While driving to my doctor's office to get some persistent Toxicodendron diversilobum (that's poison oak) looked at, I listened to NPR. Just as you would expect of me, my radio stations will all have buttons for NPR, country music, whatever station carries Rush Limbaugh, and a variety of others. On NPR I was intrigued because the guest chef was preparing a meal for alternative Thanksgiving lifestyles, that being vegan and gluten-free.

Now, people may object to persistent claims that going gluten-free is a fad rather than a health issue for the overwhelming majority of people now embracing gluten-free - unless you truly believe all that extra sugar, extra fat, hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose and xanthan gum makes you healthier, in which case you probably look like Lady Gaga did on her gluten-free diet. NPR stations love to brag in their advertising brochures how rich (read: mostly white) and college educated (read: mostly white) their audience is, and those are the people really embracing gluten-free as fashion

There are no special Thanksgiving menu programs on turkey hunters or those paleo diet folks. NPR knows their base and their base is scared of science and chases food fetishes.

I may worry about the backlash affecting people with Celiac disease, but the fact that the gluten-free fad ruined Thanksgiving means it has truly arrived as a trend.

Today, It Is Not Just Rachel Carson Ruining Dinner

When I was younger, only Rachel Carson was ruining dinner and her evidence-by-anecdote heritage in Silent Spring still lingers with us today. To many in America, 'carcinogens' are a bad word, DDT will give you cancer 6 months after you spray it on crops and all chemicals are bad. And that is just among Grist readers. Once you broaden it out to the rest of progressives, you will find them paralyzed by "chemophobia" and a broad contempt for science.(1)

But there is bad news even for NPR listeners, with their gluten-free and vegan menu.(2) If you are afraid of chemicals, you are screwed. Everything you eat is going to be stuffed full of chemicals that have been shown to be toxins and carcinogens when studied in rodents. Everything. "If these were synthetic rather than natural (as they are), they would be banned from our diets,“ notes Dr. Gilbert Ross of the American Council on Science and Health.

Yep, you are eating poisons. But they are natural poisons, that is what the naturalistic fallacy is and it's why an alarming number of people believe that 'chemicals' are bad today yet organic food and its carcinogens, mutagens and natural pesticides are somehow healthier. 

Enjoy solanine, arsenic, and chaconine? Have some mashed potatoes with a side of hydrogen cyanide - I mean Lima beans. If you live on the coast here in California, you might prefer the hallucinogenic compound myristicin - grab some carrots for that.

The fact is that the modern naturalistic fallacy ignores what people who were actually far closer to nature in the past knew - the dose makes the poison. Salt is essential, too much of it will kill you. 

With that in mind...

Here Are The Carcinogen-Laced Organic Foods You Need To Avoid this Thanksgiving

Celery - caffeic acid, rodent carcinogen
Broccoli - allyl isothiocyanate, rodent carcinogen
Potatoes - not just  solanine, arsenic, and chaconine but also caffeic acidand ethyl alcohol, a rodent and human carcinogen. No wonder the Irish came to America.
Rolls with butter - don't even get me started. You are ingesting acetaldehyde, benzene, ethyl carbonate and more, all rodent carcinogens. Also, if you have Celiac disease, the rolls will make you sick. If you are trying to be Gwyneth Paltrow, they will make you annoyed no one takes you seriously.
Turkey - Heterocyclic amines, rodent carcinogens and mutagens. 
Stuffing - a lot, including some of the ones mentioned above plus acrylamide, dihydrazines and more.  Also, if you have Celiac disease, the stuffing will make you sick. If you are trying to be Gwyneth Paltrow, they will make you annoyed no one takes you seriously. 
Cranberry sauce - furan derivatives: mutagens
Pumpkin pie - a lot fewer toxic chemicals than apple pie, but still has benzo(a)pyrene, coumarin, methyl eugenol and safrole
Coffee - a lot of what is above, plus hydrogen peroxide, a mutagen and rodent carcinogen and a great way to deal with cuts.

No, "I will eat prime rib instead of turkey" will not help. It has those heterocyclic amines, plus benzene and psoralens. Also, roast beast will not help you sleep through the Dallas football game like turkey will. Even the jasmine tea is not safer than the coffee, it has benzo(a)pyrene and quercetin glycosides, which are both mutagen and rodent carcinogens. Read an scary entire menu at ACSH.

As you can see, all the food has toxic chemicals - because in rodent studies almost anything can be harmful. The term "carcinogens" is even more misunderstood in progressive science media than "false equivalence" is.  Take any part of Thanksgiving dinner and there are so many rodent carcinogens that even Gilles-Eric Séralini could write a paper claiming they cause cancer. 

What gets left out of Scare Journalism Of The Week stories is that in rodent studies, these natural carcinogens are killing just as many as synthetic chemicals are. 

 Even organic food can't protect us from chemicals. Sorry, Rachel. 

Citation: Gordon W. Gribble, 'Food chemistry and chemophobia', Food Security April 2013, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 177-187 DOI: 10.1007/s12571-013-0251-2


(1) Obviously Science 2.0 and plenty of others will try to interject some reason into the discussion. 99.9% of the audience will get a little smarter and be on their way. The .1% who are interested in defending their world view will comment.  If we or the American Council on Science and Health tries dares to separate fact from naturalistic fallacy, the most common charge leveled will be 'who is paying you to write this?' Brian Dunning at SkepticBlog was the first I know who coined a term for it - Argumentum ad Monsantium - and it basically means a systemic conspiracy. (a) Find something you don't like and then (b) find someone who benefits and then (c) declare that whoever benefited must have created what you do not like. If I wrote an article you don't like noting that GMOs have never created so much as a stomachache, you declare I must work for Monsanto.  

Obviously that argument does not work for gluten-free trenders, Big Food is getting rich off of the gluten fad.  The products are 242% more expensive and actually benefit only 1 percent of the population, but have ballooned into a giant industry where 20% of the public says they want gluten-free labels. Whereas Monsanto does not pay me to write about science at all, though they probably appreciate it, I bet General Mills, Kellogg's and Post Foods would pay me to stop - because if I say nothing about evidence, they get rich.

(2) But we can get back to cereal and gluten-free ice cream and non-GMO rock salt at another time, this is about Thanksgiving and chemophobia. 

(3) Traditional food too but organic buyers actually think their food is genetically, ethically and nutritionally different, and never had any chemicals.