February 8, 2016
Are you a woman of childbearing age? Do you binge drink constantly and have unprotected sex on the reg? Well, the CDC wants you to know that you’re putting a potential child’s life at risk with your irresponsible behavior. This message was at the center of a mini-firestorm last week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a press release telling women between 15- and 44-years-old they need to either quit drinking entirely or get on birth control. Some couldn’t understand why seemingly reasonable advice was so offensive. Luckily, there are many smart, snarky, female writers out there who leapt at the task of explaining why looking at women as existing in a...
January 19, 2016
Most people accept as gospel the nutritional limits set by government organizations. So, when the Centers for Disease Control releases a report saying that 89 percent of Americans are consuming almost twice the daily recommended limit for sodium, we tend to pay attention. In last week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly, CDC researchers found that adult men and women in this country are eating about 50 to 100 percent more sodium than the recommended 2,300 mg daily limit, despite more than a decade of telling us to cut it out. And they suggest the way to finally get us to change our sodium munching ways is to convince food manufacturers to do it for us—to lower the content of processed foods. Considering we get on average 70 percent of our sodium from processed or prepared foods, this...
January 14, 2016
Growing up lactose intolerant, I was fond of saying that drinking milk post-infanthood was unnatural. Then I found out that humans aren’t the only ones in the animal kingdom to keep and care for another species in order to take its produce. This week, a writer at Jezebel wrote an amusing clickbait article—and an effective one if my Facebook feed is any indicator—echoing my childhood sentiment that adults drinking milk is weird and they shouldn’t do it.
Setting aside her really bad arguments (e.g., adult humans shouldn’t drink milk because no other animals do so), her “best,” or at least most reasonable, argument centers...
January 7, 2016
As expected, the nutritional guidelines for 2015-2020 thankfully excised the long-standing warning against cholesterol-laden food in the wake of several decades of research demonstrating that the original warning was neither based on scientific evidence. However, the updated guidelines still advise Americans limit saturated fat and, in attempt to push Americans toward a plant-based diet, limit meat consumption. The consequences of such advice might not only fail to improve Americans’ diets, but may exacerbate the obesity problem in America.
While stopping short of recommending that Americans eat a plant-based diet for...
January 5, 2016
This week we learned that U.K. craft brewery Camden Town was the latest in a long string of purchases by the international mega-brewery AB-InBev (makers of Budweiser). Predictably, craft beer “purists” were immediately out on social media calling Camden Town’s owners “sellouts” who are betraying consumers and the craft beer spirit. While fans of the brewery are understandably worried that their beloved beers might change, these kinds of transactions are good and necessary for the continued growth of the craft beer sector.
The profit motive and ethics aren’t exclusive. It is possible for someone to build a business that follows a strict...
January 1, 2016
2015 was a big year for health and consumer news. Unfortunately, many of the biggest stories were viral in the true sense of the word: spreading misinformation and unscientific rumors like a disease, leading journalist Christopher Snowdon to title his year-end roundup “the Limitless Stupidity of 2015.” That said, there were a handful of positive developments for consumers and those championing science-based policy. Below, I list what I consider to be the best, worst, and biggest consumer developments during 2015.
December 23, 2015Nobody wants to drive an hour over the border just to get booze, especially on Christmas Day. However, 27 states in the union still have blue laws—hangover regulations from Prohibition—that could cause headaches for those shoppers who failed to finish their alcohol shopping early.
December 11, 2015
Wednesday’s hearing was not good for those hoping to make a case for a national online gambling prohibition. While the House Oversight Committee hearing was supposed to breathe life into the languishing proposal to ban online gambling, it ended up being more like a group dead-horse beating. Members on both sides of the aisle seemed well-informed and well-opposed to the idea of the federal government intervening where the states have been doing a good job of regulating this nascent industry.
In his opening remarks, Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah)—who sponsored the bill to create a federal online gaming ban—stated that a the DOJ’s 2011 opinion that the 1961 Wire act applied online to sports betting, resulted in “anything connected to the internet, desktops, laptops...
December 8, 2015
Tomorrow the House Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Casino in Every Smartphone – Law Enforcement Implications,” to discuss the ramifications of the legal online gambling market that has arisen in the last two years. As one might glean from the oh-so-objective title, the hearing’s architect, committee Chairmen Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) isn’t exactly keen on letting Americans legally gamble online. As with last March’s Judiciary hearing, the witness list is stacked against anyone hoping to hear a rational discussion of the truly important law enforcement challenges likely to surface in this nascent market. However, unlike the previous hearing, OGR is a far less friendly committee when it comes to Chaffetz’s attempt to create a...
December 4, 2015
Tomorrow, December 5, many of us will raise a glass in celebration of Repeal Day—the anniversary of the end of that disastrous experiment of alcohol prohibition in the U.S. For most, the era of prohibition feels distant and forgotten; we assume because it ended more than 80 years ago, every last remnant of it is dead and buried. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Despite the passage of the 21st Amendment, which officially repealed prohibition, aspects of the prohibition-era mentality live on in the form of state and local-level bans on alcohol sales on Sundays, Election Days and Holidays like Christmas. There’s also the three-tiered system which was set up after prohibition’s repeal, which forces...