Spoiler Alert: Living Can Kill You

Spoiler Alert

Especially if you like to eat: “Food!”*

Not that I’m exactly slow on the uptake. But I have recently come to realize that everything—and I mean everything!—we eat comes with some sort of Warning Label these days.

So…here I am a (two-time) TKO victor over the Grim Reaper and a one-time terminal prostate cancer survivor about to embark on a “traditional” breakfast that is a departure from my usual daily Green-juice/Aloe Vera/Liquid Mineral and Colloidal Silver blend followed by my chilled bottle of Super Coffee® that comes with 0g of Sugar, 20g of Protein, and enough caffeine to jumpstart my Corvette.

On the surface, this early morning “culinary masterpiece” seems innocent enough: A fresh slice of organic multigrain toast layered with some delicious melted (English Coastal Cheddar Cheese) and topped with two poached eggs (organic of course) sliced tomatoes and a side of (4 crisp pieces of bacon). But wait a minute! Before I start salivating over the prospect of this sumptuous Baronial feast, I am admonished to consider the “consequences.” Since I like my toast on the dark side, that will entail the high probability of creating something called acrylamides. Acrylamides are chemicals generated by “overcooking” that apparently generate notorious cancer-causing elements called nitrosamines found in practically everything from coffee and any processed meat to storage bags and plastic bottles that contain our “purified water.” (Anyway, the multigrain “wheat” toast probably wasn’t a good idea because, as we’ve all been told ad nauseum, most wheat—even organic wheat—sits in grain silos for so long that it tends to ferment and, in that fermentation, generates (yep)…Nitrosamines.

 By now we’re tiptoeing through a minefield anyway. But that’s not the end of it because acrylamides, it turns out, are lurking everywhere, including my toast and bread (because it contains gluten), tasty end-cuts of beef, barbecue or smoked meats of any kind, hot coffee, tea, French fries, and of course deep batter-fried chicken and turkey. So I think about the bread for a moment and make the hard choice to switch to my wife’s “whole-grain, Country-brand” gluten-free bread. But when I do that, I find that it has all the flavor of a roof-shingle and (it turns out) contains more synthetic extenders than vegetable margarine that—I kid you not—is one molecule removed from motor oil.  

So maybe I’ll just have the cheddar cheese on a bed of butter lettuce and put the poached eggs on that. But wait a minute! We know the cheese, however “all-natural,” is fattening as hell, high in cholesterol and contributes to lining your colon with saprogenic bacteria that blocks digestion and may cause lactose allergies, especially for…seniors! This particularly applies to some of the most delicious cheeses such as Brie, Camembert and Neufchatel. And, of course, 40% of all good old American Dairies use growth hormones called  rBST (recombinant Bovine Somatotropins) that affect the body in insidious ways such as poor digestion and memory impairment as well as (long term) possible tumor development. Hmmm…

Thinking about it, I consider just having my organic eggs poached medium, nicely seasoned with salt and pepper with some bacon on the side. But wait a minute—the eggs! OMG the Eggs! Forget the fact that eggs provide what is arguably the most complete form of protein in the human diet, a 1977 USDA Study on “Health in the Human Body,” we are forced to live with the fact that some MENSA on a heart-health crusade 45-years ago, determined that we should consume no more than 300 mg of cholesterol every day, thereby issuing a “body blow” to the much maligned egg by noting that a single hen’s egg has as many as 190 mg of cholesterol in just one round orb that comes out of a chicken’s vulva on a daily basis.

That Damoclean pronouncement has been hammered into our consciousness for decades with emphasis that most of this (bad LDL) cholesterol can be found in the Yolk—"the evil yolk.” So, by the 1980s, a billion-dollar-industry arose out of selling “egg-whites” in pre-packaged, processed albumen spinoffs such as Egg Beaters® in milk cartons impregnated with wax linings that leach commercial paraffin into the very products they contain. Forget the fact that the Yolk contains large quantities of a nutrient called lecithin that helps reduce body fat and devours the very cholesterol that is supposed to be so detrimental to the blood stream, thus providing Mother Nature’s balance to the egg to begin with. And forget that the yolk from a free-range chicken egg also contains the highest levels of Zinc per gram of just about any food in the world, it’s also infused with high amounts of Beta-carotene (aka one of the purest forms of Vitamin A). But manufacturers factored this in by impregnating their liquified egg-whites with Zinc and Vitamin A to compensate for what has become a nutritionally imbalanced inadequate form of protein.

Unfortunately there is also the equal and opposite challenge with this since egg-whites (especially undercooked, runny egg-whites) are linked to strains of Salmonella bacteria depicted by frequent outbreaks that often get them lifted from our supermarket shelves.

So, I’m thinking…maybe I’ll just skip the eggs for the moment, bite the bullet and lightly toast the (organic) multigrain bread and resort to something I haven’t had in an eternity— a good old fashioned BLT (Bacon, lettuce and tomato) sandwich—and hope for the best.

But wait a minute! The Bacon! Even though this is nitrate/nitrite free bacon, it’s still pork… and cured, treated pork at that. Pork! As in Pigs! As in poor mistreated pigs!

And—I must tell the truth here—other than a one-time seduction by a pepperoni pizza, I haven’t partaken of any kind of pork in decades, primarily because I have difficulty eating anything with an IQ higher than my own. Besides, every cliché you’ve ever heard about the horrendous, abusive farming and processing of pigs, hogs, and suckling-pigs is 100% true. And the USDA does little or nothing to fix it.

Almost from the beginning, these highly intelligent, remarkably sensitive animals are crammed into holding pens that intentionally render them unable to move until they are forced to wallow in their own filth and excrement that in turn causes them to contract a boodle of skin infections including scabies and mange. Even those (9% or so) that are actually treated humanely on the way to their final destination at the slaughterhouse are zapped by stun-guns as many as 5-times during their last lap until they fall into a coma and then are dropped, while still breathing, into vats of 250º water where they’re literally boiled alive. (Slaughterhouses do that to strip all their hair off before they dismember the poor creatures for commercial consumption.)

But our porcine cousins may have the last laugh since apparently consuming any kind of pig-flesh is as dangerous as eating can get. Not only do they hit you with astronomical levels of cholesterol and free-radicals that pour-in through the adrenaline and backed-up urine in their systems, virtually all pork that comes to market is still laden with worms such as trichina, tapeworms, roundworms and other parasites that you either have to freeze or overcook to escape the possible perils of diseases such as trichinosis and amoebic dysentery. That’s why a preponderance of pork is processed into treated meats such as ham, bacon, and about 50 kinds of sausages, salamis,  pepperoni, prosciutto and smoked meats that—though they may taste delicious—have been cured with so many preservatives such as sodium nitrite and potassium nitrate that they have proven to be high-speed Autobahns to colon cancer, Hepatitis-H, heart disease and (drumroll) early onset Alzheimer’s.

Personally, I’ve never understood the paradox of pigs. The film, Babe, notwithstanding, pigs are generally filthy, super-smart, terribly tribal animals that don’t work and play well with others. They make piss-poor house-pets. They’re omnivorous, which means they’ll eat anything, including your three-year old nephew if left in proximity long enough. And, if left to run wild, they can become a scourge as they have become in places like Australia and (recently) Canada.

Case in point: About 60 years-ago, Australian farmers thought they’d get a jump on the pork market by cross-breeding domestic pigs with wild-boars to create a new kind of hybrid “super pig.” Not a good idea since, in a short time, these semi-feral, batshit-crazy, cross-bred pigs  quickly went out of control, laid waste homesteads and killed the other livestock. So in a panic to cut their losses, the farmers released them into the wild where they bred like gerbils until 30 million now roam in droves, strip-mining the land from Queensland to Victoria…and decimating other species by devouring the eggs of birds and reptiles or killing and eating lambs, calves and even the joeys of the big Red Roos, finally becoming such a threat to the ecology that the Aussie government (too-little, too late) has finally granted open season for hunters to take them down.

So hunt ‘em and shoot ‘em, cook ‘em and eat ‘em, I say. But wait a minute! Pause for thought before you do: Because about 3 in every 5 of these wild hybrid pigs are infested with a bloody thesaurus of awful-sounding diseases like leptospirosis, toxoplasmosis, brucellosis, tularemia, trichinellosis and swine influenza that will make you sick if you try to sell them on the open market or dare to eat them yourselves.

So…I’m looking at my crispy-bacon and saying goodbye when I contemplate the possibility of replacing it with beef bacon or turkey bacon, either of which tastes just about as good, and are certainly quite a bit leaner. But wait a minute! Beef!

Even if we try to buy and consume organic beef—rib-eyes, T-Bones, Filet Mignons, roasts and the like—from humanely ranch-raised, grass-fed cows and steers (which practically no one does) all beef and other red meat is impregnated with formaldehyde (yes the same kind you use for embalming cadavers) and some allowable red dyes. And, yes! We’ve all seen the disclaimers that these are supposedly miniscule amounts that discount a little something called “the cumulative effect,” that when you consume enough of anything over the years it piles-on inside your organs until the damn bursts, especially since you’re getting formaldehyde in innocent little things like your coffee, your soft-drinks, and almost all farmed fish!

Yes fish, lovely people! Especially the ever-popular still-affordable farm-raised Atlantic Salmon that now comprises about 80% of all salmon consumption. And despite the purportedly pristine Salmon farms that exist (in places like Norway), practically 100% of farm-raised salmon is impregnated with formaldehyde to give it that rich red color and prevent disease. Still it fails to preclude the incursion of cancer-causing Polychlorinated Biphenyls(PCBs) that infiltrate our fresh waterways, including most fish tanks.

Since, through overfishing, we’ve pretty much fished out our Pacific schools (and so entirely wiped out the Chinook Salmon that it is now protected by the Endangered Species Act) we’re left with precious little choice. And the only salmon I’ve been able to consume without getting an instant headache is fresh wild-caught Alaskan or Icelandic Smoked Salmon, about half the brands of which contain sugar or molasses as a curative agent. So…that does it for America’s No. 2 most popular piscine. But what about No. 1: Shrimp?

Shrimp—delicious though the little guys may be in things such as Scampi, Ceviche, and (my personal favorite) Butterfly Fried Shrimp—comes about 90% of the time from shrimp farms in China, Thailand, Indonesia and India. Never noted for high levels of hygienic compliance, these farm-grown Shrimp are crammed by the millions into fish tanks that are laced with antibiotics to prevent cross-contamination, then soaked for about 24-hours in chlorine bleach before they’re pre-cooked and sent abroad to the ultimate consumer.

So, shrimp-lover, that delectable edible Shrimp Cocktail you’re about to consume contains boodles of subtherapeutic antibiotics and probably enough bleach to launder your fresh-pressed dress-shirt. Even so, and even though Shrimp is a scavenger and therefore a “junk-fish” anyway, it is probably better for you than the world’s No. 3 most popular deep-sea denizen: Tuna.

Tuna! Ahi, Albacore, Blue-fin, Skipjack, Frigate! Found in everything from salads to casseroles and America’s favorite, Sushi, tuna (thanks to our polluted oceans) now contains enough Mercury to light up all the fluorescent lamps in your average office complex. (Just a rule of thumb in the sea, which—for all you tree-huggers–is a very violent universe where big fish eat little fish in a daily orgy of devouring): And that is that the bigger the fish, the greater the mercury content. Tuna has plenty of it. So does mahi-mahi. So, for some reason, does seabass. Sharks and Swordfish even more so. And if you have no scruples and eat pelagic mammals such as whales and dolphins (as the Japanese seem to enjoy doing) you may as well fill your bathtub with cadmium button batteries and drink down the contents. It has also been established that if you ate seafood—especially large ocean fish—daily for 15 to 18 months, you’d better make out your last will and testament. Forget cancer and other diseases. This stuff, on a cumulative basis, will just flat infuse you with terminal amounts of mercury poisoning and kill you outright. Heart health notwithstanding, maybe enjoy ocean-caught seafood twice a week at a max.

Not surprisingly, Sushi has its own drawbacks because you are not only combining raw fish (tuna, salmon or yellowtail) which contains mercury, but also possible parasites such as roundworms, tapeworms and nematodes, the potential for existence of which has increased 283 fold in the last 30 years. Combine that with unregulated seaweed and nice gummy white rice and you have a lovely triple-polluted cocktail because…guess what? Virtually all the rice we eat hosts levels of arsenic that have now reached alarming levels of carcinogenicity.

Not just white rice (which is stripped of all B-vitamins to make it white) but brown rice as well—including organic brown rice or Basmati rice or any other rice grown anywhere in the world—all contain geometrically rising levels of arsenic. Not enough to poison you outright, mind you, but arsenic is just insidious enough to prompt the early growth of cancer lesions, skin-cancer, cardiovascular disease and highly ramped up levels of Diabetes type II in adults.

So say goodbye to your nice tasty risotto folks! And your Arroz con Pollo (and don’t get me started on chickens)! And there go your brown-rice quinoa spaghettis, fusilli and penne …and your versatile Durham-wheat linguini and bowtie pastas.

So, here I am rebooting what is left of my breakfast/brunch, and scratch the bread (of any kind) for the above-stated reasons. And forget the BLT on toast. All I have left are the L and the T, and if the L (lettuce) is Iceberg, it possesses zero nutrition (even though the French adore dressing big chunks of it as a way of being…“French”). And other lettuces such as Romaine and Red Leaf have so many furls and grooves that they have been tied to increasing outbreaks of Listeria bacteria, also been linked to raw organic spinach in many cases. For those of you who don’t know, Listeria is the third most commonly-occurring form of food pathogen after the infamous omnipresent Salmonellaand meat-borne E.coli bacteria. And even though it occurs far less frequently, listeria is by far the most deadly because it contains a neurotoxin that goes straight to the brain and makes it fatal in 30% of all cases.

So lettuce (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist) be super-cautious in our handling of all our leafy greens, because given our food chain issues where fruits and vegetables—especially imported ones—are now grown in manure impregnated soils, and water-sources in such close proximity to slaughterhouse blood and fecal runoffs that we’re just asking for it where certain vegetables are concerned.

Well…after all is said and done, I find myself staring down at the only entirely safe food choice left to me—the lonely little tomato—while realizing, sadly, that it too has its drawbacks.

First of all, the little guy has an identity crisis: it’s thought of as a vegetable when categorically it’s a fruit. And to defame the tiny cherub even further, it’s a member of the Nightshade family, along with all forms of bell peppers and spicy peppers like poblano and jalapeños that (despite off-the-hook Vitamin C content) are maligned due to their contributions to inflammation in the bones and joints—thus wreaking havoc among those of us with wear-and-tear arthritis, plus rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus or most other kinds of autoimmune disease.

As an even greater blow to its self-esteem, the tomato is one of the “Dirty Dozen.” Those being the vegetables and fruits that present the most problems where washing and cleaning are concerned. Those include all our favorites to be sure: strawberries; spinach; kale, collards and mustard greens; peaches; pears; nectarines; apples; grapes; tomatoes; bell and hot peppers; cherries; blueberries; and green beans.

It's a given that buying Certified Organic helps. And one should do that anyway in all things. Still, it doesn’t assure you of getting rid of creepy-crawly creatures such as worms in your Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and berries in general. Yes I said “Worms!” Apparently even organic strawberries are known to host some tiny little guys that are actually the maggots of a fly commonly known as Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD). The good news is that you can get rid of them by soaking them for a couple of minutes in warm salt-water. (I don’t know about you, but watching worms crawl out of my berries tends to put me off my food. And besides…berries soaked in salt-water taste like absolute crap. So where do we draw the line?)

It is here that I need to confide that I’m more than familiar with my “fruits and veggies,” because I was a vegan between 1985 and 1994 and a lacto-ovo vegetarian for 5 years after that. Back in the day—though I worked out and ran 30 miles a week—I developed undiagnosed NFLD (Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease). So going “vegan” probably saved my life. That said, I was never quite the weeping-over-slaughtered-carrots kind of vegan who chained himself to Giant Sequoias or harshly judged my meat-eating friends. Quite the contrary: I was that guy who always drooled whenever some waiter strolled by on his way to another table, hoisting a tray with a sizzling New York Strip and a pile of fries over his head while I stared down at my Pasta Primavera and pear salad with a dollop of vegan dressing on the side.

During those years I also ate a salad-bar’s worth of various kinds of veggies every day of my life (which did keep my weight down). And, while trying to simulate those “meaty” food cues,  I consumed every imaginable form of soy-based “imitation” meats and cheeses that cost as much as a car-payment and—in the case of your St. Ives salamis, bolognas, tofu hot dogs and Boca Burgers®—were loaded up with enough extenders like dextrose, cellulose, guar gum and sucralose to lubricate an android. I also came to realize that those semi-tasty but generally disappointing and absurdly pricey faux Cheddar, Jack and Mozzarella cheeses all contain less than 1% of actual protein and so little other nutrition that you’re probably better off eating the cartons they come in.

One thing I did learn after about 30 colonics and a dozen fasts—and leading the dietary life of a vegan monk— is that you’d better wash everything you eat. The above mentioned Dirty Dozen (actually dirty 14 including cucumbers), even organic fruits and vegetables, once they reach the warehouse, are sprayed with something called Prolong® or another sucrose and sulfur-dioxide laden chemicals to help preserve them and fend off parasites. And sulfur dioxide is a poison—which the USDA claims exists in minute quantities—once again completely dismissing the cumulative effect of practically everything.

This brings up the inevitable Conundrum: Define “small quantity.” Studies vary and are constantly at odds with one another but all agree that it does generate free-radicals known to cause health problems like cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Sulfur dioxide is used to granulate about 88% of all our commercial cane sugar and table salt to help keep it pure and white and supposedly fend off contamination. And even though you can avoid both by using pure turbinado sugars and things like (pink) Himalayan salt, virtually all the “sodium” and “sugar” in the processed foods we buy are the pure-white bad kind that putrefy your system and really pack on the pounds.

Then of course there’s the High-Fructose Corn Syrup that is in practically EVERYTHING sweet we eat or drink that comes in a bottle, can or package—especially all your soft-drinks, most sweetened fruit drinks (think Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice) muffins, donuts and cupcakes and just about any garnish like ketchup, BBQ or steak sauce. It is cheaper than sugar and has taken its place in most foods. And unless the label states, “Pure Cane Sugar,” it is allowed to fly under the FDA radar by qualifying as a sugar with the added deleterious effect that it does nothing to suppress something called Leptin in our system. Leptin is that naughty, “barking hormone” that suppresses our appetite once we eat food (especially protein or fat…but also when you’ve had a “sugar fix” with real cane sugar, honey, maple syrup or stevia.) However comma…most store-bought desserts, breads, ice creams and soft-drinks you take-in contain high-fructose corn-syrup that does nothing to generate Leptin satisfaction, still leaves you hungry for more, thus causing you to pig out on things like commercially sold breads, potato chips, and cookies…which also probably contain hydrogenated fats or oils that are also free-radical factories that create (bada-bing!) Nitrosamines!

By now I’m sure you’ve got it (or should). Yes! The food-chain cliché holds true: Avoid processed foods whenever and wherever you can—especially anything that comes in a can—which everybody talks about but practically none of us does. And, over the years, I’ve done my fair share of eating only what’s good for me, of scrubbing everything I eat and embracing the “Clean Fifteen” fruits and vegetables like carrots, asparagus, papayas and pineapples, avocados and melons (all with thick skins, mind you) and all cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, zucchini, yellow crook-neck squash and Brussel sprouts and other things that, when you cook them, usually smell like someone farted in church.

So why is it that all things that we’re told are, “good for you,” always taste like something your mother made you eat when you were nine—to punish you for your junk food profligacy and bad eating habits? And even though you convince yourself that the steaming plate of broccoli and boiled white cabbage, livened up with some dainty pearl onions and piping hot parsnips on the side are—squeeze a little lemon juice on top—going to make your day, you secretly long to drown them in salted butter or piles of melted cheese sauce just to get through this Spartan collation by any means necessary.

Contemplating this is enough to send me back to just purely juicing my vegetable combos, making fruit smoothies, and keeping my body “A Temple” that way. But hold it!

Here comes the newly-appointed “high-glycemic” cavalry charging down the gorge, trumpeting the evils of “juices” and conflating all fruits and some veggies with the “High-glycemic Sugar Matrix” where they claim the dangers are potentially debilitating and severe—particularly when it comes to Diabetes Type II that now plagues 40% of all Americans, especially those of us over the age of 40.

This, of course, is a load of rubbish. But there they stand in some infomercial on my TV-show or podcast, stating categorically that my fresh-squeezed orange juice is a minefield of sugars and caloric overloads bound to imbalance my system. And, God Forbid: my fresh grapefruit juice is now on (Un)Wanted Posters everywhere as a dietary villain able to wreck my metabolism by suppressing some enzyme called CYP3A4, while it antidotes about 50 different medications, and might eventually even lead to a heart-attack.

So now, as I’m peeling my banana for my OJ fruit smoothie (with blueberries and peaches) here comes some smug, supercilious, self-ordained PhD on a podcast, pompously pronouncing that Bananas contain way too much “harmful fructose” unless you eat them “green.” Which you cannot do because, even if you could peel the damn things, they’ll give you indigestion. And forget the nice organic plump blueberries you’re about to plop into the blender because these new hybrid versions have “way too much sugar content.” (Or so he tells me.) That’s when I notice this pompous little academic is wearing a bow-tie, which makes me want to channel my inner Marine and just reach through the screen and punch his lights out…when his female counterpart—some reedy, drawn-out septuagenarian who looks like an escapee from the Zombie Apocalypse—comes aboard to inform us all that “Corn/maize” was never meant for human consumption, and neither were Peanuts (RIP, life-wasted, George Washington Carver) that both are OK for animals but generally harmful to us. (“Deadly” peanuts. Damn! Who knew?) Besides we’ve now been informed they’re almost all GMO and probably sprayed with Roundup.™  (Goodbye beloved “corn on the cob” and peanut butter sandwiches—the staples of my youth. Ditto Dark Chocolate, which—although it boasts beneficial catechins, magnesium and awesome levels of zinc—also contains oxalates that, if eaten every day, tend to generate…bladder stones! )

That’s when it strikes me: These are all minions of the same pathology-based Medical Matrix, replete with panels of experts who can’t agree on the color of shit but who are blithely content to load us up with prescription drugs they advertise in legion late at night—laced with a laundry-list of side-effects that always reads like the Holocaust—high blood-pressure, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, colon-cancer, hallucinations, depression, a compulsion to watch Sesame Street, suicidal tendencies, strokes, heart attacks and death—all rapid-fired at us like a tobacco auction while, on-screen, some 50-something couple are playing pickle-ball in their backyard somewhere in the Adirondacks beneath a clear blue sky.

That’s when I finally throw on the brakes: Nobody gets out alive! I’ve survived these 84+ years and done so with infinite optimism. And so I’ll enjoy what time remains…Damn the consequences! Joy and Laughter full speed ahead—infused with a large portion of Gratitude—are the ultimate free-radical fighters, transformative to the end.

So here it comes. My evening meal: I’ll toss a T-Bone on the grill (thank the steer), add in a baked potato, smother it in butter and sour-cream, and steam-up some asparagus that I’ll slather with enough Hollandaise so that I can’t even see “the green.” Then I’ll chop up a half-a-head of Romaine and cover it with Green Goddess dressing. And for dessert: a Hot-fudge Brownie topped with a large scoop of French Vanilla ice-cream, sprinkled with walnuts and caramel syrup with a Maraschino cherry on the top. All the while, I’ll chill a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, then finish the night with a nice long Panatela that I’ll smoke down to the stub.

I’ll do so because I believe in what American music legend Cab Calloway once answered when asked why he spent money like water, and why he, “Made it Large” every waking hour of the day: “It’s about livin’, baby!” He replied. And so it is.


* As a disclaimer, I recommend two books: Fast Food Nation and Sugar Blues. Both uncover America’s most dangerous export: cheap-addictive, processed foods and unhealthy eating traditions that have already lowered the health-bar for most “civilized” nations in the world. Read them both and take them to heart; they can probably save your life.

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