Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Digestible, Even on the Bottom...,

theconversation |  When Crisco launched in 1911, it did things differently. 

Like other brands, it was made from cottonseed. But it was also a new kind of fat – the world’s first solid shortening made entirely from a once-liquid plant oil. Instead of solidifying cottonseed oil by mixing it with animal fat like the other brands, Crisco used a brand-new process called hydrogenation, which Procter & Gamble, the creator of Crisco, had perfected after years of research and development. 

From the beginning, the company’s marketers talked a lot about the marvels of hydrogenation – what they called “the Crisco process” – but avoided any mention of cottonseed. There was no law at the time mandating that food companies list ingredients, although virtually all food packages provided at least enough information to answer that most fundamental of all questions: What is it?

In contrast, Crisco marketers offered only evasion and euphemism. Crisco was made from “100% shortening,” its marketing materials asserted, and “Crisco is Crisco, and nothing else.” Sometimes they gestured towards the plant kingdom: Crisco was “strictly vegetable,” “purely vegetable” or “absolutely all vegetable.” At their most specific, advertisements said it was made from “vegetable oil,” a relatively new phrase that Crisco helped to popularize.

But why go to all this trouble to avoid mentioning cottonseed oil if consumers were already knowingly buying it from other companies? 

The truth was that cottonseed had a mixed reputation, and it was only getting worse by the time Crisco launched. A handful of unscrupulous companies were secretly using cheap cottonseed oil to cut costly olive oil, so some consumers thought of it as an adulterant. Others associated cottonseed oil with soap or with its emerging industrial uses in dyes, roofing tar and explosives. Still others read alarming headlines about how cottonseed meal contained a toxic compound, even though cottonseed oil itself contained none of it.

Instead of dwelling on its problematic sole ingredient, then, Crisco’s marketers kept consumer focus trained on brand reliability and the purity of modern factory food processing. 

Crisco flew off the shelves. Unlike lard, Crisco had a neutral taste. Unlike butter, Crisco could last for years on the shelf. Unlike olive oil, it had a high smoking temperature for frying. At the same time, since Crisco was the only solid shortening made entirely from plants, it was prized by Jewish consumers who followed dietary restrictions forbidding the mixing of meat and dairy in a single meal.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Blood Now Accounts for 2% of Murica's Exports -- More than Corn or Soya

mintpressnews |  For much of the world, donating blood is purely an act of solidarity; a civic duty that the healthy perform to aid others in need. The idea of being paid for such an action would be considered bizarre. But in the United States, it is big business. Indeed, in today’s wretched economy, where around 130 million Americans admit an inability to pay for basic needs like food, housing or healthcare, buying and selling blood is of the few booming industries America has left. 

The number of collection centers in the United States has more than doubled since 2005 and blood now makes up well over 2 percent of total U.S. exports by value. To put that in perspective, Americans’ blood is now worth more than all exported corn or soy products that cover vast areas of the country’s heartland. The U.S. supplies fully 70 percent of the world’s plasma, mainly because most other countries have banned the practice on ethical and medical grounds. Exports increased by over 13 percent, to $28.6 billion, between 2016 and 2017, and the plasma market is projected to “grow radiantly,” according to one industry report. The majority goes to wealthy European countries; Germany, for example, buys 15 percent of all U.S. blood exports. China and Japan are also key customers.

It is primarily the plasma– a golden liquid that transports proteins and red and white blood cells around the body– that makes it so sought after. Donated blood is crucial in treating medical conditions such as anemia and cancer and is commonly required to perform surgeries. Pregnant women also frequently need transfusions to treat blood loss during childbirth. Like all maturing industries, a few enormous bloodthirsty companies, such as Grifols and CSL, have come to dominate the American market.

Go Head On and Eat that "Impossible Meat", I'll Watch...., |  If you were to believe newspapers and dietary advice leaflets, you'd probably think that doctors and nutritionists are the people guiding us through the thicket of what to believe when it comes to food. But food trends are far more political – and economically motivated—than it seems. 

From ancient Rome, where Cura Annonae – the provision of bread to the citizens—was the central measure of good government, to 18th-century Britain, where the economist Adam Smith identified a link between wages and the price of corn, has been at the centre of the economy. Politicians have long had their eye on as a way to shape society.

That's why tariffs and other trade restrictions on imported food and grain were enforced in Britain between 1815 and 1846. These "corn laws" enhanced the profits and political power of the landowners, at the cost of raising food prices and hampering growth in other .

Over in Ireland, the ease of growing the recently imported led to most people living off a narrow and repetitive diet of homegrown potato with a dash of milk. When potato blight arrived, a million people starved to death, even as the country continued to produce large amounts of food – for export to England. 

Such episodes well illustrate that food policy has often been a fight between the interests of the rich and the poor. No wonder Marx declared that food lay at the heart of all political structures and warned of an alliance of industry and capital intent on both controlling and distorting food production.