Hot Air

Fable Folderol

Add this myth to the ever-expanding list of commonly-held falsehoods: the holidays are a significant cause of suicides.

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George Bailey, Preparing To Jump

Yep, you guessed it. It ain’t true at all. It’s so untrue that, in fact, the exact opposite can be argued — the holidays prevent people from committing suicide. That’s what figures from the Centers for Disease control indicate. The CDC tells us fewer suicides occur in November and December than any other time of the year.

So flush this one down the toilet along with the full moon causing mayhem and people using only 10 percent of their brains.

Food Folderol

I’ve patronized Chipotle ever since I arrived in Bloomington mainly because the place serves the kind of ginormous burritos I’d become accustomed to in my Chicago days. Back in my beloved hometown, there’d be burrito joints and taquerias seemingly on every corner. There was even a place that advertised “Burritos As Big As Your Head.”

The truth is if you can find a burrito as big as my coconut, you’ll enjoy an extraordinarily filling repast indeed. Perhaps two.

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La Bamba Burritos

Anyway, Chipotle has been the source of a number of foodborne illness outbreaks in the last calendar year.

You might say the company has been the victim of bad luck. There’s a dizzying variety of ways colonies of bacteria can grow in foods at restaurants and grocery stores. From preparers who neglect to wash their hands after using the bathroom to servers who violate time-temperature guidelines, the food you eat could, at any moment, pack a wallop of microorganisms on your forkful that’ll have you hugging the white bowl for days at a time. In fact, pretty much every single forkful of food you shove into your mouth contains scads of sickening germs. Your body’s natural defense system usually takes care of all the invaders entering your gullet. That is, unless the sheer number of microorganisms overwhelms your defenders.

That’s what happened to hundreds of people, Chipotle diners all, on five separate occasions in 2015. Once is a simple occurrence, twice a coincidence, five times a pattern. Chipotle foodborne illness outbreaks this year have affected poor souls in at least 10 states. The causes of these mass horkings have included E. coli, salmonella, and norovirus, three unrelated invaders, indicating the fast food operation has a big problem on its hands.

Chipotle, of course, crows about its local food sourcing and all-natural ingredients. Well, everybody does, but Chipotle was on it early and big, the first national corporate entity to jump on that bandwagon. Chipotle’s “mission statement” (ugh, I detest corporate-speak) claims it offers “Food with Integrity.” (Double-ugh, I detest — almost as much — profit-making under the guise of altruism.)

McDonald’s Corp. was a big investor in Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. from 1998 through 2006, a period of time during which C. grew from a modest-sized Colorado chain to a 500-location coast-to-coast juggernaut. It’s ironic, natch, that a McDonald’s-owned outfit would succeed based on an appeal to the “natural” palate. Mickey D’s “food” is about as natural as that bottle of soap scum remover under your bathroom sink.

A secret: I still, on rare occasions, indulge in a Big Mac. Sue me.

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Guilty

Somehow, Chipotle overcame the negative image of its corporate overlord and actually became known as a crunchy, New Age-y, safe place to eat. College students went gaga over the place. They could eat fast crap while convincing themselves they were still protecting their holy temple bodies. Chipotle told  customers its food was free from GMOs and other weapons of mass destruction.

Yet, five times in the last year Chipotle’s food has caused hundreds of folk to invert their maws. Yuck.

Now comes Henry I. Miller, bio-researcher, former food and drug regulator, and a Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, to say Chipotle’s problems with foodborne illness are a result of its natural, crunchy, New Age-y practices. Miller says locally-produced food is not safer, “pesticide-free” crops actually are rife with potentially dangerous bug-killing substances, organic grains often are tainted by toxins and parasites, and using natural fertilizer — read: animal shit — increases the odds of foodborne illness eightfold.

And it’s not that Chipotle and the like would argue with Miller. Here’s a line from Chipotle’s 2014 annual report (p. 14):

We may be a higher risk for foodborne illness outbreaks than some competitors due to our use of fresh produce and meats rather than frozen and our reliance on employees cooking with traditional methods rather than automation.

In other words, our methods suck — and are dangerous, to boot.

If you spend your time gathering your food info from profit-driven media or, worse, “natural” websites, you’ll become convinced there are only two types of food in this world:

  1. Magic food that’ll make you healthier, stronger, happier, more orgasmic, and will help you live to the ripe old age of 152.
  2. Evil food that’ll cause cancer, heart disease, obesity, rashes, shingles, warts, poverty, pollution, crime, slavery, and Donald Trump’s hair.

In our ultimately unfulfillable quest to live forever, we’ve latched onto food as the magic pill in recent years. Now, not only is it unwise to ingest Drano, cyanide, nail polish remover, and gasoline, it’s considered almost as rash to eat a slice of bread or enjoy a cob of genetically modified corn. Conversely, if we only buy squash from the organic farmer down the road, we’ll live long enough to see humankind populate Mars.

Here’s a truism from an inveterate talker: People talk too much.

Miller concludes:

Although the crops, meats and other foods produced by modern conventional agricultural technologies may not bring to mind a sentimental Norman Rockwell painting, they are on average safer than food that reflects pandering to current fads.

In the words of my favorite cook ever, Chico of Club Lago, shut up and eat.

[Gasp] He’s Naked!

Okay, ready for Evidence Item #33 gazillion that we, the species Homo Sapiens sapiens, are flat-out psychopathic? Here goes.

Some poor schmuck tried to wade through the shallow waters of the Mediterranean Sea the other day in an attempt to get around the barbed wire fence that separates Egypt from the Gaza Strip. He was a Palestinian and he wanted to get out of that god-foresaken apartheid hell and perhaps breathe the relatively freer air of its neighbor to the south (emphasis on relatively).

Egyptian border guards opened fire on him, dropping him like a sack of flour in the surf, errant rifle rounds plucking the waters around him and raising little up-splashes. Huzzah, the sovereign state of Egypt had been protected.

The whole incident was caught on video. The Arabic version of Al Jazeera aired the vid and tut-tutted the tragedy. Only the Palestinian guy had been stark naked as he splashed through the surf, perhaps as a way of showing he wasn’t carrying any arms or weapons of mass hysteria into that ancient land. So, even though we see in loving detail a man’s life being snuffed out in a hail of bullets, Al Jazeera producers protected their viewers from seeing the poor bastard’s cold-turtled junk as well as his bare buttocks by pixellating these horrifying locales.

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Praise Allah — We Can’t See His Penis

Yes, the Earth, where terrestrial evolution’s highest form is more scared of nudity than bloody homicide.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Hot Air

  1. Susan Sandberg says:

    In my child protective services days, we’d all have to take rotational turns carrying the “pager” on holidays in case there was a child endangerment emergency to respond to. While we’d all dread having the “duty” on Thanksgiving or Christmas, I don’t recall ever being called out to work on either of those family days. It seems even the most abusive and dysfunctional of us can somehow manage to pull it all together during these high holidays. Strictly anecdotal, mind you, just adding another flavor to the mix!

  2. Hi says:

    La Bamba Burritos used to have location in Bloomington on the second floor of the building Finch’s is now in.

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