September 2010


First, Ben & Jerry’s decided to remove their ‘All Natural’ label due to public interest group pressure.  Now Log Cabin All-Natural Syrup’s label is being challenged since the product contains only4% maple and comes in a real maple syrup style jug.  Are caramel coloring, xanthan gum and citric acid natural?  The FDA regulates marketing claims (thus, Log Cabi is removing the coloring), and Vermont has it’s own maple syrup regulations, but the term “natural” is not defined from a production process standpoint under federal law like the word “organic” under the Organic Foods Production Act.

Read the newspaper artcile here.  The full Amtrak report, entitled “A Vision for High-Speed Rail in the Northeast Corridor,” can be downloaded here.

The article states: Ben & Jerry’s agreed to remove the “all natural” labeling after the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Science in the Public Interest questioned the claim last month, saying ingredients such as alkalized cocoa, corn syrup and partially hydrogenated soybean oil “either don’t exist in nature or have been chemically modified.”

This is a general problem with food labeling.  What does “natural” mean?  What does “organic” mean? As an example, if you see the USDA Organic Label, it means the product could only be 95% organic, unless it specifically says “100% organic.”

Politico reports:

Election Data Services, which reviewed new Census data from a private-sector demographic firm, estimates Florida will gain two House seats and New York will lose two seats in December’s reapportionment. Texas is expected to gain four House seats and Ohio likely will lose two seats. Six states each would gain one seat: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington. Eight states would lose one seat: Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. … Missouri will lose a House seat instead of Minnesota.

This is bad news for Obama and the Dems, and good news for the 2012 Republican nominee, as most of the gains go to states won by McCain in 2008: AZ, GA, SC, UT, TX.  And the Florida battle increases in importance.

For those readers interested and concerned about large scale commodity agriculture in the U.S., the reliance of the American diet upon corn and high fructose corn syrup (read Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma), obesity, and/or the carbon footprint of corn (see this article), this video may be of concern.

I’m kind of a political junkie so I’ve added “Politics” to by blog’s subtitle.  And when I’m completely swamped with work, I often pickup a political book to read.  This past weekend I bought “The Audacity to Win” by David Plouffe, Obama’s campaign manager.  The book so far (I’m half done) is a great read for political gurus and those who like inside baseball. Some initial thoughts:

  • While Obama’s strategy in Iowa was phenomenal, I’m still not sure what happened in New Hamsphire.  Plouffe suggests some ideas (Republicans/Independents who thought Obama had it in the bag and voted for McCain in the GOP Primary instead; Hillary Clinton’s emotional moment), but I would have liked to know a bit more about the numbers.  Also, it was clear early on that Obama had an Iowa strategy (win or go home), but I’m not convinced their NH strategy at the early stages was anything more than ride the wave of the Iowa victory.
  • Plouffe is hard on the campaign about how they handled Texas.  He argues they messed up, and rather than going for delegate counts in Ohio and Texas, they should have made a political decision to go all-in and win Texas, even if it meant giving up delegates in Ohio.  I just think this is wrong, and Plouffe is too hard on himself.  They had fixed on a two possible strategies after winning Iowa, (1) win NH and its over, and (2) a delegate fight. Making the decision they did make in Texas and Ohio showed the campaign’s discipline.  I will say that they did the political thing and went all-in in the Indiana primary much later, and that this worked to their benefit.
  • There is no doubt that Hillary Clinton was a very formidable candidate, would have won the nomination in  any other year, and that Obama was benefited in the general from the drawn out primary season.  Clinton’s strength was evinced in her ability to stay in the race after 11 defeats in a row by huge margins leading up to the PA primary.
  • I wonder whether the 2008 Democratic nomination will change perceptions in the media and public about how to win the nomination.  While momentum and big states will always matter, will delegate acquisition be the public strategy/story causing candidates to stay in the race longer that they might have in previous years?  Maybe, but still difficult given the realities of funding a campaign.
  • Money matters… a lot.  And I found the Plouffe argument in the book for why Obama opted out of public financing for the general election to be quite compelling.  The summary: staying in the system arguably cost Kerry the election in 2004.
  • On the VP front, the book explains that Clinton was given serious consideration, but that the finalists were Joe Biden, Evan Bayh, and Tim Kaine.  I would have liked to know more about how these three became the finalists and who was on the longer list.

I’m now at the point in the book where the Obama Campaign is going to announce its VP choice.

Check out this fascinating article and the accompanying photos/designs about Masdar, a being built 20 miles from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

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