Tuesday, April 24, 2012
This is painful, because I like to think I know how to read labels. I also like to trust products named Aunt Millie and stores named Whole Foods.
Alas, I forgot one of my basic shopping principles:
Never trust food that calls itself "natural."
In label language, natural means nothing at all. Companies who use the term in their marketing are usually trying to hide something. I should have looked more carefully at Aunt Minnie's Hearth Fiber for Life 12 Whole Grains bread.
Translation: white flour.
Now I have nothing against eating white flour now and then. I make a mean challah whose flour component is 100% white. But I do dislike (hate, abominate) labels that bend over backward to make me think I'm buying 100% whole grain bread when in reality I'm not. I call that "lying."
And I don't like being told that "Aunt Millie's Hearth breads ... contain no color additive, artificial substances, or synthetic compounds, only pure and fresh ingredients, just like those found in your kitchen cupboard." I don't know ... does your kitchen cupboard contain resistant corn starch, resistant dextrin, sodium gluconate, potassium chloride, guar gum, wheat starch, calcium sulfate, ferrous sulfate, thiamine hydrochloride, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, and ascorbic acid? Mine neither.
Trader Joe's. Their multigrain bread is, in fact, 100% whole grain. It has only two bizarre ingredients: natural mold inhibitor (cultured whey and wheat starch or flour) and natural dough conditioner (wheat flour, enzymes). There's that word "natural" again, but at least it's in the small type.
Interestingly, a slice (43g) of Trader Joe's bread has half the sugars of a slice (53g) of Aunt Millie's. It also has 30mg less sodium, 5mg more potassium, and 1g more protein. Aunt Millie's has more iron, because she adds ferrous sulfate (and other vitamins) to the mix. Strip out the truly natural food value, add the equivalent of vitamin pills, and call your product natural: it's the American way.
Gotta give the madmen at Aunt Millie's credit, though. Rarely can one find so much schmalz per square inch as on their website. "At Aunt Millie's," they croon, "we bake more than bread - we bake memories." Good Lord, deliver us.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
|Catherine of Siena explains|
to Gregory XI why he
should move to Rome
And yesterday, following a two-year investigation, 80 percent of American nuns came under Vatican fire.
The Washington Post reported that
the Vatican has launched a crackdown on the umbrella group that represents most of America’s 55,000 Catholic nuns, saying that the group was not speaking out strongly enough against gay marriage, abortion and women’s ordination. Rome also chided the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) for sponsoring conferences that featured “a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”Interestingly, yesterday's Post also carried a short article by Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of the maligned Network. Campbell, writing in honor of Network's 40th anniversary, described the group's activities as
... One of the groups singled out in the criticism is Network, a social justice lobby created by Catholic sisters 40 years ago that continues to play a leading role in pushing progressive causes on Capitol Hill.
lobbying our elected officials to consider the needs of people living in poverty, the left-out, the marginalized in our society. We have worked on many issues of economic justice, immigration, peace building, health care reform and the environment. We have studied the adverse impact of welfare reform especially in a down economy. We have partnered with Iraqis in helping them to build lives and an economy in post-sanction, post-invasion Iraq. We have partnered with thousands of people around the country in articulating what is the common good that we seek in order to realize the promise of our Constitution.Even as the Vatican was worrying about the self-sacrificing sisters, yet another priest was placed on administrative leave for sexual misconduct. A third article in yesterday's Post noted that
from 2004 until last year, [this priest] was director of the [Northern Virginia diocese's] Office of Child Protection and Safety, which trains church employees and volunteers to spot abuse and monitors youth activities “to ensure that all contact with young people is appropriate,” its Web site says.Yes, every organization has its bad apples. But this particular organization, remember, is the one that did not punish Boston's Cardinal Law after his part in that city's sex scandal went public, but rather rewarded him with a cushy appointment in Rome and, last year, a lavish 80th birthday celebration.
As I understand the Gospels, Jesus had a lot in common with the nuns. He identified with the poor and spent a large percentage of his workday on health care. He sent women on apostolic missions (see Jn 4, the woman at the well, and Jn 20, Mary Magdalene in the garden). He protected children. "If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me," he thundered, "it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea" (Mt 18.6).
Apparently Jesus's priorities are very different from the Vatican's.
Want to speak up in a language the Vatican understands? Donate now to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious or to Network.For further reading: The Vatican's latest crackdown is covered thoroughly and well by Laurie Goodstein in the New York Times and by Joshua J. McElwee in the National Catholic Reporter.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
I am a woman. Like most other women, I am not likely to vote for you. Your unpopularity among women worries you, I know. That's no doubt why you're claiming that Mr. Obama's policies have been disastrous for women's jobs. Promoting a cynical lie, however, is not a good way to attract women's votes.
These days the word lie is thrown around too often and too loosely. Since I am accusing you of using a lie--a serious charge--let me define my terms. A lie is a statement intended to deceive. It can be nonfactual or factual; the speaker's intent is what matters. President Bush was probably not lying when he said Iraq had WMD, even though they didn't. If he believed what he said, though it was untrue, it was not a lie.
By contrast, when your press secretary tweeted that "92.3% jobs lost under [Obama} r women's," she was making a true statement. She may or may not have intended to deceive: I don't know if she paid attention to all the relevant facts before tweeting. By now, though, the facts have been checked, and you have no excuse for repeating her claim on your website. To do so is to turn truth into falsehood.
Here are the facts: The recession officially began in December 2007, while Mr. Bush was president. From that date until June 2009, six months into Mr. Obama's presidency, men lost some 5.3 million jobs while women lost about 2.1 million. This is a typical pattern, says Betsey Stevenson, a business and public policy professor at Princeton University: "In every recession men’s job loss occurs first and most, with unemployment rates for men being more cyclical than those of women’s."
My mother finished secretarial school and began her first job in 1929, the year the Great Depression hit. She managed a small office for maybe half a dozen church administrators--all male, of course. Then the stock market crashed, donations plummeted, and most of the men were let go. Before long the only people left in the office were the president and my poorly paid 20-year-old mother.
That's how it has always worked. Men lose jobs first; women lose jobs later. Still, with women making up 47% of the labor force (2010 figures), they "account for just 39.7 percent of the total" jobs lost from the beginning of the recession to the present. It is grossly misleading to imply that the recession was caused or worsened by Mr. Obama, and that it was harder on women than on men. You need to distance yourself from that claim, not promote it.
The recession was indeed hard on many women--and on just about everybody else except people in your income bracket, Mr. Romney. I suspect you truly believe that you are better suited than Mr. Obama to restore America's prosperity. Do you want women to give you a chance to try? Then forget about badmouthing the president. Instead, show us you care.
A lot of us, as you've pointed out, need work. How would your administration help us meet our obligations and feed our families until we find it? A lot of us, or our family members, have serious health problems. How would you help us pay for medical care? A lot of us want to strengthen our public schools. How would you improve the quality of elementary and high school education? A lot of us would like to send our children to college. How would you make higher education affordable? A lot of us are concerned about the effects of pollution on our families' health. How would you keep our food and air clean? A lot of us are getting older and frailer. How would you deal with our needs for housing and medical care?
I know that some vocal Americans believe the federal government should do just about nothing except arm our young people and send them out to kill. I know there are people who cry "socialism!" whenever the government tries to make people's lives better. Fortunately, most Americans disagree with such extremists. And yet there are honest differences between conservatives and progressives as to how the common good is best served.
Mr. Romney, if you have ways of serving the common good that you think are more effective than Mr. Obama's ways, please tell us about them. Don't worry about your supposedly stiff persona; it doesn't bother us nearly as much as it bothers the press. And don't try to scare us with lies and negative ads. That just turns us off. If you convince us that you care about us when we need help, and if you offer us solutions that will help us survive and thrive, we will listen. Otherwise, we'll vote for the candidate who does.