While I loathe Columbus Day and think it should be renamed into Indigenous Peoples’ Day or Bartolomé Day or something else, anything other than honoring the father of the transatlantic slave trade, I don’t actually hate Thanksgiving, for all the parallels drawn between the two.* That’s because my experience of it is pretty different from the way the Thanksgiving experience is portrayed in a lot of western media.
That school play thing where half the kids dress up as Pilgrims and the rest are Indians and there’s a giant turkey and it’s all very sappy and simple and glosses over the intricacies of the actual history, not to mention talking about “the Indians” as if we up and went away to the Undying Lands all Tolkein Elvish-style? Yeah, never had that. (The play specifically, I mean. I’ve experienced plenty of talk about Indians being “gone” or “lost to history” and will likely continue to experience that on a regular basis.)
The pat story about how the Pilgrims and the Indians survived the winter through the Power of Sharing? Was never really a Thing. I wasn’t even fully cognizant of that being part of the story until I was in my preteens. At which point, well, that seemed ridiculous.
Thanksgiving was always presented to me as more of a harvest celebration, where we’re grateful for the fact that we have food and shelter throughout the cold nights, and as a reminder that not everyone is as lucky. I don’t know if that’s just the way I was raised or if it’s more common in Canada to see Thanksgiving this way, but it’s how it was for me.
Also, once Mom and I moved to Hawai’i and began celebrating the US version of the holiday, it had the benefit of being a holiday that I was sure to have with her instead of on access with my father. (There was one Thanksgiving I spent with my father, when I got a week off school to come back to Canada in October, and brought my best friend. She’s forgiven me for that experience, thankfully.)
Finally, I fucking love turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie.
So while Thanksgiving might have dubious origins, and while it may contain enough threads of colonialism or just, well, being a family holiday to taint it for many people, for me it’s a celebration of thanks, harvest, togetherness, and PUMPKIN.
PUMPKIN SPICE FOR THE PUMPKIN GOD.
*cough* Right. Where was I?
Thanksgiving! Yes! So we spent Monday evening at Mr. Katje’s sister’s place. I made a pumpkin pie and it was a huge success. It was only my second pumpkin pie; the first one didn’t have enough pumpkin spice in it and the pumpkin god was displeased. Also it was bland. But I have pictures of the first one and not the second one, so here you go:
Looks delicious, doesn’t it? Well, its brother was.
If you celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you had a wonderful one, full of all your favourite holiday foods and people.
-Katje, who is thankful for pumpkin
*Probably important to note here: I adored seeing 1492: Conquest of Paradise in theatres and I listen to the soundtrack to this day (in fact I’m listening to it now; it’s VANGELIS HE’S AMAZING). I visited Dominican Republic for the quincentennial celebration of the “discovery” by Columbus and there were huge parties. While now I acknowledge that Columbus was an ass and isn’t someone we should celebrate, that doesn’t change the fact that I didn’t know it then (I was 5 or 6 after all) and I still had an amazing time. And while I haven’t seen it in ages, I’m pretty sure I’d still enjoy the movie 1492: Conquest of Paradise even if Columbus is the protagonist. And I wouldn’t feel guilty, nor would I try to make anyone else feel guilty for enjoying that film or the music.
Just, you know, it’s possible to hold opposing thoughts in your brain at the same time without being devoured whole by them.
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.)
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.
“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.
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.
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.)
ETA, September 17th: Comments are off for this post for the foreseeable future.
Trigger warning for eating disorders, diet culture, child abuse, emetophobia, and fatphobia.
I don’t know how to start this post, aside from the trigger warning. I know it will need it; I’m talking about things that are hard for me to even think about, let alone speak about. But I don’t know where to begin.
Do I begin at the beginning (for me) — when I was 2 and encountered severe trauma related to food? When I was screamed at for getting dessert on Christmas, when I was so upset I threw up all my food?
That is where it started for me, my rocky relationship with food. Imagine, being told by your loving mother you can have a fancy eclair because you ate enough of your Christmas dinner and it is, after all, bloody Christmas, and then having the other parent in your life unleash a torrent of his abuse on you both until your little body can’t take the stress and you just lose it, everywhere.
That wasn’t the only time my biological sire made me vomit with his anger, either (or his reckless driving). To this day, strong negative emotions and, especially, angry men make me sick to my stomach.
I suppose it’s strange I never developed bulimia, not really. There was a period of time when I was vomiting after every meal, like clockwork, and sometimes it was induced, but it wasn’t bulimia. It was me feeling physically sick all the time, and needing some relief. As suddenly as it appeared in my life, it disappeared.
No, instead, I developed binge eating disorder and, much later, anorexia.
My father didn’t stop when I was two, you see. He continued to abuse me in many ways throughout my childhood and adolescence, including at the dinner table, in restaurants — really, anywhere food was involved, he made sure to give me a complex about eating.
His excuse? I was being spoiled rotten by my mom and Oma, he said. Or I was getting too fat, or eating too much sugar. Or any other reason he could come up with to abuse me for daring to want food.
Abusers always find it easy to justify their actions. It’s for your own good. Always for your own good. It was for my own good when he took me to get a treat at Dairy Queen, said I could order whatever I wanted, and then took that food away from me when I had it and ate it in front of me, saying I couldn’t have it because I was ‘getting fat.’ It was for my own good when he screamed at me at the dinner table because I was ‘too fat’, making me cry and feel too sick to my stomach to eat — which he then yelled at me some more about, because I was a wimp who was crying and why wasn’t I eating? He’d slaved over the stove to make that food so I better eat it or he’d give me something to cry about.
It was for my own good when he made me sit at the dinner table until I finished my food, even though I told him I didn’t like squash, not at all, not a little bit, I had to eat it because it was good for me. And when my step-siblings came in from their after-dinner swim at the pool and saw me sitting there — I was determined to sit there all night, and hoped I peed on the chair, hoped for that small revenge — they told me to take the food and just throw it in the compost, and lie about eating it! I said no — he’d know, he always knew, nothing was safe — but they took it and did it for my anyway, and then dad came back into the room and pulled out squash covered in coffee grinds and other organic waste and force fed it to me, holding my mouth shut until I swallowed it.
It was for my own good when he force-fed me salmon and called me a wimp and weakling for not liking it. To this day, the smell of salmon makes me want to vomit and cry.
He was convinced that every time he put another landmine in my brain with his actions, he was doing it for my own good. He swore up and down that someday, I’d thank him.
Well, he was wrong about most things, so add that to the list.
The for your own good narrative doesn’t stop with my father, though. It continues on every day I am forced to interact with people who have bought into the propaganda of our fat hating culture. Shaming me for my food choices is for my own good. Constantly talking about diets is for my own good. Maybe, if they make me feel enough shame, I will magically lose weight. That’s the belief, so it’s easy to justify with for your own good.
This is all true, and it’s probably important background for this tale. But is that where I start? Is this the best place to begin for this particular story?
Let’s start again, maybe.
Google+ has a function that shows you things from people you haven’t circled. Other people you have circled click the plus button on shares, and those things might show up in your feed. You can’t turn this off, to my knowledge, though I have posted asking people for help finding out if you can.
Almost all of them. I’ve yet to really unpack Mr. Katje’s books (I did 2 boxes; that’s all), but I’ve done all of my books, which was 30+ boxes so it’s kind of a big deal.
Non-fiction and unread fiction. Most of the non-fiction is of the sort that will help my writing along (history, culture, books on writing craft, grammar, books of names), but there’s also a lot of theatre and film books on these cases. Also, writing notebooks and proofs. You may notice the cases are overflowing. This is true of most of the bookcases in the house, because I had to sacrifice one when we needed a TV stand.
God-bothering books, as mom calls them. Lots of books on Buddhism, esoteric stuff, spirituality…etc. This is also my meditation corner, hence the Thangka on the back of the door and the little altar/shrine areas.
Read fiction. Double-stacked. Triple-stacked even. (For scale: all these books used to take up five shelves on another bookcase.)
Misc. mish-mash! This was one of the first cases I filled up and I was in such a “FUCK ALL THESE BOXES” mood that I just jammed whatever the hell up there. Journals at the top, some language books, comics and children’s books, First Nations studies, history, science…the list goes on.
And the cooking, crafting, herbalism, knitting/crocheting, and Mr. Katje’s books shelves. Not totally full yet — will be when I unpack some more of Mr. Katje’s books.
So I have managed to unpack and put away all my books, and am making a dent in Mr. Katje’s books. It is likely we will have to get another bookcase for the rest of his books.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go sleep for forever. Or eat a lot of food and watch NCIS, season 7. (Mr. Katje has gotten me hooked on the show and I expect I will soon catch up to current episodes.)