Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A full day's supply of vitamin Guilt

So I went to a parents meeting at my kids' school . . . the topic was nutrition. One of the mothers had a background in public health, and makes a living editing federal nutrition manuals, and also has struggled for many years to make sense of her own son's food allergies. She gave a presentation on the research of Weston Price, a mid-twentieth century dentist who studied the deleterious impact of Western processed foods on indiginous cultures. The upshot was: processed food Bad, raw and cultured foods Good.

Now, I had come across such thinking before, but this was probably the first time that the reasoning behind that conclusion made an scientific sense. This was not merely a naturalistic fallacy, i.e. Natural = Good, Man-made = Bad, though I think many people in the audience had that general trend in their thinking. They made a pretty good case for how naturally occurring enzymes in food that contribute to digestion are destroyed by pasteurization and other food processing, which ultimately leads to greater food allergies, digestive problems, etc.

Now, what I found most interesting about the whole discussion was not the nutritional information itself, but the vastness of the degrees of effort people put into the whole question. I heard about mothers who soak their grains and nuts overnight to leach out natural preservatives to improce digestibility, who drive hours to buy raw milk from now-illegal sources, who endure horrifically restrictive regimes in efforts to track down allergens, who struggle to create a counter-cultural diet for their families. How much thought or energy do I devote to the topic? Approximately zero percent.

It seems that almost anything worth doing is worth doing to unthinkable extremes. You can't study nutrition for even a little bit without thinking that you are a million miles from right. You can't study ecology without feeling like you are killing the planet. Likewise, you can study philosophy or religion, even a little bit, without getting the sneaking suspicion that you are wasting your life, that you should devote vastly more time and energy to it. The only thing that can save you from complete despair is, as Rose would say, a "backing away from untruth." You eat slightly better, waste a little less, pray a little more . . . just keep moving in the right direction.


Post a Comment

<< Home