Saturday, September 30, 2006

oh, how i wish

I had not seen the boyfriend of a friend emerging from the adult video store. It's not that he was checking out porn that bothers me - more power to him! It's that now I will be picturing this person watching the porn, and that's something I may not be able to drink away.

Friday, September 29, 2006

President Gas

I know I try to avoid cliches such as talking about the high price of gasoline, but I can't help it this time. I filled my tank this morning and got change back from a twenty! I am so happy, my world is complete.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

food for thought

I've had Nina Planck's book Real Food out from the library twice now and I keep re-reading sections of it and trying to decide if it's true. I can't summarize the whole book fairly, but basically Planck is on a mission to get us all to eat simpler, more naturally, and - get this - go back to eating full-fat dairy, lard, and rich meats. She claims that many of the health risks we've come to associate with animal products, such as high blood cholesterol, are blown out of proportion and even false, and she's got footnotes aplenty in every chapter from sources such as Journal of Clinical Nutrition, American Journal of Medicine, New England Journal of Medicine, and numerous in-house studies from institutions such as NIH and CDC.

She posits some tantalizing arguments, like for instance: heart disease is not "caused" by high cholesterol; it is in fact more likely due to deficiencies in folic acid, B6 and B12, which are found mostly in animal foods, and some of the best sources are the ones most commonly vilified as "bad." She has a whole chapter discussing dietary fats and how they work in the body, and manages to write convincingly that saturated fat is not the real enemy at all.

All I'm saying is this: I want to believe her, but I'm still not sure if I can.
She has a lot of impressive quotes to back up her arguments, and at the core what she says does ring true - eat your food as unprocessed as possible. Sounds good. But this is someone without medical training or experience who happens to love farming (having been raised on one).

Coming from a family where heart disease killed at least one of my grandparents (and all four had suffered from heart attacks at one time or another), I know I am already at risk, but that doesn't stop me from totally resenting the low fat/no fat campaign that seems to make sport of cursing all that is tasty and enjoyable. To be fair, Planck does point out that although her personal experience has been that she is healthier as a fat-eating carnivore than she had been as a vegan, she is also a non-smoker who runs daily and exercises moderation in all things. And I do think there can be little controversy when she points out that "industrial" foods such as high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated fats are some of the unhealthiest known today. BUT I just can't buy into some of her other theories, which actually sound impractical, if not impossible, to achieve: eat only grass-fed meat; buy only free-range, non-grain fed poultry and eggs; and milk and cheese should be unhomogenized, preferably raw.

Planck is the founder of the greenmarkets in London, New York, and other cities, and her dedication to bringing high-quality natural foods to urban areas is laudable; her diet plan, however, would be extremely costly and time-consuming to execute. Here in central NJ, for example, I have my choice of greenmarkets within a 10 mile radius. However, they all operate for just a few hours a week, typically on Saturdays (if not during the day on weekdays). There is no guarantee I will be able to buy a week's worth of groceries, no matter how wonderful, at these markets, since there is no guarantee of the balance of what's available; some products need to be consumed immediately and will not last a week; and on Saturdays when I work, I will miss the market altogether and be forced to use my local supermarket. This is an expensive and tedious lifestyle.

Planck suggests going to the source wherever possible for the freshest and best raw ingredients for one's diet. This is a wonderful fairytale of an idea: make friends with your local dairy farmer and meet the chickens who lay your eggs! Scratch Bessie as she chews the all-natural cud that will make your (whole-milk, please) yogurt!

In reality, while I am lucky enough to live near rural areas that do support family farms, I would need to drive weekly to Long Valley, the closest rural hamlet that has a dairy farm, a round trip of an hour and a half. How much fossil fuel am I then using up to make sure I am eating right? Is that a reasonable trade-off?

Anyway, I find the politics surrounding the food supply fascinating, especially for us as Americans in the land of "plenty." The recent spinach terror was a perfect example: the spinach in question was labeled as "organic." Does this mean there will be a backlash against organic farming practices? Or just vegetables? Another thing: as someone pointed out this morning on the NPR show On the Media, remember the e.coli scare in the mid-90s when ground beef was the carrier? We were just told to cook the meat really well, not to discard it, because (as this reporter said anyway) the meat lobby is so much more influential in this country than the veggie one. Also, god forbid Americans go without their burgers. Oy vey.