Friday, May 15, 2009

It's What's For Dinner

Yay! Green things finally come from Ontario again! Not many; just asparagus and baby spinach, really. It's early in the growing season yet. In any case, in our ongoing effort to try to eat more locally, L and I had this for dinner last night. L had hers without the tomatoe sauce. It was de-freakin-licious, I highly recommend it.

And since I can't miss an opportunity to get up on my soap box, this is a friendly reminder that when you eat food grown locally in season you get fresher, more healthful, more delicious food and you put less pollution into the air. It's win-win-win. Your tongue, your waistline* and your lungs will all thank you. So next time you're at the grocery store, take a second to check where it was grown before you buy it.

* I'm assuming that you're choosing local produce over some processed thing full of junk ingredients, here.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Like a Better Me

I haven't been writing here as much as I'd like lately. There are a number of reasons for that. First off, I'm hellabusy being a born-again student; grad school is exactly like I remember my older friends/colleagues describing it. Secondly, a lot of my creative thinking drifts very quickly in the rant category these days and I'd like to spare my readers too much of that. And finally, sometimes I have trouble expressing my ideas in ways that are understood by people who don't spend all their time inside my head*.

So imagine my delight when I came across a very well thought out piece which expresses many of my very own feelings in crisp, compelling prose. It is actually the introduction to a book which I have now reserved at the Toronto Public Library. If I had to summarize the article, it would be a phrase I started using sometime shortly before the housing bubble burst: home ownership is the new serfdom. But that is a very cursory summary, indeed.

I found the article by trying to learn more about a particular guest blogger on boing boing after being taken in by some of his posts. He puts very elegant words to some pretty complicated thoughts I've had: it's like reading what I would write if I were a better me. Which sounds a bit vain, but really, if you stumbled across an author like that, wouldn't you bask in your discovery for a little while?

Set aside a good chunk of time before clicking the link: the article is a bit long, but I think it's well worth sticking with. I strongly encourage you to read it, if only so that some of my rants sound a little less insane and baseless the next time we speak. And maybe it will stir in you some of the same thoughts and feelings it did in me.

Introduction to Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take It Back.

* As a solipsist, I know that everyone spends all their time inside my head. Unfortunately, not everyone else knows that.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Guilty Pleasures

In the last few years I have learned a lot about nutrition. My first foray into that controversial cesspool of knowledge was a book called The Longevity Diet. The idea goes something like this:

In the 30s, an Italian researcher needed dwarf mice for an experiment. So he starved them and sure enough they were tiny. However, a strange thing happened: they lived 50 to 60% longer than normal lab mice. Nobody really paid much attention to this til years later. Now there have been experiments performed on a variety of different types of organisms and it turns out that if you greatly reduce the amount of food a creature eats, it lives longer. Unfortunately, as primates tend to have long lifespans, it's hard to say yet whether this effect actually carries over to humans.

I usually get one of two reactions to this: 1) you are insane; 2) it only feels like you live 50% longer if you don't eat a lot of food. However, living longer is not the real reason I think this book is important. If you eat only the very minimum amount of food required to survive, you have to be extremely careful about what that food contains: simply starving yourself is going to have the opposite effect. So the calorie restriction people have done a lot of research into what things are very important in human nutrition and done an excellent job of compiling that information in the Longevity Diet.

Not a day goes by that I don't hear about the obesity epidemic. I'm never really sure what causes it: ignorance, stupidity, or laziness. I expect the reason varies on an individual basis and exists as a continuum. The internet, however, is perfect for fixing the first cause and so, many people have put up blogs and suchlike in the name of educating people about what they're actually eating, or, in some cases just guilting people into eating better.

If I'm busy, I forget about food. Then, along comes one of these delicious looking links and bam, I'm drooling all over my keyboard thinking "mmm.... blizzard." Or worse, wandering down the hall to the snack machine wishing I had some gravy and cheese curds to put on my overpriced bag of doritos.

I suppose the one consolation in all this is that, whether or not they are helping curb the obesity epidemic, they are at least helping to spur the economic recovery, one chili-cheese-pizza-dog at a time.