. I wonder what it was doing in Arkansas.

  27. #27 Ivan Ilyich
    June 23, 2014

    Shouldn’t it be “electron donor (acceptor)” instead of “proton donor (acceptor)”? I’m not trying to be pedantic, but just trying to understand the details.

  28. #28 Rich Woods
    Sadly not the pub
    June 23, 2014

    @Mephistopheles O’Brien #9:

    I find it discouraging that the same people who make Bud and Busch also make Franziskaner, Hoegaarden, Bodington’s, and Leffe.

    Yes, but are you aware of just how different Bodington’s is today compared to 30 years ago? Nitrokegged beyond all recognition.

  29. #29 Rich Woods
    June 23, 2014

    @Johanna #various:

    Budvar is pretty damn good (and I say this as a non-lager drinker). It has real body and finish, nothing like the piss-poor cheap-rice product of a certain American rival company who tried to sue the older Czech brewery over the common name — and who lost heavily.

  30. #30 herr doktor bimler
    June 23, 2014

    isinglass is nothing more than a form of gelatin derived from fish swim bladders

    Home-brewing pedantry alert! Other way around! Isinglass is collagen, while gelatin is hydrolyzed collagen, i.e. a derivative of isinglass. English brewers were using it long before Guinness started up.

  31. #31 sheepmilker
    June 23, 2014

    Yes, but are you aware of just how different Bodington’s is today compared to 30 years ago? Nitrokegged beyond all recognition.

    So different, it lost a ‘d’!

  32. #32 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    June 23, 2014

    sheepmilker – thanks for picking up my typo.

    Rich Woods – sadly, I wasn’t drinking Boddington’s 30 years ago.

  33. #33 herr doktor bimler
    June 23, 2014

    The strict German laws on beer purity are only applied to beers sold locally in Germany.

    You can import non-compliant beers into Germany and sell them; just that people won’t buy them.

  34. #34 ann
    June 23, 2014

    Even though I had a Primo in my beer-can collection when I was a kid

    Wait. What?

    You collected beer cans when you were a kid? Why? How many? Where did you keep them? What for?

    What became of them?

  35. #35 Denice Walter
    June 23, 2014

    re –
    Food Babe: food :: Jenny: vaccines

    Wait a minute there!
    I just chanced over Tim Bolen’s latest ( last week) and it seems that Jenny and vaccines are so totally OVER.

    Heh. He has some interesting comments about AoA, the Canaries, the new advocacy group, Autism One, Jake et al.

    Autism advocacy is dying a protracted death; Tim keeps mentioning his own and Jake’s role.

  36. #36 Narad
    June 23, 2014

    OT: Does anyone have access to Current Medicinal Chemistry? No soap on the library here. I’m looking for the Sin Hang Lee joint and the SIDS paper from volume 21 (2014), No. 7.

  37. #37 herr doktor bimler
    June 23, 2014

    No soap on the library here.
    No luck through my contacts, alas.

  38. #38 Narad
    June 23, 2014

    You collected beer cans when you were a kid? Why? How many? Where did you keep them? What for?

    Yah, plenty of kids did. It was a competitive hobby. They lived on a wall of the garage. The exact number is a bit hazy (indeed, I had the time frame wrong; it wasn’t Arkansas), but I’d guess around two or three dozen.

    What became of them?

    We moved. I mean, I put effort into collecting the finest possible specimens of trash, but it wasn’t like the model rockets for something. I think I may have hung on to one of these, but it didn’t come from the woods like a common pile of Oui magazines.

  39. #39 Narad
    June 23, 2014

    ^ “or something.” The unclosed link should still work.

  40. #40 Narad
    June 23, 2014

    No luck through my contacts, alas.

    Thanks for checking. Northwestern has it, but I’m too cheap to pay for borrowing privileges here, so ILL is out.

    I’ll just drop a line to the author.

  41. #41 Narad
    June 23, 2014

    I suppose I might as well as go ahead and issue my standard defense of Budweiser: It’s reliably inoffensive. The Miller Brewing Company turns out a product line that is reliably the opposite. I would place the King of Beers at No. 2 among the macro American adjunct lagers, behind Schlitz.

    Stopping to think that nitrocan Guinness Draught, the awfulness of which is compounded by its promise of being fit for something other than dog shampooing (add an egg, whatever), sells at a premium price, I’m hard-pressed to sympathize with Budweiser bashing.

  42. #42 Bob G
    Los Angeles
    June 23, 2014

    Usually when we speak of electron donors and acceptors, we’re talking about reduction and oxidation, but sometimes the equation includes the electron and a proton that comes along with it. An acid can give up a proton to the solution but hold onto the corresponding electron. A base picks up a proton, but without the corresponding electron. So ammonia gas, for example is NH3 and can grab a proton to make it NH4+ and hydrochloric acid HCl simply splits into the positive proton and the negative chloride ions.

  43. #43 ann
    June 23, 2014

    I notice that the Natural News store is selling products made with silica, which is also found in yoga mats and shoe soles.

  44. #44 BA
    Sunset Grill & Tap - Visit it when in Boston
    June 23, 2014

    Let me engage in a bit of beer snobbery. Blue Moon is CRAP (ok it is not bad at al) but I believe the best year round representative of the style is Allagash White. Also nice are St. bernardus Witbier, DFH Positive Contact and local favorite Clementine by Clown Shoes. But I am really an IPA guy (DIPA in particular). Right now I am loving the Stone’s Enjoy By 7/4/14, Stone collaboration Collective Distortion, and local Favs Jack’s Abby’s Hoponius Union and Mass Rising. Cheers!

  45. #45 Travis
    June 23, 2014

    Stopping to think that nitrocan Guinness Draught, the awfulness of which is compounded by its promise of being fit for something other than dog shampooing (add an egg, whatever), sells at a premium price, I’m hard-pressed to sympathize with Budweiser bashing.

    I get the feeling I might be alone in this opinion, but I would largely lump Budweiser and Guinness together as being mediocre beer, especially in bottle or can form. I suppose I might have better feelings about it as it might act as a gateway to better beer, and getting some people to move beyond the standard macrolager, but I would never use it as an example of a good beer. It is baby’s first stout.

  46. #46 Travis
    June 23, 2014

    BA, #44

    Let me engage in a bit of beer snobbery. Blue Moon is CRAP (ok it is not bad at al) but I believe the best year round representative of the style is Allagash White. Also nice are St. bernardus Witbier, DFH Positive Contact and local favorite Clementine by Clown Shoes. But I am really an IPA guy (DIPA in particular). Right now I am loving the Stone’s Enjoy By 7/4/14, Stone collaboration Collective Distortion, and

    Oh why did you have to post this, we have many fine beer here in Ontario but I still get jealous when I hear about all of these wonderful brews coming out of the US that I am likely to never try. Does anyone know of a website where people take part in beer exchanges?

    After writing my #45 post I feel kind of bad, I am really not that much of a beer snob, I may not really enjoy drinking popular adjunct lagers and would not buy them for myself, but it is no as though I would turn my nose up at them if offered. Anyway, it is hard to be snobbish when you have 3 bottle of juice fermenting away under the table. It is a step above prison wine.

  47. #47 Narad
    June 23, 2014

    I believe the best year round representative of the style is Allagash White.

    Well, it’s right around there with Robitussin.

  48. #48 BA
    June 23, 2014

    I do feel that Guinness blows like Bud. At least the stuff in a can and on tap in the US. Over there it has a bit more coffee/chocolate flavor but there are so many better stouts in the US. Sorry my Irish friends, I still love you all.

  49. #49 Narad
    June 23, 2014

    I get the feeling I might be alone in this opinion, but I would largely lump Budweiser and Guinness together as being mediocre beer, especially in bottle or can form.

    There’s a great deal of difference between Guinness Draught (ABV ~4.2%), which is the dreadful nitrocanned stuff, and Guinness Extra Stout (ABV ~5.5%), which is what’s sold in bottles here. Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout’s it’s not (despite being near the same price point), but it’s not like the faux Belgian Fat Tire.

  50. #50 Barnesm
    June 23, 2014

    “Hari recommends German beers, because the Germans have stricter beer purity laws, organic beers” I guess its own a matter of time until we see ‘Quantum Beers’.

  51. #51 Narad
    June 23, 2014

    I guess its own a matter of time until we see ‘Quantum Beers’.

    Dismayingly, the nightmare of hempseed beers seems to be rearing its putrid head again. And Time apparently missed out on the past two (three? more?) waves.

  52. #52 Travis
    June 23, 2014

    Dismayingly, the nightmare of hempseed beers seems to be rearing its putrid head again. And Time apparently missed out on the past two (three? more?) waves.

    I don’t know if I have ever had a hempseed beer like the one in the article, but there is a cheap beer here, Millennium Buzz Hemp Beer that uses hemp and it is not half bad. I assume it uses hempseed but I have no idea how much it actually contains as it tastes like a simple amber lager, slightly grassy, sweet malt, bit of a caramel flavour. I have heard some complain of a slight oiliness to it, but I have not really noticed that. It is a gimmicky beer of course, meant to appeal to someone that thinks having some sort of relationship with pot, and a leaf on it makes it worth purchasing, but I pick it up occasionally when the change in my pocket is limited.

  53. #53 Ivan Ilyich
    Oakland
    June 24, 2014

    Re post #27: Oh, I see. “Proton donor” is equivalent to “electron acceptor.” It’s just another way of looking at it.

  54. #54 Narad
    June 24, 2014

    I assume it uses hempseed but I have no idea how much it actually contains as it tastes like a simple amber lager

    Looking at this “review” (at least they don’t evaluate its “lacing”), I’d say it’s not representative of the horrors I came across in the first couple of waves, which really tasted rankly of hulls. If your youth ever reached the comical ineptitude of trying to smoke seeds, it was like that. But with mouthfeel.

    I was reminded of the DeGrassi episode where Snake tries to buy a 2-4, though.

  55. #55 Narad
    June 24, 2014

    ^ Oh, and if anyone ever tries to convince you that “no, really, it’s pleasantly nutty,” they’re lying. A quick G—gle search yields flax leading hemp 2-to-1 in this category.

  56. #56 Travis
    June 24, 2014

    I am really glad you did not pick my own Youtube review of this beer, that would have been embarrassing. But in the reviews/rambling I have done I generally focus on the flavour and smell, not things such as lacing and the head which don’t really tell you all that much, it does not really tell you much about the quality of the beer.

  57. #57 herr doktor bimler
    June 24, 2014

    Dismayingly, the nightmare of hempseed beers seems to be rearing its putrid head again.

    Hey now. I have tasted and enjoyed many of those in Vilnius. Lithuanians know what they are doing.

  58. #58 Militant Agnostic
    June 24, 2014

    I wonder what the Food Babe will think when she discovers that beer contains ethanol, a component of many gasoline formulations. If we consider toxicity as being the fraction of a fatal dose present per litre, it has to be the most toxic chemical in any beer.

  59. #59 Narad
    June 24, 2014

    Lithuanians know what they are doing.

    Judging by the ridiculous selection at one local shop, that would seem to be producing wine-strength syrup.

  60. #60 BA
    Coffee land
    June 24, 2014

    @Narad

    Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout is quite nice. Lagunitas is one of the best big craft brewers. I mentioned Stone earlier and like their Russian Imperial Stout but it is not in the same class as Founder’s Imperial Stout or Breakfast Stout. Victory’s Storm King and North Coasts’ Old Rasputin are also great stouts. Southern Tier also has a nice line of coffee/chocolate-infused stouts. Makes one wonder why a Guinness sounds like a good idea.

    @Travis
    I’ve had a few Canadian beers over the years (Toronto and Vancouver are two of my favorite cities to visit). Vancouver had the better variety but you can always crack something from Unibroue, I am particularly fond of La Fin Du Monde.

    Now I need to suck down some bad coffee and get to thinking of more serious matters.

  61. #61 BA
    June 24, 2014

    I couldn’t resist looking up the reviews of hemp beer on Beer Advocate. Millennium Buzz Hemp Beer gets an ok. O’Fallon’s Hemp Hop Rye got an outstanding from “The Bros” and they are usually right on with their ratings.

    Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #46 (Nov 2010):

    Quite the showing of head retention on a muddled amber brew. Spicy rye and malt sweetness, with some herbal citric aromas from the hemp and hops. Creamy smoothness runs lush in the medium body. The hops play well with their cousin, hemp, with bitter to citric to herbal flavors. Strong enough malt base with a slightly sharp, spicy edge from the rye, which balances and compliments the hemp and hops. Some sweet tobacco–or should we say, tea-like hemp flavor–lingering in the semidry finish. A very drinkable and extreme session ale.

  62. #62 squirrelelite
    June 24, 2014

    I enjoy a good beer from time to time, but that tends to be a long duration between beers. So, while we have a number of microbreweries here in the southwest, I haven’t sampled any enough to recommend them.

    But, on the GMO front, I saw this interesting article from BioFortified about the pending regulations in Massachusetts.

    http://www.biofortified.org/2014/06/dear-legislator-about-that-gmo-labeling-bill/

    It is also possible that the food producer will switch to only sunflower oil to avoid this label. The irony of this, however, is that most sunflower oil comes from herbicide-tolerant sunflowers which are cultivated with an herbicide that has created more “superweeds” than the one that Roundup Ready soybeans employ. (This is what happened when Chipotle labeled their products and moved away from soybean oil.) Or food producers may opt for herbicide-tolerant canola which is not GMO. But since so many people are already convinced that all canola is GMO, they may then challenge this product for presumed mislabeling. This could hurt grocers and bodegas, unfortunately, with nuisance legal action, if I’m reading the legislation’s implementation process and penalties properly.

    Of course, scientists are continually bemused by the fact that cloned enzymes from GMOs used in cheese production are exempt from these labels. But we’ll leave that aside for now.

  63. #63 Pete A
    UK
    June 24, 2014

    I was taught that the normal distribution applies to many things in life, including humans. The Food Babe and other woo-meisters have shown me that a bimodal distribution is required to explain human variability:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bimodal_distribution
    The left-sided peak is the anti-science woo-meister brigade; the right-sided peak is those of us who prefer to be guided by science, evidence, and rationality.

    Now I’m confused! To be described as “normal”, i.e. reasonably close to the centre of the overall distribution, strongly suggests a person who cannot decide whether to follow anti-science or science. I don’t want to be thought of as being “normal”.

    While this might be somewhat amusing, it isn’t at all funny. We need to examine the causes of this bimodal distribution. One obvious cause is the “worried well” members of society. We could help them with a pep talk or a short course of psychotherapy, or, we could fuel their anxieties in order to milk the maximal amount of money from them. The former treatment is founded upon ethics; the latter treatment is founded upon business acumen.

  64. #64 Denice Walter
    June 24, 2014

    @ Pete A:

    Whilst it’s an interesting concept, I don’t think that the distribution is truly bimodal:
    if you look at surveys, it seems that a larger proportion of subjects trust vaccines and SBM ( e.g. NPR 2012; Mnookin cites 1 % -US- don’t vaccinate, 10% selectively vaccinate) than don’t. Altho’ antivax sites claim that 30-40% mistrust vaccines, why do MOST then vaccinate their children?

    Possibly those who mistrust vaccines are simply a loud minority. And most likely, the real centre of the population accepts vaccines and the extremes consist of passionate advocates either pro or con.

    I agree with you: many folk need psychotherapy ( anti-vax extremists) and the worried well might benefit from medical education and a course in understanding advertising and propaganda and learning how to distinguish them from SBM.

  65. #65 squirrelelite
    June 24, 2014

    @Denice and Pete,

    I also saw a conspiracy theory that’s sort of about that on some on-line comment thread.

    The idea was that business and the government are conspiring to keep the general populace science-ignorant so we’ll be better good little consumers while managing to sustain a supply of just enough good scientists to maintain the economy and continue developing new technology.

  66. #66 Politicalguineapig
    June 24, 2014

    DW: Possibly those who mistrust vaccines are simply a loud minority.

    My general rule is to take the sample of loudmouths and multiply by 2. (3 or 4 in the case of conservatives.)

  67. #67 Andreas Johansson
    June 24, 2014

    If we consider toxicity as being the fraction of a fatal dose present per litre, [ethanol] has to be the most toxic chemical in any beer.

    Crank psychological conjecture of the day: What may kill or visibly harm you right here and now is less scary than what might, allegedly, accumulate in your body and cause unspecified harm in the future.

  68. #68 Pete A
    UK
    June 24, 2014

    @ Denice Walter:
    Thanks for your reply. A bimodal distribution doesn’t necessitate that each peak is approx. the same height, although it is usually depicted this way for simplicity. The idealized normal distribution falls away *monotonically* on both sides of its mean value.

    A distribution having two peaks, each having an approx. gaussian distribution around it, is classed as a bimodal distribution consisting of a mixture of two normal distributions. The relative height of the peak is far less relevant than the shape of the distribution around it.

    I’m not trying to be overly pedantic: my comment was based mainly on statistics with a large pinch of poetic licence thrown in to make my point :-)

    I rarely comment on ScienceBlogs therefore the regular commentators haven’t yet figured out that I try hard to apply science and mathematics (sometimes sarcasm) to support science and to discredit woo.

  69. #69 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    June 24, 2014

    The ingredients listed for Budweiser on their web site are Water, Barley Malt, Rice, Yeast, and Hops. On the label, they list “Finest hops, rice, and best barley malt”. So the only ingredients ABInBev did not list on the label all along are water and yeast. Coors has always stated they included water in their beer – why was ABInBev so secretive about it?

    According to the Daily News article, “Representatives from Anheuser-Busch invited Hari and her family to visit its brewery in St. Louis and see how its beers are made.” Apparently that invitation is open to the rest of us as well, since they run free tours every day (except a few holidays).

    Quite the concessions that The Food Babe forced out of them.

  70. #70 Denice Walter
    June 24, 2014

    @ Pete A:

    I see. Apparently I let my poetic licence expire.

    I suppose that any distribution which includes groups of anti-vaxxers can’t be entirely normal.

  71. #71 Narad
    June 24, 2014

    I suppose that any distribution which includes groups of anti-vaxxers can’t be entirely normal.

    Small numbers are Poissonian.

  72. #72 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    June 24, 2014

    Small numbers are Poissonian.

    Sounds fishy to me.

  73. #73 Pete A
    June 24, 2014

    @ Denice Walter:
    Never use “anti-vaxxers” and “normal” within the same sentence, paragraph, essay, or calendar month :-)

    We strive to take the toxins away from our food, but for some strange reason, it remains unethical to take the food away from our toxins (the anti-vaxxers et al.)!

  74. #74 herr doktor bimler
    June 24, 2014

    One man’s mean is another man’s Poisson.

  75. #75 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    June 24, 2014

    That may look like ground taro but in Hawaii it’s poi, son.

  76. #76 Pete A
    June 24, 2014

    Let’s not forget the croissant distribution. It most commonly occurs at breakfast time when we’ve underestimated the number of people that will be having breakfast :-(

  77. #77 Narad
    June 24, 2014

    A very drinkable and extreme session ale.

    An ABV of 5.5% is an “extreme session” beer in their universe? I concur with 4.5% as the threshold.

  78. #78 Travis
    June 24, 2014

    I’ve had a few Canadian beers over the years (Toronto and Vancouver are two of my favorite cities to visit). Vancouver had the better variety but you can always crack something from Unibroue, I am particularly fond of La Fin Du Monde.

    I used to live in Vancouver and really rather miss the variety. I think it is getting better in Ontario, but it still lags behind. I am going to be moving to southwestern Ontario in a few months so I am interested in finding out about smaller breweries in that part of the province.

  79. #79 Krebiozen
    June 24, 2014

    HDB, uberpunmeister,

    One man’s mean is another man’s Poisson.

    If I were wearing any head gear I would take it off. I do hope you’re recording these puns somewhere for posterity.

  80. #80 Narad
    June 24, 2014
    One man’s mean is another man’s Poisson.

    If I were wearing any head gear I would take it off. I do hope you’re recording these puns somewhere for posterity.

    It’s not so funny when it’s your distribution being skewed.

  81. #81 herr doktor bimler
    June 24, 2014

    “Median” would have been better than “mean”.

  82. #82 Denice Walter
    June 24, 2014

    I’ve always wondered about the relationship between the words *poison* ( E) and *poisson* (F)
    Unfortunately, I only have the Great BiG Book of Word Derivations in English ( not French or Gaelic)..

    THUS *poison* in English comes from OF *poison* meaning ‘poison, potion or draft’ derived from Latin*potio(n)*

    So how did *poisson* get to mean ‘fish’?
    Ate spoiled fish as dangerous as poison?
    Unless it had something to do with *pois* but I don’t see how…Don’t think so.

    Can any minion enlighten me?

  83. #83 Denice Walter
    June 24, 2014

    Also the Italian and Spanish words for fish are different.

  84. #84 Narad
    June 24, 2014

    Also the Italian and Spanish words for fish are different.

    I have a sense that not too much thought went into the W—nary entry for pescado, as opposed to the mutation of pescion in the French one.

  85. #85 Narad
    June 24, 2014

    ^ (Note Catalan peix.)

  86. #86 ann
    June 24, 2014

    “Poison” is from potare, Latin, to drink.

    “Poisson” is from piscis, Latin, fish.

    As is “fish.”

  87. #87 Narad
    June 24, 2014

    As is “fish.”

    I’m pretty sure that bypassed Latin on its way from Proto–Indo-European.

  88. #88 Pete A
    UK
    June 24, 2014

    “So how did ‘poisson’ get to mean ‘fish’?”
    Yeah, and how did settee get to mean sofa; toilet get to mean lavatory; lounge get to mean sitting room?

  89. #89 ann
    June 25, 2014

    Yeah, and how did settee get to mean sofa; toilet get to mean lavatory; lounge get to mean sitting room?

    Sofa is derived from Arabic, and apart from that, I don’t know.

    But “settee” seems self-explanatory and (confusingly) “lounge” can also mean “sofa.”

  90. #90 Rovin' Rockhound
    June 25, 2014

    The Food Babe is going to have a field day once she realizes that the “pure Rocky Mountain spring water” in Coors beers is fairly radioactive (at least in their Golden, CO plant)
    http://www.mindat.org/loc-3606.html

    (I can’t find an official statement about where their water comes from, but regardless of it coming directly from Clear Creek through a number of ditches or from private groundwater wells within their Golden property, there’s plenty of Uranium around).

  91. #91 Narad
    June 25, 2014

    The Food Babe is going to have a field day once she realizes that the “pure Rocky Mountain spring water” in Coors beers is fairly radioactive

    Something something Hamm’s something.

  92. #92 Krebiozen
    June 25, 2014

    After catching the culprit, the owner forced him to eat the chicken as part of the punishment.

    For some reason that reminds me of a Freak Brothers comic strip, when Fat Freddy roasts a chicken. “This is delicious,” comments Phineas, “what did you stuff it with?” “I didn’t have to, ” replied Fat Freddy, “it wasn’t empty.”

  93. #93 Arcanyn
    June 25, 2014

    Oh no, calcium phosphate is apparently a scary chemical . . . which most of our skeletons are made of. I guess we’d better all get titanium skeletons pronto, before the calcium phosphate in our bones gives us all autism!

    @Militant Agnostic #58

    It seems to be pretty standard practice among cranks to make a big fuss about things which are totally harmless, while at the same time raising no objections to things that are actually harmful, simply because those things have been used for a long time. So alcohol, despite having some quite bad long term effects (or more correctly, its metabolite acetaldehyde) is considered okay simply because people have been consuming it for millennia, but substances with no detrimental effects are the first sign of the apocalypse. Likewise you have people who fret about the totally harmless radiation emitted by mobile phone towers, who at the same time espousing the benefits of sunlight, which actually is carcinogenic radiation.

  94. #94 herr doktor bimler
    June 25, 2014

    Sofa is derived from Arabic

    Between that, and adopting “Divan” from Turkish, I’m beginning to wonder if Northern Europeans had any words at all for comfortable furniture during the dark ages. Perhaps they forgot the concept of furniture and just dug holes in the ground for their feet when they wanted to sit down.

  95. #95 Narad
    June 25, 2014

    or more correctly, its metabolite acetaldehyde

    I’m going with a general CYP2E1 mess for hepatotoxicity and GABAergic downregulation for excitotoxicity.

  96. #96 ann
    June 25, 2014

    Between that, and adopting “Divan” from Turkish, I’m beginning to wonder if Northern Europeans had any words at all for comfortable furniture during the dark ages. Perhaps they forgot the concept of furniture and just dug holes in the ground for their feet when they wanted to sit down.

    Hey! Quit picking on the middle ages! They worshipped comfy furniture:

    It was then widely asserted that the entire musical legacy of the Roman church was the inspired creation of a single man, the sainted Pope Gregory I, who had reigned from 590 until his death in 604. John the Deacon’s complaint about Frankish barbarism actually comes from his biography of the presumed author of the chant. “St. Gregory compiled a book of antiphons,” John wrote, using the contemporary term for a kind of liturgical singing. “He founded a schola,” the chronicler continued, using the contemporary term for a choir, “which to this day performs the chant in the Church of Rome according to his instructions; he also erected two dwellings for it, at St. Peter’s and at the Lateran palace, where are venerated the couch from which he gave lessons in chant, the whip with which he threatened the boys, and the authentic antiphoner,” the latter being the great book containing the music for the whole liturgical calendar.

    See? What could be cosier? Divans are much later. (Ottoman; likewise, ottomans.)

    According to the internet, the earliest known couch is Egyptian, c. 2000 BC. BTW.

  97. #97 TBruce
    June 25, 2014

    Sofa is derived from Arabic, and apart from that, I don’t know.

    But “settee” seems self-explanatory and (confusingly) “lounge” can also mean “sofa.”

    What aboot chesterfield, eh?

  98. #98 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    June 25, 2014

    I think it’s time for a museum exhibit on foot stools of the Ottoman empire.

  99. #99 Denice Walter
    June 25, 2014

    For *lounge*, I get an ‘origins obscure’
    -although I always thought that it had something to do with *chaise longue* but then I speak PROPER Franglais.

  100. #100 Denice Walter
    June 25, 2014

    @ Mephistopheles:

    Don’t think it unlikely:
    one of my gentlemen likes looking at furniture and has probably already seen it.
    Right. *Footstools of the Jacobean Era”

    -btw- I’ve seen Mediaeval wooden chairs which are WAY too small for yours truly ( @ 5’6″)

  101. #101 Andreas Johansson
    June 25, 2014

    I guess we’d better all get titanium skeletons pronto, before the calcium phosphate in our bones gives us all autism!

    I’m unreliably informed that titanium is a dangerous heavy metal, so perhaps better not.

  102. #102 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    June 25, 2014

    Titanium skeletons?

    Pshaw. If we’re gonna go that route, we might as well ask for adamantium. ;-)

  103. #103 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    June 25, 2014

    Unfortunately, if you don’t’ have mutant rapid healing powers then an adamantium skeleton will cause heavy metal poisoning and kill you.

  104. #104 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    June 25, 2014

    Wouldn’t that be the same problem with titanium? (Not that I’d say we have reliable information on the toxicity levels of adamantium, especially in non-mutants.) So I stand by what I said: if we’re gonna metal-plate our skeletons, we might as well go for broke and get something awesome. ;-)

  105. #105 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    June 25, 2014

    @Calli

    If adamantium’s out, we could try for mithril.

  106. #106 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    June 25, 2014

    Calli, I’d have to dig but recall that the toxicity of adamantium (when used as a skeletal reinforcement) was shown in an issue of The Amazing X-Men when Wolverine temporarily lost his mutant healing power (if I recall correctly, he came into extended contact with Rogue so that she would gain his powers and heal from an undoubtedly mortal injury. She recovered, but he fell victim to a variety of complaints including those associated with adamantium poisoning before he regained his ability and started healing up again.

    On the other hand, we routinely make knees and hips out of titanium.

  107. #107 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    June 25, 2014

    I don’t think we can trust an N of 1, can you? ;-) I still want adamantium, dammit. And there’s a guy on YouTube who made some awesome air-powered Wolverine claws that would go great with it.

    On a serious note, my mom got a titanium rod in her arm after a car accident. It was surgical grade, of course, and advertised as nickel free. Neverthless, her extreme nickel sensitivity reacted to it; even the muscle tissue around the rod began to break down, so a second surgery was performed to remove the hardware (which had done its job anyway). Even “nickel-free” titanium does contain a small amount of nickel since titanium is otherwise dangerously brittle.

  108. #108 Mark Roberts
    Boston, MA
    June 25, 2014

    BA #44: Surely you jest! When in Boston it’s the Publick House on Beacon Street that one needs to visit for beer! (OK, technically the Publick House is in Brookline…)

    That said, I second all your beer recommendations. Let me add “Fluffy White Rabbits” from the Pretty Things brewery (and pretty much anything else Pretty Things brews – their Jack D’Or saison is wonderful).

  109. #109 ann
    June 25, 2014

    What aboot chesterfield, eh?

    It’s a brand of cigarette nobody smokes anymore, like Lark.

    Also, Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield — of whom Samuel Johnson said, ““This man I thought had been a Lord among wits; but I find he is only a wit among Lords!” (according to Boswell) — commissioned a tufted leather sofa way back in the 18th century, when that was evidently a new thing.

    And even still yet today, it bears his name. I just learned,

    (Just to stay one step ahead of the game:

    Because they were made by A.H. Davenport and Company. That’s why.)

  110. #110 Narad
    June 25, 2014

    It’s a brand of cigarette nobody smokes anymore, like Lark.

    Both originally Liggett brands, BTW. Lark is still around, and Chesterfields are marketed in Europe. I’m reminded because there used to be a 70-something woman in the neighborhood who smoked Commander (and Phillip Morris wound up with Lark and Chesterfield). I once saw her get really testy when the liquor store was out of them.

  111. #111 Mario Mendes
    United States
    July 1, 2014

    @Rebecca Fisher

    You do know that sake, made of rice, is a type of beer, don’t you?

  112. #112 jurg bangerter
    mürren, switzerland
    July 6, 2014

    Spin doctors who aren’t really doctors such as Joe Schwarcz a Mc Gill PHD with a minor degree in chemistry attack persons like Jamie Oliver, Anthony Bourdain, and the Food Babe who warn people about the chemicals in Food and denigrate the messengers..Aspartame, GMO’s and Mc Dos are safe based on Joe Schwarcz a DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY …since when are unproven GMO’s products safe? They have never been proven scientifically to be..show me the study PHD Joe Blow Schwarcz you Monsanto paid science clown

  113. […] attack on the “yoga mat chemical.” It’s not for nothing that I’ve referred to her as the “Jenny McCarthy of food,” because she demonstrates the same sorts of misunderstandings of chemistry regarding food as […]

  114. #114 Christina
    August 25, 2014

    I love that Vani brings a lot to the average consumer’s attention and the demand that we gain transparency in what we are consuming. We should know what we’re consuming. On the other hand it’s the screaming that we’re eating plastic, wood pulp, formaldehyde et al ruining us that makes me roll my eyes. While many things are safe for human consumption they can also be used in other applications. On the other hand are many of these ingredients really necessary to begin with? Nope. So a diligent consumer shouldn’t be a blind disciple and take all of their advice or research exclusively from the FoodBabe or Facebook.

    So based on my own research and desire for optimal health I eat mostly organic, nonGMO whole foods, no processed stuffs (i.e. plain old real food)…and enjoy my Guinness and Founders at will.

    Thanks for the real science!

  115. #115 AdamG
    August 25, 2014

    nonGMO

    Thanks for the real science!

    There is no “real science” that shows that GMO foods are worse for your health, or that non-GMO foods are better for you. You really should take your own advice not to take all of your advice from non-scientific sources.

  116. #116 Chris
    August 25, 2014

    “I love that Vani brings a lot to the average consumer’s attention and the demand that we gain transparency in what we are consuming”

    Except she is often wrong.

    “no processed stuffs (i.e. plain old real food)”

    So no pickles, tapioca,vinegar, dried foods, cheese, bacon, yogurt, tofu, canned tomatoes, flour of any sort, blue corn, pasta, or beer. When someone who has spent time helping grandparents, aunt and parents process the fall harvest hears “processed” they just roll their eyes.

  117. #117 Shay
    knee-deep in tomatoes
    August 25, 2014

    We grow and preserve most of our vegetables. I personally think this results in better-tasting food but I can’t claim any extraordinary health benefits from it.

    Unless you count the six pounds I sweated off yesterday making marinara sauce for the freezer.

  118. #118 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    August 25, 2014

    Shay – Freezer in marinara sauce is an old recipe, but requires a lot of sauce.

  119. #119 Christina
    August 25, 2014

    Adam, strange of you to imagine that I don’t get my information from scientific sources (see; THIS ARTICLE WHERE THERE IS REAL SCIENCE)? It’s science…always ongoing, always embarking on new studies and keeping up with long term studies. Until long term studies fully confirm the safety of GMO foods I choose not to eat them. So what?

    Chris, I’m going to assume you know the difference between home “processed” and commercially processed foods so what’s the pretense for? When I say “no processed” I don’t mean cured, cultured, dehydrated or dried foods that I often do myself. I mean commercially prepared meals.

    Explain what is “often wrong” about asking for ingredients?

    Anyway, you can be as snarky as you like, imagine anything you want about me and argue with your imagination. I still get to live my life any way I want to.

  120. #120 Lawrence
    August 25, 2014

    There is a difference between asking for ingredients & knowing what those ingredients are….the “Food Babe” is basically committing racketeering by blackmailing companies into hiring her as an image consultant….

  121. #121 KayMarie
    August 25, 2014

    Asking to know what the ingredients are is not wrong.

    Although given the total lack of information about ingredients in some “all natural” supplements (what you put it in a pill and it ain’t processed in any way??) that you can’t buy in any store it must be wrong to want to know what is in something before you buy it, or something, as long as you don’t seem to be Big whatever.

    Leaping to conclusions because you don’t understand the big scary polysyllabic words may lead you down the wrong path.

  122. #122 AdamG
    August 25, 2014

    Until long term studies fully confirm the safety of GMO foods I choose not to eat them. So what?

    Your original statement implies that one needs to eat non GMO in order to achieve ‘optimal health.’ I have no problem whatsoever with your choices, I have a problem when you imply that there is scientific evidence where none exists. By the way, how long of a ‘long term’ study would be good enough for you?

  123. #123 Shay
    August 25, 2014

    @MOB — and a heckuva lot of pounding to tenderize it.

  124. #124 Chris
    August 25, 2014

    “Chris, I’m going to assume you know the difference between home “processed” and commercially processed foods so what’s the pretense for? When I say “no processed” I don’t mean cured, cultured, dehydrated or dried foods that I often do myself. I mean commercially prepared meals.”

    Then say commercially prepared meals, not “processed”… which implies treatments that have been used to preserve food for millennia. So you never go to a restaurant. Good for you, I am glad that you make everything you ever eat, including the bacon, butter, ham, cheese, etc (though not tapioca, I don’t think you can get the raw cassava root in the USA).

    By the way, most of the time when people say “processed” they really don’t know what the term means. Especially when I see someone who claims to not eat anything processed but is okay dokay with tofu. Since you do obviously preserve all of the food, you obviously know what you are talking about.

    I wonder though, what kind of alkaline do you use to treat blue corn?

  125. #125 Chris
    August 25, 2014

    Shay: “Unless you count the six pounds I sweated off yesterday making marinara sauce for the freezer.”

    I am anxiously waiting for those Roma tomatoes to ripen. Though I am going for a more “fresh” sauce. I only cook down the tomatoes,and then add the chopped up fresh basil, oregano and garlic. It gets put into the freezer to put on the “fresh pasta” from Costco (I am not going to make spinach ravioli!, been there, done that… better left to the proffessionals).

  126. #126 Narad
    August 26, 2014

    and enjoy my Guinness and Founders at will.

    Which Guinness? (Honestly, Founders hasn’t done much for me unless one counts a boozer like Dirty Bastard; the styling of a 4.7% ABV entry as “All Day IPA” is simply embarrassing. And, unlike Guinness, the Food Babe didn’t even single it out.)

    This hinges on the question what is “at will”; I get a distinct “at home” vibe off it. So that leaves the bottled (5.5%) Extra Stout and the nitrocanned (4.2%) Draught. The latter is so bad that I’d suggest it as replacement therapy to dry to wean alcoholics, except that I once heard a radio documentary about a safehouse for American Indians who actually exhibited a preference for 43-proof mouthwashes.

    If we’re talking about the Extra Stout, well… it’s actually drinkable and not preposterously priced, but why one would choose it over even the widely available Anchor Porter is anybody’s guess.

    As, I suppose is the fact that she repeatedly refers to needing “affidavits.” But, whatever, she brings a lot to somebody’s something.