From an article in last year's JAMA [Jl of the Amer Med Assoc]: (via Jack)
It's time to let consumers decide whether they want to try marijuana to treat some of the symptoms.
From an article in last year's JAMA [Jl of the Amer Med Assoc]: (via Jack)
It's time to let consumers decide whether they want to try marijuana to treat some of the symptoms.
If not prepared properly, red kidney beans (and many other members of the lentil family) can cause food poisoning. Or at least might contain some toxins. [via Jack]
Causes of red kidney bean poisoning
Symptoms of red kidney bean poisoning
In recent news, we learned that French's (of mustard fame) indirectly took over the Heinz tomato processing plant in Leamington, Ontario, after Heinz abandoned it. Then Loblaws supermarkets decided not to carry French's ketchup because French's ketchup wasn't eroding Heinz sales, but was "cannibalizing" the sales of Loblaws' own President's Choice brand of ketchup.
There is more to the story though. Apparently French's uses tomatoes grown in the Leamington area and processes those tomatoes into paste. The paste is then shipped to the US, where it is bottled and then shipped back to Canada.
There were nearly 800 employees at the Leamington plant before Heinz shut it down. There are now 240 employees there. Furthermore, French's has said it is looking into opening a ketchup bottling plant in SW Ontario, but it won't be in Leamington.
Many might not have known that French’s version, although using Leamington tomatoes, was bottled in the USA.
Ironically, President’s Choice brand, while bottled in Canada, used American tomatoes!
Protectionism make sense at the local level, but becomes a difficult concept once all these perms and combs are realized.
Yet another study finds that eating chocolate is good for you!
"We found that people who eat chocolate at least once a week tend to perform better cognitively," said Elias. "It's significant—it touches a number of cognitive domains."...
They found "significant positive associations" between chocolate intake and cognitive performance, associations which held even after adjusting for various variables that might have skewed the results, including age, education, cardiovascular risk factors, and dietary habits.
In scientific terms, eating chocolate was significantly associated with superior "visual-spatial memory and [organization], working memory, scanning and tracking, abstract reasoning, and the mini-mental state examination." ...
Experts have known about the wonders of eating chocolate for some time. A lot of previous research has shown that there are, or at least could be, immediate cognitive benefits from eating chocolate. But rarely, if ever, have researchers been able to observe the impact of habitual chocolate eating on the brain.
The takeaway isn't that everyone should rush to stuff their faces with the magical sweet. "I think what we can say for now is that you can eat small amounts of chocolate without guilt if you don't substitute chocolate for a normal balanced healthy diet," Elias said.
Please sign me up for being in the future studies (but not if you're going to put me in the control group).
Meanwhile, I think I'll have some chocolate.
Some companies choose to invest huge amounts in building up their brand names. Their advertising says, "We are committed to providing customers with quality goods, reliable products. If we don't give you good products, our advertising expenditures will have been wasted."
Of course this is all probabilistic. Some firms play games with the above mechanism and cheat (VW mileage, anyone), but for the most part it holds true.
Consider Parmesan Cheese [via RK]. It seems that some producers adulterate the product.
Cellulose [wood fibre] is a safe additive [to reduce clumping], and an acceptable level is 2 percent to 4 percent, according to Dean Sommer, a cheese technologist at the Center for Dairy Research in Madison, Wisconsin. Essential Everyday 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese, from Jewel-Osco, was 8.8 percent cellulose, while Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Great Value 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese registered 7.8 percent, according to test results. Whole Foods 365 brand didn’t list cellulose as an ingredient on the label, but still tested at 0.3 percent. Kraft had 3.8 percent. ...
According to the FDA’s report on Castle, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, “no parmesan cheese was used to manufacture” the Market Pantry brand 100% grated Parmesan Cheese, sold at Target Corp. stores, and Always Save Grated Parmesan Cheese and Best Choice 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese, sold by Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc., which along with its subsidiaries supplies 3,400 retail stores in 30 states. Instead, there was a mixture of Swiss, mozzarella, white cheddar and cellulose, according to the FDA.
In other words, the brand name products in which companies had invested considerable advertising expenditure tended to be more reliably within acceptable limits of cellulose content. This expenditure to enhance their "reputation asset" is consistent with the signaling theories of advertising.
These theories argue that simply by spending a lot of money on advertising, firms like Kraft are telling the customers that Kraft has made a commitment to the quality of their products. It would be unprofitable for them to spend all that money advertising a product, and then produce an inferior good.
And this argument is repeated succinctly by Ms. Eclectic, who often says, "I don't buy no-name products."
According to this post at the Washington Post, people who smoked pot regularly for at least five years had some (slight?) short-term memory problems in middle age, compared with those who didn't. But the posting also notes some caveats concerning the study:
One important caveat is that a study like this can't determine causality. It could be the case that heavy pot use makes your short-term memory bad, or it could be that people who operate at a lower level of cognitive function are more inclined to use marijuana heavily.
It's also worth noting that the other cognitive abilities researchers tested -- focus and processing speed -- did not seem to be significantly impacted by heavy marijuana use.
The association between short-term memory declines -- potentially permanent ones -- and heavy pot use is very real, according to this study, and shouldn't be discounted. On the other hand, it's also quite surprising that you can smoke weed literally every single day for five years, and not have it impact your problem-solving abilities or your ability to focus at all. [emphasis added] These findings also need to be understood in relation to what we know about the severe cognitive effects of persistent, heavy alcohol use, which include irreversible brain damage.
I would add another caveat: The presumption in the article is that the heavy marijuana users smoked it. What if, instead, people ingested it? There would be less damage to the lungs and less direct effect from shortages of oxygen to the brain.
Now, if only recreational use of marijuana were completely legalized, ....
This morning Ms Eclectic sent me a review of five white wines that are readily available in Ontario. I know I have tried and liked several of them, but my palate is so untrained (i.e. I settle for most plonks and am happy) that I can't believe the things wine reviewers write about wines. Do they make this stuff up?
Here are just two that I have tried and enjoyed, but I had to look twice to make sure the write-up wasn't from The Onion.
Really? People who write things like this must have very vivid imaginations. I've noticed the same thing about descriptions of various scotch whiskies.
I really am a Philistine in many ways: I don't believe these descriptions, but I know what I like.
Addendum: But look at the fourth wine listed in that review. This sounds like the right wine for those of us on low-carb diets:
I love that so many people love bacon. Their high demand for bacon drives up the price of bacon, but then what can butchers do with the rest of the pig after they extract/harvest/slice/what the bacon?
The answer, of course, is sell it. It's a classic joint product problem in economics. People want bacon and bid up the price of bacon (about $6/lb in stores here in London, Ontario, this week). The high price is justified in part by higher costs for smoking and slicing, but the main reason the price of bacon is (comparatively) so high is the high demand for it.
That increases the demand for pigs. But the butchering of the pigs leaves something akin to an increase in the supply of pork roasts.
And guess what: Pork loin roasts are selling for about $3/lb this week. So we eat lots of pork roast in our home, and no side bacon at all.
A massive pork roast. And it was wonderful. And we ate almost all of it for dinner the other night. Mmmmmm. And last night we had the rest in salad:
Regular long-time readers of EclectEcon know that I was introduced to taking afternoon tea at posh establishments about eight or so years ago. My latest review/report, with links to all my earlier posts on the topic can be found here.
Unfortunately, practically NO ONE in North America understands what a proper afternoon tea is or should be (there are some notable, important exceptions of course). Here, via a UK correspondent, is an excellent summary. I have listed each of the major points below, but go read the article and look at the photos there. It is absolutely spot on, but there is a tone (and a tonne!) of humour throughout it that had me laughing out loud frequently.
The above is a quick summary. The article itself is well-worth reading for the photos and the humour. The comments are interesting and fun, too.
Milk prices are plummeting in Europe. There are two big reasons:
Europe's dairy farmers were already reeling from the food embargo imposed by Moscow last year in retaliation for Western sanctions over Ukraine.
Russia was one of the EU's biggest markets for dairy products, accounting for 32% of cheese exports and 24% of butter exports.
A slowdown in demand from China, the world's biggest milk importer, is also hurting the dairy industry. China is a big buyer of powdered milk.
Europe's farmers are now calling for the reintroduction of production quotas to try to balance the market. The quotas were abolished earlier this year, leaving farmers free to produce as much as they like for the first time in 30 years.
The deregulation led to more oversupply, piling even more pressure on prices.
In the past, demand was high and supply was restricted. Then the demand curve shifted to the left (demand dropped) at the same time the artificial supply restrictions were lifted, leading to a rightward shift of the supply curve. Both these moves put downward pressure on the equilibrium prices of dairy products. From the link,
There is so much sloshing around the European Union that milk is often cheaper than bottled water. A liter bottle of water costs around $1.50 in the U.K.; a liter of milk $1.
In France, milk is also around $1 per liter, similar to the price of mineral water. And in German discount supermarkets such as Lidl and Aldi, a liter of milk can be as cheap as 55 cents, while a liter bottle of water costs around 72 cents. ...
While the price of milk in shops has fallen by around 5% this year, wholesale milk prices have collapsed by about 20% to around 37 cents.
And this may seem harsh: I feel a modicum of sympathy for the dairy farmers. But not much.
They have been cushioned by supply management and gubmnt programmes for years; they have been assuming market conditions and gubmnt regulations would remain unchanged.
Taxpayers and consumers owe them nothing. They made a bet and collected on it for years. Now they're losing on that bet.
There is scarcity, and it is inescapable. Furthermore, scarcity necessitates choices from among the various feasible options available to us. This is a basic lesson hammered home (we hope) during the first two weeks of an introductory economics course.
It applies to nearly every aspect of our lives.
Consider, for example, blood pressure [link via Ms Eclectic].
The new research advises people with high blood pressure to keep their “systolic” pressure — the top number in the reading that health-care providers routinely tell patients — at 120 or below. Clinical guidelines have commonly called for systolic blood pressure of 140 for healthy adults and 130 for adults with kidney disease or diabetes.
It is both interesting and disappointing that the referenced article does not mention what I heard in interviews on a radio report: namely, that medications to reduce blood pressure (like nearly all medications) have various risks of potential side effects.
For someone like me whose blood pressure ranges between 120 and 135, and given my reaction to Crestor, I will probably prefer to take the risk whatever might result from having only very slightly elevated blood pressure rather than take the risks of side effects from medication to lower my blood pressure. I cannot take medication to reduce my blood pressure and avoid the risks of side effects. I must make trade-offs and choose.
And, no, I don't wish to make lifestyle changes by reducing my alcohol and salt intakes. No point in not enjoying what life is left. And that decision also means making choices between different probable or possible outcomes.
I am an old man. And I am generally a mild-mannered, contented, happy, grateful old man. But there are some things in restaurants that really turn me into a Grumpy Old Man.
I want to print up cards to distribute to restaurant servers:
We are generous tippers.
We usually tip between 20-25% of the bill, including taxes.
then your tip will be reduced accordingly.
First, traditionally "organic" meant chemical compounds with carbon in them. All living things, plants and animals, have carbon in them, and so all plant and animal food is "organic" in that sense.
So what about health? The main issue tends to focus on the ‘evils’ of pesticide residues. The problem here is that although pesticides can harm in large doses, there is no evidence that they harm at the minute quantities left on foods. As Dick Tavern points out in his book,
In fact every mouthful of food contains some poison, as does every sip of water. Carcinogenic’ substances are routinely consumed by all of us in the form of natural chemicals made by plants to repel predators, but at amounts so low they do not harm us. … There are some dioxons in every breath of air we take...
If there is little basis in fact for the claims made by the organic movement then it looks like the word organic is just one more advertising word used to push expensive, unnecessary products on us. Furthermore, and more damning, by focusing on organic production, our society pays less attention to farming methods and technology advances that really could improve health, protect wildlife and ensure a consistent quality and quantity of food supply. Rather than securing our health, the illogical worship of the word ‘organic’ could be damaging us all.
Four months ago I had reached my goal weight of 160lbs [see this] and promptly began celebrating. I continued to celebrate for four months, making great use of the hashtag #carbsbedamned on Facebook.
By this past weekend, after our fun anniversary celebration watching the Jays at Rogers Centre and "lunching" up the CN Tower, I had gained over ten pounds in four months. I had begun eating more desserts, more popcorn, more potatoes, more restaurant nachos, more pizza, and more bread --- tonnes more carbs overall.
Well, it's time to face reality and cut down on the carbs again. More cheese and pepperettes as snacks, and less popcorn. More veggies and fewer potatoes. Fewer nachos 8-(. More pasta specials, "without the pasta." Less ice cream. More burgers without the bun.
No more pizza for awhile (well.... not very often anyway), and again no Dairy Queen Blizzards until I get back down to my goal.
With renewed determination, I need to resist the bread basket in restaurants. And for awhile at least, no more Tim Hortons Nutella donuts 8-( .
And, of course, definitely more scotch, less wine, and less cider. [scotch has zero carbs!]
Nearly two months ago, on a whim we bought a kitchen gadget called a "Spiralizer". As my Facebook friends know from all the photos I have posted, we have used the Spiralizer quite a bit and for the most part are more than pleased with it. [see this and this].
Over these two months, we have spiralized zucchini, eggplant, broccoli stems, onions, and potatoes. Our most recent adventure involved broccoli stems.
When we first got the contraption, we used it for potatoes and onions. They were fabulous. Mostly we use it for zucchini and onions, and we love them done with a spiralizer. And now that we have tried broccoli stems, we have another way to enjoy broccoli.
Here are the pluses:
Friends tell me a similar device is available at Walmart. But if you want to order one from Amazon, please use this link: spiralizer
When this question first occurred to me, I assumed (following a mid-70s National Lampoon article about Canada) that the answer would be "tapioca". 8-)
And let's face it: the question assumes there IS such a distinctive thing as "Canadian cuisine" [what, poutine? what else?]
But after looking at the list of the most common ingredient in many cuisines, [via King],
Ms Eclectic and I agree that likely the answer is "butter".
But actually I think it's probably "water".
Over the past four years I have gone through six different barbecues that I can remember.
For decades, when we lived in single-family houses. We used a good-sized barbecue and had natural gas run out to it for every house we lived in.
But four years ago we moved to a high(ish)-rise condo building. My understanding is that provincial legislation bans using elevators to carry propane tanks. At the same time, refitting the natural gas line in our unit so I could run it out to our balcony would cost a small fortune. And I'm too impatient to wait for charcoal to get going. So we started with electric barbecues.
Yesterday we went to the Sparta House Tea Room for afternoon tea.
Sparta is a truly quaint little village about 45 minutes south of London, Ontario. It is filled with historic buildings and historic markers describing all of the locations. The history alone makes the village worth a visit. Visiting the Sparta House Tea Room will add to the pleasure.
Disclosure: The Sparta House Tea Room is owned and operated by Ken Roberts, an energetic and ingenious friend I met and worked with while rehearsing for the April-May production of Neville's Island at the Princess Avenue Theatre in St. Thomas. Ken devised many of the gadgets and gizmos that we used on stage during that production. He also played an important role in designing and building the amazing set for our production of that play.
The Tea Room is a restored building that was once an inn, nearly two centuries ago. Despite the high-ish temperatures outside, the tea room was cool and pleasant inside.
There must be several hundred teapots on display around the spacious tea room. They are grouped by themes and (this must take a lot of work!) all seemed to be dust-free. We felt very at ease and very comfortable there.
We started with a glass of wine each. House red for Ms. Eclectic, house white for me. They were fine -- served in small-ish glasses and filled to the top, which I know would offend some wine snobs, but it was just fine with us [and $6/glass is like a gift, compared with most city prices].
When the server brought our wine, we let her know what tea we wanted and, after she asked, let her know that we would be happy to have our food brought at the same time. As usual, I was too hungry; it might have been a good idea to have the food brought later in separate presentations. However, having it all presented together at once certainly was spectacular and definitely added to our enjoyment.
For someone with my experience and eclectic tastes, the tea list is disappointingly short. I pretty much had a choice between Earl Grey and English Blend. There were others, too, though -- maybe as many as ten or twelve. Ms. Eclectic had lemon tea.
One amazing thing about Sparta House is the huge amount of food they provide, especially given the comparatively low price [only $18.95/person; contrast that with maybe $80 - $100 per person in Mayfair]. Here is a photo of the spread they brought us (Unfortunately, I forgot to take the photo until after we had already eaten six of the mini quiches).
That is one heckuva spread! The sandwich platter on the right contained
We completely decimated the sandwich platter. Then we moved on to the two-tiered dessert and scone presentation. It included
We were joyously and happily stuffed when we quit (without finishing all the desserts!). We were very happy with our time at the Sparta House Tea Room.
Both Ms. Eclectic and I thought the overall experience was better than afternoon tea at either The Boathouse in Guelph or Hotel Saskatchewan in Regina (see below for my rankings and links to other reviews).
The sandwiches were not super fancy -- not like those in the top-rated places (see below), but they appropriately had the crusts removed and were quite tasty.
The desserts were, for the most part, excellent.
One nice effect is that since they brought out so much food at the beginning, we had no reason to be disappointed that they didn't offer additional sandwiches or scones (extra sandwiches and scones are typically offered in Mayfair and at the St. Regis). We could see from the outset that there was more than enough food for the two of us.
And, bless them, although they do call this "high tea", they also make clear on their website that it is also called a proper afternoon tea. For the distinction, see this.
A side plus: we managed to nose two more deer signs on this expedition.
Here are some suggestions for what I'd like to see to make it closer to a proper afternoon tea:
Clearly these suggestions would likely add to the costs, and I'm not sure most potential customers would be willing to pay more to cover these additional costs.
Most important, though, we stuffed ourselves and had a wonderful time. For my friends in Southwestern Ontario: it is worth the drive to Sparta for afternoon tea at the Sparta House Tea Room. Call ahead to make a reservation if you want to go there for afternoon tea, but they also offer a number of other traditional British menu selections.
The Sparta House Tea Room is a fairly popular place. While we were there, at least 20 other people arrived. The others customers seemed to want either cream tea or other food from the menu. But the afternoon tea was what we went there for, and we didn't regret it.
Afternoon tea for two, wine, taxes, tip: $66 Cdn.
- - - - - - - -
My previous reviews, ranked in order of preference:
These three were superb. Highly recommended:
Those in this large middle group ranged from very good to just okay. I would consider returning to them, but those in the upper portion of the list were significantly better than those in the lower portion of this section:
These next two were unacceptable:
* * * *
The chronology of when I visited each place probably affected my ratings, so here's a chronological list:
- The Four Seasons, London, England
- The Royal Crescent Hotel, Bath, England
- The Pump Room, Bath, England (superb, but not really afternoon tea)
- Claridge's, London, England
- The Boathouse, Guelph, Canada
- The St. Regis Hotel, Houston, Texas
- The Queen's Hotel, Portsmouth, England
- The Dorchester, London, England
- Brown's, London, England
- Langdon Hall, Cambridge, Canada
- The Windsor Arms, Toronto, Canada
- The Ritz, London, England
- Scolfe's Tea Room, Boreham Street, England (again, not really afternoon tea)
- The Lanesborough, London, England
- The Grand Hotel, Eastbourne, England
- The Saskatchewan Hotel, Regina, Saskatchewan
- The Fairmont Pacific Rim, Vancouver, British Columbia
- Sparta House Tea Room, Sparta, Ontario
I quite immodestly assert that I make some of the best burgers in the universe (see this, this, and my burger recipe is here); nevertheless, I'm willing to consider this advice. Two points from the article:
Keep It Shapely
As Berthold shaped the patties, he pressed his thumb into the center of each one, creating a divot in the beef. Since the patties constrict withheat, these divots prevent the meat from puffing upinto tennis balls. ...
Keeping the meat cool until you’re ready to cook it and salting it just before it hits the pan is also important, as this is key to retaining moisture. Berthold sprinkled a lot of kosher saltover his patties. “It should look like a light dusting of snow on your car window–just enough so that you can’t see through it,” he said.
This was perhaps the biggest take away: Season your patties and then season them again. (Then don’t forget the divot.)
I cannot imagine putting that much salt on my burgers. However, I like the ideas of:
Also, we've learned to make them a tad smaller than the 8-ouncers we used to love.
A Facebook friend recently posted a link to an article touting turmeric as a miracle drug. Fortunately my friend Jack is a scholar as well as a retired physician, and he sent me this link, which addresses the claims:
Conclusion... As with so many supplements, the hype has gone way beyond the actual evidence. There are some promising hints that it may be useful, but there are plenty of promising hints that lots of other things “may” be useful too. Since I have no rational basis for choosing one over another, I see no reason to jump on the turmeric bandwagon. On the other hand, I see no compelling reason to advise people not to use it, as long as they understand the state of the evidence well enough to provide informed consent and know that they are essentially guinea pigs in an uncontrolled experiment that makes no attempt to collect data. I will keep an open mind and stay tuned for further evidence in the form of well-designed clinical studies in humans.
My take: very little downside risk (if you like the flavour, or at least don't mind it) and some possible upside benefits.
Also see this from Wikipaedia:
Curcumin ... is the principal curcuminoid of turmeric, which is a member of the ginger family.
A survey of the literature shows a number of potential effects under study and that daily consumption over a 3-month period of up to 12 grams were safe. However, several studies of curcumin [EE: the active ingredient in turmeric] efficacy and safety revealed poor absorption and low bioavailability.
As of June 2015, there were 116 clinical trials evaluating the possible anti-disease effect of curcumin in humans, as registered with the US National Institutes of Health, including studies on cancer, gastrointestinal diseases and cognitive disorders.
Preliminary research has found that curcuminoid binds to amyloid proteins associated with Alzheimer's disease. Because curcumin increases fluorescent activity after it binds to amyloid protein, curcumin is being studied as a possible identifier. Tests have detected amyloid proteins in human eyes, offering the possibility that simple eye exams could provide early detection of the disease.
Also, it is likely that if there are health benefits from consuming turmeric, they are more likely present in pure turmeric, not curry powders. See this. Excerpts from the abstract:
Curcumin, derived from the rhizome curcuma longa, is one of the primary ingredients in turmeric and curry powders that are used as spices in Middle Eastern and Asian countries, especially on the Indian subcontinent. More recently, laboratory studies have demonstrated that dietary curcumin exhibits various biological activities and significantly inhibits colon tumorigenesis and tumor size in animals. Curcumin displays both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, giving it the potential to be considered in the development of cancer preventive strategies and applications in clinical research. Experimental studies have shown the biological activities of the compound, but much more information on pharmacokinetics, bioavailability, and food content are needed. ... Pure turmeric powder had the highest curcumin concentration, averaging 3.14% by weight. The curry powder samples, with one exception, had relatively small amounts of curcumin present, and the variability in content was great. ... [emphasis added]
And, finally, Andrew Weil's advice concerning Turmeric and curcumin, posted four years ago.
Other studies of turmeric and curcumin have shown the following benefits:
- Turmeric extract worked as well as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug for treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee in a study published in the August 2009 issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
- Laboratory studies suggest that curcumin acts as a weak phytoestrogen and seems to have cancer protective effects.
- Lab studies have also shown that curcumin induces programmed death of colon cancer cells, and clinical trials are investigating the use of curcumin in treatment of colon cancer.
- Curcumin suppresses microinflammation in the GI tract associated with inflammatory bowel disease.
I frequently recommend turmeric supplements, and I believe whole turmeric is more effective than isolated curcumin for inflammatory disorders, including arthritis, tendonitis, and autoimmune conditions. Take 400 to 600 milligrams of turmeric extracts (available in tablets or capsules) three times per day or as directed on the product label. Look for products standardized for 95% curcuminoids. Neither curcumin nor turmeric taken orally is well absorbed unless taken with black pepper or piperine, a constituent of black pepper responsible for its pungency. When shopping for supplements, make sure that the one you choose contains black pepper extract or piperine. (If you're cooking with turmeric, be sure to add some black pepper to the food.). Be patient when taking turmeric supplements: the full benefits may not be apparent for eight weeks.
From Buzzfeed, via Jack:
The secret is in the stem. More specifically, the color of the stem. If you peel away the nub covering the end of the avocado, the tone of the circle of skin beneath will tell you everything you need to know.
A green circle indicates that the avocado is underripe. If it’s dark brown, it’s overripe.
The color to look for is a yellowish tone, which will indicate that your avocado has reached ideal ripeness.
I don't much like having to sit through videos, but the picture at the end of this video might be helpful, showing the colours.
In honour of today's twin announcements of likely financial defaults by Greece and Puerto Rico, Ms Eclectic and I have decided to get take-out gyros from a food truck.
I gladly admit to experiencing geriatric alcophilia*.
Until the past ten years or so, I drank very little alcohol. Over the past decade, though, I have become increasingly enamoured of my tipples. What is more, I have actually become something of a snob about scotch whiskies to the extent that I know a bit about some and a lot about the few I like.
It seems that "geriatric alcohol abuse" has become a noted and studied problem, (see this, but I cannot find an ungated version). Here is the abstract:
Alcohol use disorder in the geriatric population is a growing public health problem that is likely to continueto increase as the baby boomer generation ages. Primary care providers play a critical role in the recognitionand management of these disorders. This concise review will focus on the prevalence, risk factors, screening, and clinical management of geriatric alcohol use disorder from a primary care perspective.
Once old people retire, they have less to do and less to worry about. It is very easy to sit around and have a few drinks. There was a famous person in a town where I once lived who was past retirement age, and the prevalent story there was that the couple got drunk every night and then had shouting matches. I have no idea if it's true, but I understand the drinking part.
I don't think I abuse alcohol. I talk about scotch a lot, but I average only about 3 fl oz per day. Of course, that's 3 fl oz more than I used to drink.
The thing is, I like it and I look forward to it. Also, it's a part of the togetherness that Ms Eclectic and I share. And I expect that happens with many members of the <90 demographic cohort.
*Note: alcophilia denotes a fondness for alcohol. I am indebted to my older friend, Jack, for this term.
My restatement of the Coase Theorem:
It's something of a definition of sufficient conditions for economic efficiency.
If I have something, whether it is a painting, a car, my labour services, the right to make noise, or whatever, and if you want it, then:
if these two basic conditions of the Coase Theorem are satisfied, then whichever of us values that thing or service the most will end up with it, where value is determined by willingness and ability to pay.
But we need to have well-defined and easily enforced legal entitlements (or property rights) for this to work. Much of economic policy comes about because one or both of these conditions is not satisfied. Examples might include pollution control, traffic laws, and national defence. Raisins probably are not a good example (nor is milk, or chicken or pork or other agricultural commodity).
Horne involves a challenge to the forcible appropriation of large quantities of raisins by the federal government. The forced transfer is part of a 1937 program that requires raisin producers, in some years, to turn over a large portion of their raisin crop to the government so as to artificially reduce the amount of raisins on the market, and thereby increase the price. Essentially, the scheme is a government-enforced cartel under which producers restrict output for the market so as to inflate prices. The Hornes claim that the appropriation of their raisins amounts to a taking that requires “just compensation” under the Fifth Amendment.
This case, like so many, is a fight over legal entitlements. Once the legal entitlements are made clear, then people can make decisions that are more likely to be efficient (with the understanding that a gubmnt-enforced cartel is, in and of itself, extremely unlikely to be efficiency-promoting).
*As all my former students know, the Coase Theorem is named for the famous economist, Professor Theorem.
The extreme reduction in the supply of eggs as a result of widespread incidences of avian flu did not cause any shortages of eggs, no queuing or waiting lines, no widespread accusations of cronyism. [see this from the NYTimes, which possibly confuses a reduction of the quantity demanded with a drop in demand but which otherwise is quite informative].
Here's the scenario as it unfolded:
The real take-away from this experience is that the price system works. When the supply of eggs declined, the price system rationed the available eggs to those who valued them most, i.e. those who were most willing to pay higher prices.
Contrast what happened with eggs and egg prices in the US with what would have happened had this occurred in Venezuela or any other country where the gubmnt intervenes in price-setting. Even if the bureaucrats had wanted to use prices to help ration the eggs, they would have responded slowly and shortages would have developed at the artificially low prices.
The smooth functioning of the price system as it was used to allocate eggs should be held up as one of a multitude of examples of how markets work.
I always tell my students that it is meaningless to talk about "shortage". They must talk about a shortage at a certain price instead. The reason is that a shortage can be eliminated by letting the price rise enough to reduce the quantity demanded and increase the quantity supplied. That is exactly what happened in the market for eggs.
If the price of eggs had been fixed, there would have been shortages at the fixed price. But because the prices were free to fluctuate, there were no times when the quantity demanded exceeded the quantity supplied at the equilibrium price.
Recently we bought a Spiralizer (I like the name Spiralator, too). The minute we opened the box and put the device together, we wanted to see how it worked, so we put a potato through it. I wish I had taken photos of it all, but alas...
The potato ended up as extremely long spaghetti-noodle-type strings. Then we did a half onion, and fried them up together [for my Facebook friends: #carbsbedamned]. They were great!
Today we ran a couple of zucchini through the spiralizer, fried up the "noodles" a bit and had them with spicy home-made tomato-sausage-mushroom sauce. It was a delicious and very low carbs.
I do have one photo. It's of the "core" that the spiralator leaves after making the noodle-strings.
My younger son, Adam Smith Palmer, recently wrote that our granddaughter has been admitted to the "...3 G&T program..."
Where do I apply? Is that three gin and tonics per afternoon?
[btw he was writing about Lara, for those of you who remember her.]
My announcement of my decision to go alcohol free for 60+ hours led to considerable comment in email and on Facebook. It seems very likely I'll have made it for more than 70 hours before I finally can settle down with a wee dram of scotch this evening.
Meanwhile, here is another article that Jack sent. It seems very sensible.
Four warning signs that you may be dependent on alcohol
- Worrying about where your next drink is coming from and planning social, family and work events around alcohol.
- Finding you have a compulsive need to drink and finding it hard to stop once you start.
- Waking up and drinking – or feeling the need to have a drink in the morning.
- Suffering from withdrawal symptoms, such as sweating, shaking and nausea, which stop once you drink alcohol.
I have had none of the above. My going alcohol-free was more to check to make sure I don't have those signs.
The article continues,
Staying in control
Drinking within the lower risk guidelines will help you keep your drinking under control. Here are three ways you can cut back:
- Try alternative ways to deal with stress. Instead of reaching for a beer or glass of wine after a hard day, go for a run, swim or to a yoga class, or a talk to a friend about what’s worrying you.
- Keep track of what you’re drinking. Your liver can't tell you if you're drinking too much, but MyDrinkaware can. It can even help you cut down.
- Give alcohol-free days a go. If you drink regularly, your body starts to build up a tolerance to alcohol. This is one of the main reasons why many medical experts recommend taking regular days off from drinking to ensure you don't become addicted to alcohol. Test out having a break for yourself and see what positive results you notice.
It is interesting and purely coincidental that I decided to take a short break from alcohol. Even more interesting and coincidental is that Jack decided to do so, too, at about the same time even when we had not communicated about our decisions until yesterday.
I have not had any alcohol since Saturday evening, and I won't have any tonight. Likely I will have been able to go 60+ hours without a drink.
I miss the taste of Ledaig (my current scotch of choice), but I don't feel as if I am going through withdrawal from an addiction. That's why I did this: to see if I could do it, and to make sure I am not getting addicted.
Most of my life I drank very little, but I have begun to wonder if I have been drinking more lately; hence this brief dry period.
When I told Jack about this decision, he sent me this link from WebMD.
You might be dependent on alcohol if you have three or more of the following problems in a year:
- You cannot quit drinking or control how much you drink.
- You need to drink more to get the same effect.
- You have withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking. These include feeling sick to your stomach, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety.
- You spend a lot of time drinking and recovering from drinking, or you have given up other activities so you can drink.
- You have tried to quit drinking or to cut back the amount you drink but haven't been able to.
- You continue to drink even though it harms your relationships and causes physical problems.
This brief period of abstinence is to reassure myself that 1, 3, and 5, especially don't apply to me. 2 and 4 certainly do not; and I don't think 6 does. Certainly I am not experiencing any of these symptoms.
So far, so good!
Given how much nutritionists have buggered up diet advice (see fat), I have little confidence that this advice is of much value. But I still find it interesting, even intriguing, in part because these are food-safety experts and not necessarily Victorian/Puritan/moralistic nutritionists.
Eating healthy doesn't just mean chowing down on things that might affect your waistline—it also encompasses making sure the food you're eating won't send you running to the porcelain throne, thanks to vicious bacteria. Check out the items food-safety experts don't let pass their lips...
- Alfalfa, radish, and other raw sprouts. [EE: I like sprouts, so I'll take my chances.]
- Buffet food. [EE: especially if there are no sneeze shields]
- Raw or undercooked beef. [EE: I'll take my chances with medium rare for steak and roasts]
- Raw eggs. [EE: the article seems more concerned about raw eggs in tropical developing countries. I'm not that keen on them myself, but I think I like them in raw cookie dough or milkshakes, etc.]
- Cantaloup. [EE: huh? again, I'll take my chances]
- Raw oysters. [Ms Eclectic loves 'em. Not me.]
- Raw milk. [EE: on the farm, I loved it. But in the city, bring on the preservatives and pasteurization.]
- Edamame. [EE: I had no idea what this is. I've probably had it and not known what I was eating. Cooked it'd probably be alright. The explanation sounds more xenophobic than helpful.]
To be honest, my own risk-reward trade-off assessment has led me to decide I don't much care about this advice. I tend to like my ground meats cooked up to medium well, and I don't eat plain raw eggs or raw oysters.