Nutritious Nutrition

There is no magazine, newspaper, TV station, or radio station that doesn’t advertise something about nutrition, what to eat to be healthy, advising that carbs are bad for you, or that carbs are necessary for normal brain function. They accompany segments and articles offering a plethora of recipes that guarantee a healthier you, exercises that’ll keep you fit and healthy. Even bed sheets, if they’re 100% cotton are healthier. There are jogging machines, one that places you upside down for your back, twirlers for the feet, elastic stretchers, and pamphlets that illustrate how to exercise while sitting. And, always, beautiful, young models illustrate. The men are, usually, physically gorgeous.

There was a time when who cared what you ate, what it was made of, as long as you bought the stuff advertised, like Twinkies, Sugar Pops, cereals with – you guessed it, sugar. Then, there were hot dogs, hamburgers, salami or other salty cold cuts with chemicals added to prevent spoilage and Bosco or Nestlé’s chocolate milk. Well, it wasn’t that way when I was a kid, I can tell you. During the Depression you were lucky you ate something. Later on, when things got a little better, it’s a fact that my mom and yiayia bought only fresh stuff, stuff they knew about, like dandelion greens, zucchini, fava beans, lentils, always fresh meats or chicken, and freshly baked bread from the Greek bakery, O Yianniotis, on Ninth Avenue. They spent hours in the kitchen cooking, and it all tasted great. At the time, they were unaware of what was nutritious, what to eat, what not to eat; what’s unhealthy and what’s not. Now, almost everything is advertised as healthy – even shoes. “Better fitting shoes mean healthier legs.”  We’re told that those pills and injections we’re clinically proven to keep you healthy provided the side effects don’t get you, the known side effects, that is.

The word ‘Nutrition’ sells! Packaged foods are labeled with calorie count and nutritional values. So, although we’ve been informed, repeatedly, on good authority what’s good and what’s not, why are there so many sick people? Where are the Wonder Women; the Super men, Batman and Robin? My yiayia suffered from arthritis and used olive oil rub downs; my brother used garlic paste for the corn on his toe. As a child, I had anemia and was made to eat fried liver and spleen that I loathe to this day. I’m mainly a vegetarian now, anyway. I love animals too much to eat them, too. Feels like betrayal. Besides, they never did anything to me. In primary school the lunches were so unappetizing that I opted to go outside with the rest of the kids until the bell rang.

I remember going to the little grocery store at the corner and with my nickel bought little dots of candies that you pulled off a sheets of yard-long paper. Bits of paper were stuck to some of the dots. I’m sure they weren’t nutritious, either, but the manufacturers didn’t care. They just wanted my nickel. More recently and gross is, I read that a few wheat fields in the Middle West are being sprayed with Roundup. I’d place a hefty bet, any amount you name, that Roundup isn’t on the World Health Organization list as healthy. Sandwich, anyone?

Some pharmaceuticals seem so concerned over our health that they’ve published a telephone sized book, filled with pills, injections, and drinks to combat all our ills. You name it, they’ve got it! Well, not all ailments. Ear lobes and eye lash studies are still pending. All having some form of side effects; some ads suggest you ask your doctors before taking. But, be forewarned, salespersons have gotten to them, beforehand. ”Prescribe our stuff and you’ll get an all-expense trip to Aruba, including tips!” At one point in time the pills that sold very well were tranquilizers. The world was going bomb bonkers, each country trying to make a bigger, more terrifying weapon to ward off imagined or planned threats against them. Tranquilizers hit the big time – and, still do!

So, according to the labs, there is no viable reason why you and I should be suffering from anything at all. Supposedly, if you take their pills or potions or injections you should be able to go to work until you’re 70, or more. My advice? Just don’t eat anything your great, great, great grand yiayia didn’t recognize as food. Also, remember what papou Hippocrates said, “Nature is the best physician.”


Yiannis was not in a good humor that wintery November Sunday in Dixon’s.

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