last night was a small dinner gathering at the chemist's place with german medieval scholar and monkey. chemist is a very interested in things like backyard gardening, healthy and sustainable cooking (vegetarian he is), and is a very enthusiastic cook. both german scholar and monkey like to cook and eat with others as well, which means it's always a good time to cook and eat.
underemployed doctor monkey, two phd students, we are a talkative bunch. the topics jump from catch up from the last choir concert to easter, house renovation to heterotopia. and the most nicest thing about such crowd is that we are not bound by politeness or previous exposure to a new subject. everyone is eager to take a piece of the current conversation to continue.
and i continue to chew on last nights supper leftover, seaweed-noodle-green stew-ish thing (it does taste much better than it may sound), i cant help but to reflect on a simple expression: one cannot just do one thing.
it is a borrowed expression from michael pollan's omnivore's dilemma, 'you cant just do one thing.' i have been reading on food culture, policy and cooking for awhile. the first book that made me go 'whoa' (think matrix) was the fast food nation. then came 'supersize me.' 'food inc,' 'in defense of food,' countless movies and books since then. the diet is the new religion. 'eat this not that,' 'mindless eating: why we eat more than we think,' even the first lady of united states have declared war on obesity: letsmove.org. we all have heard much about eating disorders and now there is even a new one: orthorexia. you know that friend of yours who loses night of sleep because she put a 2% milk instead of skim milk in her small coffee? well, she may be suffering from orthorexia nervosa. it refers to people who are obsessed about 'eating right,' from the greek 'orthos': correct or right. it's a manical obsession, dogmatic approach to eating.
what the hell happened to us as a general population? weve been trying to lose weight for ages, governments and doctors telling us what to eat, how to eat, with food products with all kinds of stickers from big-brained people, like the heart-foundation (which, really is just another lobby group, though slightly better than tobacco people i suppose), all sorts of numbers and solutions for weight loss everywhere.
and why the heck are we still fat?
you see, i think the problem is not about obesity. obesity is just a simple manifestation of another thing, something... more... complicated and... ugly. i think it may be partially due to laziness. there, i have said it. you say, wait, we are talking about weight issues and you are calling people with weight issues lazy?
ooh before i get stoned, let me tell you. in a sense, yes. i am not saying all people with extra weight are lazy. but our inclination to laziness in many different aspects have added to the extra poundage. elevators. cars. pre-made food. more time for work, which means more income, therefore richer life, yes? well, i think it's crazy. richer life with what, years of inhaling your 'assembled' lunch (corn corn corn and more corn. oy dont forget soy), and by the time you have some money, you are no longer able to... walk without taking medications? urrr. i think the problem is that it is simpler to think about income and 'sucess' than making time to be conscious about one's action. because. to be conscious, it takes efforts. one cannot be conscious to everything all the time! (unless you are enlightened, or high, in that matter). yes, one has to pick the right battle. and what is more important than... actually living?
living is a verb, it happens now. NOW, as you read these things. as we run as fast as we could for the future.
i have digressed. all i wanted to was to reflect on the expression: you cant just do one thing. the simple desire to eat better have created new business models and new problems. whole foods, where one is to feel better, may not be so much better than walmart. it is organic, but what does that mean? is organic avocado that came from chile really good for you in middle of the winter in toronto? what about that zero fat yogurt, if it is fat free, what is in it? (gum) what do you mean it is zero fat? (it means that the 'serving' only contains trace fat, hence, dismissive. but did you know that 'pam' spray serving equate to 1/3 sec of spraying? does anyone actually time it?) tuna is bad, so i can have cod? (it's endangered!) saving your family from overly processed and carbon-ridden dinner out by having steak at home? (the carbon output will now equate to driving around in SUV for three straight hours, for that steak dinner). local food is better, so you buy some greenhouse stuff from ontario- wait, what about the cost of having 'un'seasonal product by building all sorts of infrastructure?
the expression remains true.
it is so easy to say: hey im going to be good and eat healthy, local and vegetarian, etc etc. but what is not so easy to see is to see how one's action may effect the world around oneself. and this principle applies to everything else. look into the states and the national health care policy: we want healthcare- wait, what do you mean it's gonna take ages and more taxes? oops. or the recent vatican statement: faithfuls, dont sway by simple gossips! sure, nice thing to say to your group of swayed sheeps, but does that actually solve the problems that already exist? yes, they could say 'sorry,' but we all know that it is not enough- then now what? we have to think more. but it's hard! well, that's life.
it is so easy to have a generic solution. but it is an entirely a different thing to have a generic question: now how would this effect everything else?
the simple fact is that though we are all individuals, we cannot help it but be related to others (you came from somewheres to begin with, didnt you?), and there is no way to measure one's influence in a scientific method, as it is almost impossible to figure out where a reaction have originated and how it may alter one's action, then causing next reaction.... complicated. but very simple when you just say: cant just do one thing. bah.
food ethic is a very hot and fashionable right now. everyone wants to be locavores and chefs. that's nice. now lets really think about each action one takes. may as well enjoy every little bit of life, as it is one's own life, at the present. future is important, but future is not present. more love we have for present, we may have better hope for the future. and then we may be able to afford to look back, because of the simple fact you have a memory, not just a passing glance from almost unconscious, sketchy past.
enjoying my frozen corn kernels (yes they are bloody good out from the freezer), i think of what i may do tomorrow to help PO. he has lost 14lbs in two weeks. is it a miracle? no. i think it's hard work. why hard? because. it wont happen without conscious decision, efforts and resources. not just him, not just me. but within all of his context. i think i am going to feed him some beans. black beans and rice. and he says he doesnt like beans. you wait and watch.
i like beans and rice.