Backpacker’s Guide: Hair Care

cooking-oilWhat’s the best hair product in Guatemala or Mexico? Vegetable oil, hands down.

Usually canola mixed with soybean or sunflower oil, it’s the most commonly sold and works the best. Seriously, forget coconut oil. Before I lived in Mexico for the first time, I was in a staunch raw-food phase and only in the rarest of circumstances would I go so far as to eat steamed vegetables. During that phase I made a lot of raw chocolate with agave nectar (at this point, I had yet to discover stevia).

To make the raw chocolate I used extra virgin coconut oil, which cost something like $13 with my Whole Foods employee discount. I have a distinct memory of attempting to sell coconut oil to a customer when they asked me where to find moisturizer, eye makeup remover, and a natural alternative to the silicone hair serums used at salons. Coconut oil works for all of those things. The body care department manager at the store I worked at stepped in to inform the customer that eye makeup remover, hair serum, and moisturizer are three very different things. Lesson learned. Or not.

I loved working at Whole Foods. I worked there for 6 years, from high school through college. I would have stayed a seasonal employee had transportation complications not prevented me from returning to California to fulfill my shift. Without a doubt, I really loved working there—but this isn’t about that. The point I intend to make concerns the multi-functionality of coconut oil as a body care product, eye-makeup remover, and all-around genius alternative to any hair product I’ve tried. If that sounds cool, just wait. There’s more. When in Mexico, or Guatemala, or anywhere else in the world for that matter: should you happen to come upon the unfortunate realization that your suitcase landed in an entirely different continent much to your inconvenience—take a deep breath. There is no need to fret. If you’re in Latin America, don’t go to the Superama for hair serums and moisturizers. Go to the Superama for canola oil and eucalyptus oil. I would recommend tea tree if you’re in the states, but 70% of my travel experience pertains to Mexico and Guatemala—and I have never found tea tree oil in a Superama. Eucalyptus is similar and slightly milder, but has the same effect on things like acne and has a similar scent. It’s an astringent, that I guarantee will render obselete all of your Proactiv bottles of “toners”, “cleansers” and “pre-cleansers”, or the Proactiv spin-off, X-Out. I know acne can be genetic, or something you can “grow out of” but unless the universe played a significant trick on me when I was 13 I imagine that tea tree (or Eucalyptus) can legitimately cure acne. Unless it was just stopping meat-eating or dairy consumption. I imagine those were also influential factors. Only buy the pure kind, steam-distilled from leaves of the Eucalyptus or Eucalipto tree. It also works as a repellent for most insects, almost as effectively as DEET—minus the threats to your genetic makeup and that of your future children.

Finally: canola, or sunflower, or combonation-vegetable oil (and even safflower oils) literally function just as well as coconut oil, as an eye makeup remover, hair serum, or body moisturizer. The effects of ingesting specific types of oils might have differences among them, but in terms of hair care and body care–trust me. Anything sold as an “edible” oil or otherwise sold for food with the word “vegetable” in the title will work perfectly. I can see how this might seem sarcastic, but trust me. It’s not.

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Food, Eating, Cultural Constructs and Lies

A few potentially thought-provoking videos for your Monday, touching on topics such as food, culture, eating, reactions (to food) and lies.

Enjoy!

Even Americans don’t “get” what is marketed to be “American food”. I’ve never been to the Midwest. I’ve basically circumvented it, having traveled through Canada, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, and Florida…Virginia, DC, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey…I’ve honestly never seen the Bible Belt.

Eating meat vs. not eating meat has nothing to do with “being a grown man”, but I agree that most imitation or faux varieties don’t “taste like” meat. If it did taste like meat, I wouldn’t want to eat it. On occasions I did eat fake or faux “meat products” to review a product or entertain a friend, I never did or would ever judge it based on its similarity or lack thereof to meat. It’s novel, I guess, for vegetarians to eat the faux meat or cheese. I still endorse the products 100%, since most baby-vegans turn to these when making the transition from omnivore to herbivore.

The truth stares us in our culturally-constructed faces. What makes meat meat has nothing to do with grill marks. Eggplant can get grill marks. So can zuchinni. I agree that grill marks have a sort of mouth-watering appeal. I like my veggies charred, always. But the thing is, those deliciously appealing grill marks that indicate something is “char-broiled” doesn’t determine the authenticity of meat. The aforementioned eggplant and zucchini can and will develop grill marks if grilled properly. Proper grilling technique can be applied to an entire list of vegetables—so lengthy that it could take up more paragraphs than I desire to write at this moment. The point is, the fact that a faux-meat product has faux “grill marks” means nothing, especially since the “grill marks” on most fast-food hamburgers and chicken fillets are faux.

Ever since I read my first Amy Tan novel, I found fascinating the difference between the “Chinese Food” served in American restaurants and actual Chinese cuisine.

In conclusion, most marketed, hyped-up food product campaigns = lies, whether or not you’re vegan. Case in point:

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School Yoga Institute RYT 200hr

Lake Atitlan Yoga
Join me in this training or in future trainings at the Mystical Yoga Farm located in one of the villages surrounding Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.

Fun fact: Aldous Huxley famously called Atitlan “the most beautiful lake in the world”.

I will attend the course beginning March 29. All RYT participants are welcome to stay on the premises during their training for $900 per month, but other accommodations can be found close by. For those who currently live in Panjachel, San Juan, Santa Cruz, San Pedro, San Marcos, San Lucas, Jaibalito, or Santa Catarina, transportation via the local water taxi to this yoga teacher training would be possible.

This yoga teacher training is more economical than other yoga “retreat” teacher trainings because it allows you to choose whether to live on the premises or not. School Yoga Institute’s trainings are a step ahead of most other yoga teacher trainings in Latin America because they allow the student to choose their course. This makes total sense, considering the fact that the student of yoga should choose their own path toward achieving wholeness and obtaining the skills necessary to guide others into fulfilling their own paths. I have a home in the region, and plan commute to the training. I appreciate the ability to choose when and where I want to eat, as opposed to paying for the meals offered at the School Yoga Institute. However, I’m sure the food there is fantastic and lovingly prepared. I know it’s vegan and very healthy.

I am skilled in the art of shopping at markets in Guatemala, especially in the villages surrounding Lake Atitlan, and frankly can’t afford the $900 extra for food and accommodation. I am grateful to have the ability to attend the training at a lower rate, having opted out of the room/board offered by the Mystical Yoga Farm. I also received a generous scholarship, having explained my reasons for wanting to enroll in the course despite my inability to pay the original $2,400 tuition. I respect and feel honored to endorse the School Yoga Institute and the Mystical Yoga Farm. Thanks to them and their acknowledgement of my application and essays, I can afford to attend a yoga teacher training adjacent to my favorite body of water and among a culture I have grown to understand on both an academic and interpersonal level.

Link to the program: http://schoolyogainstitute.com/200hr-march-guatemala-yoga-teaching-training/

To learn more about Yoga School Institute: http://schoolyogainstitute.com

To learn more about Mystical Yoga Farm: http://mysticalyogafarm.com

To learn more about Lake Atitlán: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Atitlán

For tours around Lake Atitlán: http://lagoaventuratours.com

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Backpacker’s Guide to Guatemala: Hydration

nueva-santa-catarina-ixtahuacan-solola-guatemala-ninos-agua-2

To stay hydrated when backpacking in Guatemala, think like a local. In most municipal towns, you will find a central park or square with large tubs of free agua potable (filtered water suitable for drinking) from which you can fill your water bottle. When you run into situations that deny access to a source of free water, you have a few options.

Bags of Agua Potable

For less than 1Q or 50 cents USD, you can generally find purified water in 12oz plastic bags. If you lack a water bottle or container to pour it into, bite a small hole in the corner and drink it the way the locals do. To be safe re: avoiding germs, use a bit of rubbing alcohol to sanitize the bag beforehand. A 2oz container of rubbing alcohol is always ideal to have on hand, in cases such as this and also as part of the mini first-aid kit you should carry with you at all times.

Portable Water Filter

I carried a portable water filter while backpacking in Ecuador, but found I didn’t need it. In Ecuador they treat the tap water with iodine, which makes it safe to drink. In Guatemala, I’m fairly certain my travel companion brought one. However, I never used it and I don’t think he did either; from prior experience backpacking through Latin America we learned that tap water, when boiled, is perfectly safe to drink. That aside, when I researched water filters in 2010 in preparation for Ecuador, I found limited options in terms of portability and convenience. Five years later, the google search results instantaneously pointed to the LifeStraw, which boasts that it allows you to procure drinking water from “virtually any source” without the aftertaste characteristic of other portable filters. Also, for every LifeStraw water filter sold, a child in Africa receives clean water for an entire school year.

Iodine Tablets

You can buy these in Guatemala, but they’re not very expensive in the states i.e. at REI or online. It’s never a bad idea to have some on hand, should you run into a sticky situation e.g. you arrive at a border crossing and can barely speak to the guard because you’re parched, having run out of water—and with no tiendas in sight, all you have to work with is the questionable cup of tap water offered to you so you can speak up and explain that it is you in the passport photo, despite the fact that your signature has changed significantly since you were 16 and you are now blonde with a very short haircut as opposed to a brunette with dreads.

Clearly, brands other than Potable Aqua Water Treatment Tablets exist. I have thorough experience with this brand however, and endorse it over other brands I’ve tried.

Boiled Water

Boiling is the safest, most tried and true method of water purification. Buy a lightweight metal pot from an open-air market in Guatemala, and carry it with you when you travel. Keep the iodine tablets on hand for times when you don’t have access to a stove or flame. If you’re in the highlands and it’s freezing, and you spot a woman selling a hot beverage reminiscent of water—typically a very weak coffee with sugar or panela—drink it. It’s boiled to a temperature high enough to melt the sugarcane. It’s purified liquid that will hydrate you, so be prepared to bite the bullet and ingest some sugar. If made traditionally, the sugar is pure sugarcane juice added to water. When you find yourself in a situation like this, without the convenience of tiendas and with a crowd of angry locals behind you screaming in Spanish to the guard that you’re a imposing tourist wasting their time…as you collect yourself, nervously awaiting a sentence of 5-10 in a Mexican prison, the dietary consequences of boiled panela water will seem insignificant.

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History of Soymilk part 1: Guatemala

History of Soymilk and Other Non-Dairy Milks (1226-2013): Including Infant Formulas, Calf Milk Replacers, Soy Creamers, Soy Shakes, Soy Smoothies, Almond Milk, Coconut Milk, Peanut Milk, Rice Milk, Sesame Milk, etc.

Compiled by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi for the Soyinfo Center and published in late 2013, this 2972-page book is considered “the world’s most comprehensive, well documented, and well illustrated” on the subject.

A new addition to the Paleoveganista research and resources sections, you can download a free digital copy from Google Books.

mayan girl tofuThis book caught my attention today as I sorted through miscellaneous notes that I recently uncovered from underneath boxes of books in my storage unit. Among them, I found notes from interviews and surveys I conducted in Solola, Guatemala in 2012 regarding the local diet and zinc deficiency. In my notes I found mention of “The Soybean Project” which reminded me that in the 1970s (as part of a relief effort made by non-profit organizations and development corporations in the United States and Canada) soybeans were introduced in the Guatemalan highlands to improve nutrition in schools and for families without access to dairy products. TVP (textured vegetable protein) also became an important food. Today, the average person living in industrialized regions of the West will find TVP at corporate grocery stores.

TVP is the prototype for most packaged soy foods and meat alternatives made popular in the 1990s i.e. Hormel vegetarian chili, Boca burgers, and Morningstar Farms “veggie crumblers”. These products once seemed like the only option or alternative to meat, for those transitioning to vegetarianism or quitting cold turkey. The argument I wish to make will require a subsequent article, but—Hormel? The original manufacturer of Spam. Boca? Owned by Kraft. Morningstar Farms? Kellogg. As these products gained popularity in the United States and garnered mainstream attention, their key ingredient (soy, or TVP) had for nearly two decades functioned as a dietary staple for poor Guatemalans.

mayan girl soy ice creamAfter reading sections of History of Soymilk and Other Non-Dairy Milks, I felt the need to problematize the forceful introduction of soy to the Guatemalan highlands. Granted, most families lacked protein in their diets (as many didn’t have access to meat, or their bean crop didn’t flourish that year). Efforts by first-world “development corporations”, non-profits, and UNICEF resulted in the construction of a soy foods manufacturing plant in Solola—the goal of which was to make government-issued snacks available to children in schools, thereby improving their nutrition, similar to the vitamin-rich Incaparina powdered beverage that was later developed by INCAP (Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama) for a similar purpose.

I advocate soy over milk, and definitely consider it nutritionally superior to the variety sourced from cows pumped with growth hormones and sold in bags in the dry goods sections of most Superama stores and independently-owned tiendas. In 2012, the families I interviewed did not own their own cow. Some ate TVP, but few people could acknowledge the existence of soymilk or had heard of a metate, the device used to prepare and filter soymilk from the soybean crop introduced by UNICEF in the mid 1970s to San Bartolo, a Mayan community on the outskirts of Solola.

The soybean variety integrated into Guatemalan agriculture in 1974 was designed to grow stronger and with more efficiency than other varieties, to ensure its functionality as a means toward improving nutrition. After the 1976 earthquake that killed over 20,000 people, a non-profit organization called Plenty helped the community of San Bartolo to develop a soyaria (soy “dairy”).

Today, you can buy soy products in Solola and often from vendors that solicit bottled beverages through the windows of chicken buses throughout the highlands and toward the Mexican border in Tapachula. At least that’s my experience. I found soya milk or leche de soja more commonly sold in Peru and Colombia at military checkpoints—offered in exchange for $ by child laborers—as an alternative to other “aguas” i.e. soda and the occasional bottle or bag of aqua pura.

tofu-burger-san-pedro

In the Atitlan region of Guatemala in the Solola province but more situated along the “gringo trail”,  soy products are plentiful if you know where to look. In Panajachel, look for locally-owned tiendas (grocery stores) that cater to foreigners. One is located on Calle Santander in the heart of the tourist district, another is at the corner of Calle Principal, along the road with the Superama and various tiendas that ends with the first bridge that separates the center of town from Barrio Jucanya, and a third is located a few blocks from Calle Santander, in the grey area that marks the distinction between actual Pana and tourist Pana . A select few coffee shops carry soymilk, as well. In San Pedro (across the lake, best accessed by local transport in a water taxi—where you will pay 5 Q or so more than the locals do), you will find a small but well-stocked natural foods store where you can buy vegan choco-banana and peanut butter cookies, as well as stevia and lots of products I’ve rarely found elsewhere in Central America. I think the owners are ex-pats, or backpackers that wound up in San Pedro and never left. Also in San Pedro, you can find vegan baked goods to your heart’s content, often made from things like spelt, oats, and bananas. Upon my most recent visit San Pedro about 9 months ago, I observed that the terms “vegano” and “vegana” have caught on. The woman who sells baked goods from baskets on the streets of San Pedro (in the parts of town that yield the most tourists) knew the term and used it to describe her cookies and banana bread.

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Lunch in a Jar w/ Fire Roasted Peppers

jar lunch vegan 2

Mason jars work like a charm, in many situations i.e. brown-bagging it to work (unless of course you have to go through a security scanner or your employer bans glass containers). Plastic gladware or tupperware containers fail miserably in comparison, in terms of functionality and sustainability…but if an anti-glassware policy is your office-environment predicament, this recipe can adapt to plastic.

Lunch in a Jar w/ Fire Roasted Peppers

Ingredients

1 7oz can whole fire roasted green chile peppers
4 roma tomatoes
1 cup diced onion
1/4 cup cooked black beans
salt to taste, optional

method

In a cast-iron skillet, cook the tomatoes in 1/4 cup water. Add more water if necessary, making sure not to burn the tomatoes but allowing them to brown a little. Add the onions, and use a wooden spoon or spatula to create a paste. The mixture should resemble a thick sauce, but not a purée. This salsa/sauce is one of my favorite foods in the world, and I can’t take credit for the recipe. I tried it for the first time in San Marcos La Laguna, a village on the western shore of Lago Atitlán in the Sololá Department of Guatemala. The copy-cat version featured here pales in comparison I’m sure, but it’s my best attempt thus far.

Transfer the cooked tomato and onion mixture to a bowl. Add a bit more water to the skillet and begin to heat the roasted chiles. If the beans are not warmed yet, or if you are using a can, have them ready to heat after the chiles. Remove the heated chile peppers from the skillet, and place in a separate bowl or on a plate. Heat the beans if applicable. In a jar, layer the tomato sauce and chiles with a thin layer of beans.

jar lunch vegan

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Jerk Tofu with Cranberry-Pepper Relish

DSC_0506

Originated from the Quechua ch’arki, the term “jerk” refers to dried protein. In the Andes aka the highlands of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador, the protein in question was alpaca or cuy (guinea pig) meat.

In the Caribbean and in Afro-Caribbean culture, the term “jerk” generally refers to a spice blend used to season protein. On the Caribbean coasts of Costa Rica and Belize, you can sometimes find jerk tofu on the menu at local restaurants. From personal experience I can vouch for the existence of jerk-seasoned tofu cooked by locals as opposed to vegan expats in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica and in Punta Gorda, Belize.

jerk tofu2

Etymology of jerk:
jerk (v.2) as a method of preserving meat, 1707, American English, from American Spanish carquear, from charqui (see jerky). Related: Jerked.

jerky (n.) 1850, American English, from American Spanish charqui “jerked meat,” from Quechua (Inca) ch’arki “dried flesh.”

Spanish spellings include charque and charqui, from which the English word jerky derives.

Jerk Tofu with Cranberry-Pepper Relish

Ingredients

1 x 16oz package vacuum packed super-firm or extra-firm tofu *I used Nasoya, but in the past I’ve used Wildwood (I recommend using one of these brands for this recipe, if possible. I don’t have experience with other brands of vacuum-packed tofu). Tofu packed in water, or in any other sort of packaging other than vacuum-sealed, even when the label reads ‘super’ or ‘extra’ firm, has an entirely different texture and will not work for this recipe.
½ tsp curry powder (I used Trader Joe’s brand; ingredients: cumin, turmeric, coriander, chile pepper, mustard, cardamom, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, red pepper, cinnamon, black pepper, and saffron)
½ tsp garam masala (I used Whole Foods’ brand; ingredients: black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander)
½ tsp caraway seed
1 tsp garlic, minced
3 drops stevia liquid or 1/16 tsp pure stevia powder
2 Tbsp lime juice
1/8 tsp salt (I used sea salt, but if I’d had it on hand I would have used pink Himalayan salt; that said, regular table salt would work just fine).
½ cup water

for the cranberry-pepper relish
½ cup dried cranberries
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 tsp orange zest
2 tsp red pepper flakes

Method

In a jar, combine all ingredients except for the tofu. Seal the jar, and shake to combine. Set aside.

Slice tofu into slabs of approximately 1cm thickness. Spread evenly onto a cookie sheet. Shake the jar before pouring 1/2 the marinade over the tofu cutlets. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Turn on the broiler to low, and proceed to cook the tofu. After 5-7 minutes, remove the tofu from the oven, flip, and evenly disperse the remaining marinade. Return tofu to the oven for 5-7 more minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the tofu to absorb the residual heat for 5 minutes.

Serve immediately, or let cool for no less than 10 minutes before storing in the refrigerator. In a tightly-sealed container, these jerk tofu cutlets will last 1 week approx.

jerk tofu

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Vegan Backpacker’s Guide, part 3

vegan backpacker hierbas

If you’re on a budget, this post will be of use to you. Whether you’re a staunch vegan, a vegan-leaning vegetarian, a pescetarian, a semi-vegetarian, or an omnivore who simply wants to learn more, you will benefit from the consumption of hierbas when traveling or living in Guatemala. Hierbas translates from Spanish to English as “herbs”, but the actual term pertains more to weeds. Hierbas, in Guatemala, generally equate dandelion greens, red clover greens, or other things considered a nuisance or thrown away (the supposedly-unusable parts of root vegetables like beets, for example). In Guatemala, the women who sell vegetables in or outside the local markets will throw away nutritious vegetables such as beet greens and broccoli leaves because culturally they were never taught to keep them, thereby knowing nothing about the nutrients the leaves provide. The “hierbas” that a parent or older sibling often cooks and serves to their child or younger sibling, typically come from the tops of root vegetables, or the weeds that grow in their backyard. Few people ask sellers of vegetables in or outside the local markets if they can take or buy the greens they would otherwise toss. You can ask the vendedora if she wouldn’t mind giving her vegetable greens aka her basura, but know it’s not likely to guarantee results on the first try. Befriend her, and utilize tactics I wrote about in previous articles i.e. research in an internet cafe or on a laptop if you have one. Ask about her daughter who works as a temp in Guatemala City, or her husband who occasionally visits. Once you know who she is and she knows who you are, you can pose the question: Can I take the trash for you?. If that doesn’t work, ask if you can take the rubbish for your horse. If her expression continues to be skeptical, ask if you can take the greens for yourself. If that fails, offer 3Q for all of it. If this doesn’t work, try 5Q. These nutritious greens are tossed by the wayside normally, so an offering of $0.50 to $0.75 will help get the point across that you actually want to buy the greens/leaves.

Cook the greens, or weeds, or whatever you want to call them, as you would cook kale, collard greens, or chard. Use a bit of salt to tenderize, after thoroughly rinsing and blanching, in order to remove any bits of rock or bacteria.

Serve with sliced beets, and/or use in place of analogous greens in your favorite vegan recipes. If you want to really take it to the limit in terms of border crossing regarding not only country lines but also culinary…then make a vegetable broth of it and diced onion.

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Cholesterol, deconstructed

cholesterol

You don’t have high cholesterol because you lack the drugs to fix it. If your cholesterol is “normal”, you’ve likely been to see the doctor about a problem specifically related to your cholesterol levels. If your cholesterol levels were high before or off the charts in a life-threatening way, and now they’re normal—you were given a prescription of some sort. In a ideal scenario, your doctor told you to change your diet. S/he told you to ignore your wife or husband when he or she asks why you didn’t clean your plate…and to firmly state, when they ask “what is it, honey…doesn’t it taste good? I thought it was your favorite…I made it special for you. Did I not do a good job?” or something of a similar rendition.

In reality, most doctors prescribe Rx medication.

I don’t despise modern medicine. If I were in a serious accident, I would certainly be thankful for it. Clearly, in a crisis situation—modern medicine is key. However, when it comes to the prevention of disease, or the treatment of the chronic conditions that plague modern societies, conventional medicine can often do more harm than good. This is why some turn to nutrition, herbalism, and other holistic methods of health care to prevent or treat things like high cholesterol before the threat of fatality kicks in.

Culturally, in the industrialized parts of the world, namely the United States, the UK, and Canada—we have for decades increased our collective body mass index. As a child growing up in the US my body mass index (height to weight) was always in the “99th percentile” and therefore considered “healthy” according to my doctors. My parents were a bit skeptical, since I seemed to grow faster than other children in my class despite the fact that I was the youngest (I barely made the cutoff age for kindergarten in California in 1994). I wasn’t in danger of obesity, ever, but being in “the 99th percentile” translates to “on the verge of overweight”. After my parents got a divorce, I started to take a hard look at the ways in which food had a handle on my life…my decisions, emotions, etc…and it suddenly dawned on me that I really didn’t like hamburgers. They were this thing, this unattainable thing, like when you’re a teenager and sneak alcohol at Christmas. My parents never cooked red meat, and the few times I ever went to eat fast food the obvious choice was chicken nuggets or a fish sandwich. I didn’t eat a McDonald’s hamburger until 8th grade, on a trip to D.C., and it tasted so off-putting that I became a vegetarian the day after. The point is, I ate beef perhaps once a year until then and it was almost always by accident. I never liked ham, having tried it Christmas once. My grandparents used to lovingly tease me about how I would eat barbeque ribs like there was no tomorrow—but let me get something straight. Babies and toddlers eat whatever is handed to them, and parents (or grandparents) often cook things that babies and toddlers typically don’t like i.e. meat. Babies and toddlers devour things like pork ribs in BBQ sauce because the sauce is sweet. Give a baby or a toddler a pork rib minus the BBQ sauce, and 9 times out of 10 they will look at it with confusion or revulsion.

Babies and toddlers, like the children, teenagers, 20-somethings, adults, and elders they grow up to be, are prone to like certain foods when coated in sauces that deceive them into envisioning certain foods as their “favorites” when in reality, it’s all in the sauce. This isn’t an accident; it’s the result of industry and advertising. Ever since the advent of industry we have been force-fed ideas about what we should eat and how we should prepare certain foods to make them taste better. Food has become this 24-7 carnival, and God is laughing at us. If the Bible is real, then the most significant of the 7 deadly sins would be gluttony.

That’s why people have high cholesterol. That’s why doctors never listened to my parents when they thought I might have weighed too much. That’s why vanity sizing exits, a phenomenon which explains how a size 7 from 1985 is now a size 0 in 2015.

People hate on the media every day, but what most people don’t do is examine the root of it. There wasn’t some magical moment in which the media started to perpetuate our self-hatred about our bodies. TV commercials about yummy sauces to make otherwise-unappealing meat products taste good did not apparate out of thin air.

It’s not news, the information presented in this rant of mine. I am however, tired of the 1950s values regarding cleaning one’s plate to appeal to the emotions of the parents or the wives or husbands who prepare and serve it. We are a sick society, spoon-fed lies and hopes and dreams that are wrapped up in the egotist agendas of those that feed us, and often it’s as simple as a spare rib on a plate covered in “special” BBQ sauce. If you have high cholesterol, take a hard look as to why it happened in the first place. It isn’t your fault; it’s bigger than that. You are a product of a generation that taught you that food = love, and often love came in the form of artery-clogging foodstuffs such as meat.

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