Say No To Fake Food and Fake Trades

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This week Mark Bittman, who writes about food for the New York Times, makes a startlingly clear distinction between real and “fake” food. Recent medical studies have found that it really doesn’t matter if you eat kale chips or cheeseburgers -- the key distinction between nutritional health and nutritional sickness is to avoid manufactured foods rife with processed sugar.

In short what is the difference between “real food” and “fake food”? The number of ingredients. As Bittman writes, “You might consider a dried apricot (one ingredient) versus a Fruit Roll-Up (13 ingredients, numbers 2, 3 and 4 of which are sugar or forms of added sugar). Or you might reflect that real yogurt has two or three ingredients (milk plus bacteria, with some jam or honey if you like) and that the number in Breyers YoCrunch Cookies n’ Cream Yogurt is unknowable (there are a few instances of “and/or”) but certainly at least 18.”

This emphasis on simplicity is echoed by what many consider to be one of the greatest chefs in world -- Joël Robuchon. In an interview with Business Insider today he says, “The older I get, the more I realize the truth is the simpler the food, the more exceptional it can be. And it’s extremely difficult, because to do something that’s very sophisticated that utilizes these very high quality ingredients is very easy, but to do something simple that is exceptional — that is where the difficulty is, and it’s the hardest thing to do in a kitchen. It really asks for a mastery of the ingredients and a mastery of taste.

I never try to marry more than three flavors in one dish. I like walking into a kitchen and knowing that the dishes are identifiable and the ingredients within them are easy to detect. My role as a chef is respecting the produce. Why should I change and mask the original flavors of the produce that I’m utilizing?”

So what does all of this food talk have to do with this week’s trading column? Just about everything. Those of you who know me, know that I am an avid cook and that I find strong similarities between the experimentation and recipe production of cooking and the strategy creation and execution of trading. But this week’s stories from the culinary world have really confirmed to me the need for simplicity in both cooking and trading.

Much like great chefs, great traders focus only on a few key variables and cut to the core of the trade. There is nothing more repulsive than a chart criss crossed with 10 or 12 indicators that is chock full of “fake” information. Just like fake food is comprised of many artificial ingredients that will kill you in the end fake trades are made up of numerous indicators that confuse rather elucidate. In life simple is always better. In cooking we let the pure ingredients bring out the flavor of the meal. In trading we let price guide our actions.

Boris Schlossberg

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