Your god won’t help: ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi suffers food poisoning

The leading cause of U.S. troops immobilized?

Foodborne illness.

abu-bakr-al-baghdadiThat’s what I was told in all those training sessions I did for Fort Riley folks headed to Afghanistan or Iraq or wherever.

Seems the foes are just finding this out.

Prayer won’t make food safe, but science can help.

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, along with three leaders of the group suffered from severe poisoning after eating a meal on the Iraqi – Syrian border, southwest of the province of Nineveh, according to “Sputnik” website.

Sputnik stated, “We received accurate intelligence information stating that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and three senior leader of the so-called ISIS.

Losing my religion: Turkish family celebrating food poisoning survival gets sick again

Nathan Francis of The Inquisitr writes that a Turkish family decided to hold a dinner party for 20 guests this week to celebrate recovering from food poisoning, but were stricken again.

animal.sacrificeA report from the Turkish province of Tekirdag claimed that the family’s matriarch, Asiye Erdal, decided to sacrifice an animal to show gratitude to God for the entire family recovering from the earlier illness. But after serving the animal to the guests, all 20 of them fell ill with food poisoning again and ended up in the hospital, the U.K.’s Independent reported.

The family had just returned from spending an entire week in the hospital after a meal prepared by Asiye Erdal, the report indicated. The meal this week was supposed to be a celebration for the family successfully getting through the illness.

Alattin Erdal, Asiye’s husband, said he couldn’t believe that the family would be struck twice in such a short time.

“We don’t get it. First we were poisoned and then sacrificed an animal for God as a sign of gratitude for gaining our health back. Then we were poisoned once again, as well as the neighbors. May God save us from the worst,” he told Anadolu. “Food poisoning became our nightmare.”

Food as snake oil: ‘diet gurus’ hook us with religion veiled in science

With full respect to Kurt Vonnegut, I listen to the ethical pronouncements of the leaders of the church of organic and am able to distill only two firm commandments from them. The first commandment is this: Stop thinking. The second commandment is this: Obey. Only a person who has given up on the power of reason to improve life here on earth, or a soldier in basic training, could accept either commandment gladly. is 21st century snake oil. In an era of unprecedented affluence, consumers now choose among a cacophony of low‑fat, enhanced‑nutrient staples reflecting a range of political statements and perceived lifestyle preferences, far beyond dolphin‑free tuna.

And to go with the Salt Spring Island goat cheese, the all‑organic carrots and the Snapple-laced echinacea is a veritable sideshow of hucksters and buskers, flogging their wares to the highest bidder ‑‑ these things always cost a premium ‑‑ or at least the most fashionable.

In 2001, the U.K. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld four complaints against claims in a Soil Association leaflet entitled Five Reasons To Eat Organic. The ASA ruled there was no evidence that, contrary to the assertions of the Soil Association, that consumers could taste the difference, that organic was healthy, that it was better for the environment, and that organic meant healthy, happy animals. On one claim, the Soil Association responded that 53% of people buying organic produce did so because they thought it was healthy. The ASA rightly ruled this did not constitute any sort of clinical or scientific evidence.

Alan Levinovitz writes for NPR that from Paleo to vegan to raw, nutrition gurus package their advice as sound, settled science. It doesn’t matter whether meat is blamed for colon cancer or grains are called out as fattening poison — there’s no shortage of citations and technical terms (tertiary amines, gliadin, ketogenesis) to back up the claims.

But as a scholar of religion, it’s become increasingly clear to me that when it comes to fad diets, science is often just a veneer. Peel it away and you find timeless myths and superstitions, used to reinforce narratives of good and evil that give meaning to people’s lives and the illusion of control over their well-being.

Take the grain-free monks of ancient China. (My specialty is classical Chinese thought.) Like all diet gurus, these monks used a time-tested formula. They mocked the culinary culture around them, which depended on the so-called wugu, or “five grains.”

According to the monks’ radical teachings, conventional grain-laden Chinese diets “rotted and befouled” your organs, leading to early disease and death. By avoiding the five grains, you could achieve perfect health, immortality, clear skin, the ability to fly and teleport. Well, not quite. To fully realize the benefits of the monks’ diet, you also had to take proprietary supplements, highly technical alchemical preparations that only a select few knew how to make. All of this may sound eerily familiar: Look no further than modern anti-grain polemics like Dr. David Perlmutter’s Grain Brain — complete with its own recommended supplement regimen.

Despite basic logic and evidence to the contrary, the philosophy of the grain-free monks gained popularity. That’s because then, as now, the appeal of dietary fads had much to do with myths, not facts. Chief among these is the myth of “paradise past,” an appealing fiction about a time when everyone was happy and healthy, until they ate the wrong food and fell from grace.

hucksterThe mythic narrative of “unnatural” modernity and a “natural” paradise past is persuasive as ever. Religious figures like Adam and Eve have been replaced by Paleolithic man and our grandparents: “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food,” is journalist Michael Pollan’s oft-quoted line.

The story also has a powerful moral dimension. It’s the Prince of Evil, after all, who tempted Eve. Once secularized, Satan reappears as corporations and scientists who feed us chemical additives, modern grains and GMOs, the “toxic” fruits of sin. (No matter if science doesn’t agree that any of these things are very toxic.)

Paradise past. Good and evil. Benevolent Nature with a capital N. The promise of nutritional salvation. After you’ve constructed a compellingly simple narrative foundation, all you have to do is wrap your chosen diet in scientific rhetoric.

For Chinese monks, that rhetoric involved “five phases theory.” For ancient Greeks and Romans it was “humors” — four fluids thought to be the basis of human health. Now it is peer-reviewed studies. Thankfully for diet gurus, the literature of nutrition science is vague, vast and highly contested — just like religious texts — making it easy to cherry-pick whatever data confirm your biases.

Food safety should not be faith-based (but often is)

As hundreds pray for the revival of Blue Bell ice cream in Texas, Cross Pointe, Ohio, Free Will Baptist Church Pastor Bill Pitts spoke of the mundane moments in life during his April 19 sermon.

prayer-image3Little did he know that life would soon become anything but mundane as a botulism outbreak was set to strike and kill one church member and sicken others after a potluck lunch.

“There’s always one defining moment in our lifetime,” Pitts said. “And that defining moment will determine the rest of our future and how we handle the rest of our future, if we’re going to trust God or we don’t during that time. So it seems like it was almost a preparation for what was going to happen 15 minutes later.”

The Ohio Department of Health said Monday that home-canned potatoes in a potato salad are the likely cause of the botulism outbreak that led to Kennetha “Kim” Shaw’s death. There are 20 other confirmed cases and 10 suspected cases.

Pitts said there are still church members who are in critical but stable condition, while others are improving and going home.

Pitts said he never imagined something like botulism breaking out in Lancaster or the church, and he said it was unprecedented.

 “We have to understand that, since things have happened, I personally believe, according to Scripture, that death came because of sin. So instead of me really questioning God, getting mad at God, I need to get mad at the sin that’s in the world and make the world better, rather than what sin has done to it.”

Death and illness came because of botulism, because someone didn’t know what they were doing, and had nothing to do with sin.

Believe fairytales if you like.

Sewage burgers and the human future

Don’t eat poop.

But if you do, make sure it’s cooked.

Comforting or not, we eat poop in a variety of forms. Dogs seem to enjoy it.

D.C. Innes of World Magazine reports Japanese scientist Mitsuyuki Ikeda has developed a way to turn human feces into simulated beef. He takes “sewage mud,” which is high in protein on account of its bacteria content, adds soy proteins and food coloring, puts it through his machine, and out comes chuck.

Now, there is reason to believe that this story might be a hoax, but Douglas Powell, a food safety expert at Kansas State University, views it as technologically plausible. So it’s worth considering the idea.

Innes asked me if I would eat a burger made out of poop.

Maybe, but it would have to be safely cooked.

Innes cites a bunch of philosophy I thought was cool about the same time I thought The Doors were musical and poetic genius — everyone experiments in college – and concludes that even if “harvesting scat for food would be efficient, there is this problem: It’s beneath human dignity. Dignity is not a “scientific” concept. You can’t isolate dignity in a Petri dish, but empirical science is not our only window onto reality.

Is what we leave behind after evacuating only so much protein, carbohydrates, lipids, and minerals? Are we? If we are, then God is dead and all is permitted. But no one lives that way. That summary of life does not account for life as we know it. In that respect, it’s bad science. C.S. Lewis argues that seeing man through only this lens means “the abolition of man.”

Powell, the food safety professor, is fine with this new fare, so long as we cook it thoroughly. We eat plants that grow in soil fertilized with dung, don’t we? But we don’t eat the dung.

Of course not.

World magazine: Today’s News, Christian Views.