Thursday, November 24, 2011

Farewell to McRib (for now)

Thomas Riggins 
The famous McRib pork patty has once again made a brief appearance at a McDonald's near you. For a brief three weeks, October 24 to November 14, the elusive pork patty was available to the masses of gustatorily challenged carnivores who have become addicted to its unique combination of nutritionally disastrous chemical toxins. 
From it first appearance, 1981-1985, (occasioned by a dearth of chickens  available for nuggetivation) the McRib has been on and off the McDonald's menu several times. It was widely available after being reintroduced in 1989-- until removed again in 2005. Since then it has had a sporadic career in different parts of the McDonald's Empire (except for Germany where it has always been available due to the unquenchable appetite for all things porky). But in the last couple of years the Empire has begun to make it available nationwide but only for a few weeks at a time with long periods between appearances. 
What is the nature of this pork patty? It has no ribs in it so its name is somewhat misleading. Like a Hollywood star its real name, McRestructured-Meat-Product, was deemed by its creators too off putting to gain much attraction or many fans. Even McPork-Patty did not seem to have much appeal. But who doesn't like ribs? And who wouldn't fall for a juicy plump (at least in its roll) glob of restructured meat product with fake rib indentations slathered in barbecue sauce and introduced as the McRib sandwich (the name that brought it fame)? 
But behind that lovely exterior McRib hides a sordid past. Its popularity masks its history of chemical dependence. It cannot show up to perform it culinary wonders unless it has been provided with seventy different chemicals and compounds by its legions of enablers.  
It starts life on the slaughterhouse floor of Smithfield Foods which supplies McDonald with the raw meat that will become McRib. This relationship may soon end as the Humane Society of the United States is even now exposing what it calls cruel and inhumane treatment of the animals Smithfield slaughters and is asking for the intervention of the federal government to halt the company's alleged truly odious practices. 
McDonald's takes this meat-- basically pork shoulder mixed with pig tripe (the next door neighbor of chitlins in the pig digestive system), hearts, and scalded pig stomach technically known as "restructured meat (pork) product" but, due to the company's friends in Congress, listed for the public as "pork"-- mashed up into a mush to which about three dozen chemicals and compounds are mixed (including sauce and bun) to make it appear presentable and sells it to the public. Since you can imagine what this slop might taste like in its natural state it needed all sorts of artificial flavors and colors mixed into it, and its sauce and bun, before anyone could be lured into embracing it with the love it so richly does not deserve. 
One of its flavors comes from the 980 mg of salt it gets along with 26 grams of fat, including trans fat, and 41% of your daily maximum of cholesterol. McRib is now ready to weigh in at 500 calories, slightly less than the lead star at McDonald's, the Big Mack. And, if you find McRib's bun nice looking, one of the reasons is it is bleached with azodicarbonate a chemical more commonly used in making foamed plastics in shoe soles and gym mats. By the looks of some McRib's fans, azodicarbonate may be the closest they will ever get to a gym. 
Why the periodic appearance of McRib? I don't know but it  may have something to do with the fact that different states have different times of expiration for their statutes of limitation on personal injury law suits. 
In any case, the McRib is once again in semi-retirement. If we are lucky, maybe by next Thanksgiving McDonald's will have McTurkey ready for us.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Greenhouse Gases Continue to Increase

Thomas Riggins

Even as scientists around the world continue to warn that the build up of greenhouse gases, especially CO2 from carbon based fuels, is leading to drastic changes in the earth's climate which could result in catastrophic storms, floods, rising sea levels, famines and mass extinction of plants and animals the major international oil and gas cartels continue to pump CO2 into the atmosphere while the leading governments of the world fail to take meaningful action to save the atmosphere.

Just this week Kerry Sheridan reported, in Agence France-Presse, that last year, according to the US Department of Energy (this is the one Gov. Perry couldn't remember he wanted to abolish) carbon based fuels (oil, gas, and coal) dumped the largest yearly amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in history. Led by the world's three greatest atmospheric polluters, China, the US, and India, the industrialized countries managed, despite all the warnings, to dump about 512 million metric-tons- of additional carbon into the air in 2010; the most ever seen in a single year since data began being collected as far back as 1751. This means there are about 9.1 billion metric tons of carbon based gases floating around in the atmosphere, about 6% more than in 2009. This is no way to fight global warming.

John Abraham of the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota) School of Engineering was quoted as saying "This is very bad news. These results show that it will be harder to make the tough cuts to emissions if we are to head off a climate crisis." Another climate scientist, Scott Mandis, remarked that "Science tells us that we are driving in a fog headed toward a cliff but are unsure just how far away it is. Given this warning, it is quite foolish to be stepping on the accelerator."

In light of this it is shocking that so many people in our country don't even believe in this largely man made atmospheric pollution: this due to deep seated ignorance of science spawned by a dysfunctional education system, media complicity with Wall Street corporations that profit from a carbon based fuel economy, and know nothing right wing politicians, especially exemplified by the Republican presidential candidates who publicly proclaim that global warming induced by the burning of fossil fuels is a "hoax."

Fortunately the American people are beginning to wake up and take matters in their own hands. They are mobilizing to fight against states that desire to issue fracking permits to oil companies, and under the stimulus of the Occupy Wall Street movement and (the website devoted to mobilizing against global warming) have thrown a monkey wrench into the federal government's plan to rush through approval of the oil pipeline from Canada to Texas. Now they must mobilize against the oil drilling permits the government is handing out for off shore drilling in the Arctic and the Gulf of Mexico, especially the new ones to BP which hasn't even paid its fines for the Gulf spill it caused.

We must fight every plan to increase dependency on fossil fuels and demand that solar, wind, water, and other non polluting renewalable energy sources be developed (NOT including nuclear power).