Tuesday, October 17, 2006


I haven't been eating too many salads lately. I know that the government has stated that the spinach and lettuce sold in our stores is now safe, after the e-coli scare, but somehow it looks evil to me, as though death and disaster are lurking in those green leaves.

It's a terrible thing when evil is lurking in your salad bowl, but e-coli is like that. I guess it isn't as lethal as ebola, but it can still cause havoc in one's body. From what I understand, it won't wash away, either. You can scrub it with Tide and it still clings to the leaves. However, boiling it does kill this bug. That's helpful knowledge with spinach, but it doesn't help much with lettuce.

I never worried much about the carrot juice that is said to have carried e-coli, because I just don't drink carrot juice. In fact, I'm not fond of carrots at all. I don't like them raw, because they involve too much gnawing, and I don't like their color in a drink. If I wanted an orange drink, I'd pulverize a pumpkin.

Only children like colorful drinks. They are especially fond of purple gunk loaded with sugar. Then they inevitably spill it either on your best tablecloth or on your carpet. It will not wipe up, wash out, or ever disappear. Might as well pour the drink over the rest of the item and let it all be purple, because it is indelible.

However, these episodes of poisoned salad leaves are disturbing. In today's world, we just don't know where disease...or even death..may lurk. Could it be in that radish? Or will a rutabega do us in? And what about that zucchini. God knows, I wouldn't blame zucchini for harboring a few germs. They have been mistreated by every gardener. They are thrown away, given away, hidden in the vehicles of visitors, donated to anything and everything. The truth is, no one knows what to do with the mountain of zucchini that collects from just a few plants.

Some people swear by zucchini bread, but they are fibbing. Bread is just as good without zucchini, and some cooks put zucchini in everything...main dishes, salads, desserts....just to get rid of it. It's like sending the kids to school. Real tears because the lovable little tykes are walking into the real world, and a big sigh of relief that you finally have an hour to yourself.

Now, I know zucchini is treasured by high-class restaurants, where it is served with all sorts of sauces, smothered in butter, and served with a feathering of parsley. But they aren't fooling me. They serve it because it is cheap. In fact, they probably don't pay for it at all, just take it off the hands of some farmer who doesn't know what in the world to do with it.

The truth is, we haven't a clue as to what we are eating in this modern world. We don't understand a thing about it, genetic modification, trans-fat, etc. What in hell are they talking about? And now I hear we will have Organic Rice Krispies. I can't think of anything worse, other than Organic Rice Krispies infected with e-coli.

Why do farmers who don't use pesticides and chemicals call their produce "organic"? That word is not palatable or romantic or inspiring. It brings to mind the organs of the body...the liver or the bowels or the kidneys. And why, when you walk into a grocery or health food store that sells only organic merchandise is everything packaged in dull brown wrappers? A little color would help. Perhaps green. Maybe even magenta.

My mother ate organic salads long before anyone even talked about their health benefits. When I was a child, healthy food was never discussed. It was enough that we HAD food, period! We ate fried everything, because the old cookstove oven had two temperatures....too hot and too cold. So Mom even fried biscuits. They were delightful, and probably were loaded with about 3,000 fat calories each, maybe even trans-fat. We didn't care. We chowed them down.

Luckily, we did eat a lot of vegetables, from Mom's gardens. No pesticides there. The bugs buried themselves in the produce and we probably ate them, too. And of course, there was always corn. Corn meal, corn on the cob, corn cakes, creamed corn, corn in every manner possible. We were so corn-fed, we were probably fueled with Ethanol long before it was invented.

Mom would go out in the field and start gathering weeds. She plucked a weed here and a weed there, even picking dandelion weeds. Then, she'd bring that collection in for what she called "a mess o' greens." It was a mess, too. She'd boil it down to a soggy solid lump, sprinkled it with salt and vinegar and act as though it beat something Oscar of the Waldorf might dream up.

Of course, none of us kids would touch it. Yech! Who wanted to eat weeds, when there were fried biscuits to enjoy? But, of course, that "mess o' greens" had more vitamins and minerals than biscuits ever will. Mom was eating a power-packed salad that folks pay good money to buy in today's world. And there was no e-coli in that field.

I had read so much about the bloody, feathery mess in chicken factories, the germs and bone meal that are ground into hamburger, the Mad Cow, the germ-laden pork, the lurking evils in our meat supply that I had just about decided to become a vegetarian. But, now that those evils lurk in our salad supply, I may have to give up eating, period. Maybe fried biscuits. But they just don't taste the same fried in healthy olive oil or Canola. They beg for lard. Good, old, fat-laden lard!

I read somewhere that President Reagan suggested catsup as one of the mandatory veggies to be served in school lunchrooms. This might shock some people, but it has been my experience that few children eat the vegetables anyway, while most children love catsup. My granddaughter, Sara, would put catsup on her pie if she were allowed to do so.

The trouble is, catsup is heavily laced with sugar. Everything that tastes good is heavily laced with sugar. Add a little fat to that and you have a meal fit for a king. Naturally, it's all bad for you. Why couldn't celery be bad for you and health nuts told to gobble down cookies? Why is it that everything that tastes good is unhealthy, and companies have to spend millions trying to make something that is healthy but tastes unhealthy?

Companies work hard to sell their products and convince you that they are healthy. Now, everything is made of Whole Wheat. White bread wears a black hat and is evil! Whole Wheat is vitamin-packed and contains fiber. Fiber? Fiber is also present in the bark of an oak tree! But we have to consume it, along with at least eight glasses of water a day. Eight glasses of water a day would rust the pipes of an iron man, but we are told to drink it. Well, there's water in vodka, for God's sake! Eight glasses of vodka and we might even eat a "mess o greens" without complaining.

When we went through a Low Fat phase, thanks to Dr. Dean Ornitz, companies advertised their products as FAT FREE and charged twice as much for them. Then, along came the Dr. Atkin's Diet and everything changed from FAT FREE to LOW CARB. Then, too, there is the Trans-Fat Scare, so grocery items are advertised as ZERO TRANS FAT. Actually, what I am looking for is a CALORIE FREE, FAT FREE, LOW CARB item with ZERO TRANS FAT that tastes like banana cream pie. And it would help if it were E-Coli Free as well.

But, think of it, Jack Spratt must have been on a Low Fat Diet, while his wife was on a Carb Free Diet. Between the two of them, they licked the platter clean...and neither of them seem to have succumbed to e-coli. But I really don't know what they were eating, unless it was all of those blackbirds baked in a pie.