Tag: Candy

Vermont Country Store goes homeopathic?

Vermont Country Store goes homeopathic?

We’ve always loved looking through the Vermont Country Store catalog, because they have some of the greatest looking foods and candies. Cherry cordials, almond bark , peppermint bark, pecan topped toffee, chocolates from Guittard and Droste, cherry and brandy candies, Dutch rum balls, marzipan fruits and tons of “nostalgic sweets.” But they are no longer carrying Valomilks!


It’s a pleasure to leaf through their catalog looking the cakes, pies, jams, meats, cheeses, nuts and, of course, Vermont maple syrup. They also have a whole section of women’s clothing and cosmetics, which we don’t look at in much detail, but which seem at least tasteful. OK, there are a few men’s clothing items, too, but they are stuck way in the back long after the cool candies and foods.

But this year, there is a glaring exception to the smooth browsing of previous years. They’ve added a bunch of quack patent medicines like Vermont Cider Vinegar with Premium Herbs for Energy and Vitality (34 oz for $9.95) (humbug!). Or there is an organic version (2 scams in one!): Vim and Vigor apple cider vinegar with Certified Organic ingredients. If it doesn’t work in the conventional version, it surely won’t work in the higher priced version (32 oz for $24.95).

But they really enter the woo palace when you find they are offering homeopathic cataract drops, which are just water. They also offer homeopathic Neuropathy Oil for temporary relief. It has “none of the side effects of prescription or OTC medicines.”  You can bet it doesn’t, because it has no active ingredients!

What is homeopathy?

Let’s remind ourselves of what utter quackery homeopathic remedies really are. Samuel Hahnemann proposed the ideas of “like cures like” when he realized in 1784 that cinchona could be used as a treatment for malaria, but which induced malaria-like symptoms in healthy people. In his work, he began experimenting with dilutions of relatively toxic compounds, and claimed that very dilute preparations could still be effective in treatment of various diseases, assuming that the dilutions were prepared using his procedure which included striking the flask on an elastic body. This is called “dynamisation” or “potentisation” and has no physical or chemical meaning at all.

The dilutions in homeopathic preparations are based on a centesimal scale so that 1C means a dilution of 1:100. Then 2C means taking a portion of that 1C dilution and again diluting by 1:100. Molecular theory was still quite new in Hahnemann’s time and he did not recognize that such popular dilutions as 30C meant that there would not be a single molecule of the active substance remaining. Typically, we can calculate that there may be 1 molecule in a 12C dilution and none in further dilutions. Hahnemann believed that his vigorous shaking between dilutions left behind a “spirit-like essence” which was responsible for the homeopathic medicine’s effect. Nowadays, we would call that a placebo, or just “quack medicine.” You can read more about homeopathy on Quackwatch.

So now we see that the “homeopathic cataract drops” are just plain water and cannot do anything useful.  And that Neuropathy Oil is just sunflower oil with nothing else in it. Vermont Country Store seems to offer a number of homoeopathic products, including ones for prostate symptom relief and TMJ relief. They won’t work! They’re a scam!

So, they’ve added these useless products (did I mention the Natural Detoxifier Lung Flush?) but they did away with Valomilk? What kind of priorities are these?


Halloween candy: How to decide

Halloween candy: How to decide

Halloween candies
Halloween candies

Every year a lot of ink is wasted on advice about what kind of candy to give out on Halloween. If you want to make yourself unpopular, give out non-candy like state quarters (which someone might swallow). To see if you can get your house egged, try giving out some trinkets like tattoos or tiny toys instead of candy.

And some, like our colleague Analiese Paik, who writes the Fairfield County Green Guide (and deletes any critical comments on her blog) suggests you try for organic, non-GMO, Fair Trade overpriced politically aware candies.

Let’s be clear: these are foodie, yuppie theories with no basis in fact.

  • As we noted yesterday, there is no evidence that Fair Trade benefits the farmers it is supposed to help. Most of the money ends up with the producers and the fair trade organization itself. And Fair Trade labels on chocolate are even more questionable, since all it means is the candy company bought some: not which candy it was put in, since the chocolate is indistinguishable.
  • The “Organic” designation itself is just a marketing label. There is no evidence that organic foods are safer or more nutritious. And since both conventional and organic farmers spray their crops, both might have spray residues. But these are much smaller than the residues from insecticides the plants themselves create for protection.
  • “Non-GMO” is just another marketing slogan. Biotech crops are completely safe. There is no evidence after nearly 20 years of biotech crops being grown that anyone has ever had any ill effects from such crops. And even if there were, the concept of “non-GMO sugar” is absurd, because sugar is a pure compound which contains no DNA.
foodbabe And of course, Vani Hari, the Food Babe, whose star has fallen as her overwhelming ignorance has become more apparent, suggests a list of crazy candies that no one will like, all to satisfy her fallacious dietary restrictions, and to earn her commissions on these disgusting treats.
Meanwhile, some wag has put together a list much like hers, but with a couple of ridiculous alternatives, like “dirt and twigs” and “organic razor blade apples.”  Incidentally, there is no evidence that razor blades (or needles or drugs) ever were put into Halloween candy, so relax about that urban legend. joke candy list

Look people, this is not a political holiday where you take stands on your peculiar and unscientific theories. It’s a fun holiday where kids get some candy. Parents can ration the candy as they see fit, but a few days of sugary treats is not a serious issue. Sugar is not toxic. And if you are buying the candy just to give away and have no children at home, just behave like grandparents and give the kids what they like. Childhood is too short to make Halloween some sort of weird political statement!