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#31393 - 10/04/14 02:42 AM Food forum
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
We have threads relating to the passions of FTM participants on coffee and tea, so why not a general food forum?

Here's a nice piece on fermentation:
We should all embrace the joy of fermented foods – for the sake of our taste buds and our health

And the final section in Michael Pollan's Cooked : A Natural History of Transformation (New York: Penguin Books, 2013. ISBN 978-0-14-312533-4) sings the palatal delight fantastic on fermentation – from wine and beer to cheese to sauerkraut and kimchi. A worthy read in its entirety, as are all of Pollan's treatises (The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food, etc).

Fermenting takes me to my happy place. I make my own wines, albeit from very good kits (to spare myself the exertion of preparing the grapes, many varieties of which I would be hard pressed to acquire otherwise).

I am also an avid aficionado of pickled products, although my one foray into kimchi (using pretty much the same recipe as Pollan provides on p 436) some 30 years ago wound up with a delicious end-product but with my being banned from a workplace refectory when its aroma permeated the space. But I'm planning to get back into it in near future – homemade is always better (once one acquires the basic skills and has a modicum of practice) than store-bought, in so many ways.

If you'd like to delve further into origins and evolution of food and its preparation, I recommend Margaret Visser's work, Much Depends on Dinner : The Extraordinary History and Mythology, Allure and Obsessions, Perils and Taboos, of an Ordinary Meal (1986), and her follow-up thereto, The Rituals of Dinner : The Origins, Evolution, Eccentricities, & Meaning of Table Manners (1992). The former delves into an 'ordinary' American dinner: corn on the cob with butter and salt, roast chicken with rice, salad dressed in lemon juice and olive oil, and ice cream.

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#31397 - 10/04/14 12:01 PM Re: Food forum [Re: grelber]
tacit Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
I've been thinking quite a lot about food lately, largely as it relates to this weird growing fear of GMO food (a fear that parallels similar weird, unscientific fears of vaccines).

The pseudoscientific terror of GMO foods seems to be a kind of modern version of the old kosher or halal religious food purity things, only instead of saying "God said it" now we say "confused pseudoscientific garwharbl said it." But the root seems identical--a fear response without grounding in evidence, turned into a a quest to see certain kinds of food as "bad." (In San Francisco, we stayed with a friend who buys--get this--"GMO free" salt, in spite of the fact that salt isn't even grown--there is no G to M because salt is not an O.)
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#31399 - 10/04/14 01:03 PM Re: Food forum [Re: grelber]
cyn Online

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Registered: 08/03/09
Do you mean a general food thread?
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#31401 - 10/04/14 03:25 PM Re: Food forum [Re: tacit]
alternaut Offline

Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
The parallel you draw to similar weird, unscientific fears of vaccines is a good one, but GMO foods also have other issues in the mix. Apart from the (as yet unsubstantiated*) fear that GMO foods might somehow be detrimental to your health, there's the fear that manipulated plant genes can escape their current hosts and affect other varieties, if not species, and cause agricultural problems down the line. One of those problems could be the loss of unmanipulated varietals. If true, the magnitude and impact of such problems remains to be seen, but the possibility seems at least conceivable.

Such issues need to be seen against the backdrop of an important economic aspect of patenting GMO seeds, e.g., the ban on using part of the crop as seed stock for the next. This is not economically feasible for poor growers, which overwhelmingly are located in poor countries, which won't be able to produce their share of their own food any more. While I understand the underlying reasoning of producers like Monsanto, IMHO this measure is the most questionable link in the entire GMO universe. I wonder how many people who are against GMO foods are in fact conflating these issues into a gigantic negative tar ball.

*) The fact that it's impossible to prove a negative has always been fodder for fear mongers.
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#31403 - 10/04/14 05:14 PM Re: Food forum [Re: tacit]
dkmarsh Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09

You don't mention what many folks consider to be the primary reason to avoid GMO foods: the vast majority of them have been modified to be herbicide-resistant. The result? A proliferation of Roundup Ready corn and soybeans. The long-term effects of higher levels of glyphosate in the diet haven't yet been determined to be benign, so avoidance of foods likely to contain them is hardly an irrational behavior.
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#31405 - 10/04/14 05:23 PM Re: Food forum [Re: dkmarsh]
tacit Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
Actually, you don't get glyphosate in your diet from RR crops. Glyphosate is generally sprayed on crops when they first sprout.

All large-scale agriculture uses pesticides of some sort (even organic agriculture). The beauty of glyphosate is that it's so low in toxicity to humans. It works by interrupting an enzyme necessary for photosynthesis, and, well, we don't do photosynthesis. The toxicity of glyphosate is slightly lower than the toxicity of baking soda.

Without it, we use much, much more toxic herbicides and pesticides. (Organic farming in particular uses some *extremely* toxic pesticides, like copper sulfate and pyrethrins.) So ironically, people who are frightened of glyphosate and choose non-RR crops actually expose themselves to greater, not lower, levels of toxicity.

Of course, this doesn't explain being scared of things like GM soybean oil, which has no pesticides--or indeed any plant material related in any way whatsoever to how the plant was grown.
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#31406 - 10/04/14 05:24 PM Re: Food forum [Re: cyn]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
Originally Posted By: cyn
Do you mean a general food thread?

The thread is a forum in the general meaning of "a place, meeting, or medium where ideas and views on a particular issue [in this case food] can be exchanged".
I stand by my choice of title.

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#31408 - 10/04/14 05:35 PM Re: Food forum [Re: tacit]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
The real problem with glyphosate is the behavior of Monsanto and its outrageously shabby treatment of farmers whose crops have become contaminated with their product following which Monsanto sues them for using their products without paying for the privilege.

A more recent danger has been the introduction of neonicotinoids ("neonics") as pesticides which have disastrously affected the lower food chains and are wiping agricultural benefactors such as bees, not to mention many species of birds, fish and mammals dependent on myriads of insects as food.

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#31410 - 10/05/14 10:52 AM Re: Food forum [Re: grelber]
tacit Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
The "Monsanto sues farmers for accidental contamination!" meme is prevalent but provably false. Monsanto has never once sued anyone for accidental contamination, and I challenge you to find even a single court case showing that they have. In fact, Monsanto will come out and remove, at their own expense, any accidental contamination that ends up on a farmer's field.

There have been court cases, and in every single one, a jury has found the farmer was stealing Monsanto seeds. Every single case that has gone before a jury, without exception, the jury has ruled that the farmer was intentionally planting Monsanto seeds and lying about it.

All the winnings that Monsanto has earned in these cases, it has donated to charity.

There are three things I find incredibly frustrating about conversations about GMO foods.

The first is the incredible amount of false information and misinformation--I've heard everything from "organic food doesn't use pesticides" to "GMO crops change your body's DNA" to "GMO crops have unnatural genes in them" in these conversations.

The second is the way whenever you talk to someone who doesn't like GMOs, the goalposts get whipped around so fast I'm always afraid someone's going to put an eye out. "I don't like GMOs because they're unsafe!" "Well, actually, repeated studies and meta-studies have showed they're exactly as safe as conventional crops." "Well, then, I don't like them because of seed patents!" "Well, conventional and organic seeds are patented too--seed patents have nothing to do with GMOs." "Well, um...I don't like them because Monsanto!" That tells me the REAL reason people don't like them is probably emotional, and has nothing to do with any of these reasons--these "reasons" are actually just rationalizations.

The third frustrating thing is Monsanto, Monsanto, Monsanto, Monsanto, Monsanto. Monsanto bullies farmers, who are somehow too stupid or too naive to make rational decisions about what crops they plant. Monsanto controls 99 or 98 or 95 or 93% of the world's seed markets, depending on what alarmist Web site you read. (Actually, they have about a 33% share of the largest seed markets they're in.) Monsanto is a gigantic corporation that has engineered a vast conspiracy of scientists. (Actually, Monsanto is about the same size as Whole Foods, and smaller than Starbucks and the Gap.) Monsanto sues farmers for contamination. (Complete fairy tale; I see stories about it all the time, but those stories never seem to include docket numbers. Hmm...)

I wish people would become more informed about food. "More informed" doesn't mean reading Natural News and Mercola; it means actually doing things like looking at the primary scientific literature, fact-checking claims, and talking to farmers.
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#31414 - 10/05/14 02:08 PM Re: Food forum [Re: tacit]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
Perhaps that's the case with Monsanto in the USA, but in Canada there is the Percy Schmeiser case.
Monsanto's take, along with other lawsuits, can be found at
http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/pages/percy-schmeiser.aspx
Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto_Canada_Inc._v._Schmeiser

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#31415 - 10/05/14 02:22 PM Re: Food forum [Re: grelber]
artie505 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: Wikipedia
The case drew worldwide attention and is widely misunderstood to concern what happens when farmers' fields are accidentally contaminated with patented seed. However by the time the case went to trial, all claims had been dropped that related to patented seed in the field that was contaminated in 1997; the court only considered the GM canola in Schmeiser's 1998 fields, which Schmeiser had intentionally concentrated and planted from his 1997 harvest. Regarding his 1998 crop, Schmeiser did not put forward any defence of accidental contamination. (Emphasis added)
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#31432 - 10/06/14 08:56 AM Re: Food forum [Re: tacit]
Ira L Offline


Registered: 08/13/09
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: tacit
The pseudoscientific terror of GMO foods seems to be a kind of modern version of the old kosher or halal religious food purity things, only instead of saying "God said it" now we say "confused pseudoscientific garwharbl said it." But the root seems identical--a fear response without grounding in evidence…


Given that religion is not necessarily rational (that's why they are called "religions"), early kosher and halal beliefs were founded on two premises: sanitation and humane treatment. The first may have been lucky and not based on science (e.g., an association between pork and trichinosis), as may have been the second (kill an animal in a certain way and you avoid fecal contamination, etc.); but there was most likely observational evidence that led to some of the basis for these religious practices.

As some of the postings above point out, with the issue of GMO, even this level of "lucky observations" seems to be lacking.
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#31433 - 10/06/14 10:36 AM Re: Food forum [Re: Ira L]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
How times have changed (at least in North America)!

When I was a kid and well into adulthood, pork was the demon food, requiring thorough cooking to ward off the possibility of trichinosis. Even in my veterinary training with respect to regulatory issues involving "packing houses" (ie, abattoirs or slaughter houses), we were expected to be able to find and identify Trichinella spiralis. Now pork is ultra clean and can be safely served far less than well-done (as anyone who watches MasterChef can attest).

By comparison and to my amazement at the time, while living in Germany in the early '60s, uncooked bacon (Speck) was on many menus, usually as a thick (ca 5-10 mm) slice, with the dining protocol of small morsels thoroughly chewed. Proper (at least worm-free) pork production in Europe was decades ahead of that in North America.

On the other hand, chicken and other poultry, improperly handled, have engendered huge increases in salmonellosis, given current husbandry practices (which are too disgusting to mention at the moment but which can be viewed in any number of "undercover" videos online). And no more great deals on "crax" (cracked eggs).

Worst of all is beef: The advent of high-stress husbandry involving feedlots which accelerate weight gain by feeding abnormally large amounts of grain, which in turn increase the acidity (lower the normal pH of the rumen, compared to pastoral grass feeding), which in turn has generated acid-resistant E. coli (especially E. coli O157:H7). Prior to this type of husbandry any E. coli of bovine source which might have cruised through the packing house process and into your gut would have been easily exterminated by your stomach acid. Not anymore! Get infected and wait for the norovirus-type repercussions, maybe even watch your kidneys and other organs pack it in at your next country fair. Try to get a rare hamburger at McDonald's or steak tartare at your favorite bistro these days.

And even vegetarians have to despair: E. coli O157:H7 contaminates veggies (such as spinach, bean sprouts) by having crops sprayed with contaminated cow manure or by their being hand-harvested by infected workers.

Are we having fun yet? And maybe you thought Ebola virus might be a bigger concern?

Perhaps the best solution is to become a breatharian. tongue


Edited by grelber (10/07/14 04:38 AM)
Edit Reason: Additional info: Speck

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#31435 - 10/06/14 12:57 PM Re: Food forum [Re: grelber]
tacit Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
The Percy Schmeiser case seems to me exactly what I said: a farmer deliberately stealing Monsanto seeds without paying for them. Just the kind of situation I think Monsanto is reasonable in pursuing.
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#31436 - 10/06/14 02:15 PM Re: Food forum [Re: tacit]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
Originally Posted By: tacit
The Percy Schmeiser case seems to me exactly what I said: a farmer deliberately stealing Monsanto seeds without paying for them. Just the kind of situation I think Monsanto is reasonable in pursuing.

Looking at the documents: He didn't steal the seeds; he just concentrated and planted the ones (which accidentally contaminated his fields) from the previous harvest. Monsanto wisely dropped their suit regarding the latter.


Edited by grelber (10/06/14 02:16 PM)

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#31437 - 10/06/14 03:28 PM Re: Food forum [Re: grelber]
artie505 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: grelber
Originally Posted By: tacit
The Percy Schmeiser case seems to me exactly what I said: a farmer deliberately stealing Monsanto seeds without paying for them. Just the kind of situation I think Monsanto is reasonable in pursuing.

Looking at the documents: He didn't steal the seeds; he just concentrated and planted the ones (which accidentally contaminated his fields) from the previous harvest. Monsanto wisely dropped their suit regarding the latter.

Monsanto's wisdom in dropping their suit was matched by the Supreme Court's wisdom in recognizing that "concentration" was theft.

Edit: I wonder what may happen if the Monsanto seeds propagate better than god's own and eventually take over a field naturally, i.e. without concentration?


Edited by artie505 (10/06/14 03:34 PM)
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#31439 - 10/06/14 04:19 PM Re: Food forum [Re: artie505]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
Originally Posted By: artie505
Edit: I wonder what may happen if the Monsanto seeds propagate better than god's own and eventually take over a field naturally, i.e. without concentration?

I don't think even Monsanto, which fancies itself among the agribusiness gods, would have the chutzpah to attempt to sue God. tongue smirk

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#31443 - 10/07/14 08:47 AM Re: Food forum [Re: grelber]
Ira L Offline


Registered: 08/13/09
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: grelber
Perhaps the best solution is to become a breatharian.


That actually happened a couple of decades back, where else but here in the San Francisco Bay Area. A young man created the Breatharian Institute where he taught ($$) you how to live on air. He got considerable press, appeared on local morning shows and developed a small following. Karmically he was caught coming out of a 7-11 with a handful of Twinkies. His response: "I never said I lived only on air."

At least some of us are having fun. wink
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#31445 - 10/07/14 09:10 AM Re: Food forum [Re: Ira L]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
Originally Posted By: Ira L
... he was caught coming out of a 7-11 with a handful of Twinkies. ...

That's why I stuck the reference in.
As I recall, he was caught behind McDonald's scarfing down a Big Mac.
I suspect that that episode is now solidly resident in the book of Urban Myths with any number of "sightings" ~ "gotchas".

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#31446 - 10/07/14 09:49 AM Re: Food forum [Re: grelber]
joemikeb Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Today's freedom from trichinosis comes at a high cost. Just ask farmers and ranchers who are downstream from a modern disease free pig farm and have to deal with the thousands of gallons of pig effluent washing down from the concrete and steel pens where the pigs are kept by "farmers" who dress in scrubs similar to those worn in surgical suites at the local hospital. The piglets are born by cesarian section so they will not be contaminated by the birth process and will spend their entire lives on a sterile concrete pad.

Then there are the cases where organic farming has become so successful in an area that too many of the area farmers converted to organic methods only to suffer dramatically falling production and outright crop disasters due to insects and disease. It seems the organic fields had been protected by the surrounding fields which were using chemical agents to eliminate the insects and infections. When too many switched to organic farming that protection was lost allowing insects and crop disease to flourish.

Don't misunderstand me, I still prefer beef that has been grass fattened and then "finished" in a feedlot for say 60 days. But even a century or more ago cattle were either sprayed or "dipped" to protect them from flies and worms. I would be happy to use the ranching methods used by my grandfather but I could not make enough money to pay the property taxes on the land any more. So the land is sold to someone rich enough to need the tax write off.

It has been posited that we could survive entirely on organic farming methods and without GMO crops but it would require at least a 50 to 60% reduction in the human population of the entire planet. Of course that might also make a substantial dent in the carbon footprint and global warming as well.
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#31451 - 10/07/14 12:24 PM Re: Food forum [Re: joemikeb]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
Originally Posted By: joemikeb
Today's freedom from trichinosis comes at a high cost. Just ask farmers and ranchers who are downstream from a modern disease free pig farm and have to deal with the thousands of gallons of pig effluent washing down from the concrete and steel pens where the pigs are kept by "farmers" who dress in scrubs similar to those worn in surgical suites at the local hospital.

That flies in the face of the European experience which has never gone the route of the massive pig barns with horrible husbandry practices. In North America, due to repeated public exposure of 'bad' practice, much is changing today.
The reason for the sanitary practices is to prevent epidemics of viral pig diseases (most of which are in the USA and have been kept at bay in Canada due to such practices).

Originally Posted By: joemikeb
The piglets are born by cesarian section so they will not be contaminated by the birth process and will spend their entire lives on a sterile concrete pad.

Maybe that's true where you are, but it sure isn't the practice above the 49th.

Originally Posted By: joemikeb
... Of course that might also make a substantial dent in the carbon footprint and global warming as well.

This is whole different kettle of shite – and probably one requiring its own thread.

Global warming is a myth – prevarication and delusion at their finest. The evidence adduced contradicts the theories, such as CO2 and other greenhouse gases cause warming; the relationship is in the opposite direction. The whole issue is now so highly politicized with vast amounts of money involved that it borders on hysteria, with science taking a back seat to vested interests.

The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports pretty much tell the same story, but the summaries of same select out only the doomsday scenarios.

A short-and-sweet exposition of the facts can be had in the 2007 documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle (available on DVD – 60 minutes of documentary + 60 minutes of additional material from leading climate scientists).

There has always been climate change — some gradual, some abrupt — and here we are. As for global temperature variation over the millennia, it's pretty clear from the scientific evidence that its proximate cause is cloudiness and its ultimate cause is solar activity.

Go back in history and look at the Medieval Warm Period (ca AD 900-1500) followed abruptly by the Little Ice Age (ca AD 1550-1850) and draw conclusions based on real measurements. The MWP, when temperatures were even higher than today or 'predicted' to be, was a time of wealth and creativity (eg, massive cathedral building).

Most of the world's ills could be resolved, as suggested, by a halving of its population.

Ignore the keening climate-change Jeremiahs. Fixing Earth's woes won't cost a penny. Just look around to witness how troubles are being resolved. The medium is the message.

Gaia (or, if you will, Mother Nature) has everything under control: Of course people are the problem, and her favorite means for self-preservation and to cure the problem are war, famine and pestilence. Once she culls the herd to effect a reasonable carrying capacity, environmental degradation will cease and all will be well. So ...

Don't worry. Be happy. Carry on regardless.

Simply put: Overpopulation is the disease. All else abusive to Gaia constitutes merely symptoms. Symptomatic relief does not cure the disease.

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#31471 - 10/08/14 09:00 AM Re: Food forum [Re: grelber]
Ira L Offline


Registered: 08/13/09
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: grelber
Global warming is a myth


I take it you are referring to global warming as the result of human activities. Your later comments seem to say that it's happening, just not for the reasons that are put out there?
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#31473 - 10/08/14 09:56 AM Re: Food forum [Re: Ira L]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
Yes and no.

Human activities do not meaningfully enter the equation.

And global warming per se is not happening in any significant fashion at the moment. When it does, just as in the past, it will not likely be due to human activities and it won't be amenable to human intervention (keening by the vested interests qua Jeremiahs on the left and right notwithstanding). Gaia alone is the operant entity in maintaining homeostasis.

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#31476 - 10/08/14 07:13 PM Re: Food forum [Re: grelber]
tacit Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
Originally Posted By: grelber
Originally Posted By: tacit
The Percy Schmeiser case seems to me exactly what I said: a farmer deliberately stealing Monsanto seeds without paying for them. Just the kind of situation I think Monsanto is reasonable in pursuing.

Looking at the documents: He didn't steal the seeds; he just concentrated and planted the ones (which accidentally contaminated his fields) from the previous harvest. Monsanto wisely dropped their suit regarding the latter.


If I run an Internet cafe and someone comes in and installs a bootleg copy of AutoCAD on one of my computers, that's not my fault.

If someone installs a bootleg copy of AutoCAD on one of my computers, and I copy it off, install it on all my other computers, and use a keygen to make them all work, that IS my fault, and Autodesk would be totally right to sue my pirating a$$.

If seeds you don't own blow onto your farm, that's not your fault (and if it's a Monsanto seed, give them a call! They'll come out and clean it up at their expense.)

If seeds you don't own blow onto your farm, and you gather them up and plant them for commercial gain, well...
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#31477 - 10/09/14 02:00 AM Re: Food forum [Re: tacit]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
So, we agree. Excellent. smile

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