Friday, June 21, 2013

fat dumb and unhappy (or, so long Paula Deen and thanks for all the butter)

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Poor ol' Paula Deen is in hot water up to her chubby little cheeks. First she is accused of being a racist. Then the government declares her cooking makes you sick.

Yep, that's right, there is a new disease in town. Last week the A.M.A classified obesity is an illness.

Now at least 1/3 of our country is officially sick. As if we didn't already know this. 

It couldn't be because most of us "work" sitting on our gluteus-to-the-maximus all day long under fluorescent lighting in front of a computer.

It couldn’t be because after work we are again sitting on our brains in front of another screen, possibly watching Paula Deen make fake Southern food using a pound of butter, two pounds of sugar, and a box of cheap filler.

(As a real Southerner, I must add that nothing she makes resembles anything I know as authentic Southern cooking. And we don’t use the “N” word in my family, either.)

Speaking of food, all this obesity couldn't be because over the past 50 years Americans have become accustomed to eating cheap food in large quantities and having ready access 24/7. 

It has nothing to do with the fact that most people don't know where food really comes from, have never tasted raw milk straight from a cow or pulled a vegetable up out of the dirt, and have never harvested anything they have eaten except from a grocery store shelf or a drive-through window. 

It's completely unrelated to all that pre-packaged "food" on the shelf being about as close to nature as a chemist's lab or the list of unpronounceable ingredients that make the things taste so darn good and last so darn long. All subsidized and approved by the government.

Besides, if the package on the shelf has a big red barn or a smiling child on it, and we've seen it advertised by beautiful slim funny people on TV, and the government has given it the big OK, it must be good for us to eat, right?  

I don't deny that obesity is a problem. I don't deny that there are people who are obese for reasons outside their control. It isn't always as easy as "eating less, moving more." I know that from personal experience. There are all sorts of factors involved.

But I believe some of those factors have been fed to us over the past 50+ years in the very food we have been eating. Things that have modified our brains and our organs and our endocrine systems and maybe our very DNA. 

Otherwise, why are so many people so obese? Why do we crave foods that didn't even exist 100 years ago? Why does eating a certain food make you crave it uncontrollably? 

There are reports of how scientists intentionally engineer "food" to make us want to eat more of it. ( There are components of foods we ingest in the US that are actually banned in other countries. ( 

We want an unfettered choice of fruit and produce regardless of the season, but we are completely clueless where it comes from, what it has on it, or the fuel costs to get it here. We eat more and more food every year, while Agrarian America gets smaller and more tightly controlled by Corporate America. 

But obesity couldn't be caused by any of this or by any other outside influences or internal deficiencies. 

So our fatness must be labeled a disease. Because that's the only way to get someone else to pay for my bad habits.

A few years ago, I noticed a friend-of-a-friend, "J", had lost a lot of weight. J chalked it up to eating better and trying to exercise more. I was jealous, because I had tried that and it didn't seem to work as fast for me. 

And something else bugged me. While she was smaller, she didn't look healthy. Her skin was sallow and even though she was slimmer she still looked flabby and disproportionate. 

After J left, my friend disclosed two other facts about the recent weight loss: 1) J had undergone gastric bypass surgery, and 2) It had been paid for by Medicare. 

The bypass surgery explained how rapidly J had lost weight and why she didn't look healthy as a result. 

But Item #2 really floored me. J worked and so did her husband. They lived in a nice middle class neighborhood near us. I didn't understand how they could qualify for Medicare or why it would pay for her gastric bypass. 

Apparently all it took was the bariatric doctor claiming that her obesity gave her a physical and mental disability, and then submitting the claim enough times for it to be approved. She actually gained a little bit of weight before the last submittal so that her BMI would be high enough to qualify.

Is it just me, or is there something really wrong with a system that criminalizes raw milk and pays for stomach amputation?

In this war on disease, we have met the enemy...and he is us.

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