Everyone seems to think that their particular community is the world headquarters of woo, since we all seem to be bombarded by it all day every day. Well, I'll put my own community, Orange County, California, up against any other to vie for such honors.

One of these little faux magazines - really just advertising rags - that we get is called the OC Gazette. Nearly every article is a self-promotion from some purveyor of woo. One that caught my eye was unique in that virtually every sentence is an untrue, yet popularly believed, claim. It's the "Healthy Cooking" column, written by a self-described "Master Health Chef", whose name I will omit. Just the slug alone was worth the price of admission:

Did you know? Most cooking methods rob food of more than half its nutrients, add unhealthy fats, and taint it with harmful metals and chemicals.

There is literally not a single word of truth in that sentence. Yes, cooking does cause chemical reactions, and this (I suppose) could be described as "robbing food of nutrients". Often these chemical reactions are necessary to make the food palatable, digestible, or safe. These changes are usually minor and barely detectable, and they are merely the first step of the process that your digestive system completes. Cook it or not, once it gets into your intestines, the same compounds remain for your body to absorb.

As for adding fats and metals, well, unless the Master Health Chef has mastered transmutation and can make gold from lead, no. Cooking does not conjure up fats or metals where none existed before.

Just say no to boiling. Boiling, steaming, or microwaving vegetables can strip them of their nutrients. The very best way to prepare vegetables and fruits is to eat them raw. This preserves all the nutrients and also the enzymes that are needed for healthy digestion.

The Master Health Chef repeats his misunderstanding of food and the body. Your body synthesizes the digestive enzymes that it uses - it does not get them from the food you eat. This is a very common misconception, but it's something a first-year nutrition student knows. How anyone who calls himself the Master Health Chef could be so dramatically wrong about such a fundamental point is astonishing. Enzymes that you consume never survive as enzymes once they are digested (with a very few exceptions, and those are enzymes that have nothing to do with digestion).

And, again, the enzymes that are present in the vegetables are going to be broken down into their constituent amino acids by the time they get to your intestines. You can start this process in the cooking pot, or in your mouth. It makes no difference to the end result.

The Saladmaster™ cookware provides a cooking surface that will not leach metals or chemicals into your food...

Gotta love this. An old advertising technique: Say something that's probably true of all similar products; but just by mentioning it, you create alarm about the competition. "The Saladmaster™ doesn't leech poisons into my food?? That must mean that my non-Saladmaster™ cookware probably does!!"

...Plus, it doubles the number of nutrients retained in your food!

Wait a minute, wasn't he telling us above that cooking robs food of half its nutrients? The Saladmaster™ leaves twice as many, that means it leaves all the nutrients! How does it do it? What's the mechanism? By what process does the Saladmaster™ transfer an equal amount of heat into the food, but in such a magical way that its special heat causes no chemical reactions? Obviously, this is just a lie that he pulled out of his ass. He got his readers all amped up about nutrient loss, so while he's hocking his pots, might as well repeat the same claim.

I'll grant that the Master Health Chef may be a master of woo marketing, but not of either Health or being a Chef. He doesn't seem to know any of the basics of how cooking works, or of how the body uses food. Good thing we have experts like this educating us in the "Healthy Cooking" column.