ss_blog_claim=72c4b2db6d01773cfd92b1543994214b Welcome To The Male Perspective: August 2010

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Golden Memories

I have been collecting coins since I was just a little boy when my Grandfather gave me a bag of old coins he had collected over the years. I thought it was really cool to have little pieces of history from all over the world. As I have been growing my coin collection I have been working on collecting more valuable and rare coins. It is a bit more difficult to do this on my own so finding an expert like the US Gold Bureau was a huge help to grow my collection. They have all the connections and access to the best and rarest coin and bullion collections. Whether you are collecting for fun or for investing it is a good idea to use a service to protect your investments.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Microwave popcorn is safe?

I found this information on my MSN news recently and was shocked to hear what kind of dangers there are in a simple bag of popcorn.

Dear Lou,
What about popcorn? Is it safe, healthy, and free of pesticides? What exactly is in the artificial butter flavor?

Greenee Trailer Trash from Mississippi

Dear Greenee,
You might be sorry you asked. When I'm done here, there won't be much left to enjoy in your average batch of conventionally-grown and processed popcorn. But don't give up hope. You know how, in basic training, the Army breaks people down and builds them back up again? I break down America's favorite foods -- in this case, one that we consume to the tune of 16 billion quarts each year -- and build them back up with something more sustainable, and often more delicious.

In that vein, let's take a look at the problems with your average store-bought popcorn. Now, Greenee, I'm going to use some harsh words, and I hope I don't offend you. But I'm poppin' mad about the state of popcorn -- a fun-to-eat, whole-grain crunchy treat that has been deflated by the embrace of corporate food marketers.

The problems with conventional popcorn start in the corn field.

The popcorn you find at the movie theater and in microwave boxes is likely to have been raised with the aid of insecticides, herbicides and fungicides, and fumigants.

More: 8 easy ways to take pesticides off your menu

For a less-than-soothing bedtime read on this delightful subject, download the Popcorn Agri Chemical Handbook. This chemo-phobe's horror story includes a section on "tolerances" -- that is, details on just how much pesticide the EPA will accept in your movie-time snack. If you don't have time to curl up with this PDF, let me cut to the chase: The list of acceptable chemical residues is long and includes malathion, a nasty organophosphate.

Now, onto bad news masquerading as good news: According to the Popcorn Board, a nonprofit, check-off organization funded by U.S. popcorn processors, there is no genetically modified popcorn on the market -- but, biotech varieties are in the works. How long popcorn will stay genetically pure is anyone's guess, but it may be a moot speculation.

Many farmers now believe that, on account of corn pollen's pesky habit of drifting around on the winds and fertilizing any old corn plant it meets, there is no genetically pure corn left in the world. Recently I was disturbed to read that my favorite garden seed suppliers, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, reported that they had been doing "major and expensive" GMO testing on all of their corn varieties. Sadly, much, if not most, of their corn is contaminated with GM Franken-genes.

GM corn is a big bummer because a recent study found that the mice that ate GM corn had impaired fertility, which grew worse with each subsequent litter. This bummer snowballs when you realize that most corn in the U.S. in now genetically modified.

Greenee, if you still can bear to eat corn at all, let's also take a look at:

Artificial butter -- that pathetic excuse for flavor

You know the fake but yummy buttery smell that wafts out of microwave popcorn bags? Until very recently, it was due to a flavoring agent, diacetyl, which causes the serious, potentially deadly, and ignobly-nicknamed disease popcorn lung, that has sickened factory workers who inhaled the stuff.

After popcorn lung sickened a consumer -- a Colorado man who ate a whole lot of microwave popcorn -- many big popcorn makers pulled it from their products.

Despite pressure from lung doctors, public interest groups, citizens, unions, politicians, and so forth, the FDA still classifies diacetyl, as "Generally Recognized as Safe" (GRAS). California, meanwhile, is trying to ban it. (For the latest developments on diacetyl, go the public health blog The Pump Handle.)

The Popcorn Board could not tell me whether any popcorn makers still used diacetyl. In an email, a spokesperson explained, "The mission of The Popcorn Board is to educate consumers about the fun, economical, whole grain nature of popcorn." (And evidently to publish the Agri Chemical Handbook.)

I'm not sure what popcorn makers now use for butter flavor. According to Stephanie Childs, spokesperson for ConAgra Foods, their butter flavoring is a proprietary recipe that contains "no added diacetyl." (Among ConAgra's popcorn-centric brands are Orville Redenbacher's, Jiffy Pop, Act II, FiddleFaddle, Poppycock, and Crunch N' Munch.)

Are you still here Greenee, or have you clicked away and started drinking? (Remember, bourbon is made of corn. I'm just saying.)

Finally, let's look at:

Excessive packaging -- the handmaiden of Satan

Even though you can get store-bought popcorn with relatively clean ingredients (such as Newman's Own Microwave Popcorn No Salt Organic), you are going to end up with some sort of bag at best, and at worst the Russian nesting doll-style of packaging that comes with microwave popcorn: a bag wrapped in plastic within a box. All of this packaging is hard on the earth, and some of it might be hard on your health.

The Teflon that coats some microwave popcorn bags can break down into a chemical that has been linked to cancer and birth defects in animals. Microwave popcorn bags are often coated with a perfluorinated chemical (PFC) called a "fluorotelomer" that can break down into perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which can make its way into hot food such as piping hot popcorn.

Not surprising, California (new state motto: "the Cassandra State") attempted to pass a bill to remove PFCs from food packaging. ConAgra, by the way, is phasing out its microwave popcorn bags that contain PFOAs.

More: Top 10 worst packaging offenders

Don't go away yet, because, as promised, I need to build popcorn back up. There is, in fact, a way to eat your popcorn and not screw the planet or your health. Here you go:

Recipe for morale-building popcorn

Special equipment note: You will need a plain brown paper lunch bag.

1/4 cup certified organic popcorn. This will be free of pesticides and free of Franken-genes (fingers crossed). If you are able, buy it in bulk to save money and reduce the packaging (bulk organic popcorn is typically available in natural foods markets). Or, look for kernels sold in recyclable glass jars.

Real butter, organic if possible. Sure, butter is high in saturated fat. But, like the nutritionist and educator Joan Gussow, has said, "I prefer butter to margarine, because I trust cows more than chemists."

Although you may use any popcorn popping method you like, ironically, it's the microwave that makes easy, fast popcorn without extra oil or closet-clogging equipment.

Put the corn in the lunch bag, fold it few times and put it in the microwave, fold side down. Nuke it for 2-3 minutes or until you hear the kernels slow down to about five seconds between pops. (There are those folks, including the Popcorn Board, who say that making popcorn in brown bags is dangerous and that you should stick to manufacturer's packaging, but I, rebel that I am, choose to keep an eye on my cheap, cancer-free brown bag.)

Remove and open the bag very carefully, because the escaping steam will be hot (as, well, most steam is, whether it's escaping or just doing time and waiting for parole). Dump the popped corn into a bowl and drizzle it with real butter.

Next, grab a movie. Watch the very smart and funny documentary King Corn if you are in the mood for yet more on the subject of corn and its industrial undoing. If not, I highly recommend any of those Jason Bourne movies.

So, dear Greenee, whether popcorn is safe, healthy, and free of pesticides depends on the kind you buy. Even if the flavorings in processed popcorn aren't lung-searing, your average bag may contain lots of salts, artificial colors, flavors, trans fats, etc. If you can, make popcorn at home. Just don't burn it -- that smell will last all night and haunt your dreams.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Golden hobby

When thinking about picking up a hobby for all my spare time I was wanting to get into something that I could use as a collection but that would also hold or increase it's value so it didn't feel like I was just throwing my money away. It took me a while but I decided that it was time to buy gold coins I thought it would not only be an exciting collection to have as I could always be searching for hard to find coins but it would be one that would hold it's value through out time. Now the question was where to get started, I did some research on the Internet and discovered many companies that help investors and collectors alike to find the rarest coins available on the market. Their expert advisors have instant access to all kinds of coins from all over the world and can help you find coins of interest for you with their vast resources. This is an exciting time to get into collecting or investing in coins if you are interested do your reserch and find someone you can trust to help you get started.

Mr. Lobster at the beach

Sometimes walking on the beautiful beaches around here you never know what you might find. Last night while walking along the beach Blake and I found this big lobster on the shore line. It was pretty cool looking at this guy on the beach with Blake, Kohl and Trinity. They usually only see lobsters in the tank at the grocery store so to inspect one up close and personal was fun. What will we find on our next journey off to the beach?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Summer fun

What do you do in your area of the country for fun in the summer. Living on the East coast we have plentiful access to beautiful sandy beaches and that is typically a great resource for summer fun. The staple BBQ and camping is also very popular in this area of the country. I am curious in hearing what is going on in other communities for fun these summer months.
Visit My Perspective