Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Extremists In the Broad Church of Secularism


Food Nazis represent an extreme religious cult within the Broad Church of Secularism.  It is inevitable that human beings are constantly seeking a saviour, and food puritanism provides an attractive option.  

Firstly, as is the case with all idolatries, food Nazis ooze self-righteousness.  This takes the form of asserting their own righteousness as purer than the driven snow, coupled with an implacable determination to force their ways, rules, and dogmas upon all others.  Secondly, food Nazis dissemble, lie, and deceive.

Typical of the trope of deception is an example which came to light recently arguing that the food industry was guilty of deceptive and misleading conduct.  The "academics" who authored the piece engaged in in a grand induction alleging a world-wide conspiracy against ordinary people--based on one brief email exchange between two people who worked at the time for Coca Cola.
  The rebuttal, written by Katherine Rich, contained this dismissal:
The [food Nazi] paper’s references fall into two main groups: the authors’ own work or sensational general media stories.  It happens a lot in academic work, but it always seems somewhat dubious when papers include the practice of making assertions such as “it is well established that…” and then quote the author’s own work as the evidence.

In no sense can continual quoting and re-quoting of one’s own papers be seen as providing a satisfactory form of independent verification.

As for forcing one's religion upon others a recent example is provided by that most sane and measured of states in the US--California.  The gastronomic police want coffee to be labelled as a carcinogen.
Coffee in California is going to be given cigarette treatment if a nonprofit organisation gets its way, and it's "ridiculous", a New Zealand expert says.  The organisation has called for coffee to be labelled as having a cancer risk, because of hazardous chemical acrylamide lingering in the cup.

The suit came from the Council for Education and Research on Toxics (CERT), which claimed companies ignored a law requiring a warning of hazardous chemicals. Acrylamide is produced in small amounts during the coffee roasting process, and is also found in potato chips and French fries. Any food cooked over 120 degrees celsius can contain traces.  [Stuff]
Now, as you would expect from the food Nazis, all traces of hazardous chemicals must be removed from all food.  In fact, to be truly pure, one must stop consuming food, period.
AUT chemistry professor Allan Blackman says acrylamide is "formed in, basically, cooking", and is certainly present in coffee.  "What we're talking about is tiny, tiny amounts. We're talking in the parts per billion range," Blackman says.

Different types of coffee have varying concentrations however, depending on how it's roasted or prepared.  "They have found that instant coffee appears to be the major culprit. That's got levels of 200 to 500 parts per billion, and that translates to around about .2 milligrams per kilogram, which is a pretty darn small amount."  The upper limit for human consumption, according to the US Food and Drink Administration, is .2 micrograms per kilogram of weight, per day, he says. 

"You would have to be drinking essentially half a kilogram of coffee per day, which seems like an awful lot to me."
"Parts per billion".  Behold the drive for purity.  Tell you what--every lungful of air contains contaminants.  Air should be labelled as unfit for humans.  Stop breathing.  It's the only way to go.

The Christian response is to affirm that we must "eat, drink, and be merry for the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof."

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