Eating Smart Food
By: Patrick M. Kennedy
I’ve spun a lot of miles under my vehicles in my days as I’ve traveled the country, and the most important question I ask myself after ‘How far is the next gas station?”, or “Where is the next restroom?” is, ‘What can I eat and still make time?” A fast-food drive-through eatery always looms alongside the highway, but is that smart and will my arteries harden before I get to my destination? Refolding maps is hard enough without deciding on what to eat while driving 70mph past the menu.
On the more serious side, a colorful crop of graphs, charts and pyramids bloom and are printed on a regular basis that categorize and dramatize all the food qualities recognized by man. We should be familiar with these. It must be some kind of rule for prolonged existence. They have been cranked out by the government, as well as other health and profit conscience parties, to educate eaters on the benefits of eating correctly, thus living longer and more productive lives. (This is important to the government because it collects most of its taxes from living humans and to a flam-flam few other parties who collect profits from the same group.)
Humans, referring to you and I, are the logical targets of this information bonanza because most of the other animal groups have their diet thoroughly and naturally figured out without by-the-numbers education. They munch through it on a daily basis. Giraffes chomp on treetops and lions gobble up giraffe meat. Dogs eat dry or canned food, and canned food eats…that’s another story. Big fish eat little fish. It’s a cliché as well as a fact. The animal kingdom has a regular diet program called a food chain that has evolved and been tested through the ages, and it works. Most are still alive and eating, reproducing on a regular basis and looking darn healthy. And to be perfectly clear, in this definition Taco Tommy’s just off the freeway is not considered a food chain.
We know Eating Smart is the current mantra pounded from print, infomercials, PBS, and an occasional snake-oil salesperson that comes through each city, gathers a crowd, charges a fee, spouts some spiel, and tries to sell us a book. Does that mean eating Smart Food? What is Smart Food? Are we to eat Rhodes-Scholar rutabagas, or PhD peas, or morsels of IQ like iron or iodine spread over Quail or Quiche: So many decisions beyond the bacon-burger with cheese served at the quaint little drive-in along the highway.
Eat to live longer is the complete notion, but isn’t that a given? If we stop eating, we die! Even a pretzel-poppin’ nincompoop knows that! It is a simple nutritional reality known since the Garden of Eden. Why was the first residence of man in a garden of smart food occupied and shared by the original snake-oil and apple salesman? It was a tempting taste of the future.
But let us get back to that bacon-burger with cheese and stack it up against the Smart Food Guide Pyramid pushed by the government and its allies. First, we start from the bottom, the bread layer. The burger has that, twice…two buns…another on the top. It is recommended by the perfect-food pyramid and is packed with complex carbohydrates and essential vitamins, though it calls for whole wheat instead of white bread in the pyramid, it is close but not with the full nutritionists blessing. The next level up is the vegetable group. We can unquestionably confirm that the burger stacks up well against the pyramid in this layer: All those garden bits and pieces like onions, tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, ketchup, mustard, and maybe a gas-blasting jalapeno. What a potpourri of healthy stuff, i.e., smart food: A regular Garden of Eating.
Meat and cheese overwhelmingly satisfy the next level of the pyramid. A quarter pound, or more, of ground meat, and a serving or two of American cheese, provides a daily supply of all the carnivorous protein, vitamins and nutrients needed by man’s body since menus were illustrated cave drawings of food on the run.
Now holding to the pyramid pattern, neatly at the top of the perfect-pyramid burger is a serving or two of bacon. It contains a little meat burnt to the proper charcoal level, and a little oil (grease) to assure things run smooth. And also lurking at the top of the pyramid are the sweets and spices, because we know that any reputable burger bar has mixed in a hefty helping of sugar and salt in that special sauce used for added flavor.
There it is. We can find smart food anywhere if we look hard enough with a vivid imagination. The conclusion we must come to is that a bacon-burger with cheese served through a window is in effect smart food, but the party pooper group of three-piece-suit nutritionists from the USDA recommend it as a dish only 2 or 3 times a month, not a day. Now that’s dumb. Who wants to endure a burger famine for 27 days a month? Anything sounds better than Rhodes-Scholar rutabagas, which any breathing human animal would probably eat only 2 or 3 times a year, and try finding a drive-through supply just off the freeway.
Smart Food is a smart idea for people who have the time to investigate it, cook it, eat at a kitchen table, and write a book or tape a video, but should only be a life-surviving hobby for us, the animal kingdom group referred to as Homo sapiens.
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