July 1, 2011

"Gossip as high-fructose corn syrup."

A theory:
There's this idea that modern diseases of excess are due to the human metabolism being evolutionarily keyed for need. Our bodies haven't become accustomed to the wide availability of nutritionally empty yet calorie-rich foods, hence the obesity epidemic.

Maybe everyone's "social metabolism" is different. Some folks can say and hear whatever they want and always feel great. Others have to be more mindful....


Carol_Herman said...

Horse shit. Diabetes and heart disease. And, Alzheimer's. Are all genetic.

The one thing living longer does, however, is let genetics take over. Instead of watching people die of cholera. Which came from drinking "dirty" water. Where poo floated.

Of course, our government also gets involved in killing industries. Sugar cane is way better to have than corn-syrup.

But then "farming" done in DC is corrosive. Farming done on farms? A particularly hard, labor intensive way to make a living.

Dose of Sanity said...

Does this make your blog the equivalent of a Krisy Kreme?

Or is it more intellectually "filling" and less "tasty".


I like the metaphor though.

p.s. You are still crazy Carol. You need to de-tox or something.

Nonapod said...

More accurately people have different degrees of tolerance for hearing opinions (political or otherwise) that differ greatly from their own. I believe the technical term is "bullshit limit".

Chip S. said...

We came up with a theory: gossip as high-fructose corn syrup.

I don't attach a lot of weight to the untethered musings of people who think that simile = theory. That holds particularly in the case of people who think Bookbinder's snapper soup uses a beef stock.

Scott said...

Gossip as HFCS? Nah, because you can trade gossip face-to-face. Ever thus since time began.

But social networking on the Internet as a substitute for intimacy can certainly be compared to HFCS as a substitute for good nutrition. They both leave you with a craving that can't be completely satisfied by more of the same.

AllenS said...

I've always thought that there's something bad about high-fructose corn syrup. I try to avoid the stuff. Take some water, throw in some barley, hops and yeast, let it bubble for a while, and then drink that. Much better for you.

edutcher said...

They're talking about information overload, which, to me at least, is far removed from gossip.

People who need gossip are different from those who are intellectually curious.

As to the fat epidemic, that's really nothing but lack of discipline.

PS Carol, there are genetic factors in things like heart, Alzheimer's, etc., but you can do things to minimize your risk.

Stay away from aluminum cookware if you think there's a predisposition to Alzheimer's. Don't eat a lot of fatty stuff if there's heart disease in the family.

Things like that.

KCFleming said...

You can't spell W-A-R with Gossip.

But you can spell SOS and Pig
...and Go Piss.

Freeman Hunt said...

More accurately people have different degrees of tolerance for hearing opinions (political or otherwise) that differ greatly from their own.

I don't think that's what they're talking about.

Gossip is bad-mouthing personal acquaintances or relations. When true, it's the sin of detraction. When false, calumny. Some people love to engage in it. Others can't stand it.

KCFleming said...

I thought Gossip was more like riboflavin.

Bob Ellison said...

It's a good analogy, but not for the reason the author thinks. HFCS is just a carbohydrate. Anti-HFCS bias is similar to other Luddite impulses: it's manufactured and not 100% natural, so some people assume it must be bad. Similarly, gossip via Twitter, FB, and other modern systems is unnatural and must be bad.

It's the anti-modern, anti-human bias that ties them together, not the supposed addiction and deleterious effects they visit upon the human species.

Many decades ago, some Brit published an observation that Americans prefer white eggs because Americans want things pure and bleached. E.B. White, a chicken-owner, pointed out that Americans mostly eat white eggs because of the development of the White Leghorn hen. Hens lay eggs the color of their feathers, and the White Leghorn is a great layer.

Many modern humans prefer HFCS-enhanced products because they're tasty and cheap, and they like FB and Twitter et al. because they satisfy a common hunger for gossip and connections. The cravings are natural, and the fulfillment mechanisms are not intrinsically deleterious. The diagnostician is the one with the problem: bias against the craving and the craver.

KCFleming said...

...or Red dye No. 2.

Brian O'Connell said...

I think there's something to this.

Certain things give us pleasure because evolution has programmed this into us. There's a wide variety of things- elements of food- sweetness, saltiness, fat- and many of them are social and more complicated. In our normal state of nature, these things that give us pleasure are combined with less pleasurable things.

Industry's been doing a good job of separating out the pleasurable attractors and concentrating them to levels that can be beyond what we can handle.

Junk food of course, but also pornography- which needs no explanation- and gambling, which concentrates the risk/reward element.

With the information & communication revolutions, more complex attractors can be stripped out and concentrated in the same way. So gossip sites, Facebook, and Twitter, which concentrate social interactions. I think much of our so-called celebrity culture can be explained this way.

(This is my theory, which is mine.)

KCFleming said...

I'm always the last to know.

Whatever the subject, dead last.

By the time I hear it, it's no longer Gossip, it's History.

KCFleming said...

The wise practice moderation in all things.

But don't overdo it.

Freeman Hunt said...

The article is talking about gossip shared face to face.

traditionalguy said...

The Scriptures say a lot about gossip, and a lot about foods, and eating. I remember that gossip is said to be a tasty morsel that goes down easy but is a poison to the people who pay attention to it. The idea seems to be that gossip is a drug that addicts us to a supplier. (On the other hand the truth is a pearl set in gold.) Actually we can say no to a gossip distributor as easily as we can say no to a drug dealer. But then what would happen to the NYT's business model? And did you hear about the Corporate Fat Cats flying Corporate Jets everywhere???

Stephen A. Meigs said...

I think it is mainly that gut bacteria have evolved (faster than human metabolic defenses, apparently) to produce hunger-causing chemicals that encourage the ingestion of excess food. Also, teeth and gum bacteria may have evolved to cause diabetes to various degrees so as to encourage people to eat more of the sugary food they want.

Emilie said...

Bob - technically, it's not the color of the feathers, but the color of the hens' ear lobes that dictates egg shell color. This is surprising to most people, not least because we don't think of chickens even having ear lobes.

gadfly said...

Then there is the sordid story of ADM, Rusty Butz, and government subsidy of the corn sweetener marketplace. From the Ludwig von Mises Institute:

**In 1973, Earl "Rusty" Butz, President Nixon's USDA chief, did away with the
agricultural price supports introduced by the Roosevelt administration.

Butz ginned up political support for the administration by encouraging farmers to plant "fencerow to fencerow" while the government provided them with subsidies to cover the difference between market prices and production costs.

Of course, ... production [then] exceeded demand, and prices took a dive. This didn't sit too well with Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), the nation's largest corn refiner.

Now, there's only so much corn one person can eat. ADM suddenly needed to figure out how to somehow stimulate sales of all that excess food.

Then a Japanese technique called "wet milling" caught the company's eye. Wet milling turned corn kernels into what ADM hoped would be a low-cost alternative to sugar — the now-ubiquitous high-fructose corn syrup.

While high-fructose corn syrup was an alternative to sugar, it still wasn't possible to manufacture cheaply enough to make it a low-cost alternative.

Enter Dwayne Andreas, who, at the time, was ADM's CEO. It just so happened that Florida sugarcane growers were in the middle of a push to get Congress to impose a tariff on foreign sugar, which was exerting downward pressure on market prices. Andreas decided to help fund lobbying efforts by Florida sugarcane growers to convince Congress to impose a quota on non-US sugar, which had been flooding the US market and keeping prices down.

In short, ADM backed its oompetition's political agenda and, when Ronald Reagan took office, the sugar tariff was swiftly ushered into place. Naturally, sugar prices escalated, eclipsing the cost of ADM's high-fructose corn syrup. Soft-drink makers like Coca-Cola and Pepsi switched to the cheaper alternative in short order.

A report by James Bovard of the Cato Institute notes, "At least 43% of ADM's annual profits are from products heavily subsidized or protected by the American government.
Moreover, every $1 of profits earned by ADM's corn sweetener operation costs consumers $10."**

The rest of that story that the "wet milling" machines also produces corn-based ethanol and the government pays 45 cents a gallon for its manufacture.

Penny said...

"Gossip" like high-fructose corn syrup?

If ONLY! lol

Then we might expect that SPIKE of vicious energy to leave the gossiper tired and weakened in about a half hour or so.

Penny said...

What if we had a word for gossiping about your friends in some POSITIVE way?

Or is that too corny?

Geoff Matthews said...

I'd like to make a joke about what happens when you let women get into science, but I'm too lazy.
Too lazy to even read the article. Chances are, men did it, but you know they weren't masculine men.

Phil 314 said...

And that's why I need to read that Eating in Madison blog more and more, everyday. I crave the information that it provides, even though I don't live in Madison and will never eat at any of the restaurants it reviews. The reviews are so insightful and they provide meaning for me beyond food. I have a certain sense of belonging, of being "in the know", of being one of the chosen people by reading that blog. I short, I just can't get enough of it; I want to read it late at night when everyone else is asleep. I want to read it to the exclusion of the New York Times or The Daily Beast or The Nation or.......

or not.

SunnyJ said...

Out here in the country we call it bar talk. It's an opiate to the masses just like booze, wine and beer. I started bartending, and that's occupationally specific for, observing as a very young kid.

It's mindless, brain in neutral/mouth in gear. I saw people go down the bar, making up stories and improving on it as they went, until they had the story they liked. Then those that heard it did the same. By the end of the night, it was fact and completely unrecognizable. They come in at happy hour and start again. It ruined friendships, marriages, jobs and all manner of transactions.

Later I saw this in all kinds of work places, at church, in education..oh yeah, baby, oh year try the teachers lounge! I've observed it and learned a few things.

Be impeccable with your word and absorb it and let it die inside you...knowing you've done a quietly life affirming act of love.

Toad Trend said...

"The article is talking about gossip shared face to face."

The article is in part attempted analysis of overheard gossip.

Or, eavesdropping.

The impression left is that the 2 'reviewers' chose to compare/parallel what they overheard to high fructose corn syrup... it is a restaurant food review. Pretty weak 'sauce'.

One person's 'gossip' is another's 'conversation'.

traditionalguy said...

We had an attorney once, a female, who could not do anything but gossip. Everywhere she went the stories started about how every one in the firm was being mistreated just like her father in law had once mistreated her and her husband. She could talk to anyone and made many friends for the firm, but she was always at war with us. We learned that gossips ARE YOUR ENEMY!

Penny said...

"One person's 'gossip' is another's 'conversation'."


So then we need to determine "intent".

Penny said...


Some shine... "in the tent"?

I feel better!

Penny said...

You feel like raggin' my ass about that?

I'm thinkin' we can ...come to terms.

Wince said...

Some folks can say and hear whatever they want and always feel great. Others have to be more mindful....

Well, here's some high-fructose corn syrup gossip.

Why bother to edit yourself?

Methadras said...

Bullshit. There is no such thing as a nutritionally empty food. Dumb, dumb, dumb. However, I have a theory, with no way to prove it, that people of specific regions who have specific regional food, do poorly outside of those regions where the food is prepared differently or is different altogether. It's genetic and intestinal fauna.

Scott said...

Oh wow, Earl Butz. Haven't heard that name in a few years.

Remember why he got fired? He was at some kind of social function where he was overheard to opine that the aspirations of a certain race were limited to "tight pussy, loose shoes, and a warm place to shit."

After Butz's firing, Chevy Chase on Saturday Night Live noted (in G-rated language) that this was apparently different from the aspirations of white people, who preferred loose pussy, tight shoes, and a cold place to shit.

reader_iam said...

Oh, fuck that.

reader_iam said...

People say, for example, "fuck that" because/when they can, first and foremost

Second and second most, they say, for example, "fuck that" because they mean it.

Which I do. And, that, is they say, that.

wv: actino


Teri said...

Penny said...
What if we had a word for gossiping about your friends in some POSITIVE way?

Praising. Or saying flattering things. (I do get the "corny" joke, I just thought you had an interesting question.)

Freeman Hunt said...

One person's 'gossip' is another's 'conversation'.

If the another is one who habitually gossips.

nichole said...

Thank you for playing along in our meta-gossip piece.

@Chip S., Edgewater's bookbinder is beef-based, unlike the stuff in the cans.