Snake-Oil Salesmen vs. Snake Oil-Salesmen, Part 1

The black-banded sea krait

Snake oil actually works.

Did you know that? I didn’t until recently. “Snake oil” has become a byword for useless and even harmful products that are marketed on the basis of false claims. When you call something “snake oil,” you’re saying it doesn’t live up to its hype.  There is a lot of snake oil in modern life: spiritual snake oil, political snake oil, organizational and corporate snake oil, even conspiracy theory snake oil.  Bullshit abounds under many brand names.

Except … actual snake oil, which really does work. Confused? Stay with me.

First, a little biochemistry. Some of you, like me, take a fish oil supplement in hopes of upping your intake of healthful Omega-3 fatty acids. When catalyzed in the body, Omega-3 fatty acids break down into two long-chain acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexenoic acid (DHA). If you look at the back of your bottle of fish oil, you might even see a nutritional listing for these components.

Eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA

EPA is wonderful stuff that we hardly get enough of in the typical American diet. (The reason for that is a topic for another post.) It is beneficial to the cardiovascular system in many ways, as well as the nervous system and the immune system.  EPA can be an effective remedy for depression.  EPA has strong anti-inflammatory properties, whether taken internally … or absorbed through the skin.

This last point is the key. If you had sore muscles, achy and inflamed; or joints creaky with bursitis or arthritis, say, from a long day of building transcontinental railroads; then rubbing some oil infused with EPA would be an effective remedy for reducing the swelling and pain.

In fact, such an ointment has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine. It is derived, not from a fish, but from another cold-blooded aquatic creature, the black-banded sea krait. And so it was that when the early Chinese immigrants came to America and found work in the grueling occupation of building railroad across the mountains and prairies, they attended to their aching muscles and joints with a liniment from the old country—snake oil. They used it because it worked.

But this pain-relieving and muscle-soothing ointment was a problem for certain folks. Not because it was derived from the oils of innocent snakes, but because it cut into the market for the patent medicine business that was booming in the Wild West. Patent medicines were cheap concoctions of supposedly exotic ingredients, laced with opium or cocaine or cannabis or infused into grain alcohol or mineral oil. They were sold as cures for every illness then known. But in fact, they were largely ineffective and often harmful and even fatal.

How do you grow your market share when you keep killing your regular customers? Paint your strongest competitor’s product with the blackest brush you can find. Scoff at the idea of “oil from snakes.” Mock the immigrants who use it. Make the term “snake oil” a synonym for “eyewash” and “bullshit.” “Competition is sin,” said John D. Rockefeller—so make the other guy’s product seems sinful.

Or, do what his daddy did: copy the competition’s formula, but use cheaper ingredients. And so some of the hucksters developed their own “snake oil,” but instead of compounding it from sea snakes rich in Omega 3 fatty acids (due to dwelling in colder habitats that promote production of Omega-3 over Omega-6), the quacks used plain old ornery rattlesnakes that they found around the American West. Whose bodies were much lower in EPA content. Or like Clark Stanley, they used plain old mineral oil. These ineffective nostrums, marketed under the name “snake oil,” served only to destroy the reputation of the original Chinese medicine completely.

While we’re on the subject of mineral oil quackery, let’s get back to the oil family. For it was William Rockefeller, Sr., patriarch of that dynasty, that got the family into the pharmaceutical business. One of his ventures was precisely in the field of patent medicine. He sold Nujol, which was simply unrefined petroleum in a bottle. It was touted as a remedy for cancer, but it caused more carcinomas than it ever cured. Later it was marketed as a laxative: in this application it was effective, but at the cost of stripping oil-soluble nutrients out of the body. Eventually Nujol was limited to industrial uses only. The product still exists. Curiously, Nujol’s Wikipedia entry does not mention its history as a killer concoction, except via an external link. Likewise, the Wikipedia entry for William Rockefeller, Sr. trips lightly past his misdeeds as a peddler of poison.

The Rockefellers continued on in the patent medicine business. One of the by-products of petroleum refining is benzene, and benzenes are the building blocks from which most every modern prescription drug is made. And so the Rockefellers developed benzene-based drugs, while at the same time lavishing their oil profits on medical schools around America. On the condition, of course, that the schools receiving these funds also emphasized the use of benzene-based drugs as the sole regimen for cures.

Their legacy is the hyper-prescribing health system we have today in the USA, based on the distribution of pharmaceuticals, to the exclusion of any other healing modality. Makia Freeman summed it up nicely: “Western medicine is Rockefeller medicine.” When you go to an MD, you are visiting a vendor for benzene-based concoctions … but what your body probably needs is better food and not petroleum.  More vitamins and minerals. More essential amino acids and fatty acids. More EPA. In other words, what your body needs is more genuine snake oil, and not that fake oil of the two-legged sales-snakes.

But this series of essays is not about health advice or even the medical-industrial complex. It is about the power of perception, and how easy it is to distort.  And how certain groups have made it their standard operating practice to conquer by subversion and blackwashing.

Snake oil actually works … but I never knew that, because someone over a century ago worked quite hard to subvert the good name of the product and has worked since then to suppress the science behind it.

Guess what else works better than Bill Rockefeller’s petroleum substitute?

72 thoughts on “Snake-Oil Salesmen vs. Snake Oil-Salesmen, Part 1

  1. A series about the “power of perception.” I’m intrigued. You’re off to a smashing start.

    I’ve recently begun to appreciate the healing powers of herbs and “essential oils.” Oregano oil, for example, is so powerful that one drop on your skin will burn through you like hot coals. As you state, these oils can be ingested, applied topically, or utilized as aromatherapy. But finding truthful information and untainted products is a challenge since it threatens the bottom line, as you have so eloquently pointed out.

    (I disagree with your inclusion of cannabis with cocaine, opium, and grain alcohol.)


  2. I don’t believe in panaceas or miracle cures. If you have pains then your body is fighting some damage. Just give it time. Either it goes away or nothing will help. Meanwhile eat healthy, keep in shape, stay positive.


      1. I am not any sort of guru on this stuff … just stubborn. We have been travelling since the beginning of the month, and my diet has gone to hell. I have been ordering pizza marguerite or pasta ragu* and I’ve been drinking European beer, which is very mild. I will be afraid to look at the scale at home, but to compensate we have walked some 90 miles and climbed and descended 12,000 feet. I don’t feel like my descent into bad eating has cost me.

        What I notice about most people is this: When they say “eating healthy” (I am not picking on you B. Muller, as this is widespread) they generally mean that they are avoiding meats and eating more fruits and vegetables. But why is that healthier than meat? I remember some years back that the cranberry industry was trying to get itself listed under the “healthy” lable and so there appeared a study that found that cranberries are good for urinary tract health. They are not. That was just science following the money. Cranberries make a nice sauce but have no health benefits I know of. But it goes back in time … “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Really? Was that a scientific study, or just early advertising? Oranges are a good source of vitamin C, but only one of many. Bananas are loaded with potassium, we are told, but how many of those tubes must one eat to get enough?

        It seems that every fruit and vegetable has its own ad agency. I have a bag at home that says “American Potato Council.” Really? Potatoes have a council?

        Whatever the value of these various foods, advertising has convinced people that fruits and vegetables are healthy, meat is not. I beg to differ. I avoid most vegetables and all fruits save strawberries, which I love. I eat primarily meat, cheese, eggs and a slight amount of bread each day. I have no (knock on wood) health issues of any kind except that I am aging. Am I in a car headed for a cliff? It does not feel like it.

        *”Ragu” in Italy is tomato/meat sauce. “Prego,” another American brand of spaghetti sauce, but that word in Italy merely means Thank You.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I second this. My people in the old days (about a century ago) lived to be quite old. They ate almost no sugar or sweets, had very limited access to fruit and dairy products, and certainly ate none of the modern foods we have now. Their diet consisted about 90% of fish/sea food, dark green vegetables, potatoes, and bread. Mind you that they grew their own all of their own vegetables and potatoes and made bread from non-industrialized wheat that they grew and milled themselves. Anything they ate they had to either kill or grow themselves. However you slice it, our diet consists of 90% garbage. Our grandparents and great grandparents probably wouldn’t identify most of what we eat today as “food”. Or they probably would have fed it to the pigs as slops.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Mark, I’m from Texas so I love a good steak…but I am now aware of how badly animals are treated while raised on “industrial farms”. I have to wonder how the suffering of the animal might affect the quality of the meat produced by such farming methods. I currently limit my meat consumption to organic chicken, grown locally if possible, and I only buy eggs that are “certified as cage-free”…even that can be tricky because labels lie and “cage-free” can mean that the laying hens are cage-free but packed in an enclosed structure and never see sunlight.


          1. Mark, They lie, they lie, they lie….am I being taken in by propaganda? I’ve seen horrible videos that show ungodly treatment of animals.


          2. It is always a crapshoot, Annette. We are left to judge for ourselves. There is a gal working at Colorado State (or once was) named Tempel Grandin, and I thought she had some good things to say. Animals cannot anticipate the future, so she advised the cattle industry on ways of keeping animals free of worry until it was too late. After all, they would not be alive for any other reason than that we raised them for food. She is a tool, no doubt, but that made sense to me. There would not be millions of chickens and turkeys in the wild. We made them. Our only obligation is to keep them reasonably happy before we kill them. Same with all animals, give them a way to enjoy life up until that moment when slash! It is over. They never know what hits them. Sounds cold and callous, I know.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I’m not a fan of wild meat, tastes gamey to me….but you are so correct, it is certainly more fair to the animal that is able to enjoy its life before it becomes a food source.

              Liked by 1 person

          3. Going off of this: I had a talk with the receptionist the other day at the dentists office when I went to get my teeth cleaned. She was a very nice lady and we started gabbing about all sorts of things. Anyhoo, she’s older than me (I’m in the second half of my 30s) and I said to her “Is is just me, or does food just not taste as good as it used to taste?” She wholeheartedly agreed with me. Food used to taste GREAT! Now it’s just heavily seasoned cardboard and cotton. I don’t know diddly about agriculture, so I won’t even venture a guess. But, as Andrew Zimmern himself said on his show, they’ve bred the flavor out of pork. Why they would do such a thing I don’t know. All I know is that I haven’t had a decent pork chop in years. Or chicken, or beef, or whichever other animal based protein for that matter.

            We also got to talking about teeth. I’ve had about 2-3 cavities in my entire life, and I’ve had 2 wisdom teeth pulled. I also didn’t start visiting the dentist before the age of 20. That is the extent of the dental work I’ve had. My parents couldn’t afford braces, so I’m lucky to have teeth that grew in straight. Now that I’m getting older I have them cleaned regularly. My parents brought their old world diet along with them here. For example, my father prohibited the consumption of factory made bread or any and all store bought sweets, salty snacks, soda, canned food, etc. in our home. When I was a child I hated it. Now I can see that my father was a visionary. He could tell unhealthy food just by looking at it.

            I then said to the receptionist that one of my students told me he couldn’t come to class because he had an appointment for a root canal. The kid is about 18-20 years old. The receptionist started shaking her head and she told me that a huge number of young people are having dental work that was once upon a time mostly reserved for older people. Like the root canal, or having crowns installed, or implants even. I made a point of asking her if she believes that people have worse teeth now than before. She answered with an unequivocal “yes”. Apparently, within the last 3o years or so young peoples’ teeth have being going to hell. Like I said, garbage, garbage, garbage.


            1. Glyphosate herbicide and genetically modified food is destroying the earth, our food supply and our health…here is a link to a PDF by MIT researcher, Dr Stephanie Seneff…it is long, but there are pictures and graphics. It explains a lot. Monsanto is one of the worst of the “snake oil” producers out there…their name is so hated by people that know what their products have done (think Viet Nam and Agent Orange) that they are merging with Bayer so they can get rid of the Mon”satan” name. I have written an article that will be published on POM next week and will share more of Dr Seneff’s knowledge as well as my recovery from usage of harmful pharmaceuticals.

              Click to access Oahu2015.pdf


            2. The 2008 “Food, Inc” documentary, produced by Robert Kenner, is very good, very eye-opening. It is available to watch free if you have a Netflix subscription. It can also be streamed/rented from Vudu or Amazon Prime for $3.


          4. Yes Ann, October and November in Europe (and I imagine in the climatically similar zones of North America too) are great for wild meat. Also with Christmas it was tradition in my family to eat wild meat (wild boar, deer, rabbit) as opposed to turkey which is a much more US American tradition. I was in Cuba with Christmas and there the tradition is to eat pork.

            The squeaking was horrible to hear, but my curiosity was spawned by the sound when I was there. Literally 8 men dragging a pig to weigh it on a scale on the street. 410 kilos (so like 900 pounds or so?), no joking…. nothing to do with hunting unfortunately.


  3. Ladies and gentlemen, note down below or off the the side that I have added the Bonkers Institute for Nearly Genuine Research to the blogroll. I think it came from Annette. I found it very funny. It’s take on the DSM is dead-on realisitic and funny, trying to keep up with disorders to match the growth in pills.


    1. I learned of that site from Patrick Jordan. I shared it on my Facebook page because it is so well done. I was laughing so hard while reading some of the content, but the material is deadly serious. I don’t know why I bother sharing important information on Facebook, nobody seems to care…..but share a recipe video and everyone chimes in.
      Folks, take a look, and please check out the links under the title “Read the Institutes Latest Studies” There is also a “sitemap” at the bottom of the homepage. The link is on the right sidebar of the blog, but here it is for your convenience.


  4. Maarten, Fantastic article, I am well aware of the Rockefeller involvement in the creation of “allopathic” medicine and petroleum-based pharmaceuticals.

    They managed to marginalize homeopathy and if anyone has even heard of homeopathy, they regard it as useless. It used to be a standard of medical care until as you said so well :
    “Rockefellers developed benzene-based drugs, while at the same time lavishing their oil profits on medical schools around America. On the condition, of course, that the schools receiving these funds also emphasized the use of benzene-based drugs as the sole regimen for cures.”

    Rockefeller money drove homeopathy into extinction.


  5. Mark, I know that we are the only “animals” that know we will one day die. It isn’t the killing of cattle, pigs, and chickens that is the problem. It is the conditions in which they are kept that I find so horrific. They do feel pain and have no way to undo or correct the life they have to endure. I seriously worry that our health can suffer because we are eating animals that have suffered. I may be way off track, but it pains me to think about it.


  6. Regarding chickens – video – 1st sunshine for 752 rescued “battery hens” – egg-laying hens….very emotional, very heartwarming


      1. Pau, what a beautiful video, that you for sharing. Chickens allowed to roam freely and live the way God intended. Eggs from chickens raised free-range have to be more beneficial to human health than eggs gathered from chickens confined to very small cages.


  7. as for the good old times, where people are told to live long, ate healthier, etc. I’m not so sure that really was the case. Well maybe in USA where they had huge amounts and a variety of vegetables and fruits, beef raised only for meat, etc. In entire Europe there always was shortage of food to some degree. The majority of people got full only on some rare occasions like on Christmas or Eastern holidays. That’s why those holidays were invented in the first place. For the most of their lives people had to suffer malnutrition. That’s why all those famous plaques or epidemics happened. Think of famous kings and aristocracy. They did not live longer than us today. In the USA this may be a bit different. But even there people still remember the times where many were very poor and few very rich. It is just for the past few decades, that we have an excess of food for everybody. People just still did not adjust themselves to the fact, they won’t get hungry anymore. The reason for the obesity everywhere is the memory of the past. We still try to eat as much as we can when we can instead of eat as much as necessary and only when necessary. And we enforce this on our kids. And this just started to change. My kids don’t have this memory of shortage of food and the fear of getting hungry anymore. They stop to eat, when they feel full and almost never eat up. We don’t force them of course and they are well fed and in good shapes.


    1. Didn’t George III live to ripe old age? Likewise, to name a few – Victoria, Henry III, James VI of Scotland, and David II of Scotland (check out his portrait -


      1. some of them did of course as some of the poor folks lived long. Some of the “elite” today also lives extraordinary long but also regular people do. It must be in the genes. I have two relatives almost 100 years old now. Nutrition is only one factor which can shorten our live. I’m also convinced, the timing must be right. When you’re young you have to eat good, when you’re old you can live from bread and water and be better off.


    2. Plenty of food doesn’t equal good food quality and proper nutrition. IMO, the elites want us fat and “happy”. Too many people can only afford fast food and can “fill up” from the $3 menu at McDonald’s or spend $5 on a “$5 Fill up Meal” at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Hungar is satisfied, but the cost to health is staggering. Fast food is so cheap, it wouldn’t surprise me to find that companies like McDonald’s, Taco Bell, KFC etc are actually subsidized by the government to keep it cheap so people continue running back for more.


      1. that’s not entirely true. Even with McDonald food you can eat properly and avoid malnutrition. It maybe hard to stop eating when it seems to taste so good but then it is up to you, no? And there is not only an excess but also a huge choice and diversity of food. Nobody is forced to consume fast food. You can always cook for yourself and this is not a question of having enough money anymore. Vegetables and fruits are cheap and available the entire year and there always is cheap meat everywhere. What else do you need? Just don’t complain you can’t afford caviar or lobster (or whatever you cannot afford and desire). In fact, the more expensive the less healthy those things are. Of course the government wants you fat and happy as it wants you stupid and scared, yet still it is up to you. You can eat what you want as you can educate yourself as you want. It’s all there for everybody. Life was never so easy before and still people complain more and more.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. there are people that are very poor and they can’t make that least here in California…fresh veggies prices etc are prohibitive

          there is an extremely eye-opening documentary called “Food, Inc”, I don’t know if it is available to watch in your country, but I highly recommend it.


          1. Yesterday in the supermarket I saw an offer for 5 liters of Coca Cola for the ridiculous price of 3 USD…
            Compare that to bottled water that would cost 5.2 USD for the same amount of liquid.

            That is insane, no matter how someone spins it.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. don’t you have discounters in California? No Aldi? Apples, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Potatoes or Eggs are that expensive in California?
            By the way: a six pack (3 Liter) of Belgian beer costs in “my” Aldi 1.75 EUR. Water is only slightly cheaper. A person can now live healthy for less than 5$ (or 5 EUR) a day. Is that expensive? That makes about 150$ per month. How much do you get from the welfare in California?


          3. There are two problems here in America, B. Mueller. First, in large swaths of our inner cities, there are no real grocery stores but only mini-marts and convenience stores. The selection of produce is very limited and of low quality. Something like a fresh, crisp head of green cabbage is simply unobtainable for the hundreds of thousands of people who live in the middle of the big cities.

            Secondly, even for those of us with access to supermarkets and even farmer’s markets, the produce itself has been declining in nutritional value over the last eight decades due to soil depletion. Basic principles of agronomy have been forgotten, and genetic modification yields fruits and vegetables that look pretty but have little flavor and subpar nutrients. I wrote a piece about this a while back, which you can find here:


        2. Sorry, B. Mueller … usually I enjoy your insights, but I have to address something else in your remark about eating healthy at McDonald’s. As a European, you have no idea how poor the McDonald’s food is here in America compared to what you are served there. It is widely acknowledged that the quality, flavor, presentation, and nutritive value of fast food is far worse here in the USA than in the same chain’s restaurants in Europe. Some links first:

          … and unlike in Germany, the US McDonald’s don’t sell beer!

          So if you go to McDonald’s for lunch in America, here’s how to eat healthy there:

          -Take your quarter-pounder and throw away the glyphosate-tainted and high-sugar-content bun.
          -Scrape off the under-ripe sliver of tomato and the shreds of iceberg lettuce, which offer only texture but little flavor and almost zero nutrients.
          -Pick off the slice of American cheese, laced with bovine hormones, broad-spectrum cattle antibiotics, and produced by corn-fed cows, tilting the proper balance of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids into an unhealthy zone.
          -Toss the “all-beef ” (wink, wink) patty too, for the same reasons as the cheese.
          -Then dump out your soft drink because either (a) it is loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, or (b) it is sweetened artificially with chemicals that play hob with the human endocrine system.
          -Pitch your french fries, which here in the USA have 14 ingredients compared to only 4 in the UK (potatoes, salt, frying oil, and dextrose in certain seasons).

          And if you super-size your meal, you will still get zero calories when you trash it, but a little more exercise from the extra weight.

          I would skip a meal rather than eat anything at an American McDonald’s. In fact, I have been put in the position of having to do so. I know that I will feel worse in the long run if I eat it than if I just power through the hunger pangs.

          Liked by 2 people

  8. of course the best would be if you had access to totally fresh, beautifully looking and smelling ingredients but even the not so good looking will not damage your health. Just don’t be picky, if there’s no choice. A burger from McDonald is not less nutritious than a burger in a restaurant even if it does not look or taste as good. That all is not the point. You can always have a certain variety of food, which is the main point of good nutrition. Just eat different things every day and make sure there is always some salad included and you won’t get any problems. A few decades ago it wasn’t that easy especially during winter where the choice in the groceries was reduced to very few vegetables and fruits. Even those things in cans or frozen or dry food is healthy and tasteful, if prepared properly. Cooking always takes some time and effort. If you don’t want to cook, go to any fast food restaurant of your choice and just make sure your order contains some salad. A lunch by McDonald made of a burger, fries, salad and a drink costs what? 6-12 Eur here, depending what you order. You can have it cheaper somewhere else. Or take just the burger and the salad and drink water in your place. Next day you can go to Pizza Hut or Taco Bell. I assure you, you can eat healthy even there. It is up to you. Of course you can also eat very unhealthy and nobody will stop you doing this. As I said, people still didn’t adjust themselves to the excess of food we have today and don’t have the discipline to eat properly. But it is the problem of the consumers not of the producers. Don’t put it on the producers. It is not their fault, if you get fat. Don’t expect others to force you to live healthy. As for the dangerous ingredients in the fast food, they are only dangerous if you eat to much. I’m sure a burger a day won’t harm you and a burger a day will do for a grown up who does not do heavy work. It doesn’t have to be the quarter-pounder dear Maarten, if you want to stay in shape. I also don’t think the difference between American and European McDonald is that big if any. It is crap made of cheapest ingredients everywhere, I don’t eat it because I like to cook and can afford better food. But even the cheapest meat is not harmful. It just doesn’t taste as good as filet. And all that glyphosat, sugar, hormones or whatever in it is not the reason for obesity. It is the amount of what people eat. I could write pages after pages about it. You guys have to understand and accept that it is you who’s responsible for your own health not the producers, not the corporations, not TPTB.


      1. Dear Maarten, I think you’re being defensive. Muller stated that the next day you can go to Taco Bell. It’s all good.

        Taco Bell has printed ingredients on its web site for years and no one’s bothered to read them until now. That’s been a good thing for the company. It’s not just tacos. Here are the many bizarre ingredients for the Southwest Chicken: Chicken Breast Meat With Rib Meat, Water, Seasoning [Salt, Maltodextrin, Spices, Garlic Powder, Chili Pepper, Paprika, Onion Powder, Carrageenan, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Natural Flavoring, Mixed Triglycerides, Yeast, Modified Corn Starch, Corn Syrup Solids, Yeast Extract, Alginates (Sodium, Calcium And/Or Ammonium), Cellulose, Calcium Chloride, Sodium Benzoate Used To Protect Quality, Not More Than 2% Silicon Dioxide Added To Prevent Caking, Soybean Oil], Modified Food Starch, Sodium Phosphates Soy Lecithin (Used As A Processing Aid)

        The Mango Frutista Freeze doesn’t have any mango in it and the nacho cheese sauce isn’t real cheese. I could go on, but the point is that companies with successful consumer brands shouldn’t pretend to be something they’re not. Taco Bell’s message should have been that they sell reliable, tasty products that are practically free. A lot of customers, especially those who can’t or don’t want to pay more for their food, probably would have just accepted that.


        1. Can I get that with some propylene glycol on the side? It’s no good without the shot of antifreeze that I have come to expect in my processed foods.


    1. What planet are you living on? You seem to spend way too much time writing many paragraphs of total nonsense…this in particular
      ” And all that glyphosat, sugar, hormones or whatever in it is not the reason for obesity. It is the amount of what people eat. I could write pages after pages about it. You guys have to understand and accept that it is you who’s responsible for your own health not the producers, not the corporations, not TPTB.”

      I would prefer you no longer write page after page of your particular brand of BS!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In the US I try to live free of excess carbs and sugar. In so doing, I am at a good weight and have kept it for years. In Europe recently I gave up the effort and ate pasta and pizza and drank beer, fearing when I got home I would be ten pounds heavier. However, I had not gained an ounce. It made me wonder … despite our different diets, with Europeans (Italians anyway) much more into pastas, pizzas and pastries, yet it is rare there to see anyone obese as we do here – everywhere. I noticed the same thing in Spain, such incredibly attractive people. Here, just going to the grocery store I noticed that just about everyone I saw was carrying extra weight, men especially carrying huge guts (women tend to collect the weight in their abdomens and butts).

        I don’t think we know everything to be known about diets, and do think there is something very wrong with our American one, salty restaurant food (salt makes us retain water) and fast food that barely qualifies as food. Maybe it can be reduced to Coca Cola, as I saw very little if that on shelves over there.


        1. While stationed in Naples, Italy. (RED FLAG ALERT! I was in the Navy in the 80’s but have no fear; it was a debacle. They let me out six months early with an admin discharge because I was such a miserable bastard.) Anyway, we had a McDonald’s on the American base and the only thing that the Italians would order there was Coffee…actually I don’t recall ever seeing them eat anything. Maybe a fish filet. We also had a NATO base that included an American mess hall and an Italian one. I almost always ate at the Italian one since I would emerge feeling healthy and ready to take on the day. The American one just made me lethargic.

          Italians do eat pasta and pizza, but it is prepared much differently. You don’t get “Spaghetti and Meatballs” or “Pepperoni and Extra Cheese.” The things we call Italian Bread and Italian Restaurants don’t compare. They take pride in the preparation of their food, right down to the sandwich carts and roadside chicken vendors. It’s been three decades, but I doubt much has changed.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Oh yes. Italians and their culinary pride. I enjoyed Naples, now 10 years ago. Best pizza ever.
            Luckily my wife has Italian ancestry and that shows in her cooking!

            Mark probably can expand on it, but the best Italian food outside of Italy would be Buenos Aires, basically 3/4 Italian in origin anyway…


        2. The same here Mark. The Colombian cuisine is not as good as neighboring Peruvian (but nothing is) and people eat a lot of corn-based stuff, with a meal here you normally get AND pasta AND rice AND potatoes next to a large chunk of meat with the most common vegetable the fatty (but nice) avocado.

          I think it boils down to the enormous amount of processed food you have there in the US. Here at least most of it is natural/biological in origin. Of course there’s spraying and so on, but the processing of the US is not so common here; much more fresh ingredients.

          Also what is a huge problem in the US is the lack of physical exercise for many people, with cars all around. In Europe (and here) if something is a mile away you walk (or cycle in Holland).

          When I was in Houston, I was shocked by the lack of sidewalks. I was walking there and people were honking at me, thinking I was some homeless bum or so. Even though I had a rental car, if it’s just 30 min to walk, I walk. But it was strange to see the lack of sidewalks, so I walked on the grass along the road.


    2. Muller, I am not an unkind person. Friday was a long day for me and I felt unwell on Saturday. I should have been in bed resting and not replying to comments on POM. Please accept my apology for my terse remark to your comment.


      1. no worries, I’m a stoic person and never really angry. Just to make myself clear again. I’m not saying McDonald sells good food. I don’t like it and I use fast food restaurants like this maybe two times a year. But this food will not make you sick. It is not McDonald’s fault, when you feel unwell after eating to many burgers in a row. I wrote a lengthy answer here with more details.


  9. Maarten, if you feel hungry and weak (and are not just starving for days in the desert) it is because your body forces you to give it the same amount of food it had yesterday and the day before. You’ll get used to that feeling and next day feel great and not a bit weak if you just keep to force your body to stay without new food. It is because the next day your stomach will be empty and not working and you’ll have all the energy for other things. Digesting food is heavy work and that’s why you always feel tired after a heavy meal. Giving time, your stomach will shrink and you will need less and less food to feel full.
    I have one day in the week, usually Wednesday, where I don’t eat at all. Nothing the entire day. And during the week when I work I only eat once a day having dinner with the family after work. I don’t eat lunches or breakfasts from Monday till Friday. And trust me, I’m not skinny. 🙂 A retired friend of us, who is over 70 years old now, eats a slice of bread (one slice only) with honey and some tee for breakfast, a small salad with a beer for lunch and another beer for dinner and he is in shape and never sick. The older you get the less food you’ll need.


    1. What eye-opening responses, BM! (But for reasons not having to do with diet or nutrition.)

      Notwithstanding, I know now what I could write about after I finish my present series of essays: some science-based posts to dispel the idea that American fast food can be ever be part of a healthful diet, even in moderation.

      That would probably draw the attention of lots of corporate Internet trolls to our humble little site!


  10. My first inkling of non-food meddling was 1979, when ITT was busted for putting sawsust in Fresh Horizons bread and marketing the hell out of it to people caught up in the “fiber craze.”

    Compared to “full spectrum dominance,” R2P (“spreading democracy”) with 500 lb bombs, drones and white phosphorus, in hindsight, this seems insignificant. Just trying to boost the bottom line, you know.


    1. Thanks, Steve for another good laugh…I’m sure a little sawdust was just what the American diet needed to say healthy and less obese


  11. ok, one more from me. As for the glyphosates or hormones or even flavor enhancers in our food, it is something we don’t really taste or feel. It is more a suggestion made from the very same people who we think put them there in the first place, no? You cannot possibly check if there is any additive in your food. As you cannot check how really organic is what is declared as organic in your store. If you’re scared from getting poisoned by additives in your food, every time you feel weird you’ll put it on them. It is merely a suggestion. If you’re not scared, as I am, you’ll simply never feel weird in connection with food. Except after eating nuts my back burns a little, but that is another story. 🙂 Take a look at this from a different perspective. Imagine you eat all this American unhealthy, chemically contaminated fast food all your life. One day you’re out surfing and a shark will have you for dinner. Do you think, this will reduce this sharks live expectancy? Our body can get rid of lots of poison giving enough time. If you’re a heavy drinker you may rich a limit where your organs won’t be able to detoxicate anymore in time. Then they will failure one after another. But if you stop drinking in between and give them the chance, even as a heavy drinker you’ll occasionally get clean again. That’s how it always works. Eating some slightly contaminated food which you don’t even know for sure that it is contaminated is of no meaning to your health. If it was otherwise, people would regularly get sick worldwide which they don’t. What is important is that your stomach is an organ and organs needs exercise. If you eat only what you consider as easily digestible your stomach will get weaker and weaker. And there will be less and less things you consider as easily digestible. You have to eat things which you consider as more indigestible, which cause you winds, etc. to make your stomach stronger. The more variety you’ll bring to your diet, the better your digestion will become. It all is a problem made by excess of food by the way. In the past people had digestion problems because their diet was poor and they had not enough to eat. That was a different situation.


    1. “Except after eating nuts my back burns a little, but that is another story”
      Is the burning from additives, or just a suggestion?


  12. hmm, the list of ingredients made me thinking again. Why put the focus on it so prominently? And they use cryptic names for harmless things like “Silicon Dioxide”, which is the most common mineral on earth. In Europe it is known as E 551 on the list. It is used even in wine production. Yet still they make a lot of noise because of the list of ingredients and assure us the producers have to put everything on it they have used. I’m only occasionally looking what’s on the list. I avoid products using sugar replacements like aspartame. I prefer sugar. To me the list of ingredients feels similar like the label “organic”. It seems to be a part of a psyop to scare people from food and make them waste time and money on looking for something they consider healthy.


  13. As to eating at Taco Bell-
    I worked at TB in ‘72, and we cooked everything in the store, from scratch. There were only 6 items on the menu.
    The ground beef came from local producers( this was in Texas), in 20lb. Bags, which we cooked every day, added some spices, and we added a soy product to absorb grease and make the meat go farther.
    We cooked dried pinto beans in giant pressure cookers and “refried” them with a drill with a long paint mixer tool.
    The lettuce and tomatoes and onions were chopped fresh every day.
    A guy came in once a week to fry taco shells. In vegetable oil.

    Now everything at TB is prepared elsewhere, either frozen or freeze-dried, and shipped to the stores to have water added.

    And a problem with French fries, or any fried foods at restaurants, is almost all of them use industrial seed oils to fry in. Cottonseed oil, or rapeseed oil, which are incredibly bad for us.

    They also don’t change the oil often, and it goes rancid, which I can taste instantly-
    I used to like fries- I never order them anymore; no one has good fries.

    Grass-fed beef is available just about everywhere.
    We’ve found a small-time rancher who raises a small herd and sells it- we meet him on the side of the road.
    “Show me the money!”
    “Show me the beef!”

    There is also a local hog farm that raises non-corn and soy fed pigs, no antibiotics, that sells at the local farmers market. We haven’t had such good pork chops in years.
    I try not to think about them killing the babies for baby-back ribs, cause I see pics of them on their FB page-

    We grow some of our own veggies; we buy from the farmers market-
    We try to stay out of the grocery store, and we don’t eat out much-


    1. excellent information, thank you very much! I am also from Texas and back in the mid to late-70’s Chili’s opened its first restaurant in Dallas. I lived in Houston and the original Houston Chili’s was on Richmond Drive in an old house converted to a restaurant. The food was fantastic. The best burger I have ever eaten and the fries were fresh cut, the chili was from an award-winning chili cookoff recipe. It was all excellent quality. Unfortunately, they sold out to a chain many years ago and today’s Chili’s is nothing like it was in the past.

      It is wonderful that you can find good beef and pork and you know it was raised organically and hopefully without cruelty. I am on the verge of being vegetarian because of the horror that is the current practice of large producers like Smithfield and the like. Smithfield IMO is almost as bad as Mon”satan”…makes me wonder who they might merge with to lose the stigma of their name like Monsanto did with the 60 billion dollar merger with Bayer.


      1. I think I may have eaten at that chili’s in Houston!
        Sadly, chili’s is another place we don’t go-
        And don’t even get me started on Monsanto!
        My next door neighbor has rocks for a front yard, and we see him out spraying the weeds with Round-up-😱


        1. I have a friend and mentor that lives in what he calls the “Grain Ghetto” in Illinois. He has worked a 2-acre organic piece of land that has been in his family for 40 years. The PharmWhores, as he calls them, spray roundup and probably Dow’s Enlist Duo with abandon. His land is in tatters and no longer productive. He used to raise enough food each year to sustain him and his mom for at least 18 months. This year was especially dismal. He has cherry trees, apple trees, quince trees….none of the trees produced even one apple, one cherry or one quince….they are history thanks to Monsanto. His garden was also very non-productive. Out of 6, 50-foot rows of beets, he saw an approximate total beet production that was the equivalent of 20 feet. He had very few broccoli plants that sprouted and the few that did grow only had fist size broccoli heads….same with his heirloom cabbage. We should all be very worried about our safety at the hands of “chemical companies” that have no place in food production. Here is a recent Corbett Report about the merger of Monsanto and Bayer. This 24-minute video outlines the problem with Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta, Bayer and others very succinctly. I encourage everyone to watch and learn….too many people are wearing rose-colored glasses and do not realize our peril at the hands of these monster companies.


  14. I’m so sorry for your friend- that is a tragedy!

    My husband is convinced that companies like Monsanto are not just greedy bastards; they are doing it on purpose.

    I’m a member of an outdoor spaces FB group, and when a member asks how to get rid of this or that, I’m appalled at how many people say
    “Spray it with Round-Up!”
    Fortunately, there are woke folks who will respond with homemade weed killers that don’t destroy the environment, and who will make a case for not using commercial weed killers and pesticides.
    And, of course, there is always the old-fashioned way of just pulling weeds and unwanted plants out of the ground.
    My brother and I used to get paid 50 cents for a grocery bag full of weeds from the yard.

    Thanks for posting the video, btw-


    1. There is no doubt in my mind that it is being done on purpose!!! Genocide and population control is the agenda! I post things on FB to try and wake people up. If it isn’t a recipe or a funny video….crickets, no one even comments. People believe in the good ‘ole USA and all the propaganda. I am a 67-year-old grandmother and have been awake and aware for 7 years. I was able to break free at the age of 60, I don’t understand why people just don’t seem to give a damn…they are in a trance and refuse to face reality….yay for baseball, football and the American way….lies, damn lies and only a small percentage of the population cares.


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