June 29, 2017 (Thursday)

by Yule Heibel on June 28, 2018

This morning A. heads to the consulate in Boston to see about getting his third citizenship. E. will be able to do the same. They are so fortunate. Lottery win.

Last night I boiled some corn, sautéed vegetables and steak. Easy. We ate outside, had some wine. I don’t know how I’m going to manage meals once Ax. and E. are here, too. Vegetarian cookery (for E.) is labor intensive enough, but vegan…? It’s really a lot of work. The easiest part of yesterday’s meal was the steak. Both cooking and eating it. And you will not get the same bang for the buck with a slab of tofu. (Besides, too much soy.) But at some point, I need to plan some meals, dig out some recipes, and lay in supplies.

I keep thinking of Nicholas Nassim Taleb’s essay on how the most intolerant wins. This (my meal planning / cooking dilemma) is a perfect example. Ax. is the most intolerant (vegan), and we will change our behavior to accommodate him. He might protest and say I don’t need to prepare anything specifically vegan, that he’ll eat peanut butter sandwiches or something. But then we’d be eating separate meals – which is exactly the opposite of what sitting down together to share a meal should be about. So if I want to eat as a family (which I do), I have to make sure that there are vegan dishes for Ax. (and vegetarian ones for E.) on the table. Sigh.

There’s this great article I skimmed last night after dinner, about the diet of mid-19th-century Victorians, and how it was healthy, but how, by about 1880, the diet changed to include more processed food (e.g., tinned meats, salted and corned – spam, anyone?) as well as a lot more sugar, which had a deleterious effect on the health of the people, especially the poorer ones. During the Boer War, the army actually had to lower its minimum height requirement to 5′ (it was once at 5’6″, then 5’3″, …then 5′!) to get enough recruits. Commanding officers (upper class, better fed) were typically a head taller than the enlisted men.

If you look around at the Wall-E style obesity and outright decrepitude in health terms of people in this country today, you can’t help but think we’re in a similar downward spiral. Say no to processed “food” and sugar.

But slapping a steak into the pan is expensive, and now the vegetarians and vegans and animal rights activists are on the march as well, admonishing us – in the name of good health – to lay off eating meat. But I think it’s the processed junk more than anything, the sugars, the flavor enhancers, which are the cause of all the trouble. My MD can’t believe I routinely drink wine with dinner. She thinks I’m the one whose health will be negatively affected by my “bad” habits, yet she’s the one who’s surrounded in her office by truly fat women staffers, obese, really, and it never occurs to her that one restaurant meal serviced by Sysco is likely worse than a couple of bottles of wine spread out over a couple of days. I really believe that restaurant food has veered from its Alice Waters days back into money-making ruthlessness (the industry is ruthless to begin with, always has been, never was about kittens and rainbows), and what restaurants serve is “designed” chemically and through processing to be as addictive as fast food, its cheap cousin. Eat out once or twice a week and put on five pounds per month, every month (at least in North America). And maybe it’s all that processing and flavor enhancing that’s driving the cancers we see.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: