Tag Archives: Wall Street Journal

Why You’re Eating More Wood

By Pete Williams

Food shortage?

Those beavers are onto something. Food manufacturers increasingly are turning to cellulose, according to today’s Wall Street Journal, to “thicken or stabilize foods, replace fat and boost fiber content, and cut the need for ingredients like oil or flour, which are getting more expensive.”

Powdered cellulose comes from tiny pieces of wood pulp, which already is in high demand as Europe and Asia increasingly turn to the U.S. timber market for pulpwood, which is turned into fuel pellets. This is fueling, no pun intended, the market for pulpwood at a time when the demand for wood for building materials has never been lower because of the real estate collapse.

According to the current issue of Forest Landowner Magazine, there’s a shortage of pulpwood coming out of the south. Given the popularity of it by food manufacturers, we could call it a “food” shortage.

According to The WSJ, Kraft Foods uses cellulose from wood pulp (and cotton) in salad dressing. Organic Valley uses it in its shredded-cheese products, preferring it over synthetic ingredients. Meat maker Tyson Foods uses cellulose on some products to maintain glazes or breading, but not as a filler, a spokesman adds. Kellogg Co. uses cellulose to raise the food content of its foods.

This is not another instance of food manufacturers putting more sketchy stuff in what we’re eating. In fact, extra “wood” consumption is a good thing. Cellulose is a rich source of fiber, key to any healthy diet. Nutritionists quoted in The WSJ story say the cellulose we get from wood products is no different than the cellulose we get from celery.

So the next time you’re passing pine plantations as you drive along Florida highways, take a glance and your next healthy meal.

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Filed under Nutrition

New Hip, New Knee – Let’s Race!

By Pete Williams

Boomers not slowing down

The Wall Street Journal revisited a story it tackled a few years ago, the trend of baby boomers and even some Generation Xers to undergo hip and knee replacements only to return to active lifestyles of running, triathlon, and equestrian events.

It wasn’t that long ago when joint replacements were for older folks who just wanted to spend their senior years without pain. Now people in their 40s – and even late 30s – are having such procedures. No doubt some of them have logged too many miles running, especially if they have muscle imbalances that have exacerbated the need for a new hip or knee.

The Wall Street Journal quotes docs as saying folks with new knees and hips should focus on lower impact sports like swimming and cycling, but naturally that’s not enough for many people.

Also of note is that technology has improved knee/hip replacements, which now can last for up to 30 years.

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Filed under Running, Training, Triathlon

Is Active.com Really a ‘Start-Up’ Company?

By Pete Williams

13-year-old 'start-up?'

The Wall Street Journal on Thursday printed its annual ranking of the “top 50 starts-ups,” promising venture-backed companies.

As you might expect, few of these companies are household names unless you’re an avid follower of upstart technology firms, though there at No.16 was a company endurance athletes know all too well. No, not World Triathlon Corp. — The Active Network, the dreaded Ticketmaster of the endurance world.

I’m not sure how a company founded in 1998 qualifies as a “start-up.” If so, it’s even more puzzling that Active was not included in The Journal’s 2010 ranking. Other companies moved up from 35 to 13 or down from 2 to 20, but somehow The Journal editors just got wind of Active?

Of the top 10 start-ups, none were founded before 2002 and most were founded between 2004 and 2008.

Of the 50 companies listed, Active has raised by far the most venture capital ($272.4 million). Only 13 companies have generated more than $100 million, though presumably most of them are younger.

It’s not like Active has suddenly raised more capital in the past year. In 2008, it got an $80 million infusion from another company people love to hate (Disney/ESPN), which brought Active’s total to $272.4 million and sparked rumors of an IPO. Thus far that has not materialized.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the ranking is how The WSJ characterizes Active’s product: “Web publisher and service for managing and promoting events.”

Web publisher? That would make Active comparable to The Huffington Post, which was No.22 on last year’s ranking before AOL bought it for $315 million.

Sure, Active has some decent content, but not sure I’d list “Web publisher” first or even at all, what with Active’s cash cow core business of online petty theft, I mean, online event registration. I’m sure the boys in San Diego are thrilled to see the nation’s leading financial publication characterize them as a diverse media services company. Maybe the IPO is close at hand.

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Filed under Races, Running, Triathlon