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October 12, 2006

Think before you pink

Pinkdogwood Like many of you, I have friends and family who have died from cancer (or the treatment for cancer, but that's another rant) and wish that 'they' would find a cure. If we can put a man on the moon, why can't we cure... (...what's that? We've not put a man on the moon since way back when I was in a child? Well, maybe that's the problem, let's put some more folks on the moon! I've got a list we could start with...)

But I digress, let's get back to cancer and the pinking of marketing. October is apparently "Buy overpriced pink crap for cancer" month. Largely driven by the Susan Komen foundation, and flogged all over the Internet (which is neither plural "Internets" nor tubes) seemingly by everyone with the exception of a few nay-sayers like me, this month brings us all things pink. Pink kitchenaid mixers, pink knives, pink M&Ms, even pink hard drives to complete the Barbiefication (ouch, that word is gonna cost me!) of your life.

Why does this marketing of cancer bug me? Let me count the ways:

Percentage of profits that goes to actually fighting cancer, and specifics on where that money goes, is often vague. Most companies don't bother to say how much they give, leaving one to wonder exactly how much of their money is being funneled into research v. going into corporate coffers.

When you can find the data, donation per item is generally miserable. Other than Avon, which seems to actually donate a significant chunk of the income (sometimes 100% of net) from pink products, if you can find someone giving 10%, that's a lot. (Avon balances the large % of pink sales donated with this oh-so-tacky 'anti-domestic violence' bracelet...a blue hospital-style it to remind us that some 'blue' people put some 'pink' people in the hospital because they beat them?) As the wonderful site "Think Before You Pink" points out, you would have to eat three containers of Yoplait yogurt every day (10 cents per returned container lid) of the promotion to donate $36 to the cause. And that yogurt might be made from the milk of rBGH "enhanced" cows. That would be the same rBGH that might cause cancer, breast cancer no less. (as a fan of irony I should like this, but I'm less than amused...go figure) American Express gives a penny a purchase, regardless of the amount of the purchase. A penny. How. Appallingly. Cheap.

While we're on the subject of tax-deductible corporate largesse being used to disguise corporate malfeasance — we weren't talking about that? well, now we are — can we talk about the number of cancer-causing (or suspected cancer-causing) agents in the stuff that's being wrapped in pink? Cosmetics companies, like Estee Lauder, wrap pink ribbons around products containing parabens (chemical preservatives) and phthalates, both of which disrupt normal hormone function when absorbed into the body; hormone disruption has been suggestively linked with increased breast cancer risk. (suggestively linked sounds an awful lot like a Foley thing, doesn't it?)

But the big thing for me is that this is just another excuse to tell us to go shopping. Just like after September 11th, when the Dubya told us to act normal and go shopping, it seems that searching for 'the cure' is simply another angle in a world gone marketing mad. Plus it is all designed to reinforce the notion that women shop, cook, and play dress-up. Because that's what the overwhelming majority of the pinkStuff is: traditional girly things.

If you really want to help the search for better treatment, and perhaps even a cure, for cancer, write a check to a group that's doing the work. There are many such groups out there, pick one that relates to the sort of cancer you care about. If you want to do more, get a degree in a field that will allow you to go do the work yourself.

On the other hand, if you want an all-pink kitchen, go buy it now. Because now is the time to be pink. And you would be amazed at how pink you could be.

Just don't buy an all pink kitchen because you think it's helping find a cure for cancer. Because it's really not.

September 13, 2006

Some of my best friends are vegan...

Being neither a vegan nor someone who plays one on TV, I've not commented much on going meatless here. I do, however, end up at a few sites for the non-meat-eaters amongst us regularly, especially over the summer when both the CSA and my bit of a garden are producing a bounty of the freshest and most local of food.

One of my favorite vegetarian/vegan sites is vegblog, which ran a very helpful post on what to do when your vegan friends come to dinner a little while back. I'm not sure I'd agree with all of the advice — there's a suggestion of how to approach an egg-less quiche rather than the "make something else you fool" response that the idea deserves — but there are a number of handy tips and pointers to more data. There is also a page of resources ranging from background on various schools of thought pertaining to veganism to blogs to pretty much everything else you might need to support a vegan lifestyle. Very cool stuff.

I do have one question though: What's with the faux meat?

I can understand it if you don't eat meat for medical reasons and really miss the flavor. From what I hear, soy-based meat analogs have come a long way in recent years and they actually taste meatlike. (Here I pause for a moment to note the irony of the faux meat tasting more like real meat at the same time that the "real" meat is tasting more like some cheaply made soy-based amalgam every year.)

But if you are a vegan for ethical reasons, I can't see how you could eat faux steak. You're not eating a cow because it's ethically wrong so why are you pretending to eat a cow? What's up with that?

of course, right afer I posted this I discovered vegblog is down so the links are dead... wih any luck they will be back soon!

February 22, 2006

If I ran the Food Network...

Spuriouscake Let's talk. Pull up a chair, pour yourself some tea, perhaps you'd like a slice of cake?

I was over at eGullet, snickering at the (twitter) oh-so-awesome (flutter) project's ideas for some new Food Network shows
and it triggered this thought that has been floating around in my head ever since the last round of eating competitions hit my radar and left me ranting. Now, I realize that when it comes to thoughts on the Food Network I am a rank amateur compared to some people, but I do have a few ideas I'd like to put forward.

Continue reading "If I ran the Food Network..." »

December 02, 2005

Feeling the doubletall love

Our Sam may be a star, but Sambuck's is not Starbucks's...and I doubt anyone would confuse the two. Well, anyone other than a corporate attorney, that is. Just down the road in Astoria, a hole-in-the-wall has fought the (strip)mall and the mall won. Sam Buck, the owner of Sambuck's Coffee House in Astoria just lost a court decision in which a federal judge ruled that she was willfully infringing on the coffee behemoth's trademark by naming her coffee shop after herself. Note that she did this in 2000 before there was a single coffeeBehemoth store in Astoria. Apparently when they arrived in town in 2002 they decided to care about Sam's little place and sue her.

Let me pause for just a moment to say that any business that names itself after a character in a classic book that was written long before they were incorporated and then claims that character's name as if they'd invented it needs to take a good look at itself. Whats next? No more Moby Dick readings because they say the word? I've hung in there with coffeeBehemoth through a lot of stupidity--even when they responded to criticism of their inclusive stance on coffee cup quotes by adding one that was anything but. (For some reason I thought that it might get a homophobe to think, "well, the coffee's good, maybe being gay is okay too" and lighten up. Silly me.)

I must admit that I haven't been into Sam's place yet, even though I get espresso everytime I go to Astoria, sometimes at coffeeBehemoth. Not anymore. Next time I will go to Sam's coffee house and I shall avoid coffeeBehemoth like the avian flu. Although I may stop by, cup of Sam's coffee in hand, to tell them why I am not shopping there anymore.

Odd that a company that claims to support small business in the form of farmer's overseas does its best to squish small business here at home. Fair trade, indeed.

November 30, 2005

Not the targeted demographic

I've been trying to watch more Food TV lately, including some shows that I normally avoid like avian flu (do we really "avoid the plague" anymore?) and I have some thoughts. One advantage to having a blog is that I can come here and rant instead of just snarking at the television. Add that to my recent dearth of posts and this is what happens.

First, I am clearly not the targeted demographic for the network. I find this really odd because I am a serious cook who works at home and has time to do all sorts of cooking. I don't live near a grocery store where I can buy individually wrapped vegetables, nor would I buy them if I did. I care more about the taste of my food than the 'scape of my table. I think that good food is worth taking a little time to create and never buy something I could make in less time than it takes to drive to the store. (45 min). I have a freezer and am not afraid to use it...for homemade food and bulk purchases, not commercially prepared things.

I have to wonder about editorial staff. Have they nobody to explain to their on-air folk that if you say an acronym followed by the meaning every time you can just skip the acronym. (meaning it's silly to say "EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)" instead of one or the other). Better yet, how about just "olive oil" and let people get their single bottle of olive oil off the shelf without inquiring as to its virginity, because, really, how many of the people watching that show — you know which one I mean — have more than one kind of olive oil on the shelf? Heck, how many of you have more than one kind of OO (say it with me, "oooooo!") on your shelf? I am a food-nut and I have only two...and both of them are extra-virgin. (I want a bottle of "bit of a hussy olive oil," which doesn't exist but should.)

Can we call off the stereotypes? Alton says grills are about Y chromosomes**, RR giggles and says something about her inner girliness as she talks about tea sandwiches, and there are a few on-air folks that every online discussion about them devolves to "I'd do her" and an accompanying accusation that people (read women) who don't like ____'s show are jealous of her looks. Uh huh. Either that or we don't consider mixing a can of frosting with sugar and rolling it into balls to be candy-making, let alone "sensuous."

Oh my. Ms. Ray just put saffron in something instead of annatto seeds and then called it inexpensive. Uh huh. This from the woman who buys individually shrink-wrapped vegetables.

I think they should change the network name to "I like to watch other people putter in the kitchen making things I'd never actually eat TV" — at least it'd be truth in advertising. (Having written this, I am guaranteeing that my chance at Food TV stardom is ruined, but I just don't think it was happening anyway, what with me being over 30 in both age and weight in kilograms.)

**those being the ones that make people look at things attributed to it and say, "why?"

July 24, 2005

the ethics of free recipes

As I was perusing this mornng's updated flogs, I stumbled across someone raving about Google Print. (Find it if you are interested, I am not supporting them by making it easy to find them. I'm also not linking to the blog where I found it because I like her writing and this isn't about her.) For those of you unfamiliar with the "service" being offered by Google, it takes the full text of published books and makes them available free online. Sounds pretty cool, huh?

Well, it depends on who you are.

Continue reading "the ethics of free recipes" »

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