wheat, wheat eat your wheat: foods, fads, allergies

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My Tuscana mamma was occasionally irritated by United Statesians because “they’re allergic to everything.” Ironically she herself couldn’t do dairy and my body, meat. Yet, I understood her point as there are “fad” allergies/diseases, and people in the U.S. often lead the way in trendy disorders.

I think my mamma’s impatience emerged because, besides the patently obvious difference between Tuscan food and “American” food in: flavor, quality, wholesomeness and beauty, the way North Americans approach food is completely different. Many to most are afraid of it. Not really an Italian problem, that one.

I’m not talking about pesticides, hormones, additives, GMOs or any other adulterations; those should be feared by the majority but they’re not. Instead, untold North Americans are phobic about fat, calories, gluten, carbs, salt, ad nauseum. Many worry over their lack of control with food itself. In other words, unlike most cultures around the world, they aren’t friends with their foods.

Meals are meant to nourish, to be enjoyed, not really to be used for loneliness, anger, boredom, “scienced-out” to trick our taste buds into overeating or to be given in the form of supplements for “health.”

But back to food allergies. And food fads. Eggs good/bad/good. Oat bran good! Carbs bad. Fruit yes/no. Salt destructive. Omega 3! Probiotics! Protein! Coffee stunts growth, green tea: lose weight. Cupcakes! Bacon!!

Ten years ago I knew one person with celiac disease, no one was “gluten intolerant.” Today, a plethora of the developed world claims to be gluten sensitive and it’s not because medical detection is better. Faddish? Could be. 25% of people think they’re allergic to certain foods but only 2% of adults actually are. Or just maybe it’s the type of wheat. These days it’s a VERY different animal.

Unless you’re eating organic heritage varieties of flour as I do—I’m lucky enough to live with a man who loves to bake bread—you’re probably getting a crossbred, hybridized dwarf wheat that has much higher levels of amylopectin A, a “super starch” that raises blood sugar substantially, along with a “super gluten” that contains twice as many chromosomes as Einkorn, a natural flour that many gluten sensitive people can eat.

That dwarf “super wheat” produces a large variety of gluten proteins causing inflammation, obesity and diabetes and it contains polypeptides called gluteomorphins which trigger an opiate-like response in the brain. And like any addiction, you’ll not feel satisfied and want more and more. Guess what wheat you’re eating when you ingest most restaurant or store-bought bread, pizza, pies, tortillas, pasta, cereal, crackers, etc. no matter how “gourmet?”

I know we’re a communal species and want a communal experience. Trends in health are probably better shared than celebrity gossip, diet crazes or society-anxiety but maybe if we loved our food, participated in producing it, bought from local growers/providers, preserved it, regularly sat down to family meals and actually cooked food instead of frequently dining out or pouring “cuisine” out of a box or bag, we might discover that sustainable nourishment is not out to get us.

you stink!

Back when I used to puff on two American Spirits a day—and enjoyed every inhalation—I hated second hand smoke and I didn’t particularly care to hug others who smoked. The stink of tobacco in someone’s hair and clothing was/is off-putting. Others must agree or there wouldn’t be so much legislation banning smoking in bars, restaurants, enclosed public spaces and even some parks.

I pretty much despise perfume & “scents” and I’d like similar legislation in place, or at least common sense. I find fragrances just as noxious as smoking, actually more so, since some odoriferous substance glazes most everyone, most everywhere.

Many of the 500 harmful chemicals in perfume are the same chemicals in cigarette smoke, and yet there is no regulation in the fragrance industry. Recent reports suggest that perfumed products affect our health, causing allergies, asthma, headaches & migraines, joint aches, irritability, hormone disruption and interference with sexual desire. Then there’s ‘contact’ allergies where perfumes and scented products trigger eczema and dermatitis when they touch our skin.

Fragrance is used in most cleaning, laundry, and hygiene products along with cat litter, liners, candles, plug-in air “fresheners.” These chemicals go directly into the bloodstream when applied, we absorb them from our clothing, counter tops, etc. and inhale them directly to the brain.

In July of this year, the EU Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety asked perfume manufacturers to list potential allergens in their products. No such regulation in the U.S. but the state of New Hampshire has considered banning state workers from wearing scents to work.

Let’s just leave toxicity aside for the moment. What might smell good to you smells like sweetened death to me, especially if I’m eating. I find a scarce few things more obnoxious than being in a restaurant with epicurean food in front of me and having a woman come in with her date.

Yes women, you are way more guilty of muddling the air than men. I can detect a perfumed person 19 feet before ‘she’ gets near my table. Who can taste their dinner enclosed in a cloud of eau de toilette?

And then: I’m doing Body Pump at the gym with the woman next to me reeking of stale baby powder-like perfume. Who’s she dousing herself for? Between hairspray/gel, deodorant, facial/body creams, makeup, lipstick, laundry residue, ad nauseum, do you really need to add perfume on top of it? Jeezus!

Not many things smell better to me than the organic smell of a baby’s head or a cat who’s just come in from outside in the Fall. Conversely, I’ve never liked leaving a bar smelling like an full ashtray and I sure don’t want to breathe your artificial smell in my hair and in my house after you’ve left.

Be as a child. Be as an animal and bring me delicious ions, ozone or geosmin. Smell as you were born and leave it there. Discontinue poisoning yourself and the rest of us on this ailing earth.

‘weighty’ women & “little petty places”

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In the U.S., childhood obesity keeps rising precipitously and many parents seem at a loss about what to do except let kids play outside, stop feeding them sugar & processed food at meals and “rewarding” them with treats, spend time with them actually cooking (not heating or microwaving) and sitting down to family meals of both corporeal and cerebral nourishment, empower them with kid-sized life choices and/or make them feel valued & essential to the planet. Barring those, what better way to handle fat than to discuss dieting to little kids. Next stop, eating disorders.

Last year, a book—written by a man—targeted to 4-8 year-olds and entitled, Maggie Goes on a Diet, tells the story of 14-year-old Maggie who bullied about her weight decides to do something about it. Well, we all know boys won’t be reading this book, not with a fat female protagonist. Cathleen Connors, author of HerBadMother.com astutely commented, “It’s so interesting that he didn’t write it about a boy, and that he uses girl-body-image stereotypes to make his point—young girl dreaming about fitting into nice jeans, etc.”

Yes. Even as a life-long thin woman, I can feel the pressure. Telling girls that in order to succeed, be considered healthy or beautiful and—pathetically—even smart, losing that extra weight is the remedy constitutes a dangerous poison that lasts a lifetime.

  • Four out of five U.S. women are dissatisfied with their appearance.
  • 81% of ten year old girls are afraid of being fat.

First, there’s more than one reason people put on weight and no enchanted pill, trendy diet or exercise program is going to melt all those reasons (or the fat) away—be you female or male, BTW.

Second, imagine what women could gift the world if they didn’t waste their life force “managing” their weight. Don’t hold your horses waiting for this to change. An abundance of this pressure is internalized, passes from mom to daughter, woman to woman and is constantly reinforced by a male-driven media that traffics in women’s bodies not because they care to create an ideal as much they want to exploit fantasy and fear to make big money.

On the male side: porn, driven by daydream bodies that most guys could never touch even if women really existed like that. ($$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$) For females: an unrealistic weight-loss-fantasy-physique that’s about 25% under the BMI. ($33,000,000,000,000+)

Many men I know like “woman-sized” figures—not skinny boy-bodies, not obese bodies. They like to squeeze a woman with actual breasts and hips and thighs. Countless women have real-life dreams that lie dead or dormant before the altar of “thin.”

To celebrate women of all ages and shapes, here’s Lucille Clifton’s 1987 poem:

Homage to my Hips

these hips are big hips.
they need space to
move around in.
they don’t fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don’t like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top