Thursday, July 03, 2014

Batch of links

- A selection of new food products that seems just delightful!

- What is sushi-grade fish? This is important to know (and if you fishmonger doesn’t seem to know, don’t eat his fish raw!).

- The three foods food experts won’t eat – The Engineer will feel vindicated to see sprouts on that list, albeit for entirely different reasons than he might think.

- More proof that gluten-free dining in Italy is easier than almost anywhere else.

- Rethinking the word “foodie”, which does seem to have a negative meaning. To me, it means “someone who enjoys food”, and that’s probably 95% of the people I’ve met.

- Also, 8 words nutrition experts wish you would stop saying about food.

- An article by Michael Ruhlman about our carb confusion, and why we should say that food is “nutritious” instead of “healthy”.

- Did you know there are edible cupcake wrappers?

- The proper way to cut a cake, if you don’t mind stomping on tradition.

- A group of San Francisco hospitals is revamping its menus with food that is healthier, more sustainable and savory. I feel that hospitals have the biggest mission to do this (and given what I ate when in the hospital last summer, I wish all facilities would follow suit.)

- Tesla Motors has given up all its patents, and I can’t wait to see what creation this generates.

- Journalist Esther Honig asked over 20 Photoshop artists from all over the world to alter her picture and make her “beautiful”, whatever that meant for them. The results are very interesting, as it seems that no one quite agrees, and some artists modified her picture a lot! It won’t surprise anyone that the more natural-looking shots are my favorite, including the original, undoctored one.

- And here are my thoughts on the big issue of the moment. The SCOTUS issued a ruling Monday that despite federal law, certain closely-held, for-profit companies don’t have to cover contraceptives with their health insurance – they can claim a religious exemption. I was following this pretty closely because of the suit brought on by Hobby Lobby (which I am still boycotting, more to my detriment than theirs). The judges were split 5-4, and interestingly, all three women were in the minority who believed that an employer’s religion should not matter as much as an employee’s. The reason I say this is because I still believe that while people are entitled to their own beliefs, one cannot impose one’s beliefs on others. So if one doesn’t believe in birth control, then one has the right not to use it, but not to right to prevent others from using it. As Seth Rogen tweeted, “People love defending people’s rights to deprive other people of their rights.”

I am also appalled that Hobby Lobby and others have been granted the right to decide whether a particular birth control method is an abortifacent. They’ve decided that IUDs are abortifacents and so won’t cover them, but even if one were to accept “preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus” as a definition of an abortion (which it isn’t, but let’s say so for the sake of the argument), that’s not actually how IUDs work. IUDs are one of the safest, most used form of reversible long-term birth control, which is a scientific fact not up for debate. On that topic, I strongly recommend this article which deconstructs the most common conservative arguments in favor of the ruling, and I’d also like to point out that despite all this, Hobby Lobby continues to invest 401(k) funds in companies that, according to their own stated religious beliefs, provide aborticafents.

Within 24 hours, 82 companies had announced that they would also consider dropping birth control coverage. (While Hobby Lobby was initially opposed only to some forms of birth control like emergency contraceptives, it appears that some companies are now opting out of any and all forms of birth control coverage.) The original SCOTUS decision impacted 15,000 employees, though I don’t know how many would be un-covered by the 82 lying in wait so far. That being said, closely-held for-profits are about 90% of companies in America, employing about half the workforce – not that they would all want to deny birth control coverage, but this just gives you an idea of how far this ruling could reach. Plus, the court has specifically ruled that it will not inquire into religious claims, so setting this precedent could be very dangerous indeed. What about religions that don’t believe in antidepressants or vaccines? This article explains the downfalls of the ruling.

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