The Austin Chronicle

The Hightower Report

By Jim Hightower, March 9, 2007, News


Whether eating alone or having a party, one simple dish that can bring a zestful joy to your table and palate is guacamole. Just as the Aztecs did 700 years ago, all you do is mush up a couple of avocados; squeeze in some lime juice; toss in some chopped peppers, tomatoes, and onions if you want; grab some chips … and go at it.

Unless, of course, you're one of the industrial food giants like Kraft Foods Inc. In that case, you don't let such natural ingredients get in the way of making guacamole. Instead, Kraft (a division of Altria, formerly known as Philip Morris) fills its little plastic tubs of "guacamole dip" with partially hydrogenated soybean and coconut oils, a big dollop of corn syrup to give it some sweetness, a glob of modified food starch to give it some body, and a nice blend of yellow and blue artificial food dyes to give it that green guacamole-ish color.

Let's see, did they leave anything out? Oh, yes – avocado! Indeed, only if you put on your 10-power specs and read the fine print do you the consumer learn that Kraft's dip is practically avocado-free, containing less than 2% of this essential ingredient.

OK, food corporations are in the business of deceiving and ripping off consumers – but where's the Food and Drug Administration, which is supposedly our consumer watchdog against avocadoless guacamole? Oh, says FDA spokesman Michael Herndon, "We would have to find that the labeling is misleading, which would likely require some consumer data to prove the labeling is misleading."

No, you numbskull – all it would require is that someone at FDA have at least as much common sense in their head as Kraft's guacamole dip has avocado. Meanwhile, if you really want some guacamole, do it the Aztec way. Nothing beats nature's own ingredients, and you can't trust food profiteers to make an honest dip for you.


Did you get your Valentine's Day gift from ExxonMobil?

The day before this annual celebration of romantic fantasy, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson flitted out like a pink cupid to shoot a little arrow of corporate love at the world's environmental heart. For the first time ever, an Exxon chief conceded that, yes, there is this thing called global warming going on. Hear it in Tillerson's own words: "The risks to society and ecosystems from climate change could prove to be significant."

This is not exactly news to the world's top climate-change scientists, who said in a landmark report earlier this year that global warming is unequivocally under way, is almost certainly caused by such human activities as burning oil for fuel, and should be blunted by prompt action.

Tillerson's arrow, however, didn't go nearly that far. In fact, cupid is a fantasy, and so is the notion that Big Oil really wants anyone to do anything to stop the carbon emissions causing the potentially apocalyptic damage of climate change.

Indeed, Exxon's Rex fell back on the same, tired blah-blah-blah that the industry and its corporate-funded apologists always use. "There's not a clear 100 percent conclusion drawn" that industrial emissions are causing the warming, he weaseled. Well, gosh, Rex, no. There's not "a clear 100 percent conclusion" that drinking a can of crude oil will kill you – but would you do it?

The problem with global warming is that by the time we get to 100% certainty … it's too late. How about a 90% certainty, Rex? That's what the experts now say we're at.

Of course, Tillerson is more interested in Exxon's bottom line than the globe's. In his Valentine's Day message, he even took a nasty shot at alternative fuels, snickering that they're just so much "moonshine."

I'll take moonshine any day over the monkeyshine that Exxon keeps trying to pull on us.

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