Loopholes – A Karma Sense Update

Executive Summary

Loopholes. Your feelings about them depend on whether or not they work in your favor. I know a guy who loved the tax loophole that gave him tax credits for buying an SUV “for his business” (a lawyer who does house calls, I guess). But he railed against the loopholes that let giant companies like General Electric pay no corporate taxes. Today, while anxiously waiting for the very last installment of the Karma Sense Eating Plan series, we’ll explore some loopholes to love and some loopholes to hate. For something you’ll always love, read the entire Karma Sense Eating Plan here.

Big Fat Loophole #1

About the same time my lawyer friend was buying his SUV the Healthy Choice brand of products (owned by a member in good standing of the Healthcare Industrial Complex, ConAgra), offered a promotion in which for every 10 bar codes from it’s products that you redeemed, you’d get 2,000 frequent flyer miles. But there was a loophole. They forgot to put a limit on how many times you could redeem them.

In no time, David Phillips, a civil engineer from Davis, CA started working on the economics of this transaction and found that he could buy Healthy Choice pudding cups for a quarter a piece. That’s $2.50 for every 2,000 miles. The rule of thumb among frequent flyers is that frequent flyer miles are worth about 1 to 2 cents per mile. If you split that in the middle, Mr. Phillips found a no-risk way to turn a $2.50 investment into $30. That’s a factor of 12.

In the end, Phillips accumulated 1.25 million miles and he and his family have traveled the world in first class seats. You can learn more about his story here including what he did with the 10,000 pudding cups he ended up with.

But there are more loopholes in this story. Here is the annotated ingredient list of Healthy Choice pudding cups:

Nonfat Milk (Because some people still think fat is bad), Water, Sugar (Nothing wrong with that in moderation), Modified Corn Starch (Used to thicken. has no nutritional value. May be GMO if you care), Cocoa (Processed With Alkali), Less Than 2% Of: Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil (Industrial Soybean Oil is über inflammatory as it is. The partially hydrogenated version is poison), Cream, Artificial And Natural Flavors (Blech), Salt, Carrageenan (Known to cause ulcers and may cause cancer), Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate (Used to keep this whole mess from separating. has no nutritional value. It’s not food), Tricalcium Phosphate (Used to give it a creamy feel. has no nutritional value. It’s not food), Color Added  (Safety in question. Added because you wouldn’t eat it if you knew what color it really was).

While that whole ingredient list is a nightmare, the worst offender is the “Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil”. Meanwhile, here is what the Nutrition Facts label says:

HealthyChoiceNutritionFacts

Zero grams of Tran Fat? How could that be? Even if it contains “Less Than 2%” this is an ingredient that the FDA recently decided is unsafe in any amount (announcement here). Healthy Choice products may not be such a healthy choice after all. Fortunately, this means that this type of misleading labeling will stop. Unless we’re dealing with…

Big Fat Loophole #2

Yes the FDA declared that Partially Hydrogenated Oils are not “generally recognized as safe” but this is not an outright ban of Trans Fats. In fact manufacturers can continue to add Partially Hydrogenated Oils to their products, they just need to apply to do so.

Furthermore, thanks to lobbying by another member of the Healthcare Industrial Complex, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, trans fats can be added to foods without having to first apply as long as the trans fats don’t come directly from Partially Hydrogenated Oils. Food manufacturers are already working on techniques to enable this.

And finally, no part of the FDA action closes the loophole that allows trace amounts of trans fats (less than half a gram) in products like Healthy Choice pudding cups. I’m not generally an alarmist, I think less than half a gram in a pudding cup isn’t going to hurt anyone. But don’t buy the pudding cup because it’s “healthy”. The only thing “healthy” about it is ConAgra’s profit margin. And knowing that the pudding cup itself isn’t “healthy”, why not eat real chocolate pudding?

A Voting Loophole

Last week I told you about the Karma Sense Eating Plan being nominated in the Little Bits Side Projects contest. If KSEP wins, I’ll receive some funding and support to convert the blog series into a book. If you haven’t voted, you can still do so at this link. Select the Karma Sense Eating Plan by clicking on the up arrow to the left of it’s listing. It will request your email address, but there is a loophole. You can enter anything that looks like a well-formed email address and your vote will be accepted. That’s good to know if you have any privacy concerns.

Once you vote, you are blocked from voting again. But there is another loophole. If you clear out your browser cookies the site has no idea you voted. Although I am a long shot, I would like to legitimately win so I am not asking anyone to take advantage of that loophole. If I wanted that, I would just do it myself. I admit, I did test it just to figure out if that’s how they blocked it, but that’s just me being a tinkerer.

The Karma Sense Eating Project will be released in book form whether or not I win this contest, but winning will probably keep me from having to beg on street corners. So please vote for my side project. You have until July 21 at 5:00 PM EDT to do so. Once published, all Karma Sense Eating Plan proceeds will be donated to hunger based charities.

Coming Up

I have finished the write up for the Plan component of the Karma Sense Eating Plan and it will be released in its entirety this weekend. It is one long post, but I just want to get it out there as soon as possible so I can focus on the book.

Speaking of the book, I intend to have never-before-seen content in the final version and plan on including some case studies. If you are interested in leading a life of Karma Sense but feel you need support, I have a few more slots available. Contact me if you are interested but act fast as people are grabbing slots every time I bring it up. Your privacy will be maintained and there is no obligation if you want to discuss this and decide if it is right for you.

 

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