Skip to content

Rants In My Pants

October 16, 2011

Maybe it’s a disease.

Today’s Sunday post on breakfast is being pre-empted by what I hope is the rare self-indulgent post about me. Specifically, I’m talking about not being able to let things go.

Because instead of working last night on a post about shirred eggs, the glory of duck-fat fried potatoes, or the brilliance of Jess’s comment requesting a Tour de Egg & Cheese Sandwich, I did something else.

I squandered my time writing long and winding rants. Not rants for the FLB. But rants elsewhere.

These weren’t just mere comments. Comments can be fired off without much consideration at all. These were blog-worthy diatribes that took longer than one might expect to write, and went unedited by Mrs. Fussy’s moderating hand. It’s free-flowing fussy.

Part of getting better is admitting I have a problem and confessing when I’ve gone astray. So here it goes.

The first one shouldn’t be too surprising. It speaks to an old familiar theme, and that is my thoughts on cheese and cheese counters. Truth be told, I still owe Mike at the Honest Weight Food Co-Op an email so we can talk about this issue like gentlemen.

But in the meantime, I will continue to rail against the wrong doings of the much-celebrated local cheese counter.

In my defense, I was goaded.

laura O. on yelp specifically asked about why I hadn’t weighed in on the issue of where to buy cheese locally. Kevin F. on Yelp was looking to put together a cheese plate and HWFC got three nominations from the crowd.

My dissent was composed of the following arguments:
1)    The cheese counter smells like nothing
2)    Their standard practice is to pre-cut and pre-wrap the cheese
3)    They get no bonus points for offering samples

Instead I promoted my friends at Adventure in Food with some caveats, spoke well of the Italian markets, and remembered the delicious piece of Parm-Reg I got at the Meat House in Stuyvesant Plaza. But the best option is to go direct, as we are lucky to have so many great cheesemakers within a days drive.

But I also realized you could put together an unimpeachable cheese plate at the new Shop Rite.

Speaking of local grocery stores, Price Chopper has gotten me all up in a dander recently, and I haven’t been able to shake it. First let me say, that I love how responsive they are online to consumer feedback and comments.

This current irritation is probably one you didn’t see coming, unless of course you happen to follow my every tweet. And for the record, even my mother doesn’t do that.

Inconsistency kills me. Not an inconsistent pizza, plate of hash browns, or batch of vodka, because that can happen in the pursuit of perfection. Rather I’m speaking of an inconsistent message. Hopefully nobody has forgotten that I come from a marketing and advertising background, and this kind of stuff is really important to me.

So Price Chopper is a big supporter of the fight against breast cancer. That’s truly great.

The only problem is that this year I happened to notice they are promoting this breast cancer message on cans of food. I only know this because a can of green beans bearing a pink bow was the major image for the promotion on the Price Chopper blog.

Q: Why is that a problem?
A: An increasing scientific body of evidence that ties BPA to breast cancer (and other bad things).

So a while back I wrote to Price Chopper on their blog and eventually got a reply. And in some ways the reply was fair, yet it also seemed a bit dismissive. Now I do understand a bit of the political considerations that go on inside a large grocer. After all, they are likely part of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which has been asserting the safety of BPA for a long time.

Regardless, putting a Breast Cancer Awareness message on a product that an increasing number of people feel is part of the problem, seems like a bad decision. Our local grocer has two options.

1)    They can continue to engage in business as usual, and eventually face a rising tide of resentment as more people clue in to the connection between certain chemicals and their effects on human health.

2)    They can double down on their commitment to breast cancer awareness and next year make a decisive effort to eliminate BPA from their store label canned goods.

Now, I’m not going to hold my breath for number two, but there is at least one marketing case study that shows a manufacturer significantly changing its product as a result of consumer concerns about its safety (despite the lack of decisive and irrefutable scientific proof). The example just also happens to be one in which the manufacturer was supportive of breast cancer research, and the concerns were that the current formulation of the product was actually harmful to women’s health.

I can’t help but to see the parallels here.

Really, I should let both of these things go. Arguing for them is like beating a dead horse. I’m not going to get Honest Weight Food Co-Op to stop pre-cutting and pre-wrapping its cheese by ranting about the practice on Yelp.

And Price Chopper is unlikely to fight the good fight for reducing people’s exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals simply because I laid out what is hopefully a compelling case in their blog comments.

That’s my illness. It’s a compulsion. I just can’t let things go. Maybe next Sunday we can talk about breakfast again. Perhaps I can hum this song for the rest of the week to keep me on track.

[Note: I’ve noticed my reply to Price Chopper mentioned above is still awaiting moderation (which  is fair). For those who are interested in reading it, I’ve copied it below.]

I am no scientist, but to suggest that BPA, “has been in the news for some time now, and the science continues to evolve” and then citing a handful of studies that declare it safe, including one from 2010, feels dismissive of more current and mounting scientific findings that connect BPA to breast cancer.

The following paragraph comes from an article just earlier this month in Mother Jones magazine. I’ve tried to include the links to all the scientific studies they cite for your review.

The United States’ President’s Cancer Panel concluded in 2010 that "more than 130 studies have linked BPA to breast cancer, obesity, and other health problems." A number of studies have found that the chemical causes breast cancer in lab animals. In human cell cultures, BPA has caused breast cancer cells to proliferate and has also reduced the effectiveness of chemotherapy. In September, a study by the California Pacific Medical Center found that BPA even made healthy breast cells behave like cancer cells and decreased the effectiveness of yet another breast cancer drug. Frighteningly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that BPA is in the urine of more than 90 percent of the United States population. Researchers believe this figure reflects continuous exposure to the chemical.

I don’t know what went into the 2010 statement by the WHO and UN. But Consumer Reports has found that in America, the canned foods they tested contained concentrations of BPA far greater than those that the EPA had designated safe.

If you don’t like reading, you can always watch the video:

Now some have argued that finding an alternative to BPA lined cans isn’t as easy as it may seem. This has me flummoxed since there are already BPA-free lined cans on store shelves. The below link is to a story on the BPA-Breast Cancer link highlights just one of the national manufacturers that has found a solution.

Your support of the fight against breast cancer is to be commended, and I am indeed aware that other products besides canned foods also are part of this promotion.

But as I mentioned to @PriceChoppeNY on Twitter, this whole thing feels very similar to what happened with Yoplait and their support of breast cancer research on their product which contained rBGH.!/FUSSYlittleBLOG/status/124570390138855424

Yoplait ended up reformulating their product after being publicly and nastily accused of pink-washing. Like BPA, there may not be absolute irrefutable scientific proof about a chemical-to-cancer link, but there was a mounting body of evidence.

I’m bringing these studies (both from the realms of science and marketing) to your attention, not to start an argument, or call Price Chopper to task on what I believe was a poor judgment call. But I’m mentioning these things because there is an opportunity for Price Chopper to get ahead of all this and be a true leader in the fight against breast cancer.

Nothing would fill me with greater pride than to be able to say that our local grocery store that has been a strident supporter of breast cancer research, is making a positive change for women’s health by switching to non-BPA lined cans.

Maybe you can even do it by next October in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2012. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 16, 2011 10:38 am

    “Mother effin Shop Rite.” Ha. I think I like a little bit of “free-flowing fussy” every now and again. :)

  2. October 16, 2011 11:47 am

    If it wasn’t for the availability of the butter of Parma which you enlightened me to the existence of at Honest Weight, I would have walked out of that place the minute that dude behind the cheese counter tried pushing me into buying an inferior Parmesan cheese when I specifically asked where the Parmigianno Regianno was and had a chunk of the king in my hand.

    (PS. That butter augments a mean mushroom risotto!)

  3. October 16, 2011 8:03 pm

    Hey – hey! Glad you like the Egg Sandwich idea. Let’s do it! Can we please keep Hamilton Cafe in? It has nearly no online presence and is just delicious (especially their homemade scones).

    I really hope Price Chopper takes you up on the BPA-free suggestion! (If you’re reading this Price Chopper, step up to the plate and get it done.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s