Monday, July 11, 2011

A blank page. That is what I'm staring at now. An unsoiled blank page. I can write whatever I want. You will read the first sentence and judge me by that. “What Crap”! , you might say “Inspirational”! “wtf is she talking about”?!

I was speaking to a friend recently about just this phenomena we seem to have nowadays in our society. Because of the internet, because of the TV, cellphone, Twitter, what have you; we have, myself included, become instant judges of content.

One line speaks all. It is judged, if deemed ok, we move on.

You see now how I am putting spaces in my writing? That is to keep your interest. If I wrote it all as one paragraph, as they did in those “olden days” you would never be able to follow me.


I mean it.

See, you are paying attention still because I am short in my verbiage. Watch this though and see if you can still follow.

This quick edit/judgment aspect of our living has me quite concerned. “In my day” we were highly conscious about stereotyping people. Usually that took a couple of sentences. Now, it takes about two words. To have one's character judged solely on a sentence fragment-that is the world we live in. That is not the world I want to live in. [I'm so tempted now to hit the enter key and so draw your attention back in but I'm not gonna. I'll prove my point, dadgummit]. I swear, I think the Luddites had it right. Those damn factory machines should have been bashed in and down 150 years ago. Look at us now. All our “conveniences” all our “time saving” devices have only enslaved us, not liberated us. Ah, I can't bear not to give a space, and yet, yet, I yield.

Recently I read about a tribe in Africa. They have not yet been “civilized.” They have no running water, no electricity, no plumbing. They are living as their ancestors have lived for eons. They have no stress, eat well, live happy lives. Pictures presented children watering the oxen, all smiles, totally relaxed, joyous. They have no fear of crime, terrorism, or Facebook hacking. They are living right. God help them should they get “what they need.”. Compare that to Baltimore, MD-major stress, eat crap, the great mass of men living lives of “quiet desperation.”

Severing ourselves from all other species, severing ourselves from our environment is the height of not just arrogance, but suicidal ideation. There are very few who still remain in contact with the Earth and her movings. Most of us just “get along” and pop pills to prescribe our mood. So many are “depressed” in our society. Well, maybe that is the most rational way to be. Maybe, if you are depressed, you don't need a pill, you need to “get back to where you once belonged.”

What do you think?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Good Loaf of Bread

Why is it so difficult to get a good loaf of bread? I don’t mean that it is difficult to buy one; our grocery stores have shelf after shelf of various loaves wrapped in colorful plastic. What I want to know is why it is so difficult to get a good loaf of bread-a loaf of bread that is not only tasty, but good for you, nutritious, one that will be an asset to your body, not simply another ingested alien item that it must detoxify from your system. I never realized such a thing was so difficult until I recently took a class on nutrition.

Let me give you an example, one of America’s most beloved breads, Wonder Bread. Here are its ingredients: Whole wheat flour, water, wheat gluten, high fructose corn syrup, contains 2% or less of: soybean oil, salt, molasses, yeast, mono and diglycerides, exthoxylated mono- and diglycerides, dough conditioners (sodium stearoyl lactylate, calcium iodate, calcium dioxide), datem, calcium sulfate, vinegar, yeast nutrient (ammonium sulfate), extracts of malted barley and corn, dicalcium phosphate, diammonium phosphate, calcium propionate (to retain freshness). Even my spell checker is not recognizing some of those ingredients; it’s underlined them in red. I randomly chose one of those mystery elements to google. Here is what Wikipedia says about diammonium phosphate:

DAP is used as a fertilizer. When applied as plant food, it temporarily increases the soil pH, but over a long term the treated ground becomes more acidic than before upon nitrification of the ammonium. It is incompatible with alkaline chemicals because its ammonium ion is more likely to convert to ammonia in a high-pH environment.
DAP can be used a fire retardant. It lowers the combustion temperature of the material, decreases maximum weight loss rates, and causes an increase in the production of residue or char.[4] These are important effects in fighting wildfires as lowering the pyrolysis temperature and increasing the amount of char formed reduces that amount of available fuel and can lead to the formation of a firebreak. It is the largest component of some popular commercial firefighting products.[5]
DAP is also used as a yeast nutrient in winemaking and brewing mead; as an additive in some brands of cigarettes purportedly as a nicotine enhancer; to prevent afterglow in matches, in purifying sugar; as a Flux for soldering tin, copper, zinc and brass; and to control precipitation of alkali-soluble and acid-insoluble colloidal dyes on wool. [1]

I need to stop myself now from Googling Wonder Bread ingredients, fun and horrifying as it is, or this will turn into a research paper. Each ingredient seems to have quite a tale to tell. Let’s just leave it by saying, Grandma didn’t make bread like that.

I find it both amazing and distressing to live in a society that knows more than any other about health only to be the least healthy society I’ve ever heard of. In the world today, there are more books, movies, studies, ads, clubs, clinics, and workshops than in the entire history of humanity combined, yet, the modern way of life is the least healthy way to live. We’ve tried hard and successfully for many years now to make things easy, accessible, and cheap, only to seemingly have forgotten how to make them good, nutritious, and life enhancing. In fact, we’ve gotten so far from such things that to obtain those most important aspects of a diet has become quite a chore. If I desire a loaf of bread and go to the store, what I find there are odd chemical concoctions mixed with flour and preservatives. That cheap common store-bought bread bounces like a ball when squished into one (try this with Wonderbread; it’s quite a disturbing sight). Realizing the horror of the “Frankenfood” and taking it upon myself to make a “good old fashioned” loaf, I still need to examine all the ingredients at length. Ingredients ain’t what they used to be. For example, I must consider what kind of flour to buy. I don’t want white. I don’t want bleached flour from wheat that had pesticides on it. I wonder as I buy my nice unbleached whole wheat if it has been genetically modified. I wonder about the processing plant it came from. There’s no way to tell these things. A dash of salt? No, better get sea salt and avoid the additives in “regular” table salt (I just found out a month or so ago, after 46 years, that my good old iodized salt doesn’t just contain salt. I’d never thought to read the ingredients). Should I really add brown sugar to it? No, that’s not good. Cane sugar is addictive. I’d better get honey. But where did that come from? Is it even real honey? Has it been processed? And so it goes down the list of ingredients. That one staple bread, the one food item some say was the cause of civilization when people began to grow grain rather than hunt so that they could bake a loaf, has nearly become extinct.

I think I shall become a food preservationist and rescue these dying and endangered food species. They are highly vulnerable right now. If not protected and preserved, they will certainly fade away into the distant memory of humanity. One by one they will vanish into embodied modern chemical metaphors of food. The only thing left will be a fossilized rye or sourdough with a forlorn spent Red Star Yeast packet by its side. Alas, how the mighty will soon fall! The fresh cow’s milk, the chicken eggs, the homemade bread replaced forever by Lactaid, egg beaters, and Wonder Bread. This must never happen. Somehow, we must ensure that in days to come Mommy and Daddy never have to gather the family around a microwave to tell a story of the magical bread that once could sustain whole civilizations as little Timmy and Mary listen doubtfully, bouncing a ball of Wonder Bread back and forth under bright fluorescent lights.