Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chemistry for Dinner

One of my favorite summer recipes is Spinach Quesadillas from Vegetarian Suppers by Deborah Madison. This is a quick dish and as long as you don't use too much cheese and sour cream, a pretty healthy one. With the fresh salsa and corn from the Sunday Farmer's Market in Baltimore, the meal is something we look forward to every time it appears in the weekly menu plan.

When it was almost time to prepare dinner last night, I suddenly realized we didn't have any tortillas so I made a quick trip to the local Giant and given the array of tortilla choices presented to me, I started turning over the packages and looking at ingredients. I was about to buy a chemistry concoction with which to cushion my fresh farm spinach, onion, jalapeno pepper and cilantro. What has happened to our food?

A rhetorical question, of course, as I know what happened to our food and it makes me angry. I was angry last night and I'm still pretty angry about it this morning. Why is it impossible to go to the local grocery store and buy something without subjecting my body to this list of garbage:

Flour tortillas require a very short and simple list of ingredients: Flour, fat (some type of oil), water (or milk), baking powder and salt. I didn't make the tortillas last night - I bought this package and stewed about it all night. Yes, dinner was tasty but I can't help but wonder about the global impact of this kind of systematic and prolific poisoning that happens every day. I wanted to cook a healthful dinner. I wanted to do some thing simple and fast for a Monday evening. I wanted to enjoy the bounty from the weekend farmer's market while it was still fresh and bursting with flavor.

Why is it so darn difficult, if not impossible, to avoid ingesting chemistry for dinner?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Is our healthcare system making us fat?

The growth in healthcare costs and the growth in America's waistlines follow the same path. Up. Yesterday, I asked the question, "Is our healthcare system making us fat?"

Today, I will explain. To be clear, I don't blame the healthcare system for the growing obesity epidemic. I do blame the healthcare system for not making dramatic changes in the 1990s when we realized the managed care revolution wasn't actually helping people get healthier. I blame it again in the year 2000 when the trend was clear. By 2008, we have no excuse. We are spending more and more money for less and less health. We have more healthcare. We do not have more health.

The scary part, to me, is there is no end in sight. Much like the dual-eligibles that are plaguing state budgets all across the country, the obese and extremely obese are expensive. As they age (assuming they get a chance to age), I can't begin to fathom what it will cost to care for the extremely obese elderly. My Grandfather is nearly 90 and completely dependent on my Father and a team of aides for everything he needs. He is too skinny, honestly, as he continues on his slow journey toward death. If he were 200 pounds, my Dad couldn't care for him at home. A nursing home would costs thousands and thousands a year and we'd have no choice. 

The system is broken. We cannot continue to spend more and more money on worsening outcomes. We can't afford to give gastric bypass surgery to 40% of our population. We can't afford the risks and costs of whatever promised weight loss pill a drug company will come up with. While we have the Affordable Care Act (health reform), it will not fix the problem.

The problem, dear people, is all up to you and to me. To our neighbors, to our families, to our communities. We, the people, are the only ones with the power to "bend the curve" on healthcare costs.  We, the people, have to stand beside one another and help each other lose weight and get healthy.

We the people, when we work together, can do anything we set our minds to. Now is the time.