When it comes to embracing a healthy lifestyle, we can’t get it right. I’m not talking about exercising, weight loss and terrible eating habits. That’s another column. What I’m talking about is the teeter-totter effect of studies. For example, for years we’ve been told to take vitamins. Vitamins have been touted as a panacea for everything from cancer to colds. And we consumers, being the trusting lot we are, have religiously obliged. That concept is now being challenged. A doctor who is a contributor for a news agency says with the exception of calcium and vitamin D we are pretty much wasting our money. If this is true then I can only guess the billions that have been literally flushed down the porcelain throne. Vitamins aren’t the only things under scrutiny.
I love steak. I can gnaw a 22 ounce Porterhouse down to the bone in one sitting. Steak was good for you - years ago. Then the “Live Long” gurus scared us to death by proclaiming beef tallow (the part that makes the steak special) will clog up our arteries. Understandably, I shunned red meat for the most part and concentrated on fish and chicken. Both, says the studies, are good for you.
Well, if you think about it, chickens eat anything - and I mean anything. They’re like bottom feeders and mud ducks, neither of which will pass through my pencil thin lips.
And if that’s not enough to make you down a jigger of sour mash (for antiseptic reasons of course) most commercially raised chickens are jacked up on hormones and antibiotics. I’m willing to bet some of that stuff hangs around long after we’ve chowed down on that juicy leg quarter.
What about fish? One of my favorite fish is salmon. A slab of that tender pink flesh blackened on the grill with a little olive oil and a rub of fresh garlic makes my mouth water just thinking about it. But while I ingest each succulent bite, I am reminded that along with (currently) healthy Omega-3, mercury and PCBs may be settling in my heart as well. How unsettling.
When I was a youngster growing up in the grand metropolis of Goose Creek, my father ran a tackle shop. Besides offering the fishermen minnows, crickets and fake plastic worms in every color, the tackle shop also sold a variety of food items. Topping the list of must haves for fishermen as well as hunters were potted meat and Vienna style wieners. It never occurred to us as we devoured these pink tinged, mushy morsels that the ingredients contained left over pig parts.
Speaking of pink - The media is to blame for spinning a company’s finely textured beef product (nicknamed “pink slim”) into a negative publicity campaign that nearly destroyed the company. The “filler” is (was) found in retail frozen entrees, lunch meat, and pepperoni and in several fast food chains’ products.
As a matter of fact, pink food isn’t anything new. I used to demolish hot pink hotdogs on a regular basis. And I’d get a twinkle in my eye as I plucked a perfectly pink pickled egg from a gigantic jar of red vinegar. Alas, my taste buds lost the thrill for blushing eggs and crimson Coneys but you can still buy them.
Witnessing the ups and downs of what is right today and wrong tomorrow with food makes me wonder what next will be labeled bad for us. To avoid future conflict I could grow my own veggies using organic methods. That way I would know exactly what was used on them. Or I could raise my own chickens...maybe not...don’t know how I’d stop them from eating their post consumed meal. And I’m pretty certain I won’t be raising my own fish, not that that wouldn’t make for a great challenge.
Since these goals are not easily obtainable, I tried a different approach; I buy organic, hormone free, antibiotic free, free range chicken eggs that I never eat because I prefer over-easy to hard boiled (remember the study revealing the danger of eating undercooked eggs). I hand-pick only pesticide-free veggies and steam them till they’re converted into a limp pile of brown mush. And since I certainly don’t plan to be host to E-Coli, I scorch my lean ground chuck till it is dry as a bone.
All right, I confess. With the exception of the eggs, I’m lying. Why in the world would I go to such extremes? I’ll leave that to the experts who decide what is good and what isn’t.
The fact is, my local grocery store and my local farmers provide everything I need to live long and prosper. And I can almost guarantee, sooner or later a study will make the headlines proving once and for all, marshmallow cream and Red Velvet Cake ice cream really are good for you. Hi-yo Silver Centrum! Away!