We need to ditch the myths and stick together to win this one

Out of all the anti-vax myths to stick around these 18 months, the one that bothers me the most is COVID isn’t really a problem if you’re “healthy.” Somehow this misconception persists despite the well-documented, ongoing and debilitating effects of long COVID amongst everyone, the young and healthy included. The problem, of course is that word “healthy” and the fact that culturally, this country has no idea what that word means.

I worked at a gym for years and I can tell you first-hand that our collective understanding of healthy exercise is neither understanding nor healthy. It’s barely exercise. Personal trainers frequently lead their clients to injury. A reason for this could be that so many of their certifications are in fact scams.

American medicine itself is a business stunningly unconcerned with health. Milk doesn’t do what you think it does. The food pyramid is a con. Many doctors still use BMI as a health indicator despite its racist history and the fact that it’s complete nonsense. The entire American concept of health is designed around a beauty standard by and for white men.

As a friend succinctly posted the other day, weight is not an indicator of health; health is not an indicator of worth.

Also, contrary to popular belief, health is not so much of an individual responsibility as much as a reflection of an individual’s environment. We tell 24 million Americans living in food deserts to eat better. We tell 31 million uninsured Americans to be sure to get regular checkups. We tell the 45 million Americans struggling to get out of poverty to make more time for themselves. We tell the 52 million Americans struggling with mental health that they just need to get motivated. And we tell the 61 million American adults living with a disability that they just need to exercise more. And we tell them all of this in the most ableist ways possible.

This solution to the pandemic is not on the individual and blaming each other will not get us out of this. We will, however, continue to face variant after variant of the coronavirus until we understand that our collective health is on us collectively and demand that our institutions act accordingly. Until then, wear a mask. Get vaccinated. Do it for someone else.

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Cooking with BGIM!

This post is for a few folks who asked me about some recipes I had mentioned recently. For new readers, I don’t talk a great deal about it since I am always running my mouth about something else but cooking is one of my hobbies. Living in Maine in fall it also means apples galore! We recently picked quite a few at a local orchard and for some reason this year we have been on an applesauce kick.

My recipe (not sure where I got it from, so if it’s your Great Aunt Jean’s don’t sue me)

3-4lbs of peeled, cored apples (Cortlands are great but I will also do a mix of whatever)
4 strips of lemon peel
juice of 1 lemon 3-4tbsp
3 inches of cinnamon stick (I often put in 3 sticks)
1/4 dark brown sugar
up to a 1/4 cup white sugar
1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt

This is a great recipe, just throw it all in a pot and cover, bring it to a boil, once it’s boiling, lower your heat and let simmer 20-30 minutes. Basically it will tell you when its done when it starts looking like applesauce. Remove from heat, remove lemon peels and cinnamon sticks. Mash with masher to desired consistency.

You can freeze this up to a year but if you have never had warm homemade applesauce you will quickly learn, screw freezing…just eat! It is orgasmic.

Crockpot Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

I admit I was skittish about this but I had a plethora of sweet potatoes plus I wanted to do something different, so I said screw it, let’s go.

2 cans of Black beans rinsed (use dried if ya like but I am lazy like that)
2 cans stewed tomatoes
2 sweet potatoes diced
3 green peppers diced
1 large onion diced
fresh garlic-to taste
1 tbsp chili powder
pinch of smoked serrano chili powder
1 fresh jalapeno (omit if you don’t like spice)
1 cup both or water

It’s a crockpot, toss all the goodies in there. I cooked it on high for about 7 hours and it came out great. I served it with cornbread and threw cheese on top of the chili. Very filling and the flavors really melded well.

Poor Ronald McDonald the Scapegoat!

So McDonald’s, the king of cheap, calorie laden, gas inducing (even poop inducing) burgers is going to make the Happy Meal a little less happy and a little more healthy and somehow this is going to help make the children of America a little less obese? Really? Well it seems there are many who feel this is an important step in fighting the war on childhood obesity that is currently being waged by our gorgeous First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.

I will admit that we do have a growing issue with obesity in this country but I am not so sure I want to lay it all on the feet of folks like McDonald’s and sugary breakfast cereals as many would like to do. Nope. Let’s take a look at lifestyles, back when I was a kid, I walked to school yet in the age of paranoia kids just don’t walk like they used to. In fact in many parts of the country as Physical Education has been gutted in school districts and to be honest movement only happens in extracurricular activities outside of schools that often have fees attached to them.

Which brings me to what I feel is the culprit behind growing obesity rates in this country, sheer economics, plain and simple. Wages have been stagnant in this country for a while; in fact most so called economic growth seen in families in the past several decades was only because households went from one wage earner to two. Then the credit and economic crisis hit and the jig was up. Yet when households started having two wage earners, which meant no one was home to cook a balanced home cooked meal; well you eat quickly made foods. Quick made does not necessarily mean fast food but it often does mean processed foods which often times are simply not as healthy as can be. Add in a couple of tired parents living in suburbia where sidewalks don’t exist, a big gaming system and you have a stew brewing that will lead to obesity and this is for so-called middle class folks

Take a walk with me to poverty row and it gets even worse. If you are income eligible your kid can get two meals a day for free at school and during summer at schools and community programs. To a family on the financial edge these free meals can seem like a blessing so you don’t have to decide between the light bill and the grocery bill. The question is have you seen a school lunch? If not take a look.

Nothing on that plate screams healthy yet this is what is served to our kids in the US under the guise of healthy and nutritious and before you get mad at the schools. The reality is the United States Department of Agriculture’s meal reimbursement rate to actual providers of these meals is paltry. In the summer the reimbursement rate for lunch is $3.15 per meal per kid and before you get excited, that reimbursement rate covers staff salaries, supplies and all that jazz so really it’s about a buck or so per kid if you are lucky. Millions of kids in this country get the bulk of their daily sustenance under these programs…think about that.

Now let’s think about the fact that over 15 million kids in America are living in poverty, in fact childhood poverty is at the highest it’s been in over 40 years! Couple that with rapid growth in the use of SNAP benefits aka food stamps and maybe McDonald’s is not the culprit, maybe ole Ronald is the scapegoat when the fact is we as a nation are just not terribly vested in our young no matter what we say. The hard reality is people are working harder for less financially, yes there are some parents who need nutrition education but in a society that does not value it’s families in general to focus on childhood obesity without looking at all the other systems that can impact obesity is simply a Band-Aid approach designed to make us feel good but not affect change on any deep level

So to Michelle, I say work on making sure healthy nutritious food is financially available to all, make sure kids have access and the means to physical activity and you can start by making sure their parents are healthy.