attack_laurel (attack_laurel) wrote,

Keeping the doctor away, 19th century style.

Thanks for all the questions - you can ask more, if you like (if you haven't found me incredibly boring already), and I'll keep answering them in the comments section of that post.

(Or, if someone asks a question that requires a really long answer, I might post about it. Fair enough?)

But today - well, actually a couple of weeks ago, but I'm only writing about it now - I got distracted by shiny fun mailing stuff in my mail box. No, not e-mail, paper mail. A booklet, in fact.


As I have mentioned before (and anyone who has come to the apartment knows), I am on every mailing list known to man, plus the ones that are known to everyone else, including, but not limited to, women, children, pets, greater and lesser apes, and rabid weasels. We get a lot of catalogues. This is actually quite fun, since I get awesome stuff like invitations to extremely expensive "consciousness" retreats, aromatherapy supplies, Edgar Cayce products, and mailings on parasites in my butt (that's going to get some interesting Google hits). Really, I get things that pretty much cover the entire spectrum of non-traditional medicine, some of it reasonable enough (nutritional supplements, medical supplies for the over-50 set - yes, I know, but it was addressed to me), but quite a bit of it unmitigated woo.

In the latter category, comes an expensively produced 36 page booklet from the Institute For Vibrant Living, which does actually have a website, but it's basically a catalog - I guess "Institute" is code for "overpriced health products of questionable efficacy that are touted to cure everything".

Speaking of curing everything, the booklet is pushing the featured product on their site - "All Day Energy Greens". Most of the booklet is testimonials (it's so retro - I remember getting stuff like this in the '80s, before the Intarwebs made this kind of mailing mostly obselete), but their main selling point seems to be that "IT'S A DAY'S WORTH OF VEGGIES IN JUST ONE GLASS!"*.

(True to the formatting of these things, there is a lot of all caps writing, because, as we all know, CAPSLOCK IS CODE FOR AWESOME.)

Pictures of the reconstituted product (it comes in powder form) show a clear, slighty anaemic-looking green liquid. Honestly, I'd rather have a V-8[TM]. Something tells me this stuff won't taste nearly so good with a jigger of vodka and a shot of Worcestershire sauce (though I'm sure it would improve it slightly). While I have no intention of actually buying the product, the booklet itself is a masterful work of hype, over-generalization, unbelievable health claims, and general mania that makes me suspect that the writers were testing another, whiter, powdery product while they were writing.

For instance, page 3 gives us this deathless prose:

Over 100,000 people have now discovered the great health secret behind ALL DAY ENERGY GREENS[TM]...

...Are they sure they're not talking about cocaine? In my imagination, the scenario goes something like this:

"Hey, Carl - how do we write this up?"
"Well, those guys that do WWF sometimes do rhyming things - that sounds pretty cool."
"Yeah! let's see... Green, mean, dream, lean, scene, peen... hey, we should compare the way people will feel to an animal, like a lion, or something! What's a tough strong animal that rhymes with green?"
"uh... wolverine?"

...And so on. It's just a welter of creativity at the advertising agency (one room, in the basement. The rest of the basement is the "warehouse" for all their products).

Other health benefits of dusty dehydrated vegetable greens touted by (allegedly) cocaine-addled potheads throughout the booklet include energy, weight loss (through "fat flushing"), greater strength, youthful feeling, "clock-like regularity" (!), "better-than expected post surgery bounce back", heart health, "joint and muscle pain melt away", "steady-eddy[sic] blood sugar profile", mental clarity, "tough-as-nails immune response", clear skin, shiny hair, and making others "green with envy".

...As opposed to green with nausea, I suppose.

The baseline theory behind this stuff is that food is divided into "acid" and "alkali" categories; carbs, fat, and protein are acid, and veggies/fruit are alkaline. To put it simply, if your favourite food is cheesburgers, or steak and potatoes, or even pasta, you're hosed. Just get on the death train and ride it all the way to Cancerville, you disgusting carnivores, you!

I'll let that idea sink in for a bit.

There's a lot of stuff about getting rid of disgusting mucous[sic], toxins, and fat (run! It's fat! We're all gonna die!), and while I'm not a big fan of toxins (in myself, anyway), I don't really have a problem with producing mucus, since my mucous membranes rather depend on it. And let's just get this out of the way right here - fat that is already part of your body cannot be "flushed" from your system. Some of it can be used up, through taking in less calories than you burn (but not too much - starving is very unhealthy, and your body will get quite testy if you try it)  but it's not the evil demon most people make it out to be - it contributes to brain function, organ function, fertility, and overall health. Remove all the fat from your diet, and your brain will start to die, producing hallucinations, agonizing body cramps, and nasty gastrointestinal issues on the way.

Fat is your friend. Now go eat a cupcake - it's good for you!  I'm just sayin'.

Then, I suggest you read this, and then try this for another view on the "acid/alkaline" theory.

Personally, my stomach tends to find citrus somewhat acidic, but clearly, what does my body know? After all, I've been eating plenty of fruits and veggies for years, and I don't have any more energy.

But enough about me - let's go back to giggling about advertising and how a small booklet can provide hours of entertainment. There's a lot of self-contradictory fun, as they try to convince you that buying expensive green powder is ever so much better than buying fresh greens and fruit:

"Most people know that plums, apples, carrots, broccoli, beets, and anything green [well, one of those items was green at least] is better for you than anything in a box, can or bag that's loaded with salt, sugar and preservatives."

And it doesn't take them long to bring in the religious hard sell - page 4 says "REAL FOOD THAT GOD MADE IS BETTER FOR YOU THAN FAKE FOOD THAT MAN MADE". Amazingly, they appear to have no sense of irony about the fact that their product is a man-made substitute for fresh greens.

(So... buy your dried, man-made food in a plastic tub instead of some fresh pears... ?)

(What are you implying?  It's natural!  How?  Because... shut up, that's how!)

I'm actually impressed at this level of disingenuousness, and am more convinced than ever that the writers were totally on something "natural" when they wrote this stuff. It could only be the influence of illegal substances that could lead them to write this passage with a straight face:

"Most of the comfort food we love - meat, potatoes, cheese, eggs, bread - is all acid. When your body becomes over acidic, it also retains water to dilute the acid and stores fat as protection from the acid that gets in your blood."

So it's acid that makes me fat! Funny, I found it always killed my appetite.**  And we're just on page 4. In fact, once we get to the testimonials, it almost reads like the producers of ALL DAY ENERGY GREENS[TM] are slipping something "extra" in their product:

"After taking this product... for about a year I had zero sick time, my knees stopped hurting,... My skin isn't bothered by the sun and actually feels better."

Apparently, green powder also spontaneously produces sunscreen (or a lead carapace). At least, I hope it does. Oh, wait - "alkali" foods are supposed to cure cancer (scroll down to the bottom of the article).

Or maybe they're just high on the Lord!

"The Lord blessed me so much by you sending me your letter about "All Day Energy Greens", what a perfect answer to my prayers... I've lost my "pot belly" and "love handles". My thinning graying hair is looking thicker and much less gray."

Let's not forget the obsession all these mailings have with colon health:

"Before I used ADEG, I used a cup of coffee a day to help improve my digestive tract."

One is tempted to ask from which end, knowing the popularity of coffee enemas. But no more! ADEG is much more effective... I assume when taken orally.

Then, they suggest you take it as a meal replacement. After surgery. It will make you feel better, they claim. Better than hospital jello, anyway.

And this is where this kind of thing becomes less giggly and more anger-inducing, because when they make claims that dehydrated parsley and powdered apple pectin actually help people heal faster, cure cancer (they don't outright say it, I'm sure for legal reasons, since they have the usual "food supplement - not approved by the FDA" disclaimer, but they're publishing a testimonial from a person with chronic lymph leukemia), fix heart disease, fix fibromyalgia, rheumatism, hives, eczema, hair loss, and thyroid disease, I get cross. Through what are most likely completely ficticious "testimonials" (a standard practice for weight-loss and questionable supplement peddlers), they hold out the hope that your debilitating health issues can be cured with a glass of nasty sweet green liquid once, maybe twice a day.

I think that's the great draw of "alternative" medicine (not to be confused with "nontraditional medicine" - if it actually works and does good, I have no problem with it, but y'all forgive me if I want to see studies first); it can claim whatever it wants, as long as it uses weasel words and doesn't fall under the purview of the FDA. Separating desperate people from their money is not difficult - when you feel like you've got nothing to lose, you'll try anything (though the secondary costs can be brutally high). Snake-oil salesmen have always been with us - "patent" cures are ancient, but their age does not confer any validity to their claims.

And the cost of this "full serving of veggies every day"? A three month supply is $119.85. While a dollar or so a day sounds cheap, I'd much rather eat fresh spinach.

Dare to eat a peach, dammit.

*The only actual veggies in the powder, as opposed to nutritional supplements like horsetail (The plant, not the actual tail) and bioflavonoids, are beet juice, watercress, parsley, spinach, and carrot juce (not the whole carrot, just the juice). Well, at least three of those are green. There are also some fruits: apple pectin and fiber, rapberry, and Acerola berry juice. Of all the ingredients, only 20% are actual vegetables and fruits. A replacement for 5 daily servings of fruit and vegetables? Really?

**Any claims by the author of ingestion of illegal substances is entirely ficticious.  I'm not saying this for legal reasons, I'm just admitting that I'm not that interesting.
Tags: advertising, blah blah blah, cupcakes, humour, rant, stupidity

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