Once again, a busier-than-usual schedule has led me to re-run one of my favorite columns from last year. For newcomers to this blog, this offers a chance to catch up on what you've missed. For you old timers, it offers a chance to get off the couch, leave your home, and go make something of yourselves, for goodness sake.
Friends, the news isn't good. Food, it seems, is bad for you. "Oh, Curmudgeon," I hear you say, "You're so dramatic. Surely, not all food is bad for us. You're exaggerating." Am I? Am I indeed?
Sodium is a menace. It clogs up your arteries so your blood can't move and you instantly die from the clogged arteries right in the middle of eating that salty pickle you were enjoying. It's like poison. Doctors love to tell you how bad it is. In fact, the last words you hear will be your doctor at your bedside saying, "See? I told you so." So no sodium for you. Unfortunately, it's in everything these days. You can't get away from the treacherous stuff. Unless you just stop eating.
Sugar, of course, is equally diabolical. It gets in your blood and swims around and gives you terminal heart disease so you die. But before you die, it does other things, like confusing your emotions and making you fat. And just like salt, it's in everything—even in foods where it doesn't belong like salad dressing, tomato sauce, "organic" "natural" "health" drinks . . . you name it. They just throw it in for the hell of it. If there's some sugar lying around, it goes into your soup, your milk, whatever. And desserts don't even need to be mentioned. Desserts cause instant diabetes. Or something.*
And carbs? Carbs will kill you dead. They turn into sugar and lead to immediate obesity; you just get bigger and bigger until you pop. "No problem," you say, "I'll just cut out bread." I laugh at you. Bread is barely a drop in the carbohydrate bucket. Obviously, you dare not eat rice, potatoes, or, really . . . anything else as it turns out. That multigrain cereal you thought was so healthy? Carbs. Nuts? Carbs (especially cashews, of course, and they're the best ones). But oh, dear readers, it gets worse. Those carbs hide everywhere. They're sneaky, sneaky devils. They're in yogurt, for God's sake, in oatmeal, in fruit juice, legumes, and even innocent-looking vegetables like beets and peas. Corn? You might as well take arsenic.
Beef? My God—you can't eat beef. Are you kidding? Is this some sort of joke? Ever heard of cholesterol? Beef contains buckets of the stuff. And I'm sure it's the bad kind. I also seem to remember hearing that beef stays in your body until long after you're dead. Of course, that'll be any minute now at the rate you're going. Speaking of cholesterol, one surely cannot risk an egg. Refrain, dear friends, refrain. Turn back while you can. Eggs mean you harm.
Of course, you could opt for egg whites as a healthy substitute. Have you ever eaten egg whites? It is like eating blandness itself. Sadness and blandness . . . the eating of which causes malaise and ennui. Who needs those? If you can eat egg whites and still feel like you're really living . . . go to it. I remain skeptical in the extreme.
Dairy? Please tell me you're not this naive. Dairy is one big glob of all the badness in the universe. Some say the human digestive system doesn't even know what it is or what to do with it. Tales of the damaging effects of a single pat of butter are legend. Dairy (if I've tracked this correctly) is bad for everything, from your skin to your breath to your overall sense of purpose. This little monster clogs your nose and your arteries, and makes rodents look at you with a strange kind of desire. Oh yes, and once again, like everything else, it makes you fat. Very, very fat.
And what would you like to drink? A nice cup of coffee perhaps? Don't do it! The caffeine jolts your nervous system and gives you a heart attack. Alcohol? Don't be insane. It turns into sugar and makes you fat and destroys your liver for good measure. You may as well jump off a building. Soda? Have you taken leave of your senses? Caffeine, sugar, and salt, all in one little cup of death; it's a trifecta. And I hope you weren't thinking you could just drink water. Really? Plastic bottles? They're destroying the earth, poisoning our wildlife, and throwing off our ecosystem. Plus, the plastic leaks into the water and causes . . . another thing. Tap water? Well . . . I must say I admire your bravery and your sense of adventure. Good luck to you.
Nearly everything that remains is either a nightshade or a gluten, and they both do something too—mess with your intestines or something. And some nightshades are deadly ones. Who wants to take the risk?
I believe one can safely consume a cucumber, and perhaps an occasional grape. And radishes, I think; but don't hold me to that. I'd avoid them to be on the safe side.
And so, as I sit in my chair, awaiting death, either from starvation, dehydration, or worse, eating and drinking, I find myself having a crisis of faith. Why would a benevolent God design us like this, unable to eat anything good? And why, in heaven's name, can't we have cheeseburgers and French fries and still have bodies like members of the college swim team? The good Lord could have made us that way. I tell you, I have doubts, my friends—deep and troubling doubts.
For now, I'm just going to avoid all food . . . though I believe there is a case to be made for just ordering the Croque Madame with an Irish coffee and getting it all over with.
*Not one statement in this piece has been verified by anyone who knows what he's talking about.