When I was growing up, people opened up cans, heated up the contents and ate the mushy results without complaining. Well, okay, canned asparagus is disgusting, so is succotash, but for some reason I could not get my parents to understand that.
The point is, people ate bad food, did NOT try to understand the importance of diet and did not take supplements. In short, life was simple. You ate, developed a chronic disease and died. No thinking involved. No one tried to lecture you about anything or make you feel guilty about fat, flaccid vegetables or pounds of sugar.
Today, we are told that our vegetables are laced with insecticides, our meats are infiltrated with hormones and antibiotics, and anything with any promise of nutrition has been pasteurized or irradiated to the point where even bacteria turn up their microscopic noses at the prospect of eating it.
And don’t get me started about eggs—they’re bad for you, they’re good for you, they’re bad for you, they’re good for you. Either way, they may harbor salmonella. The only course left is to eat organic and join a commune.
Sadly, even that won’t do. Regardless of what we eat, we are told we need nutritional supplements. First, there are multivitamins. Not enough. We need to add essential fatty acids and calcium/magnesium to protect our hearts, avoid knife-wielding mood swings and keep our bones from dissolving. Still not enough. We need glucosamine (not good for diabetics) so our joints won’t stick like the Wizard of Oz Tin Man after a rain. But wait, our minds are going, so we need Ginko Biloba so we can remember all the supplements we’re supposed to take. And finally, the latest revelation: we lack vitamin D3 because we are all so busy sitting inside working on our computers that none of us get any natural vitamin D3 from sunshine anymore.
Okay, so now we all know what we need to take. No. It is not that simple.
Now the news is that, like our food, our supplements are crap, and we have to buy an extraordinarily expensive brand of supplements because our bodies are not able to absorb nutrients from the reasonably priced brands. The reasonably priced brands also apparently contain up to 90% fillers that may be bad for us.
Having second-mortgaged our homes to afford noncontaminated foods and quality supplements, more information comes our way. The China Study was published. Why we did a study in China—land of lead paint, tainted baby formula and poisoned pet food--I will never know. But it concludes that calcium and maybe even vitamins—except vitamin B12—may not be necessary after all; what we really need is magnesium and a vegan diet.
Magnesium, apparently, among other things, keeps us calm. Good thing. Because the stress of trying to achieve good nutrition amid a poisoned or genetically altered food supply, poorly absorbed supplements and the shifting sands of nutritional advice is enough to make a wary public want to dump its never-ending line of helpful nutritional prophets into a vat of organic fertilizer.