Morning Edition recently presented a piece about the burden overweight people place on our planet. The problem of feeding flesh instead of mouths is especially acute in the United States. Though we make up approximately 6% of the earth's population, we account for about 33% of the overall weight wandering restlessly over this planet's surface. We can talk about calories and cavemen by way of seeking a solution. Pollan can chide us to eat food, and we can argue about meat fat, carbohydrates, and what the French do all day long. We can even turn our food consumption into a point system, perhaps hoping that our passion for sports will translate subliminally into a winning system for shedding pounds. We have done all these things, and experts tell us that our nation's people are still growing cumulatively bigger.
Let me suggest, unoriginally, that the problem of too much food and flesh should be viewed in a less compartmentalized fashion; that we need to consider the spirit, the psyche, and the entire body, rather than just the waistline. My fellow county-people, on this anniversary of our nation – when alcohol-laden, unfettered feasts surely threatens to push our share of the world's weight to 34% or beyond in a single hotdog-gorging day – let me propose a bold alternative to ever-more obsessive dieting: eat with your mouth. No. Not with utensils. Not with your hands. Put your mouth in your food and chew.
It has long been suspected that the geometries created by silverware, when used for eating, generates magnetic fields. Among other dangers, these invisible arrays probably disrupt the body's natural digestive processes and activate harmful micro-attributes in the food consumed. Furthermore, through a complex series of chemical reactions, metal repeatedly placed into and removed from the mouth siphons toxins out of the liver. When the eating session ends, those toxins are returned to the liver, forcing the organ to perform double duty. And I won't bother going into all the things leaching out of plastic utensils. But all the physiology aside, eating with implements separates you from your food.
Eating with your hands may seem like a viable alternative (and is certainly preferable to the fork, spoon, and knife), but this, too, has its problems. Even if you wash them as well as you possibly can, your hands still function like petri dishes cultivating harmful bacteria and viral matter. Scratching our bodies and touching foreign surfaces while dining is inevitable – and normal! When eating, and especially during social events that involve food, one should never have to feel like a surgeon who has just scrubbed in. Eating should be a rough pleasure, not a delicate procedure. And while bringing food to mouth with your fingers may be senorily thrilling, it also carries a high potential of delivering into your body pathogens alongside the critical nutrients. Beyond threats to your immune system, however, eating with your hands separates you from your food.
You know what doesn't separate you from your food? Grabbing it with your mouth and eating. And this method connects you with food in many respects beyond the obviously physical ones. Psychologically, eating with your face increases happiness. When have you witnessed a child in a high chair who, released from the parental dictates to “eat nicely” or “eat properly,” appears anything less than joyous? Or who does not rejoice on some instinctual level when Randy in A Christmas Story, induced by his mother's question about how piggies eat, smashes his face into the formerly undesireable plate of food before him. His snorting and laughing becomes contagious to everyone literally and figuratively present, as the nutrious food flows into his body unhindered by implement, microbe, or negative emotion. Research in science journals has surely demonstrated that happy eating increases the body's efficient and healthful processing of food, leading ultimately to moderation and reduced weight gain. Imagine being among a table full of adults at your favorite upscale restaurant, all gleefully devouring food like Randy. All knowing that your direct connection to that food will foster a healthy figure.
At an even more basic level, look to the dog or the cat or the alpaca. These and other animals are spiritually connected to their meals. They become one with the things they directly devour. Sure, the raccoon uses its hands, but observe that creature's sour disposition. Or the squirrel's stupidity. Or the chimp's covetousness. No, the happiest animals are the ones who do not aspire to anything more sophisticated than a face planted in something scrumptious. (The great exception may be the otter, who cannot be unhappy with that furry coat and aquatic agility; also who needs the blubber to survive in the cold ocean.) Bodies passing energy in the most direct and present way unto other bodies. This is the way to benefits including, but going far beyond, the mere reduction of weight.
So grab that patriotic potato salad with your mouth, my friends! Rip that hot dog apart with your incisors, just like an American should! Exercise your freedom to chew into that apple pie sans fork! Let's eat like pigs, and enjoy the physical and spiritual benefits that accompany our liberation.
“Things will turn.”
“The market will turn.”
“It feels like things are so close to turning.”
I have heard these comments and dozens similar over the past twenty months, at least. Here’s what I can’t help wondering lately: will it? Will it really turn? Does anyone really believe that, and if so, what proof do they have? Or is this where we are now? Is this the new order that we must resign ourselves to march bravely forward into? Without turns.
I know that New Zealand is waiting. I know that goats make amazing cheeses. I know I might have some strange and resonant work within me to write. Worrying about return value may bring nothing at all. Comfort breeds anxiety. There are more books to be read than spare time to read them in. Tai Chi is challenging yet possible to master. Unwelcome work may bring more unwelcome work, but pursuing delight may cause flowers. Death is going to visit whether insurance is available or not. Somewhere there is a road.
What if it turns and we still don’t know who we are?