Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · Relearning how to eat
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Relearning how to eat

Robert Downes - May 12th, 2008
Relearning How to Eat
There’s a touch of suspense in our visits to the grocery store these days. We creep cautiously over to the milk aisle, bracing for the price. If it’s under $3 a gallon, a small victory has been won, but the trend seems to be heading in the other direction, and someday I suppose that $3 milk will be just a misty memory.
So, put this in the “One More Thing to Worry About” file: the rising cost
of food.
Those of you who buy milk each week probably don’t need a bunch of fancy statistics to underline the fact that food is getting more expensive, but here goes:
Food prices went up by four percent last year on top of 2.4 percent the year before, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. And prices could rise as much as 10 percent this year.
So, let’s be optimists and assume the worst: by 2009, food prices could be up as much as 16.4 percent of what you paid in 2005.
But some staples have gone even higher: in the past year alone, milk rose 13.3 percent, white bread went up 16.3 percent, and eggs were up 29.9 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A record 28 million Americans will be on food stamps this year.
Even so, we’re light years away from the food riots that took place recently in Cameroon and Egypt: the Department of Agriculture reports that Americans spent just 5.8 percent of their incomes on food in 2006, which is far less than the citizens of other countries.
But that’s probably small comfort if you’re traveling from the gas station to the grocery store.
Who are the culprits in rising food prices? They are many, but somehow, they all circle back to ourselves.
• In India and China, for instance, people have a higher standard of living and are eating much better these days, thanks to all of the flatscreen TVs, video games, tainted dog food and other stuff they’ve sold to American consumers. That means higher prices for grain, rice, fish and meat over here in Consumerland.
• Then too, one-fifth of the U.S. corn crop was diverted to produce ethanol last year. We’re literally feeding corn to our automobiles instead of to chickens, hogs and cattle. That means higher prices for chicken, pork and beef are coming to a grocery store near you soon.
• Higher fuel prices for shipping foods to market are being passed on to consumers. It makes you wonder how much longer we’ll be eating tomatoes from Holland, strawberries from Mexico and shrimp from Thailand, among other imported foods.
• Global warming is the 600-ton Godzilla on the table whose effect on food prices remains unknown. Record heat waves have already destroyed crops around the world -- such as 36 percent of Italy’s corn crop in 2003, according to Newsweek. “Overall, global warming will bring more rainfall,” notes science writer Sharon Begley in Newsweek. “But rainfall has been coming in fits and starts -- dry spells interrupted by deluges. This is a prescription for withering crops and then washing them away.”
• Big news recently was the fact that Costco and Sam’s Club started limiting customers to two or three bags of rice. It’s not that the world is running out of rice: it’s simply that India, China, Vietnam and Thailand are cutting back on their imports in order to meet rising demand in their own countries. The price of their fancy for-import-only basmati rice rose from $850 per ton to $2,000 this past year.
There’s not much we can do as individuals about the price of rice in China or droughts in Italy. And we may be stuck with the price of staples like milk and eggs, the same as we‘re stuck at the gas pump.
But there are some things we can do to take charge of our own lives and cut costs.
For starters, we could relearn how to eat. That involves simply eating less, which is the norm throughout the world.
It’s common knowledge that Americans have an obesity problem. Currently, 60 percent of adult Americans are overweight, and it’s predicted that by 2020, half of all American children will be overweight if current trends continue.
Yet, it‘s almost impossible not to gain weight with the huge food portions we‘ve come to accept as normal in America.
That‘s not the case beyond our borders. In most of the world, for instance, meat is considered more of a garnish than the main event at a meal. Outside of America and a few Western countries like Germany, people don’t eat hunks of meat the size of bricks for dinner and consider that “normal.” They typically use a few shreds of meat -- a palmful at most -- in their rice or pasta, along with plenty of vegetables.
Also, a sandwich overseas is more on par with what we’d consider a snack here -- it’s small and waistline-friendly.
Many fine restaurants already practice the less-is-more philosophy, concentrating on flavor, rather than heaping portions.
But, if you believe that you need a shovel-full of food on your plate for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day, then switching to a Weight Watchers-style diet is probably a bitter cruel, unthinkable idea.
Also worth noting: inexpensive home cooking has become something of a lost art in America. How many young people do you know who get most of their meals from fast food restaurants or rely on processed foods? It‘s a recipe for poor nutrition as well as a hefty food bill.
Maybe it’s time to return to the home economic skills our grandparents took for granted: Things like slimming down your diet, planting a garden, and relearning how to cook inexpensive, healthful meals out of soups, casseroles or the kind of nutritious “peasant” cuisines of stir-fries and wraps that are popular all over the world. The brave new Age of Thrift seems to be here at last. It’s time to adapt -- or pay dearly.
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