Thursday, April 24, 2008

High Fructose Corn Syrup: The Devil's Baby? Find out now, on the Miss Mabel Show!

I'm reading Michael Pollan's previous book, The Omnivore's Dilemma. I borrowed it from work, but I'm going to have to buy it because it is blowing my little pea sized brain.

I have so many thoughts about this... I don't know where to start. Aiiiieeee. I'll try to post short thought-updates on my Practically Moral page, where I like to blab about politics and food. If you don't read them... well... you'll just have to suffer through me speechifying you every time we meet. ...I'll have to carry a script around with me, so I don't forget all my speechify points.

But here's one.

1. The US government (under the influence of food production industries) encourages farmers to grow as MUCH corn as physically possible.

2. Farmers grow corn like mozefozes.

3. There is so much corn on the market, that its value is low.

4. It costs farmers more to produce corn than the price it sells at, which is why the government has to subsidize them; this is also why farmers need to produce tons and tons of corn, to make back enough money to stay afloat.

5. The beneficiaries of cheap corn are the food producers--those who take corn and turn it into corny weirdo products; and then those food companies that buy the corny weirdo products to make new breakfast cereals.

7. SO: If you're an American, your taxes (about a quarter, I think he said) to subsidize farmers aren't really subsidizing farmers (at least re. corn and soy beans, the biggest sector of the industry) -- you are really subsidizing corporations.

8: And added to this, the glut of cheap corn means that every industry possible tries to use corn every which way they can, which is why beef cows are fed corn even though it makes them so sick, they also have to be fed antibiotics with their feed.

And presumably this is the same in Canada. And this type of economy is affecting the countries the US sells corny weirdo products to. They sell corn to MEXICO for God's sake, the home of corn! Because no small farmer can compete with this, growing corn the old way, or the old old way. (Old way=growing less corn, using chemical fertilizer. Old old way=using farm animals and bean crops to enrich the soil, on self-sufficient farms with multiple animals and crops.)

Dr Oz has been on Oprah a lot in the past couple years denouncing high fructose corn syrup, which is found in almost every processed food. I wasn't too freaked out because when you eat vegan you naturally gravitate away from processed food, so what little I consume probably isn't that bad for my health. The only change I made was to increase the amount of food I cook at home.

But now I see high fructose corn syrup as demon spawn! I'm not anti-corporation by default, but what the industrialization of food has done to animals, peoples, economies, and the environment is just immoral. I'm sure there are many, many lovely people who work in the food industry... but ah! ah! ah! Ahhhh!

In Norma Rae Land

So apparently the University has moved a bit on a few issues; but there's been some sort of ruling upholding professors' rights to grade everything. I don't know the details, I only got the update from the administration (below.) So it sounds to me, so far, like striking has won us Something... but the power of the *pressure tactic* is coming to an end? The admin is also making plans for the fall, in case the strike goes that long. Yikes.

On the Not So Nice end of things, McGill fired any of the exam invigilators who are also TAs. The latest word is that they've threatened "striking employees with more layoffs, this time for TAs who hold summer sessional instructor jobs and research assistantships." That came from a union email, I don't know more than that.

A student in our dept proposed a meeting with faculty, to keep up good relations. I doubted the Chair would agree since there's no way he'd be allowed to talk about these issues. Sure enough he was reluctant at first, but has now set a meeting for next Monday. As Star Wars would say, I have a bad feeling about this.


From Admin (April 24): "On Wednesday, April 23, the Commission des Relations du Travail du Québec
issued an order that supports McGill’s interpretation of Quebec labour law as
it applies to professors marking papers and exams, submitting grades and
teaching summer courses.
As you may know, AGSEM, the Union representing the teaching assistants,
had argued that the University did not have the right to assign this work to
professors. At a Commission hearing April 18 to deal with a Union complaint,
AGSEM agreed during a mediation session to the terms of an agreement that
formed the basis of the April 23 order. The Union’s subsequent attempt, on
Monday, April 21, to pull back from that agreement was dismissed on April
23. "

From FNEEQ site (April 17): "Cette semaine, un enquêteur du ministère du Travail a conclu dans son rapport que McGill se sert de scabs pour effectuer le travail des grévistes. Lors d’une visite à un laboratoire de chimie de l’université, le 11 avril, l’enquêteur, Thomas Hayden, a constaté que les professeurs de McGill remplaçaient les auxiliaires dans leurs taches normales, ce qui contrevient l’article 109.1"

Like a circle in a circle like a wheel within a wheel...

The other day I went out with Friend Gilby. One of the reasons Gilby and I are such good friends is that our brains work very similarly. The result is that he's probably the person I feel the most relaxed around. I don't know if relaxed is the right word. But it's like I've got this hyper child in my brain, and when I'm with Gilby I can open the room and let it tear around the house. (Or a caged tiger, if you prefer. Depends whether you see my Unleashed Mind as annoying or dangerous. I think Fernando sees it as both.)

I don't mean that I'm super intelligent. I just mean that I have this constantly analyzing brain... it's always on go go go go go go mode. Friend Maggie once said to me: Don't you love to just get out in the evening and take a long walk?

Nooooooo! That's like torture! Must...have...ipod. My brain is already on go go go mode when I'm busy doing a hundred other things--don't let it run around with no direction! (Friend Maggie's brain is very similar to mine, but clearly there is some key difference if she finds long walks relaxing. She's got some sort of brain brake.)

This is why I have a million blogs. Writing gives my brain direction. I have to organize my thoughts when I put them to *paper.* Otherwise my brain is exactly like the muppet in this video. All the time. It's also why I talk incessantly. The hyper toddler is trying to escape at every moment! It's also why I argue and debate with people over the littlest things--I'm trying to figure out what my opinion is on the subject, and my brain will NOT stop until I do. If you've ever seen me obsess about a topic, you don't know the half... if I've obsessed about something verbally, it means I've obsessed about it in my mind for 10 X that amount of time. And I will continue to obsess, for years even, until I'm satisfied with the answer.

Anyway. If you want to know the Secrets Inside My Brain, just watch this video. ;-)

Latest mabeltalk posts, so you can catch what interests you :-)

Where would I be without you?

Support Wikipedia