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Author is causing debate over theory that we've 'tricked' ourselves into loving lobster

"Lobsters are like diamonds. Bad product, great marketing."

lobster, scarcity, jason pargin

Jason K. Pargin shares his controversial theory on lobster.

Novelist Jason K. Pargin has inspired an online food fight after his video about lobster received over 500,000 views on Tiktok and nearly 6 million on Twitter. Pargin believes that we’ve all been tricked into liking lobster and that people only like it because it’s considered high class.

Pargin is the author of the “John Dies at the End” and “Zoey Ashe” series and the former editor of Cracked.com.

"I don't think anyone actually enjoys eating lobster. I think they've just been convinced that it's a high-class food for a really specific reason,” Pargin says in his controversial video. He then describes how just a few centuries ago lobster was once used as prisoners' food and ground into fertilizer.


But after the food developed a reputation for being hard to transport from the coastal areas inland and that it spoils quickly after being cooked, it began to be seen as a delicacy.

"So because it was difficult to mess with and because it had to be shipped live inside the country, away from the coast, it became known that lobster was difficult to obtain," Pargin says in his video. "And because it's difficult to obtain, it had to be expensive, and because it was expensive, we decided it was good.”

"You were eating lobster not because you enjoyed it but because you wanted it to be known to all who were watching you that you could afford lobster," Pargin continues.

His final point was a real blow to those who only eat lobster if it’s drowned in butter. "You know what also tastes good when you dump it into a bucket of butter? Anything," Pargin says.

The viral video sparked a hot debate on Twitter, where it appears that most people disagreed with Pargin—especially those who live in the northeast and enjoy lobster no matter how it’s prepared. Many had a problem with Pargin framing the argument from the limited American perspective.

Lobster is eaten worldwide and has been enjoyed by countless cultures since the prehistoric era. People enjoy lobster in places where it’s affordable and where it’s considered a delicacy. So that kills his argument that we’ve been duped into enjoying lobster simply because it’s expensive.

But Pargin is entirely correct when he claims that we value things more when they are scarce. In psychology, the concept is known as the scarcity effect.

"Scarcity is a pervasive condition of human existence," Shahram Heshmat, Ph.D., writes in Psychology Today. "Everyday circumstances of limited resources (money and time) can make individuals experience a sense of scarcity. Scarcity functions like an obstacle to goal pursuit, which intensify the value of goal."

Here’s what people are saying about Pargin’s videos on Twitter.

Sorry, Jason, history goes way past the 1800s.

Some swear they do not need to drown a lobster in butter to enjoy its flavor.

Many disagreed and shared why they love the cockroach of the seas.

Is lobster really just a butter-delivery system?

Some agree with Pargin that people only like lobster because it's expensive.

Pargin’s argument makes sense. We value things harder to get, and anything dunked in butter tastes fantastic. But that doesn't cover the fact that people enjoy lobster around the globe, regardless of its perceived scarcity. In the end, the real winners of this debate are those who don’t like lobster. Right now, a pound of Maine lobster goes for up to $80 a pound. That’s an expensive night out at the local fish joint.


This article originally appeared on 3.18.23

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Scientists tested 3 popular bottled water brands for nanoplastics using new tech, and yikes

The results were alarming—an average of 240,000 nanoplastics per 1 liter bottle—but what does it mean for our health?

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Columbia University researchers tested bottled water for nanoplastics and found hundreds of thousands of them.

Evian, Fiji, Voss, SmartWater, Aquafina, Dasani—it's impressive how many brands we have for something humans have been consuming for millennia. Despite years of studies showing that bottled water is no safer to drink than tap water, Americans are more consuming more bottled water than ever, to the tune of billions of dollars in bottled water sales.

People cite convenience and taste in addition to perceived safety for reasons they prefer bottle to tap, but the fear factor surrounding tap water is still a driving force. It doesn't help when emergencies like floods cause tap water contamination or when investigations reveal issues with lead pipes in some communities, but municipal water supplies are tested regularly, and in the vast majority of the U.S., you can safely grab a glass of water from a tap.

And now, a new study on nanoplastics found in three popular bottled water brands is throwing more data into the bottled vs. tap water choice.

Researchers from Columbia University used a new laser-guided technology to detect nanoplastics that had previously evaded detection due to their miniscule size. The new technology can detect, count and analyze and chemical structure of nanoparticles, and they found seven different major types of plastic: polyamide, polypropylene, polyethylene, polymethyl methacrylate, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, and polyethylene terephthalate.

In contrast to a 2018 study that found around 300 plastic particles in an average liter of bottled water, the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in January of 2024 found 240,000 nanoplastic particles per liter bottle on average between the three brands studied. (The name of the brands were not indicated in the study.)

As opposed to microplastics, nanoplastics are too small to be seen by microscope. Their size is exactly why experts are concerned about them, as they are small enough to invade human cells and potentially disrupt cellular processes.

“Micro and nanoplastics have been found in the human placenta at this point. They’ve been found in human lung tissues. They’ve been found in human feces; they’ve been found in human blood,” study coauthor Phoebe Stapleton, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Rutgers University’s Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy told CNN Health,

We know that nanoplastics are making their way into our bodies. We just don't have enough research yet on what that means for our health, and we still have more questions than answers. How many nanoplastics does it take to do damage and/or cause disease? What kinds of damage or disease might they cause? Is whatever effect they might have cumulative? We simply don't have answers to these questions yet.

That's not to say there's no cause for concern. We do know that certain levels of microplastic exposure have been shown to adversely affect the viability of cells. Nanoplastics are even smaller—does that mean they are more likely to cause cellular damage? Science is still working that out.

According to Dr. Sara Benedé of the Spanish National Research Council’s Institute of Food Science Research, it's not just the plastics themselves that might cause damage, but what they may bring along with them. “[Microparticles and nanoparticles] have the ability to bind all kinds of compounds when they come into contact with fluids, thus acting as carriers of all kinds of substances including environmental pollutants, toxins, antibiotics, or microorganisms,” Dr. Benedé told Medical News Today.

Where is this plastic in water coming from? This study focused on bottled water, which is almost always packaged in plastic. The filters used to filter the water before bottling are also frequently made from plastic.

Is it possible that some of these nanoplastics were already present in the water from their original sources? Again, research is always evolving on this front, but microplastics have been detected in lakes, streams and other freshwater sources, so it's not a big stretch to imagine that nanoplastics may be making their way into freshwater ecosystems as well. However, microplastics are found at much higher levels in bottled water than tap water, so it's also not a stretch to assume that most of the nanoplastics are likely coming from the bottling process and packaging rather than from freshwater sources.

The reality is, though, we simply don't know yet.

“Based on other studies we expected most of the microplastics in bottled water would come from leakage of the plastic bottle itself, which is typically made of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic,” lead author Naixin Qian, a doctoral student in chemistry at Columbia University, told CNN Health. “However, we found there’s actually many diverse types of plastics in a bottle of water, and that different plastic types have different size distributions. The PET particles were larger, while others were down to 200 nanometers, which is much, much smaller.”

We need to drink water, and we need to drink safe water. At this point, we have plenty of environmental reasons for avoiding bottled water unless absolutely necessary and opting for tap water instead. Even if there's still more research to be done, the presence of hundreds of thousands of nanoplastics in bottled water might just be another reason to make the switch.

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