What’s the real cost of food?

My friend Marc and I were discussing this NY Times article earlier this week, that purports that despite what many people believe, junk food is not necessarily cheaper than its healthy alternative, particularly for those living with lower-income. While I think that there were some unfair assumptions made about those living in low-income homes (which for brevity, I will not get into here), I do think that author Mark Bittman illustrates wonderfully the two-sided responsibility that is being shirked – by consumers, for making choices not to cook, not to slow down and choose better options (because cooking now equals work), and not demanding more of their food sources and suppliers; and by the corporate food industry, for playing into every opportunity to literally shove their product down people’s throats, making them crave more, and think less, with no regard for consequences.

Many arguments for food reform are one-sided, but if we’re to ever to make any progress, we need to hold everyone responsible for their role in doing what is right. People have a right to healthy, accessible, safe food choices, but as long as we’ve got food being chemically engineered to spur addictive tendencies, marketing strategies designed to manipulate people into repeated consumption, and representatives of food corporations lobbying on the hill, with politicians in their back pockets, the only interests protected are those of big business food. Like Bittman said, we DO have a choice. We not only have a choice to decide to plan and cook our meals, but we also have a choice to demand better from our food, its origins, and our government. We’re ultimately what makes that system thrive, not the other way around.

At the end of the day, it’s not about financial cost. It’s about what it’s costing our bodies and health, our lives, our future generations, and our planet. Sustenance is a right, not a privilege, and it certainly shouldn’t be about putting money in the pockets of those who aren’t concerned with any of the aforementioned consequences. We all have a right and responsibility to understand what’s truly at stake, and to send the message that it’s no longer tolerable.

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He Said, She Said: GOP Edition.

It’s no secret that the GOP hopefuls have already managed to turn Campaign 2012 into a complete three-ring circus. Everyday, I shudder to think that anyone would even take them seriously. But for now, all I can do is laugh (sort of), and hope that the smoke clears next year. Here are a couple of my favorites from the “Are they serious?” file:

Rick Perry says: “I don’t know how you would do this, but if you could take Herman Cain and mate him up with Newt Gingrich, I think you would have a couple of really interesting guys to work with.”
Jenn says: I hope this resulting super-spawn is better at math than you are. Also, be careful with statements like that, lest people start believing you’re pro gay marriage.

Michele Bachmann says: “I will tell you that I had a mother last night come up to me here in Tampa, Florida, after the debate. She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine{HPV}, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter.”
And the follow-up: “I have no idea. I am not a doctor, I’m not a scientist, I’m not a physician. All I was doing is reporting what this woman told me at the debate.”
Jenn says: Right, so, shut up. And stop fear mongering. Tossing factually incorrect, marginalizing statements out into the world like that is dangerous, and ethically reprehensible.

Rick Santorum says: “[Gay marriage] threatens my marriage. It threatens all marriages. It threatens the traditional values of this country.”
Jenn says: And I believe that threat to your marriage involves answering a personals ad, and a subsequent pants-down situation in an airport bathroom. Let’s face it, anyone that perseverates on one issue the way you do about gay rights, has something to hide.

Mitt Romney: “The president’s party wants to try and take from some people and give to the others. That isn’t the way to lift America.”
Jenn says: You’re right, Mitt. Because if there’s one thing this country was NEVER founded on, it’s the idea that people should come to the aid of others in need. Also, it’s interesting you take this stance as a member of the LDS church, where you gladly fork over your required tithe, for the exact purpose of distribution to others (or the hateful campaigns they launch- support of Prop 8, anyone?).

These people want to run our country, my friends (although, I think Santorum’s out now, thankfully). Yes, these people, the ones who rail against the idea of federal government, yet are campaigning for the presidency. So, as I’ve said before, pay attention to the issues and the platforms, and for the love of Ted Kennedy, VOTE.

FEMA, lunatics running amok on the campaign trail, and baking with a Nyquil high.

Just get me a respirator and a squeegee, I’ll do it myself.

Last Monday night, we had an hours-long downpour of biblical proportions, which I was happy about, because let’s face it-it’s been pretty dry here. Anyway, right before I left for work on Tuesday morning, I had to take the dog out, and for some reason, I took her out the back door, instead of the side. As I passed by the basement stairs, this strange glint caught my eye. Light, reflecting off of…water?! It looked like there was a puddle of water sitting on the carpet. Great, I thought, there’s a leak somewhere. So, I took the dog out, brought her back in, and gathered Andy to inspect the damage. That puddle? How about over a half-foot of water covering the entire basement. The partially-carpeted basement. Long story short, the following day included Andy working like mad to remove the water, and conduct damage control. Later that evening, we called the insurance company, who told us they’d be sending their “storm team” out within three business days (how’s that for vague?) to inspect the damage, and move the process forward. Ok, great. Fine. Meanwhile, the odor of dirty, musty, wet sock was slowly taking over our house. But, we waited.

Thursday, while driving to Andy’s parents house, we got a call from our insurance company telling us that the damage wasn’t going to be covered, after all. Apparently, it’s not in our policy. When asked why the person who initially took our call didn’t apprise us of that information, the gentlemen said, “They aren’t permitted to interpret policy.” What? So, “covered” and “not covered” are up for interpretation? But here’s where it gets really good. Even though the flooding isn’t covered by insurance, he said, we were more than welcome to seek the assistance of FEMA. Slack-jawed, we sat for a minute. FEMA? The same FEMA that didn’t even show up on time when a sizeable portion of the Gulf Coastline was underwater, and people were dying/starving/displaced? What the hell good are they going to do? Show up in three weeks with a box fan, and a formaldehyde-laced camper for the backyard? What a total joke. Looks like we’ve got to roll up our sleeves, and take matters into our own hands. FEMA. Come on.

Bachmann, Santorum, and Perry-Oh My!

Hey! Have a Bible, “drink the kool-aid” charm, and an utterly batshit platform? Then hit the campaign trail, crazy! I’m not going to spend any real time discussing the insanity, as it is all playing out clear as day before our very eyes via every media outlet available, but where the hell are these people coming from? I will say this, however: Michele Bachmann-you were allowed to marry a gay man,so why can’t anyone else? Seriously, though, the fact that in 2011, there are not only people who think the way that they do, but that they bullhorn it wherever possible, makes me shudder.

You know what these cupcakes need? A cough drop garnish.

So, out of nowhere, I woke up vaguely ill on Friday morning. It seems as though I have been revisited by the ear infection/strep throat/respiratory infection demon, for the second time in three months. Friday, it was that non-descript throat tickle, Saturday morning, it was that “Ok, I’m definitely sick” cough, and by Saturday evening, it was that “Alright, so maybe I’m going to die” grip of illness that renders you mostly immobile. That’s pretty much where I’ve been hovering ever since. My days have been spent in a Day/Nyquil fog, with a strong desire to bake. Right, because why not? I can’t breathe, and can barely button my shirt properly, but I think I can steady a hand mixer. I had to make cupcakes for a bake sale this weekend, which gave me my first legit excuse in months to break out the butter, sugar and eggs. And you know what? They were delightful. I should know-I ate approximately four of them Saturday afternoon, right before I fell asleep on the couch for 3 hours, woke up for 1, and then went to bed for the night.

Yesterday, I woke up just as wretchedly ill, but again, wanted to make some more cupcakes. I rationalized this excess by telling myself that I needed to tweak yesterday’s salted caramel frosting to be less buttery, and more caramel-y. Dextromethorphan does strange things to us. And so tweak I did, as well as burn my fingers on scalding hot caramel, and eat 2.5 more cupcakes. There goes all that clean-eating talk. I don’t care-when I’m sick, I have no use for tofu and raw vegetables. I’d like sugar, topped with more sugar, please. And some pixie stix.

Anyway, in the clear, cold light of the morning today, I dutifully packed up (most) of the remaining cupcakes, destined for delivery to two people who have either been promised them, or just need them, at this point in their lives. And I hope they enjoy them as much as I enjoyed making them. But, isn’t everything more enjoyable on cold medicine?

Why is Sarah Palin stressing me out?

I had a dream last night that Sarah Palin had found some way to spin her tea-partying ways into some ultra-conservative (read: cultish) organized religion, and it was one that was catching fire across the country faster than parched desert shrubbery (Sorry, southwest states). Anyway, I somehow found myself invited to her headquarters, which oddly enough looked like the rendering of the new Apple headquarters that is being proposed in Cupertino. While there, she led us into this Imax-ish type theater, where she proceeded to play this horrific film of what it would be like to witness the apocalypse from the sidewalks of some undisclosed urban setting. As simulated buildings fell on us, firebombs burst, and citizens of cybercity screamed, fled and were incinerated, her voice was overhead, warning of us events JUST LIKE THIS, if Obama is reelected to another term in 2012. Dream-me was incredibly frightened-not of the prospect of Obama’s second term, but of the fact that this monster was motivating the weak of mind around the country, with her ever-misguided fear-mongering. Would people actually fall for this stuff? As I looked around at the other people in the room, I realized-yes, they would. I wondered if I’d be sacrificed in the name of Glenn Beck if I dared dissent. You betcha! I needed a way out, and fast.

So, we left. Dream-Andy was with me, and he was totally taken in by her tomfoolery. I stared, slack-jawed at him, as he rationalized everything she had just said, and made immediate resolutions to further her message, as well as to adopt a conservative, traditional Christian lifestyle. I think staring down the barrel of homemade cotton dresses and Duggar-style reproduction, while listening to President Palin’s State of the Union speech sent my brain into a spasm of improbability, because all of the sudden, I snapped awake, unsure of whether or not to move. While I frequently say I never have nightmares, I can confidently tell you that this would qualify as bona fide night terror. It may seem ridiculous, but trust me, it was so REAL. I laid there for awhile, searching through my mind to better understand what led to this dream, which is something I always do. Things needs to make sense in my mind, have a linkage between the conscious and unconscious hours. As you can imagine, dreams involving trees made of teeth with Woody Allen swinging from the branches are especially difficult to logically piece together. I digress.

I think we’ve witnessed so much nonsense at the hands of our government (as well as those who oppose it) over the past decade, that it increasingly seems like nothing is out of bounds anymore. Rationally, logically, I know Sarah Palin will most likely not even declare candidacy, let alone get elected, but that nasty, awful “What if” always sneaks up on me. Things make sense less and less everyday in the world around us, and before you know it, I’m watching death and destruction in Imax HD with the Pipeline Princess in my dreams. Terrifying.

So, I’m going to leave you with this. With campaign season upon us, it’s so, SO important to educate yourselves on the candidates. Understand who they are and where their experience lies, their platforms, and how these things impact not only the country we live in, but the world-at-large, and our fellow citizens. And for the love of God, VOTE. Do your part, and vote your values. It’s your responsibility. Otherwise, Sarah Palin is coming to get you.

The WeinerTweet.

Ok, so now we’ve been inundated with what seems like near hourly updates on the news that Anthony Weiner tweeted pictures of his, um, weiner to women who are not his wife, as well as carried on in other forms of cybermedia. And thus far, he refuses to resign from his position in the House. Unlike a lot of people, I happen to more or less support that decision. While what he did was no doubt devastating to his wife and family, I don’t think it has any direct impact on his work as a representative. I find him to be a bright, capable (and certainly colorful) leader, who champions great causes. Honestly, people’s sexual endeavors are nobody’s business but their own, and to call for his resignation based solely on that action is puritanical and let’s face it, a really weak case.

However.

The catch to this (for me) is that he lied. Whaaaat? A dishonest politician? The hell you say! Honestly, had he been up front from the get-go, and said, “Look, you know what? That is my picture, and I’m embarassed and sorry to do have done such a foolish thing”, I’d have some respect for the guy. Had he done that, and then said he wasn’t going to resign, I’d say fine. Good. Lesson learned: don’t put your genitalia on internet blast, particulary when you’re a married elected official. But you lied about it. To everyone. And while I’m not going to be naive and act as though a lie coming from a politician is a rarity, THAT is the part of this situation that that’s a bit hard to swallow. As a representative of the people, it is one’s responsibility to tell the truth. But all that said, I still can’t say I think he should resign, because as I’ve said, they all lie. We’d have lots of desolate government space across this great land if we demanded that everyone resign for lying. An oversimplification, yes. But you get my point.

Nonetheless, if I were a betting woman, I’d venture to guess that Rep. Weiner will ultimately resign. I think this is going to put him in a pressure cooker to vacate his seat, due to people’s inability to separate the complexities of personal and professional responsibilities, and due to the desire for those in his party to distance themselves from him. And of course, there are always the Republicans, who are in perpetual lie-in-wait mode for something just like this to spring up, so they can attack. But even if he goes, maybe he’ll bounce back. I mean, look at Spitzer…you don’t see him walking around with his head hung low, particularly while spouting off on CNN. Maybe there’s a seat available at that table for Weiner.