Why I’m going to continue drinking Pumpkin Spice Lattes, and you should too (if you want to)

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Recently a graphic made the rounds on social media. It was from this chick who calls herself the “Food Babe” and it was full of paranoia, propaganda, lies, and bullshit — with a huge, HEAPING dose of food shaming. (I am not sharing the image on this post, because it’s food-shaming and gross and could trigger either eating disorders or an explosion of rage, and I really don’t want to give any of y’all aneurysms.)

You can easily see this image is a crock of crap if you go to Snopes (warning, they do share it). Honestly, I think the world would really improve if peoples’ browsers forced them to visit the relevant Snopes page before they can share any of those fraudulent pieces of BS to their FB pages.

Anyway. “Food Babe” has several problems with Pumpkin Spice Lattes, and Starbucks as a company, it seems. She actually appears to be on a bit of a crusade against them, which sends up MAJOR red flags as to whether or not I should trust what she says. She claims to be skeptical, but doesn’t realize that to be skeptical means to neither believe nor disbelieve — ie, be neutral — not hold in outright contempt. (Lots of self-identified skeptics could stand to relearn the definition of the word.)

One of her complaints? “The latte has no real pumpkin in it!”

Well, duh? It’s a Pumpkin Spice Latte, not a Pumpkin Guts or Pumpkin Seeds Latte. Honestly, having pumpkin mash in your latte would be disgusting and not drinkable. I ordered a Pumpkin Spice Latte, not a flipping smoothie. I’m perfectly okay with that delicious spicy flavour coming from a syrup, not actual pumpkins. (Also, can you imagine the cost? Starbucks is already expensive.)

fall coffee

Mmm, delicious pumpkin-free coffee on a nice fall day.

The biggest issue with the Pumpkin Spice Latte, according to “Food Babe”, is the inclusion of Caramel Colour IV because it’s apparently carcinogenic. What she fails to note is that the thing that is carcinogenic, 4-MEI, not only occurs as a natural byproduct of cooking some foods, but is in levels so small the FDA has labelled it as safe. Here’s a quote from them:

What is 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI)?

4-methylimidazole (4-MEI) is a chemical compound that is not directly added to food; rather it is formed as a byproduct in some foods and beverages during the normal cooking process. For example, 4-MEI may form when coffee beans are roasted and when meats are roasted or grilled. 4-MEI also forms as a trace impurity during the manufacturing of certain types of caramel coloring (known as Class III and Class IV caramel coloring) that are used to color cola-type beverages and other foods.

Is there a risk from eating foods that contain 4-MEI?

Based on the available information, FDA has no reason to believe that there is any immediate or short-term danger presented by 4-MEI at the levels expected in food from the use of caramel coloring.

See that? It may form when coffee beans are being roasted. So you can’t even escape it by eschewing Pumpkin Spice Lattes and drinking home-made coffee. Don’t think your barbecue is safe, either, because it might form in grilled meats.

Bottom line on this one: the FDA may not be infallible, but they’re also not run by a cabal intent on hiding info to poison the world. Trust them on this one, and not “Food Babe” (whose qualifications are what, exactly?).

She also claims Starbucks is hiding the ingredient list, which is an outright lie, seeing as it’s listed on their website. Though it should be noted, the ingredients for the pumpkin syrup listed on the site is the ingredients for the sold-for-home syrup, which differs from the syrup used in retail locations. Namely, the syrup used in retail locations doesn’t have HFCS, while the sold-for-home syrup does.

Another claim: made with “Monsanto milk!” Yeah, no. Starbucks phased out the use of Monsanto milk products back in 2007.

“Food Babe” also seems to think that 50g of sugar is a “toxic dose”. If nothing else, this should tell you she’s completely ignorant and shouldn’t be trusted. 50g is not a toxic dose of sugar. A fruit salad would send you to ER if it were. “She’s probably talking about processed sugars,” you may shout, desperately clinging to the idea that this woman knows something (hint: she doesn’t). Even if she is, 50g of processed sugar is not a toxic dose. Most North Americans get that level daily, or at least weekly. Most of us would be dead or dying if 50g were a toxic dose.

inconceivable

Also on the list: “ambiguous ‘natural flavours’ that can be made from anything on earth“. OH MY GODS. NATURAL FLAVOURS FROM ANYTHING? IT’S PROBABLY MADE OUT OF BELLADONNA AND HEMLOCK, FOR THAT ZESTY AFTERBURN. Fear-monger more, lady.

Artificial flavours she claims are made from petroleum. Uh, sources please? Oh wait, you probably can’t supply any, which explains why there are none in the blog post and it’s all just a bunch of vague fear-mongering. (Which leaves me wondering about the critical thinking skills of the people who take what you say at face value.)

Preservatives and sulfites that “can cause allergic reactions.” Look, anything can cause allergic reactions. Literally anything. And on that note, Mr. Katje’s mom is allergic to sulfites and she’s able to drink Pumpkin Spice Lattes WITH NO ILL EFFECTS. (So long as she orders it without nutmeg.) So I seriously doubt the levels of sulfites are at a dangerous level.

“Possible pesticide residue from using non-organic coffee beans.” Oh my gods could you be any more pretentious. If you want organic coffee beans, go to a different store, and complain about how much more expensive it is while you talk about how environmentally conscious you are drinking a beverage made from beans that are shipped thousands of miles to make it into your cup regardless if they’re organic or not. Also, sources please? And maybe you could mention what kind of pesticides are used, seeing as there are MANY MANY pesticides that are completely harmless to humans. Oh wait, again, you can’t supply any of this info, because you don’t actually know anything.

Her final complaint? The latte is not vegan even with soy milk options because of the use of condensed milk products. Again: sources, please. Also: you are ordering a coffee from a place that gets hundreds of customers a day. There may be trace elements of something not vegan in your soy-substituted latte. I’m sorry, but that’s the truth. It might happen. You may not get 100% precision with your drink made by a rushed barista who just dealt with three assholes and someone under the influence (I salute you, baristas). If you absolutely cannot abide by minuscule trace elements of non-vegan ingredients in your food, then I advise you to eschew lattes at Starbucks, stick to their regular coffee, and bring your own soy or other milk substitute to add. Or just make coffee at home. Or learn to like it black.

This entire sundae of BS is topped off with the words “THINK before you drink!” Not only does “Food Babe”, with her absolute lack of any qualifications in the area of nutrition or chemistry, want to spread a bunch of lies about various foods that people enjoy, she has to shame them for liking them. Food Babe, I did think before I had that Pumpkin Spice Latte. I thought, Man, today would be great for a delicious Pumpkin Spice Latte, and then I enjoyed a delicious Pumpkin Spice Latte and suffered no ill effects from it. Just because I didn’t come to the same (misinformed) conclusions you did does not mean I didn’t think.

While I spent the past several days ranting about this image to Mr. Katje and anyone who would listen, it became clear to me that I’d seen “Food Babe” around before — back when she posted some serious BS about the ~*~dangers~*~ of beer. That was thoroughly debunked by people who actually know chemistry and science. From the link:

Yes, it would appear that the Food Babe got her education from popular books and Google University and somehow got the messianic bug to save the world! Maybe a better way to describe her is the Jenny McCarthy of the food industry. Of course, I don’t mean that as a compliment. Just as Jenny McCarthy has been a prime force spreading fear and ignorance about vaccines, Vani Hari has been a malignant force promoting ignorance about food. Sure, mixed in with all the pseudoscience, antivaccine beliefs, and admiration of cranks like Russell Blaylock, is the occasional bit of good advice about eating more vegetables, avoiding too much processed food, and recipes that, for all I know, might actually be tasty. But the price is too high, buried as the occasional trivial bit of good advice is under the tsunami of nonsense.

Bottom line, Food Babe — or “Fraud Broad” as she’s becoming known — is a quack. She has no qualifications for what she’s talking about, and it shows. Her conclusions are BS and she thinks that “chemicals are dangerous”.

Right. Chemicals are dangerous. I guess we should work to avoid things like Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12), or (2R,3S,4S,5R,6R)-2-(hydroxymethyl)-6-[(2R,3S,4R,5R,6S)-4,5,6-trihydroxy-2-(hydroxymethyl)oxan-3-yl]oxy-oxane-3,4,5-triol (Starch), or (heavens forfend) 3,7-Dihydro-1,3,7-trimethyl-1H-purine-2,6-dione (Caffeine).*** All very dangerous things that will surely kill us! Live a chemical-free life today: stop eating, drinking, and breathing.

I’m not listening to anything the Fraud Broad has to say, and neither should you. Her stuff is not only fraudulent to the point of being dangerous, it’s food-shaming, too. If you want to read things from an actual nutritionist who won’t shame you, I recommend Michelle Allison.

And keep on drinking your Pumpkin Spice Lattes! I’m certainly not stopping. Not for Fraud Broad nor anyone else sans qualifications, avec a major axe to grind.

(And if you don’t like Starbucks or Pumpkin Spice Lattes or pumpkin, that’s fine too. I am certainly not saying you have to. Just don’t shame people who do, because it will do no good. Every time someone shames me for drinking Starbucks — which happens often — instead of going to a local coffee shop, you know what happens? On my next trip to get coffee from a shop, instead of heading to the local coffee shop (because I do like to go to both! amazingly life is not black and white! I can hold love for Starbucks AND local places in my heart!), I head to Starbucks. Every time you shame someone for ANY of their food or drink choices, period, an angel turns to stone, becomes quantum-locked, and puts you on its hit list. So stop food-shaming people, unless you want to get killed by a Weeping Angel. And you know what? Food-shamers totally deserve to have Weeping Angels come after them. Enjoy living your life in the past where you have to deal with what food is given you.)

-Katje

***No, I did not know those chemical names offhand. I got them from this article.

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So, lemme get this right…

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*(Major spoilers for Doctor Who ahead. Also, animated gifs.)*

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I’m an aunt!

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Yesterday Mr. Katje’s sister had her first child, and he and I are now officially uncle and aunt. I’m looking forward to being Cool Aunt Katje who introduces the little tadpole to Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, and all the other myriad fandoms of which I am part. I’m sure Mr. Katje will help me in the engeekifying of our nibling, especially as it comes to Magic the Gathering and other incredibly dorky pursuits (because nibling must be adorkable as well as adorable). We’ve already bought the kid a Batman costume. Because always be yourself — unless you can be Batman. Then, always be Batman.

I haven’t yet met the nibling in person, but from hir pictures ze looks a bit like a gnome. Which makes the gnome hat I’m knitting much more appropriate.

We’ll probably head over for a visit this weekend.

That’s all. I’m an aunt. Mr. Katje is an uncle. It’s pretty cool.

-Katje

I’ll “Fat Talk” as Much as I Gorram Please

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Trigger warning: fatphobia, silencing, diet talk

Someone shared this on Facebook yesterday. It’s a video by Special K about “fat talk” — their special term for “self-hatred”.

(Content warning: may cause indescribable rage. Also fairly fat-shaming, and definitely silencing.)

It was shared via Upworthy, the content aggregator with the emotionally manipulative titles. The title for this video was “First These Women Were Offended. Then They Realized Who Was Being Offensive.”

Are you rolling your eyes yet?

There is a MASSIVE problem with this video. HUGE. You could even say it’s a FAT problem. So let’s talk about it.

First, let’s get this out of the way: self-hatred — whether it comes from internalizing the kyriarchy’s unreasonable expectations of you or from mental illness — sucks, no matter what form it takes. If you’re hating yourself, you should work on not doing that any more, because self-hate harms you. You’re worth feeling better about yourself. You’re worth good things. Self-hate is not a good thing.

What I take issue with in this video is the labeling of self-hatred as “fat talk”. The assumption that any time a woman/person socially-classed-as-woman says she’s fat, she’s hating herself.

This not only reinforces the idea that fat is always bad, it also polices how other folks self-hate. If a woman says “I’m so skinny,” as a form of her own self-hatred, she’ll likely be met with cries of “I know! You’re so LUCKY! I wish I were that thin.” Yet a woman saying “I’m fat” is met with “Don’t be so hard on yourself! You’re really pretty!”

As if fat and pretty can’t go together. (News flash, they can, and they do. So do fat and fabulous, or fat and gorgeous, or fat and sexy, or fat and smart. I am a prime example.)

Partners in Crime (Doctor Who)

Ok, so it’s less neutral in Doctor Who. Still, wasn’t the fault of the baby Adipose! Besides, they’re totes adorbs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fat’s a neutral term, folks. Ok? It means “abundance of adipose tissue”. Ask any person who actually knows something about the body and they’ll tell you: adipose tissue itself is not a negative. It’s a necessary part of the human body. We need fat to survive.

(And no-fat diets, by the way, are basically the worst thing ever for you. Just so you know.)

Is too much fat bad for you? Maybe. Maybe not. The truth is, we don’t actually know the full truth there — there are a lot of correlations between being “overweight” (why that word bugs me) and health issues, but they aren’t actually causation. (For more about fat, disease risk, and correlation vs. causation, read this post.) What is likely quite bad for you is a heavily sedentary life and a lot of processed food, which is related to weight gain, yes, but not the sole factor.

This doesn’t mean fat is always unequivocally bad. Nor does it mean that fat is unattractive.

Yet by labeling self-hating talk as “fat talk” exclusively, this video says that fat is always bad. Fat is always unattractive. Fat, in fact, is the ONLY thing that’s bad about you — go on and self-hate about anything else and we’ll cheer you on! But don’t fat talk, ladies. You don’t want to call yourself fat, do you? Why would you want to be a fatty fat fat fatterson? That’s bad.

Think I’m reading too much into it? Direct quote from the video:

Reversing the fat talk. Making it positive talk.

They are outright stating that fat is negative. Always. Videos like this make it harder for fat acceptance activists to do what we do.

This video is being hailed as some sort of amazing breakthrough on body image. Sorry, no. It’s more of the same old bullshit that continues to throw actual fat people under the bus. This is glaringly apparent with the phrase that shows up on the screen midway through the video: “You wouldn’t talk this way to anyone else. So why do it to yourself?”

Oh, huh. I guess all the fat-hatred I’ve had lobbed my way over the years is my imagination? Because, you know, no one would EVER talk that way to ANYONE else. I guess I was hallucinating.

The video ends with a big silencing fest. Women literally shushing each other, and the camera, saying “Let’s fight the fat talk!”

I had no idea that silencing other women was supposed to be a big win for women and body image. This video is saying “Shush anyone who says they’re fat.” Thanks, but no thanks — I get enough of that already from “well-meaning” folks. I really don’t need another source urging people to fight us fatties on our own damn territory. I mean, how very dare we reclaim a word that’s been used to marginalize us?

After the video, Upworthy has a credit note, and they make this comment:

So this is just a bit hypocritical coming from a food company that runs ads that ask “What will you gain when you lose?”

No, Upworthy. It’s not hypocritical at all. Special K is, in fact, saying the same thing they’ve always said — FAT IS BAD. They’ve just put a different spin on it, and you and the rest of the internet have bought it, hook, line, and sinker.

Fezzes are cool

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I’ve been playing a game called FEZ, in which you play this little rectangle-headed dude named Gomez. Gomez is given a red fez and then he’s able to perceive the 2D world he lives in as 3D. He must then travel among the worlds collecting cubes in order to stop the universe from ending. There is at least one point where you go through a door into a room from one area and emerge from the room in another area without apparently moving at all.

This has made me realize I should talk about my thoughts re: The Day of the Doctor.

Or, well, maybe should is too strong a word. I don’t think anyone is waiting patiently to see my thoughts. I just wanted to write this post.

If you haven’t seen the 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who

River-SPOILERS

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The Saga of the Move: Part 4, or “The Pre/sequels We All Drank Enough to Forget”

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(Parts One, Two, and Three.)

The worst of this move is over, thankfully. Moving out of a place is a lot harder than moving into. (Also I think there could be a sexual innuendo in that sentence, but I’m too tired to make it work. Feel free to give it a try in the comments.)

As soon as I got off the ferry I drove to Pirates and Fairies on Lake Sasamat. I arrived just as the sun was setting, which was around 8 p.m. I’d missed three meals out of eight of the weekend, as well as my big chance to actually make an announcement about selling my books. I ended up selling exactly zero copies of Bellica or glasstown, which did not help my already pretty sour mood. Missing half of an event I look forward to all year sucks lizard eggs.

I was very tired. So tired I spent most of my time sleeping, eating, and frakking (and not as much of that part as usual; that’s how tired I was). I didn’t even feel like dressing up, and that’s one of the parts I look forward to the most — running around in costume screaming “ARRRR I BE GLITTERTITS MCGEE! PREPARE TA BE BOARDED UNF UNF UNF.”

But, you know, it was good. It was a time away from the stress, as much as I can get away from something that follows me like a Time Beetle on my back. It was also lovely because my boyfriend is lovely, and madly in love with me. He saved bacon from Saturday morning for me in the cooler in his cabin. ALL DAY. And he saved me dinner, because he knows how much I love pulled pork. So when I arrived, I got to stuff my face with meaty goodness that symbolized his deep and abiding love for my crazy ass. That’s a pretty awesome thing to arrive to, especially when you’re an emotional eater. Eating food to symbolize love when that food actually does symbolize real love? Way cheaper than therapy.

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The Saga of the Move: Part 2, or “The Stuff I Own Strikes Back”

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(Read Part 1 here.)

We now had more problems than we’d started out the day with: not only did we no longer have the use of TG’s truck to get rid of some of the big stuff, including the mattress and box spring, but now we had to work on getting the truck to Courtenay Car Centre and getting it fixed.

We worked on the second problem first. Mom arranged for her and TG to wait by the truck for BCAA to tow it to the car place (this is two days later). She would then come down to Nanaimo to help me, as well as somehow cramming my massive mattress into the Pegasus (her Volvo station-wagon; mine is the Galactica — yes we’re giant nerds).

I was expecting mom to arrive at my place mid-afternoon, but she was several hours late. Apparently she and TG had waited in the blistering hot sun for BCAA for over two hours. They couldn’t call, because his phone was out of minutes, and she’d forgotten her phone at home. So finally she drove around in search of a phone she could use, and called BCAA again, asking where the hell they were, and it turns out the original request for a tow had gotten lost in the system. She arranged for them to tow without her presence, which for some reason hadn’t been possible before (yay silly company policies), and then came down to my place.

She’d instructed me to fold my mattress in half and tie it with rope. It’s all foam, so this was feasible…just not easy. She walked in to find me lying on top of it in an awkward position, shouting more bile and vitriol at the thing than I thought I had in me. She came and helped, and with our combined fattitude and lexicon of swear words we got it done.

Being fat can be incredibly useful when one is moving or packing a very full suitcase. I’m just saying.

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