'Matter of Laugh or Death,' the award-winning humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
DIETS COME AND GO, BUT BACON IS FOREVER
I drove by a convenience store the other day. It had a huge banner above the door that read: “JOIN THE LOW-CARB REVOLUTION!”
Isn’t it a bit strange to get health and nutritional advice from an outfit best known for selling Twinkies, 2-day-old coffee, 4-month-old hot dogs, 7-year-old beef jerky, and cigarettes?
I’m sure you’ve heard about the low-carb diet craze sweeping the nation. You can’t open a newspaper these days without reading an article about the “Atkins Diet,” or the “South Beach Diet,” or the “Stuff Bacon In Your Mouth Till It Comes Out Your Ears Diet.” (Mmm, I like bacon.) The article is usually right next to a different article explaining that America has set yet another record for obesity.
The idea behind the low-carb diet is that carbohydrates are bad—bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, and cereal. While on the other hand, protein is good—bacon, red meat, bacon, eggs, bacon, cheese, and, if you’re getting tired of the same thing every day, bacon. (Mmm, I like bacon.) Supposedly, you can eat as much protein and fat as you want, and you’ll lose weight and gain lots of energy. It’s similar to being addicted to cocaine, but with the price of meat these days, much more expensive.
It’s kind of funny watching the marketplace react to this new fad. Fast food restaurants quickly added bun-less burgers to the menu, and beer commercials now emphasize how few carbs are contained in the product. This is because, as we all know, the folks who guzzle beer and eat at fast food joints on a regular basis are the most health conscious citizens in the country.
The companies that make bread and pasta also reacted to market changes with a tried and true formula for regaining lost revenues—they begged the government for subsidies. (The plea went something like this: “It’s just not fair that we’re being forced to close factories and lay off workers…in your district…Mr. Congressman.”)
During my lifetime, the concept of “healthy eating” has changed numerous times. And each time whatever was in vogue was proclaimed to be “absolutely correct,” while whatever just went out of style was proclaimed to be “more dangerous than drinking lighter fluid” (which, on the bright side, has only 2 grams of carbs per 12-oz. serving).
When I was a kid in the early 1960s, healthy eating meant joining “The Clean Plate Club.” It didn’t matter what your mom served for dinner, as long as you ate it all. (Sometimes this required creating a diversion, so you could toss the fried liver under the table to the dog and hide your peas in the sugar bowl.) Mom explained you had to join The Clean Plate Club to grow up bigger and stronger than the Russians.
Then in the ‘70s and ‘80s, conventional wisdom said the most healthy diets were high-carb and low-fat. You could eat bread and pasta and fruit until it was coming out of your nose, but you had to stay away from red meat, anything fried, and especially that tool of the Devil himself, bacon. At the time, the companies that made bread and pasta reacted by begging the government for subsidies. (The plea went something like this: “It’s just not fair that we’re being forced to build expensive factories and hire untrained workers…in your district…Mr. Congressman.”)
Now, once again, conventional wisdom has taken a 180-degree turn. What’s a person to do?
I think the only safe course of action is to go with the “Mom Knows Best Diet.” I’ll take some of today’s healthy food—steak and fried chicken—and add a pile of healthy food from the ‘70s and ‘80s—pasta and bread—and cover the whole thing with a pound or two of bacon. (Did I mention I like bacon?) And then I won’t get up from the table until my plate is clean.
This will make Mom happy, and make me bigger and stronger than the Russians. And eventually, bigger than Russia itself.
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