BY ELIZABETH FIEND All the Homer Simpsons of the world — you know who you are — are in a tizzy because The Government is banning their beloved trans fat. Believe me, it’s going to be fine. Anyone who’s against the banning of trans fatty acids doesn’t understand what trans fat is all about. Number one, it’s NOT about flavor. Have you had an Oreo cookie lately? Some Wendy’s French fries? Taste good? Okay! See, you didn’t even notice that the trans fat was removed. Trans fatty acids, most often found in hydrogenated oils, do not taste better than other […]


BY ELIZABETH FIEND Sadly, we hear each day about the horrible human toll of war — the body counts, the amputees learning to cope, the countless and nameless children ravaged by the violence, rendered orphans or worse. War is hell on earth, of course. But war is also hell on The Earth, too. You may not be aware of just how toxic and devastating is the footprint that the military-industrial complex leaves behind on Battlefield Earth. Agent Orange, rocket fuel, lead, mercury, petroleum, asbestos, countless carcinogenic solvents. This toxic stew settles into the soil in which we grow our food, […]

JUNK SCIENCE: Like Schindler’s List, The Spice Is Life

BY ELIZABETH FIEND India is an ancient land of exotic foods flavored with sizzling spices, blended in sophisticated, aromatic, mouth- watering ways. Dishes are seasoned with a dazzling array of herbs and spices, ones we rarely cook with like fenugreek, asafetida, black mustard seed, mint, cardamom and rose petal essence. Complex, heady mixes like Tandoori spice are heady with ginger, nutmeg, coriander, cumin, paprika, black pepper, salt, cloves, cinnamon and turmeric, each blend particular to each cook, the recipes passed on down the generations. Compare the intricacy of Tandoori spice to our “special sauce” — a mix of mayo and […]

JUNK SCIENCE: Wash Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant!

BY ELIZABETH FIEND You already know that you’re supposed to wash your hands after going to the toilet and before food preparation and eating. But did you know it’s recommended to wash up after eating as well? Or that the best place to sneeze is into your elbow? And that you shouldn’t use the hand blower in the public rest room, it might actually be blowing germs onto your just-washed hands? It’s so important to wash hands because the flu, diarrhea and colds are transmitted either in the air or on surfaces you touch. Germs, bacteria, and viruses can live […]

JUNK SCIENCE: Attack Of The Clones

BY ELIZABETH FIEND In 1952, a special tadpole was born. It was the first animal ever cloned. After that breakthrough, scientists spent many years and many millions of dollars on unsuccessful cloning attempts. Then, in 1997, it was ‘Hello, Dolly,’ when the test-tube sheep became the first successfully cloned mammal. Since Dolly’s celebrated birth, scientists have cloned many different animals including goats, cows, horses, pigs, rabbits and mice. A guar (an exotic ox native to India) named Noah was the first endangered animal to be cloned, but unfortunately he lived only 48 hours. There’s also been a big push to […]

JUNK SCIENCE: What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?

BY ELIZABETH FIEND When dragonflies head south, they like to ride the tailwinds generated by cold fronts. But when they go north, they prefer to buzz home on warm winds. We know this because scientists attached radio transmitters to the insects along with a single-wire antenna, powered by a super-tiny battery, running down the length of their abdomen. Video may have killed the radio star at the tail end of the 20th Century, but radio is back, big time in the 21st. Radio Frequency Identification tags and chips are here. RFID, as it’s called, is an identification system that allows […]

JUNK SCIENCE: Green Is The New Black

ELIZABETH FIEND REPORTS: Pollution and degradation of the environment happens in many, many unpredictable ways. It’s not just big business and the Feds — yours, mine, everyone’s personal, everyday actions have unforeseeable consequences on the environment as well. Everything is interrelated to extents we can’t even imagine. Rwanda has banned the use of plastic bags for environmental reasons. The bags are trashy, don’t disintegrate, and who would have guessed they would do so much harm to marine life? Plastic bags are made from non-renewable natural resources like oil. Rwanda has switched to raffia bags, woven from the dried leaves of […]

JUNK SCIENCE: Let’s Get SMALL (Nano, Nano)

ELIZABETH FIEND REPORTS: As an avid cyber punk fan I’ve been longing for William Gibson’s future, where I could step into a convenience store nano-dispenser and emerge clad in a swirling, gleaming, electronic nano-dress, one that changes motif with my every thought. A world where my social calendar, stored in a nano-rhinestone atop my sunglasses, would be filled with the wild parties of tomorrow. Today’s nanotechnology isn’t quite as sexy as that, but it’s just as unrestrained. Currently nanotechnology centers around the production of super-teeny-tiny materials and chemicals. We’re talking small, atomic scale small, the size of a molecule ? […]


ELIZABETH FIEND REPORTS: Pharmaceutical corporations hire PR firms to sell disease like they do sneakers. “Just do it” becomes “just take it” — the little purple pill, that is. Do you have a going problem, or is it a growing problem? One pill (Viagra) makes you larger and one pill (Avodart) makes you small. But the question remains, do they do anything at all? Go ask Alice. Alice went to sleep one night feeling perfectly fine. The next day she woke up to learn she had high blood pressure! Absolutely nothing about her changed, her numbers were exactly the same. […]

Junk Science: YOUR HOSTILE PROJECTILES ARE NO MATCH FOR MY INVISIBLE FORCE FIELD, or, Surviving Thanksgiving “Back Up Off Me”-Style

ELIZABETH FIEND REPORTS: This is my Thanksgiving column. As a vegetarian, you probably expect me to write an article on the horrors of eating turkey — antibiotics, hormones, inhumane factory farming. As an anarchist you may think I’m going to rail against the hypocrisy behind the meaning of the day — the slaughter of Native Americans by the white man, the taking over of someone else’s land. Or perhaps you’re hoping for some vegetarian recipes. In that case, you shoulda tuned into my NPR Vegetarian Thanksgiving interview last year. Instead, I’m going to talk about how to use the science […]

JUNK SCIENCE: Disney Kicks Some Ass-Clown Ass

ELIZABETH FIEND REPORTS: Breaking News: Bear takes over organics in Pooh D’Etat! This is a really embarrassing situation, me being an anarchist and all, writing a column praising Disney. But it’s gotta be done. I have some friends that get crazy-mad at any mention of Disney. Me, I really don’t think about Disney that much. Until now. I heart Disney! Disney has made several announcements over the past few months, each one focusing on healthy food changes that the Giant Mouse will be implementing in his theme parks, restaurants, advertising campaigns, when making licensing deals and a change in philosophy […]

JUNK SCIENCE: That Diet Coke Is Killing You

THIS WEEK’S OUTRAGE: FDA found frightening levels of the carcinogen BENZENE in popular beverages but didn’t tell the public for 16 years. ELIZABETH FIEND REPORTS: Remember that Sunny D commercial a few years back where the kids were at the cool house on the block, the house that had a fridge full-up of Sunny D where you could just run in with your sk8 helmet and elbow pads still on and grab unlimited bottles of the sunshine-y stuff? And the mom was all self-righteous as she stood aside and smiled that knowing Mom-smile, and gloated to herself: Once again I’ve […]

JUNK SCIENCE: Absinthe Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

ELIZABETH FIEND REPORTS: There was a war, you see, in a hot and far away place that had a strange religion called I-s-l-a-m and a lot of our boys were getting killed, and maimed, and messed up in the head and the war dragged on a lot longer then we expected until nobody could really remember why we were over there in the first place. Then a farmer shot his whole family, shot ’em dead in their sleep with his Army issued rifle and the powers that be just denied, denied, denied what you know and I know and even […]