Thursday, June 21, 2018

Let Lemons Be Lemons!

As you go about your daily life, you will encounter many lemons. Sour expressions, sour attitudes, sour auras! The good thing is that if you don’t want to be a lemon, you don’t have to be! Just don’t let those lemons rub themselves all over you! And you don’t even have to save them! Let lemons be lemons! One of the most important things that I have ever learned, is that I don’t have to save people. - C. JoyBell C.

Take the advice!
Let lemons be lemons 
and shine on this first day of summer! 
~ Dominique
Image: Let Lemons Be Lemons by Dominique Allmon©2018


Friday, June 15, 2018

Do You Actually Know What You Are Eating?

Recent food scandals, disclosures, health food obsession, and consumers' curiosity, have brought many horror stories to light. It seems than not a week goes by without a new shocking story. Food sold in supermarkets as natural and healthy often is neither natural nor healthy, and the law seems to protect the food industry but not the hapless consumer, unless, of course, you are an organic farmer and have the burden to prove that your organic heirloom carrot will not kill anybody.

Obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, neurological disorders, food allergies, eating disorders, malnutrition, congenital disorders, to name only a few, are on the rise thanks to foods that have no true nutritional value, but pretend to be healthy, natural, and good for you. 

I am not even venturing here into the vast subject of organic, conventional, or GMO foods, but unless you grow, raise, forage, and produce your own food, you cannot always be sure what's on your plate. 

Inventiveness, progress, and greed are the culprits responsible for the miserable state of affairs. Everybody knows the "ersatz" foods like margarine and saccharine that were invented in times of extreme duress to provide people with substitutes for the most wanted daily staples like butter and sugar. Such fake foods might seem like a necessity during a time of war, but lose their attractiveness in time of peace and abundance, unless... Unless, of course, they are sold as good and even superior to the real stuff: butter will kill you, but margarine is so much better for you; sugar has calories, but saccharine, aspartame & Co are calorie free and even help you to stay skinny or lose weight you put on during holidays. And so on.

The success of science and the rise of chemical industry cannot be underestimated. Much money goes into research, but the profits are exorbitant. Many consumers are willing to accept a wide range of artificial flavors and coloring, often without questioning.

So why the fuss? Well, if it tastes like strawberry, it isn't necessarily a strawberry that you are tasting. A typical strawberry flavoring contains chemicals that have absolutely nothing to do with strawberries: 

  • amyl acetate,
  • amyl butyrate,
  • amyl valerate,
  • anethol,
  • anisyl formate,
  • benzyl acetate,
  • benzyl isobutyrate,
  • butyric acid,
  • cinnamyl isobutyrate,
  • cinnamyl valerate,
  • cognac essential oil,
  • diacetyl,
  • dipropyl ketone,
  • ethyl acetate,
  • ethyl amyl ketone,
  • ethyl butyrate,
  • ethyl cinnamate,
  • ethyl heptanoate,
  • ethyl heptylate,
  • ethyl lactate,
  • ethyl methylphenylglycidate,
  • ethyl nitrate,
  • ethyl propionate,
  • ethyl valerate,
  • heliotropin,
  • hydroxyphenyl-2-butanone (10 percent solution in alcohol),
  • a-ionone,
  • isobutyl anthranilate,
  • isobutyl butyrate,
  • lemon essential oil,
  • maltol,
  • 4-methylacetophenone,
  • methyl anthranilate,
  • methyl benzoate,
  • methyl cinnamate,
  • methyl heptine carbonate,
  • methyl naphthyl ketone,
  • methyl salicylate,
  • mint essential oil,
  • neroli essential oil,
  • nerolin,
  • neryl isobutyrate,
  • orris butter,
  • phenethyl alcohol,
  • rose,
  • rum ether,
  • g-undecalactone,
  • vanillin, and last, but not least,
  • solvent. 

Is this all right with you? Wouldn't it be easier to simply use strawberries to flavor a cake or a milkshake, or any product for that matter? No, because strawberries are perishable and expensive, and not flavorful enough in tiny doses. Chemicals, on the other hand, can be standardized and measured out exactly to produce a constant flavor that sells well and lasts till the expiry date of a product, say, three or five years later. 

The same goes for the vanilla, caramel, or chocolate flavorings, and everything else that is manufactured and sold as food.

How about artificial crab meat so popular with sushi lovers? How about gel-injected shrimp from Asia? How about chicken that is only 51% meat? How about vegan sausage? How about sausage?! How about fake apple juice? How about fake honey? Scandal after scandal, disclosures revealed criminal practices. For some people such revelations come too late, others may still reconsider the way they eat and shop for food. 

Some of the food industry practices are criminal and must be prosecuted, but many of the secrets are perfectly legal. They are scandalous only because of the dubious ingredients like wood or human hair used to manufacture products sold as food. 

The food industry can really be proud of its achievements: food preservatives, flavor enhancers, emulsifiers, coloring, bleaches, and other additives that make a bunch of chemicals look and taste like food. That many people get sick or addicted to certain food products has to be proven first. The industry is very strong and has powerful lawyers. Much money goes into research. Much money goes into lobbying. Much money goes into advertisement. Some money probably goes into lawsuits and to hush the plaintiffs.

Ignorance kills, but how can you blame the overwhelmed consumer when the whole industry promotes unhealthy food products that are definitely not good for you, as something you must eat daily in order to look sexy, healthy, beautiful, and fit? 

Education is important, but habits die hard. For as long as a truly organic apple is more expensive than a fake chocolate, sugar loaded bar, the situation will remain unchanged.

By Dominique Allmon

Dominique Allmon@2018

Also of interest: 5 Food Industry Secrets They Don’t Want You To Know by Kim Johnson or 6 Food Industry Tricks You Don’t Know About by Dr. Mercola. To read the articles please click here and here.

*This information is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Cultural Appropriation And The Chinese Dress Scandal

Only a few weeks ago a girl from Salt Lake City, UT, suffered harassment on social media for making a simple fashion choice. She decided to wear a traditional Chinese dress known as cheongsam or qipao, to her high school prom. The trouble started when a young Chinese man, Jeremy Lam, saw the girl's picture on Twitter.

You would have thought that the whole Great Wall of China fell down in an instant! The girl was accused of cultural appropriation and a serious abuse of sacred tradition. More than forty thousand people got involved in the "discussion" on Twitter. The matter was taken up online by the USA Today, The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, The Guardian, Washington Post, and many others.

This would have been a silly, meaningless pseudo-intellectual exchange, but unfortunately, the Chinese dress outrage is a symptom of a very disturbing trend. Something is boiling in the melting pot of America and it does not smell nice.

Is the world turning upside down? I studied Chinese culture for many years and traveled to China, Hong Kong, and Singapore on monthly bases for almost three decades. Among other things, I accumulated a small collection of Chinese silk blouses that I proudly wore on many occasions. They became unique additions to my wardrobe and attracted many gazes. My very first Chinese style blouse was designed by Donna Karan. It was sold under her DKNY brand. I bought it at Marshal Fields in Chicago many years ago. In Hong Kong I had a small ritual every time I went there. On the first day, the luxury Shanghai Tang store with its Chinese 1920s flair was my first destination after a hearty dim sum breakfast at the Luk Yu Tea House. In 1997 the store opened a branch in New York City,  but unfortunately, it did not make it there.

When China began to open up to the West in late 1980s, interior designers and a few fashion designers adopted the Chinese aesthetic idiom and translated it into incredibly beautiful creations. No one was screaming or accusing anybody of cultural appropriation. In fact, the Chinese were rather proud that so many Westerners appreciated their culture. Westerners learned to love Chinese literature and cinema. Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige, and Wang Kar Wai, to name only a few, became household names among cinephiles.

Things changed so much. Quite recently, many American learning institutions turned into places of insanity. Political correctness, social justice, Marxist overtones, obsession with gender, and infantile lack of tolerance dominate the discourse now. Those who militantly demand tolerance for themselves, deny the freedom of speech to those whose opinions differ from their own. Totalitarian tendencies in the academia are not only annoying, they are dangerous. Once cradles of freedom and free speech, universities are becoming places of hatred and virulent intolerance. No one even considers that tolerance works both ways.

There must be something truly wrong with me because it bothers me that the appreciation of a culture is now viciously considered to be cultural appropriation. If this trend continues, good luck to all the gift store owners in every China Town across America. They may soon be saying goodbye their American Dream.

By Dominique Allmon