links for 2009-03-30

  • Fantastic, fascinating analysis of the increasingly loud (and, as a result, less dynamic) music mixes. This is what a generation of earbud heaphones and mp3 compression has wrought. It's not wrong, either–try listening to Zeppelin on an iPod outside and see how hard it is–but it is making music less compelling in important ways. Check out Finger Eleven's "Paralyzer" for a great Exhibit A in contemporary mixing technique

links for 2009-03-16

On eating natural foods

Sometimes I wonder, as I pursue (gradually) healthier eating habits and begin shopping for food for my son, whether buying “natural” foods makes a difference. I’m fairly progressive, but I’ve never fallen hard for organic foods or shied away from processed sweets. The difference doesn’t always shout out at me.
And then I read some labels.
Consider the ingredients in the Skippy peanut butter in my kitchen. I grew up with Skippy, my wife eats Skippy, it’s peanut butter! But take a peek at the ingredient list, reprinted verbatim:
Roasted peanuts
Corn syrup solids
Sugar
Soy protein
Salt
Hydrogenated vegetable oils to prevent separation
Mono and diglycerides
Minerals
Vitamins
I always assumed, well, that’s how peanut butter is made, right? But then I got into Cream-Nut, the old-fashioned peanut butter made in Michigan and purchased at my local Fairway market. Its ingredient list:
Peanuts
Sea salt
The difference is a revelation. So, too, is the nutrition that comes from each–the Skippy has four and a half times as much sodium, two and half times the carbohydrates and four times the sugar.
In fairness, Skippy now makes a Natural line of its own, so this isn’t really about how Unilever is evil. It’s a reminder to myself that the processed foods of the past half-century do, indeed, come from worse places, no matter how good they taste. The current trend away from these foods is a bandwagon I’m going to try to stick with.
I doubt I can do anything to help Nate’s sweet tooth, which I inherited from my grandmother. But at the very least, I can get him hooked on the right kind of peanut butter.