The Slow Cooker

Clifton 
In case I haven’t openly encouraged you to get a slow cooker, I would like to do so now. I want to cook for myself generally, but also don’t always want to spend an entire day in the kitchen. The slow cooker allows me to do some short preparation and then go do other things (condom snorting) while the food, in effect, prepares itself. Then, I have several days of meals that need only be reheated to be enjoyed.

Case in point, this soup:

Incidentally, I noticed that this recipe included NO SPINACH, so I opened a can of spinach (no added salt) and put it into the food processor with some tomatoes (I generally don’t like hot hunks of tomato). Well, it turned out just fine. And, aside from tasting great, this soup not only cured my impotence but also made my eyebrows grow back.

Mark  If you want to get the most out of your food, stay away from canned unless it’s the apocalypse.
Clifton  Mark, I’m glad you commented on that part of my post. A few months back, I read an article regarding BPA that I probably took more seriously than I should have. Looking into it again, I now find that scientists are much more divided than I thought.

There are BPA-free cans out there and canned food producers may eventually move to some other material (Eden Brands says they’ve been using a “vegetable resin enamel” since 1999). So, is there any other reason to eat canned stuff? Well, as far as I can tell, many canned vegetables are comparable to fresh and frozen counterparts.

I already do not eat a lot of canned stuff. The spinach is a rarity as, bizarrely enough, I can only find the sodium-free variety at Walmart and I don’t do a lot of shopping at Walmart.

I suppose the wisest thing is probably to grow your own stuff and, if that’s not possible, to buy fresh stuff. Which I generally do. That said, I’m not sure that all canned food is to be avoided. I generally prefer canned over frozen because cans are recyclable where plastic bags aren’t.

Mark  Honestly, I’m going to have to become a cyborg to connect with you. I’ve watched, read, and listened to many people on the subject. Now, a blog you probably didn’t even read that caters to your point of view is right? That’s weird. We can find anything to back up anything.

The sad truth is nobody is going to hold legislation over every discussion or even take the time to read more than five lines. You follow what you believe and I believe the studies that say no.

I just took 45 seconds to read that blog filler. You have to be careful with those — they aren’t always true.

Clifton  Well, I shared that blog entry because it links to two peer-reviewed articles that compare fresh, frozen, and canned products. However, I first looked into this probably 4 years ago and found similar results from apparently trustworthy sources.

It still seems to me that fresh is probably the way to go. For the above recipe, I bought loose carrots, fresh celery, and an onion. I put them all in a canvas bag and washed them before cooking them. I’m not sure that it’s possible to have less waste than that except by growing the stuff yourself.

Please, try to forgive me for seeming cyborg-like. I honestly believe that the way I share my information sources is the right way. Or, as close to the right way as I know how to get.

Consider this: a lady I work with will only drink Essentia 9.5 pH water because she heard somewhere that other water is bad for you. Before that, she would only drink water that had passed through a Kangen machine that her daughter was hawking. Well, that’s fine, of course, but, if either this person or her daughter had bothered to actually look into the science, they might’ve found that there isn’t any. When I tried to point this out, she got very upset at me for questioning her (she’s older, of course, and you must always respect your elders, even if they’re trying to involve you in a worthless-water-machine scam).

I think if this co-worker of mine had learned at some point the importance of citing sources, she would never have bothered with this water pseudoscience to begin with.

Consider this page (made by retired chemist Stephen Lower) of hundreds of supposed improvements to water.

Now, think of all the money people are blowing on these things that, for all anybody really knows, might actually be harming them. All of this might’ve been averted if the people who buy this and the friends they share it with had just said, “Hey, where are the scientifically-conducted studies that show that this is actually good? Do you, by chance, have a source for that information?”

Mark  The problem with these studies is anyone can do them. I’m not trying to be malicious, but it’s the truth. A lot of companies shoot propaganda out there, just like the organic food hype, there isn’t really much they have to do to say they are organic.

As far as eating healthy food, I’m sticking with fresh or frozen. I really don’t believe half the stuff on the Net though. Information is information ’til it’s wisdom, meaning I’ve done it.

Call me an idiot if you want. There are things you don’t believe. But, isn’t it funny that the things we do believe cater to our own beliefs?

Clifton  Well, as you may know, what you’re describing is called “confirmation bias” in psychology. And, I feel I go to great lengths to counteract the effects of confirmation bias. The implication here is that I want canned foods to be healthful and so I seek out information to confirm this belief. In reality, I looked at a dozen or more sites on BPA and settled on one from a trusted source that seems to give equal time to both sides of the issue.

As for your contention that anyone can do these studies, this seems very unlikely to me. One source I found puts the the average cost per participant in a clinical trial at about $6,000 for a roughly 4,000-hour study.

I work in market research (which is an outgrowth of psychology and uses similar, if not identical, research methods) and, among other things, we frequently do studies to help radio stations determine their formats. A typical one of these studies will include around 150 respondents who receive $65 apiece. That’s a cost close to $10,000 without including the roughly $7,000 that we get on top of that for collecting the respondents and administering the study.

So, maybe if you had said, “Anyone can do these studies who has enough money,” I would agree with you.

What I try to do when I look at research is to look for potential flaws in the research itself or to see if there are worrisome ties to outside interests. For example, are studies showing that canned foods are nutritionally viable funded by canned food companies? Well, I don’t have any reason to think that the two studies linked to in the above New York Times article have any such flaws.

And, after performing another Google search for just articles about whether or not canned foods are bad to eat, I have come up empty-handed yet again.

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