The Terrible Tragedy of the Healthy Eater

The Terrible Tragedy of the Healthy Eater

I know you. We have a lot in common. You have been doing some reading and now you are pretty sure everything in the grocery store and your kitchen cupboards is going to kill you.

Before Your Healthy Eating Internet Education:

I eat pretty healthy. Check it out: whole grain crackers, veggie patties, prawns, broccoli. I am actually pretty into clean eating.

After Your Healthy Eating Internet Education:

Those crackers—gluten, baby. Gluten is toxic to your intestinal health, I read it on a forum. They should call those crackers Leaky Gut Crisps—that would be more accurate. That veggie burger in the freezer? GMO soy. Basically that’s a Monsanto patty. Did you know soybean oil is an insecticide? And those prawns are fish-farmed in Vietnamese sewage pools. I didn’t know about the sewage fish farming when I bought them, though, really I didn’t!

The broccoli, though..that’s ok. I can eat that. Eating that doesn’t make me a terrible person, unless....oh, shit! That broccoli isn’t organic. That means it’s covered with endocrine-disrupting pesticides that will make my son sprout breasts. As if adolescence isn’t awkward enough.

And who pre-cut this broccoli like that? I bet it was some poor Mexican person not making a living wage and being treated as a cog in an industrial broccoli cutting warehouse. So I’m basically supporting slavery if I eat this pre-cut broccoli. Oh my God, it’s in a plastic bag too. Which means I am personally responsible for the death of countless endangered seabirds right now.

I hate myself.

Well, shit.

All you want to do is eat a little healthier. Really. Maybe get some of that Activa probiotic yogurt or something. So you look around and start researching what “healthier” means.

That really skinny old scientist dude says anything from an animal will give you cancer. But a super-ripped 60-year-old with a best-selling diet book says eat more butter with your crispy T-Bone and you’ll be just fine as long as you stay away from grains. Great abs beat out the PhD, so you end up hanging out on a forum where everyone eats green apples and red meat and talks about how functional and badass parkour is.

You learn that basically, if you ignore civilization and Mark Knopfler music, the last 10,000 years of human development has been one big societal and nutritional cock-up and wheat is entirely to blame. What we all need to do is eat like cave-people.

You’re hardcore now, so you go way past way cave-person. You go all the way to The Inuit Diet™.

Some people say it’s a little fringe, but you are committed to live a healthy lifestyle. “Okay,” you say, “let’s do this shit,” as you fry your caribou steak and seal liver in rendered whale blubber. You lose some weight, which is good, but it costs $47.99 a pound for frozen seal liver out of the back of an unmarked van at the Canadian border.

Even though The Inuit Diet™ is high in Vitamin D, you learn every disease anywhere can be traced to a lack of Vitamin D (you read that on a blog post), so you start to supplement. 5000 IU of Vitamin D before sitting in the tanning booth for an hour does wonders for your hair's luster.

Maxing out your credit line on seal liver forces you to continue your internet education in healthy eating. As you read more you begin to understand that grains are fine, but before you eat them you must prepare them in the traditional way: by long soaking in the light of a new moon with a mix of mineral water and the strained lacto-fermented tears of a virgin.

You discover that if the women in your family haven’t been eating a lot of mussels for at least the last four generations, you are pretty much guaranteed a $6000 orthodontia bill for your snaggle-toothed kid. That’s if you are able to conceive at all, which you probably won’t, because you ate margarine at least twice when you were 17.

Healthy eating is getting pretty complicated and conflicted at this point, but at least everyone agrees you should eat a lot of raw vegetables.

Soon you learn that even vegetables are trying to kill you. Many are completely out unless they are pre-fermented with live cultures in a specialized $79 imported pickling crock. Legumes and nightshades absolutely cause problems. Even fermentation can’t make those healthy.

Goodbye, tomatoes. Goodbye green beans. Goodbye all that makes summer food good. Hey, it’s hard, but you have to eliminate these toxins and anti-nutrients. You probably have a sensitivity. Actually, you almost positively have a sensitivity. Restaurants and friends who want to grab lunch with you will just have to deal.

bowl of kale
Credit:notahipster.

Kale: it's what's for dinner. And lunch. And breakfast.

The only thing you are sure of is kale, until you learn that even when you buy organic, local kale from the store (organic, local kale is the only food you can eat now) it is probably GMO cross-contaminated. Besides, it usually comes rolled in corn starch and fried to make it crunchier. Market research, dahling...sorry, people like crunchy cornstarch breaded Kale-Crispers™ more than actual bunny food.

And by now you’ve learned that the only thing worse than wheat is corn. Everyone can agree on that, too. Corn is making all of America fat. The whole harvest is turned into ethanol, high fructose corn syrup, chicken feed and corn starch and the only people who benefit from all those corn subsidies are evil companies like Cargill.

Also, people around the world are starving because the U.S. grows too much corn. It doesn't actually make that much sense when you say it like that, but you read it on a blog. And anyway, everyone does agree that corn is Satan’s grain. Unless wheat is.

The only thing to do, really, when you think about it, is to grow all your own food. That’s the only way to get kale that isn’t cornstarch dipped. You've read a lot and it is obvious that you can’t trust anything, and you can’t trust anyone and everything is going to kill you and the only possible solution is to have complete and total control over your foodchain from seed to sandwich.

Not that you actually eat sandwiches.

You have a little panic attack at the idea of a sandwich on commercial bread: GMO wheat, HFCS and chemical additive dough conditioners. Some people see Jesus in their toast, but you know the only faces in that mix of frankenfood grains and commercial preservatives are Insulin Sensitivity Man and his sidekick, Hormonal Disruption Boy.

It’s okay, though. You don’t need a deli sandwich or a po’boy. You have a saute of Russian Kale and Tuscan Kale and Scotch Kale (because you love international foods). It’s delicious. No, really. You cooked the kale in a half-pound of butter that had more raw culture than a black-tie soiree at Le Bernardin.

You round out your meal with a little piece of rabbit that you raised up and butchered out in the backyard. It’s dusted with all-natural pink Hawaiian high-mineral sea salt that you cashed in your kid's college fund to buy and topped with homemade lacto-fermented herb mayonnaise made with coconut oil and lemons from a tropical produce CSA share that helps disadvantaged youth earn money by gleaning urban citrus. The lemons were a bit over-ripe when they arrived to you, but since they were transported by mountain bike from LA to Seattle to keep them carbon neutral you can hardly complain.

The rabbit is ok. Maybe a bit bland. Right now you will eat meat, but only meat that you personally raise, because you saw that PETA thing about industrial beef production and you can’t support that. Besides, those cows eat corn. Which is obscene because cows are supposed to eat grass. Ironically, everyone knows that a lawn is a complete waste in a neighborhood—that’s where urban gardens should go. In other words, the only good grass is grass that cows are eating. You wonder if your HOA will let you graze a cow in the common area.

In the meantime, you are looking for a farmer who raises beef in a way you can support and you have so far visited 14 ranches in the tri-state area. You have burned 476 gallons of gas driving your 17-mpg SUV around to interview farmers but, sadly, have yet to find a ranch where the cattle feed exclusively on organic homegrown kale.

Until you do, you allow yourself a small piece of rabbit once a month. You need to stretch your supply of ethical meat after that terrible incident with the mother rabbit who nursed her kibble and ate her kits. After that, deep down, you aren’t really sure you have the stomach for a lot more backyard meat-rabbit raising.

So you eat a lot of homegrown kale for awhile. Your seasoning is mostly self-satisfaction and your drink is mostly fear of all the other food lurking everywhere that is trying to kill you.

Eventually your doctor tells you that the incredible pain you’ve been experiencing is kidney stones caused by the high oxalic acid in the kale. You are instructed to cut out all dark leafy greens from your diet, including kale, beet greens, spinach, and swiss chard and eat a ton of low-fat dairy.

Your doctor recommends that new healthy yogurt with the probiotics. She thinks it’s called Activa.

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