Saturday, June 23, 2012

Fiftieth Anniversary

It was fifty years ago today. It was the happiest day of my life. It was my wedding. We were in love. We invented love.

Our wedding was at 4:00 p.m. at the Church of the Atonement in Fish Creek. It rained. Father Iwick was a recently ordained Episcopal priest, and just before the ceremony began, he said, “I’m a little bit nervous. It’s my first wedding.” The groom, Rick, responded, “It’s mine too.” My mother refused to have all the music that Fr. Iwick had provided, to be played on the ancient organ, and we were there with music she and I liked better.

And so it went. My father ushered me across the street from house to church under a big umbrella. My best friend, Sally Colburn, was maid of honor, and two UW friends were bridesmaids. Early in the service, Fr. Iwick said, as part of the liturgy, ”If any man can show just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter for ever hold his peace,” whereupon a huge clap of thunder crashed above us. God had spoken.

The reception was an outdoor reception at the White Gull Inn. We had grilled lamb on a spit plus turkey for people who didn’t want lamb. The proprietor cooked the lamb outdoors with an umbrella over the cooker. As I recall, the rain stopped before the reception began. We had lots of people.

We drove in his sportscar to New Orleans for our honeymoon and started to learn how to live together. When Rick died five children and forty-six years later, we were still learning how to live together. It wasn’t easy.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Donut Disconnect

How are we to manage our health when the information we get is filled with disconnects? A big one is about the food we eat and the benefits it provides.  Here is just one. “[AARP] members can get a free donut when they buy a large or extra-large hot coffee and show their AARP membership card at participating Dunkin’Donuts.” (AARP Bulletin, June 2012, p. 30.)

The donut is a good example of a cakelike substance made mostly of white flour, sugar and fat. Many people like donuts. The Dunkin’ Donuts website proclaims, “Donuts, making people happy since 1950. Our Donuts have been bringing smiles since 1950 and are made in colorful and delicious varieties - there is a favorite for everyone.”

If only the donut would offer people something more than a way to gain weight and slowly kill themselves with degenerative diseases. To its credit, the donut does offer momentary bliss to the consumer and profit for the company that sells it.

The disconnect is about donuts and other barely nutritious foods and the purpose of food for our health. Americans shovel into their bodies a great amount of junk food. Food in general exists to fuel our bodies. The donut, in my opinion, does this poorly. And here is AARP, an organization committed to health for senior citizens, endorsing a donut offer on its website and in its bulletin. AARP has plenty to say about health related issues such as supporting Medicare. AARP reminds us about degenerative diseases such as heart disease, effects of stroke and diabetes, big killers of Americans. AARP sells health insurance.

And here is AARP offering to be the middleman for Dunkin’ Donuts by offering members donuts while expressing concern about high medical costs of Medicare. It is a big disconnect.

The donut is an example of a divorce between food and the need of people to survive. Food and medical care both are big business, but they don’t seem to coordinate well for the benefit of people. The commercial food producers create processed products that taste good, are easy to prepare (or assemble in some cases), and usually are inexpensive.  Nutrition is not the primary concern; profit is.

The purpose of the human body is not to be in the service of a for-profit food delivery system. I recommend a book about this, The Blood Sugar Solution: The UltraHealthy Program for Losing Weight, Preventing Disease, and Feeling Great Now!, by Mark Hyman (Little, Brown and Company, 2012), which has a chapter about the disconnect between food, drugs and profits. The chapter is “How Big Food, Big Farming, and Big Pharma Are Killing Us.”  Hyman is a doctor, and his book is about health.  Among other things, he says, “The toxic triad of Big Farming, Big Food, and Big Pharma profits from a nation of sick and fat citizens. The government essentially stands in line next to you in fast-food chains helping you buy cheeseburgers, fries, and cola.” (p. 46.) Hyman offers a seven step program to enhance the connection of the body with health. It does not include eating donuts.

I am not proposing a government solution. I am suggesting that we might have better outcomes if food companies, drug companies, organizations like AARP, and the government would coordinate their relationships for the good of people’s health. That way people would not have to live with disconnects like the one between a donut and long life.