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August 24, 2009

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Dems take their message to the public? what planet are you living on?

maybe Waxman will write a sternly-worded letter to Steele, expressing his outrage.

"There's really no way to logically counter this stuff."

No kidding. Yet the patient explanations keep coming.

F--uck off! and violent confrontation via unholstered dildos at Republican townhall meetings are the only response Steele and the murderous Republican elite and their corrupt Blue-Dog whore lickspittles deserve.

Legislatively, ram it down their throats.

This bill is a mess, but so what, scum demagoguery will kill any bill Congress vomits up.

The Republican Party is a death panel.

Their grannies would kill US if they could, the dried-up, barren witches.

Wow, John....that's a lot of bulging-vein, spittle-flecked rage you got there.

But why?

You've got a Democrat in the White House and solid majorities in both houses of Congress. You'd think all would be right with the world. But you advocate "violent confrontation via unholstered dildos..." toward the "murderous republican elite and their corrupt Blue-Dog whore lickspittles..." who dare to displease you.

It's funny seeing you sputtering with impotent rage...I guess you thought that once Obama was elected, all your worries would cease. Darn those mean old Republicans and Blue-Dogs for not kowtowing to The One, huh?

You've got a Democrat in the White House and solid majorities in both houses of Congress.

there's nothing solid about the Dem majority. and that's the problem.

unlike the GOP, the Dems are more than happy to fight amongst themselves. there is no such thing as party discipline among Democrats.

I guess you thought that once Obama was elected, all your worries would cease.

Unintentionally hilarious comment of the week. And it's only Monday!

Unintentionally hilarious comment of the week. And it's only Monday!

Tomaig's whole comment is unintentional comedy gold.

There's really no way to logically counter this stuff.

The obvious solution is to bypass logical argument. You can't defeat a serial liar by trying to disprove each lie independently. You have to use the pattern of lies as proof that your opponent has no credibility. People may object that this violates the rules of debate, but this is a much less severe violation than the original serial lying was.

It's time to stop accepting anything the Republicans say without independent evidence to back it up. Actually, it's long past time to do that, but better late than never.

It's funny seeing you sputtering with impotent rage...I guess you thought that once Obama was elected, all your worries would cease.

I think you misunderestimate the nature of Dr.Thullen's Panacea Elixir.

In other news, projecting your impotent rage against the Democratic supermajorities onto liberals is pretty funny in its own right.

I'll agree with Tomaig on one issue; it is absolutely unnecessary and a waste of time you could be using to watch paint dry to counter Michael Steele's arguments.

I know the costs of healthcare is going up in the US regardless of what is done politically to manage it. What I would like to see if, in fact, we move to greater socialization of medicine is some measures to penalize behaviors that make significant contributions to the increased costs.

I spent the last few days out in public places observing the age and body shape of those walking inside shopping malls and in the parking lots. I did this because of recent stories about obesity in the US. Well, it's a serious condition and I would say getting worse. I also researched the latest national percentages for obesity and found the US is first at almost a third of its people while a country like Italy, where I know first-hand they eat very well, has about eight per cent obese. Since obesity can lead to diabetes, and diabetes can lead to any number of other serious medical conditions, it seems to me we should think of this as we do other unhealthy behaviors like excessive alcohol consumption and tobacco usage. There's also illegal drug use to be considered. We already have taxes on tobacco and alcohol but no such government imposed financial penalty for abuses that result in obesity or for illegal drug use, as far as I know.

I don't favor taxing the food but maybe we could establish a requirement for an annual weigh-in and drug test and apply a income surtax when the test results show abusive behavior. The surtax so collected could be earmark for national healthcare programs. For those who skip out on their annual weigh-in and drug test, remedial action can be taken when they show up to participate in the national healthcare program.

What I would like to see if, in fact, we move to greater socialization of medicine is some measures to penalize behaviors that make significant contributions to the increased costs.

You want us to shoot doctors that (partially) own diagnostics facilities and refer their patients to those same facilities?

We already have taxes on tobacco and alcohol but no such government imposed financial penalty for abuses that result in obesity or for illegal drug use, as far as I know.

Um, are you aware of the fact that illegal drug often leads to imprisonment or paying heavy fines to the government and also makes one ineligible for federal financial aid?

I don't favor taxing the food but maybe we could establish a requirement for an annual weigh-in and drug test and apply a income surtax when the test results show abusive behavior.

Are you asking this seriously in good faith? Or are you trolling us?

I was sitting in the middle of University of Southern California and noticed how healthy and nubile an influential portion of the US population is. Looking at these incredbly healthy people made me realize how panic striken the rest of the US is acting. Many of these folks are going to be partying hard for the next few days (if not weeks) without a care in the world, and recover nicely, thank you very much. These are the children of people who have incredible medical covergae through their parents and the university.

From where I sit, the future looks sexy!

Nothing should change.

It would probably be more appetizing to reward good behavior (ie, appropriate weight, diet, etc) rather than punish bad. Weigh ins and drug tests could be voluntary, but result in reduced fees. Other life/health risking behavior like motorcycle riding could be taxed at registration.

Beer would be significantly subsudized, since it is well known that happy people are healthier people, and beer brings happiness.

'Are you asking this seriously in good faith? Or are you trolling us?'

I offered this a little tongue-in-cheek, but, it is a very serious matter. Most of the obese people I observed were under 40 years old and I would guess many are moving towards serious future health issues.

I do a lot (or not do) to stay healthy and if we actually wind up with legislation that puts us all in this together, then there are a large number of large people (and others) who need to carry their weight (share) of the shared responsibility. We need to figure out what the Italians are doing.

jrudkis for health czar!

'jrudkis for health czar!'

I second. Let me know when and where to show up for my health bonus.

I offered this a little tongue-in-cheek, but, it is a very serious matter.

Perhaps, but perhaps not. Before we simply accept that it is a very serious matter, can you (1) explain precisely your criteria for what qualifies as obesity and (2) point us to some peer reviewed scientific studies that demonstrate that your preferred obesity metric is causally related with significant mortality?

I get the sense that is all very obvious and self-evident to you, so I imagine that supplying me with the information I ask for should be trivial.

Most of the obese people I observed were under 40 years old and I would guess many are moving towards serious future health issues.

With respect, you don't seem to know anything about statistics and so I'm disinclined to accept any statistical inference you present.

Posted on The Daily Dish the other day:

Bryan Walsh takes on cheap food:

[W]hat's wrong with cheap food and cheap meat — especially in a world in which more than 1 billion people go hungry? A lot. For one thing, not all food is equally inexpensive; fruits and vegetables don't receive the same price supports as grains. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a dollar could buy 1,200 calories of potato chips or 875 calories of soda but just 250 calories of vegetables or 170 calories of fresh fruit. With the backing of the government, farmers are producing more calories — some 500 more per person per day since the 1970s — but too many are unhealthy calories. Given that, it's no surprise we're so fat; it simply costs too much to be thin.

Link to the article.

Heaven forbid we should take on the food and advertising industries on top of the insurance, pharmaceutical, and for-profit medical industries.

I wouldn't disagree that somewhere in there are questions of personal responsibility, but that's not all this is about.

There's really no way to logically counter this stuff.

Yes there is. Take the liars to court. Libel, perhaps? Fraud, maybe? Just don't sit there and call them liars. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

Serious question here: can I, as an average American citizen, take these FreedomWorks bought-and-paid jokers to court for fraud? Or do I need to be directly harmed by their falsehoods?

What I would like to see if, in fact, we move to greater socialization of medicine is some measures to penalize behaviors that make significant contributions to the increased costs.

The simple answer here is "eat food, not too much, mostly plants". That, and walk a couple of miles a day if you're able.

Italians and French people have a pretty robust diet, without worrying too much about the calorie count, because they don't eat it in stunning quantities. And they've built a culture around eating food that is fresh and minimally processed.

Sometime when you're in the grocery store, glance at some random sampling of labels and see how many things have corn syrup as one of the top ingredients.

And Janie is correct, healthy food is hard to find in lower income areas, and any steps to reduce the amount of processed foods that Americans eat will meet strong resistance from industrial agriculture.

I wonder if it would be cheaper to have prescription food: basic health plan covers 1500 calories a day/person in healthy fruits and vegetables...delivered daily by the post office.

Whatever meat or starch someone wants to make up the last 500-1000 calories would be on their own.

'With respect, you don't seem to know anything about statistics and so I'm disinclined to accept any statistical inference you present.'

So be it.

http://healthaff.highwire.org/cgi/reprint/hlthaff.w4.480v1.pdf

This was published in 2004. so it's a little dated, but since their trend analysis showed no abatement in the increasing levels of obesity, the direction of the conclusions have not likely changed, but worsened.

All the places I have looked lately define obesity as BMI greater than or equal 30. They mention increased mortality caused by obesity related conditions, but the focus was not mortality but the increase in costs of medical care.

I would love to have a conversation, including GOB, about how the food-production system in this country leads directly to obesity and unhealthy lives, but he might not like where some of the conclusions lead, because they could be construed as anti-capitalist.

Also, BMI is not a good measure of anything at all

We already have taxes on tobacco and alcohol but no such government imposed financial penalty for abuses that result in obesity or for illegal drug use

Uh, as mentioned above by Turbulence, we have lots of financial penalties for illegal drug users. Like if the government can make a case against you for drug trafficking -- which doesn't take much, just having your pot stash divided up into individual bags, or having over a certain quantity of Oxycontin pills without a prescription -- they can confiscate just about every dollar you have on you at the time of the arrest.

lemme get this straight; the new conservative talking point is that our health care system simply can't work as well as it should because we're all too fat and out of shape ?

so what's the solution ? it can't have anything to do with informing people of healthy eating options (because that would be equivalent to a Fat Panel), and it can't have anything to do with taxing or fining people who don't meet some bureaucrat's standards (because that's really a Fat Panel), and it can't be taxing unhealthy food (because "conservatives" wouldn't stand for that), and it can't involve spending government money (the deficit! the deficit! the deficit!). so, what's the solution ? wagging your finger at people isn't going to change anything.

besides, we can't be fat and out of shape - i keep hearing from "conservatives" that we have the best health care in the world, and that our life expectancy really is better because [handwaving], so why change anything?

Posted by: GoodOleBoy | August 24, 2009 at 06:15 PM

This clown would blame lab rats for getting cancer. It's a personal responsibility trool.

Beer would be significantly subsudized, since it is well known that happy people are healthier people, and beer brings happiness.

You meant to write "gin" of course, but otherwise your point stands.

It's OK...a lot of people make that mistake.

I would love to have a conversation, including GOB, about how the food-production system in this country leads directly to obesity and unhealthy lives, but he might not like where some of the conclusions lead, because they could be construed as anti-capitalist.

One could make the argument that not offering massive subsidies Big Agra to drown us in high-fructose corn syrup would actually be a pro-capitalist move.

You meant to write "gin" of course

I've heard that it's a universal solvent for all forms of arterial placque....

'The simple answer here is "eat food, not too much, mostly plants". That, and walk a couple of miles a day if you're able.

Italians and French people have a pretty robust diet, without worrying too much about the calorie count, because they don't eat it in stunning quantities. And they've built a culture around eating food that is fresh and minimally processed.'


'besides, we can't be fat and out of shape - i keep hearing from "conservatives" that we have the best health care in the world, and that our life expectancy really is better because [handwaving], so why change anything?'

Surprise, surprise! As usual, russell got this about right. And it is true, the capitalists will produce and sell whatever the market will buy. And the government has a habit of subsidizing products that benefit the capitalists and are frequently detriments to the general public.

And it is also possible to have good (the best in the opinion of some) health care without having necessarily the healthiest population due to life style behaviors. It is possible to demonstrate that we get better treatment outcomes after diagnoses for a range of diseases and conditions than in some other countries where life expectancies are greater.

Someone give me some help here. I know that the US has doubled its prevalence level for obesity from 15% to 30% but I would like to know how this has happened.

Someone give me some help here. I know that the US has doubled its prevalence level for obesity from 15% to 30% but I would like to know how this has happened.

You might wish to look here, here, and here.

Typepad appears to have eaten a comment of mine, maybe because it had three links in it? If the kitty gets an opportunity, maybe see if it's queued up someplace?

GOB, it would be nice if you were a bit more upfront about what you are arguing for. As several have pointed out, your comment comes off as a bit of a troll.

As I've pointed out a few times, here in Japan, because of the government's participation in health insurance and health care, as a condition of one's employment, you generally have a mandated yearly check-up, and the government sends a set of specially equipped vehicles to larger employers so that one day, we can all get it done. This way, a lot of serious illnesses, including cancers, are caught earlier and require less money to treat them. The Japanese government has also started an anti-obesity campaign. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation and mistranslation about the campaign, so be careful about pulling up various critiques, but if you are truly concerned about national health (and your comment about having the best health care without having the healthiest population belies that), you might want to look at how such campaigns are actually conducted rather than create a straw campaign as a thought experiment.

Surprise, surprise! As usual, russell got this about right.

of course he did. he's a smart guy,

but how "conservatives" propose to apply russell's good advice to the situation at hand ? what's the mechanism to spread (and enforce?) the message "eat more vegetables" ?

if "conservatives" are going to complain about US obesity is the context of health care reform, i'd expect to see some proposals to reduce that obesity. otherwise... why are they talking about it?

cleek asked:
why are they talking about it?

Anne Laurie summed it up quite nicely over at Ballon Juice the other day:

Americans get less health for more dollars than any other industrialized nation because we don’t deserve good health. We haven’t earned it, and if we insist on using it anyway, we’ll be depriving other, more needy fellow citizens of their fair share. And the mark of our selfish unworthiness is that we’re fat.

And of course, this goes double for women, who (a) are more subject to relentless criticism about our weight, and (b) refuse to get in line with the "We're Number One! U!S!A!" crowd, but keep dragging the nation down in international health comparisons with our selfish infant and maternal mortality.

'You might wish to look here, here, and here.

Posted by: Turbulence | August 24, 2009 at 08:00 PM'

Thanks for these links. I'm not even through the first one yet. I agree that processed food production contributes, some of the motives and actions of big pharma are questionable, and food marketing and delivery systems create situations that make this worse.

I was not aware of how much discussion was going on about this and my prompt truly was just an accumulation of recent observations. A couple of comments I read mentioned genetic predisposition and I recognize this as valid, but that would not explain the doubling in little more than a single generation.

I am grudgingly accepting that opinion pieces by anyone anywhere are not required to be based on facts. But actually be composed of nothing but lies and fabrications, half-truths, unsubstantiated gossip, proganda, personal delusions, obsessions, etc. And it is up to the decerning reader, listener, and/or viewer to use logic, reason, and good googling to figure that out. Michael Steele opines in a lot of different media: radio, tv, print, blogs, and his signature style is that of untruthfulness and factless-based arguments which are seldom if ever challenged by editors, hosts, producers whilst in the act. There is a huge internet industry that now spends humungous amounts time and bandwidth letting people know about the lying liars and the lies they tell. And then there the commenters like me wasting humongous amounts of time and bandwidth blathering in agreement. As if it might be cathartic at some level.

but how "conservatives" propose to apply russell's good advice to the situation at hand?

They won't, they're all about personal responsibility. Just ask Rush.

There are actually about 1,000 things that could readily be done to improve the situation.

Take soda machines out of public schools.
Subsidize farmers' markets in lower income areas.
Subsidize something like the "rails to trails" movement nationally to build a network of hiking and bicycle trails.

Buy a bike for everyone who wants one below some income baseline. You can buy about 200 perfectly good bikes for the cash they're paying for one damned clunker. Seriously, a billion dollars will buy 4 or 5 *million* bikes. Maybe more, if you're buying in bulk.

It really is not rocket science.

There's just not a lot of money in it, so the Republican party in the USA will never get behind it.

Probably not the Dems either, but definitely not the Republicans.

Why is there a link to Joe Klein in the update?

I'm with Greenwald and Atrios. When people are systematically dangerously wrong and disingenuous, there should be consequences.

It's small, but that includes favorable links.

Even with the political capital they got in the last election, the Dems still somehow think they have to be nice and civil, while it seems perfectly OK for the right to stab, shoot, and spit at anything that moves. So I'm all for those who think that it's time for the Dems, perhaps even Obama himself, to take off the gloves and start strangling some chickens - first off the bat, Beck, Hannity & Rush, then Ann Coulter for good measure just coz she deserved it a long time ago, then Peggy Noonan for being a ghastly hag...have I whipped up enough sample vitriol? If it sounds ludicrous, it's nothing compared to what some of the above ilk routinely serve up and show signs of believing themselves.

Steele's op-ed does at least make some half-baked effort at analysis, but half-baked is the operative word; it's of the hackneyed and shopworn market-knows-best-get-your hands-off-my-Medicare meme. It mentions outlawing age-based discriminatory practices, but remains silent on the immoral practices of denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and what may be the illegal practices of cutting off payment beyond certain points for certain types of conditions (which seem increasingly not to be necessarily catastrophic for payment to be halted).

In the face of such behavior, no-one needs to be civil, and those silent about it or even approving of it need strangulation - figurative, of course. It is for the right to defend what has become blatently indefensible, not for the Dems to have to keep redefining and re-explaining what is far better.

Oh, and BTW - note to liberal japonicus - I'm an American living in Japan too and while the Japanese system certainly has its problems, it's still superior, and problem-wise nothing compared to the travesty of the American model.

Oh, and here's a P.S. - while this seems late in the day, another note, this time to John Thullen: I'd go for the chicken-strangulation rather than the unholstered dildoes if I were you, coz the latter might actually impart some pleasure, whereas the former is long, slow pain.

Sekaijin,
no disagreement about the presence of problems in the Japanese system, and some of the things that they do, such as mandating the prices for various procedures or the steps in the anti metabo campaign, could in no way be used in the US, so I've been hesitant to give long paeans to the system because I could see the straw men awaiting to be constructed. But I do want to put this from TR Reid via Balloon Juice

"In Japan, waiting times are so short that most patients don't bother to make an appointment. One Thursday morning in Tokyo, I called the prestigious orthopedic clinic at Keio University Hospital to schedule a consultation about my aching shoulder. "Why don't you just drop by?" the receptionist said. That same afternoon, I was in the surgeon's office. Dr. Nakamichi recommended an operation. "When could we do it?" I asked. The doctor checked his computer and said, "Tomorrow would be pretty difficult. Perhaps some day next week?" "

btw, where are you in the land of Wa?

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation and mistranslation about the campaign

It sounds like a pretty good idea, but can you just imagine what GOB's fellow conservatives would do with the idea of a government-mandated yearly health screening? Now they want to tell you what you can and can't eat!!!!1! They're going to force you to sit through a lecture you about the "correct" way to live...it's going to be like Cambodia under Pol Pot!!!1! This is how they're going to identify the unproductive and uncooperative members of society so they can mark them for elimination!!!!

What I would like to see if, in fact, we move to greater socialization of medicine is some measures to penalize behaviors that make significant contributions to the increased costs.

Actually, what I would like to see would be public measures to encourage and/or enable people to improve their health, whether we have socialized health care (or health insurance) or not.

jrudkis' comment upthread is correct, positive incentives will work better than punitive ones. And if you are concerned about the encroachment of the "nanny state" I'd think the last thing you'd want would be the government punishing people for "negative behaviors" like having a non-optimal BMI.

There are a lot of dimensions to this, but as I make it out the key pieces are (1) making positive alternatives accessible to people, and (2) changing the culture.

The first can be as simple as enabling access to healthy food and convenient ways to get some exercise.

The second is harder, but I note that we've made significant changes to, frex, smoking habits in about a generation and a half. So, it's doable.

The biggest impediment will be from folks with money on the table, and from folks who have a basic ideological animus toward public efforts of any kind.

Also, BMI is not a good measure of anything at all

It's a kind of thumb-rule, but thumb-rules suck where it comes to making specific diagnostics.

My BMI is roughly 28, which by rule of thumb puts me "dangerously overweight". My instructor is a sixth degree black belt in tae kwon do, and his BMI puts him at "slightly overweight". One of the guys I spar with just took third place in his age bracket in a national karate competition, and his BMI is about the same as mine.

I'm not too worried about my health, really. Sure, I could lose 10 pounds or so (and in fact am doing that, but slowly); that'd bring me all the way down to "slightly overweight".

I don't do any weights other than bodyweight.

Yeah, I think BMI sucks. I could be thinner, as I said, but "dangerously overweight" as a descriptor for me is just silly. BMI is a metric that masquerades as science, but is in fact based on information gathered by insurance companies; IOW: death statistics. It's got nothing whatever to do with health.

For liberal japonicus - I can second what you've said about the Japanese system. I know right from the off that most Americans would regard things like the anti-metabolic syndrome campaign as an egregious intrusion, though I know there is also a way to see it as part of an aggressive preventative health program (for those of you who don't know what we're talking about, very simply - in the case of metabolic syndrome, it's become an issue in Japan, so people who get a physical exam and are found to have a waistline over a certain number of centimeters in relation to their height and ideal weight may be at risk for metabolic syndrome - if so, their premiums for what they would pay into the national health insurance system would go up slightly because of it unless they go on a program to lose weight, exercise, etc., until it goes down, then as I understand it, their premiums would go back down to what they were paying).

I can also second what you've said about the good features of the system - low waiting times, AND - tah dahhhh...your choice of physician(s). I will tell all Americans on this forum right now that switching doctors because of a change in your residence (if you move from one place to another) is NO PROBLEM under the Japanese system, and if you wish to keep the doctor you have because you trust him/her, then that is also no problem - and the Japanese government on any level - national, prefectural, municipal - has no say in it.

Of all the ludicrous bile against health care reform in the States, one of the most idiotic is this notion that you would lose your right to choose your physician, or that the government would interfere in medical decisions between a person and his/her physican. This is simply baffling because under the HMO system you have no choice of physician of your own anyway, and thanks to lax regulation, a private insurance company is essentially interfering in medical decisions between a person and his/her physician because it can cut off funding for treatment/procedures beyond a certain cap - when this happens, well, it's possible that certain levels of care that would've been available now go out the window because the insurer will no longer fund it, and they may be far too cost-prohibitive for the individual to pick up the tab for.

Given the government-is-the-problem jag that the right is still chanting, then that must mean that they have no problem with any private enterprise that isn't legally answerable to anyone to get away with this, whereas any government involvement is tantamount to ushering in white-coated death squads and eugenics panels. But given the number of Americans with no health insurance of any kind, or are about to lose it, or who are afraid to use what they have because the insurance company will jack up the premiums for so much as a hangnail, then I would say that the death squads and eugenics panels have essentially been around for some time already - except that instead of being on the public payroll they're on the private till, with the CEO making far more money than any senator, house rep or the President himself, recallable by no-one save the company board, and who has negotiated some sort of golden parachute for him/herself.

If all that borders on drama-queen histrionics, it's still nothing compared to the idiotic screeching of the right, who are paid to be drama queens.

One more note for liberal japonicus - I live in Nerima ward, in Tokyo. How about you?

I'm down south in Kumamoto. Sure I will be up in Tokyo sometime next term, drop a line to libjpn at gmail so we can catch a beer.

paragraphs 3 and 4 of sekajin's 10:46 pretty much hit the nail on the head as far as I'm concerned.

I can tell you that I'm freaking tired of being the free market's monkey. and I'm basically fine.

if I had no insurance at all, or couldn't use my insurance for fear of losing it, or couldn't use it without putting thousands of my own money on the table first, I'd probably be about ready to break stuff right about now.

starting with John Kyl's nose.

in case it's not clear, this is not a call for violence, it's just an expression of anger and frustration. people get sick, go bankrupt, and die, all so we can preserve the purity of the free market.

it's like a freaking mental illness. it's like we're a nation of zombies whose brains have been eaten by too many repetitions of uncle Ronnie's nine scariest words.

believe you me, there are many, many, many scarier words than "I'm from the government and I'm here to help".

To the point Russell and others are making about food, habits, etc.:

When my mom (now 85) was being raised by a widowed mother through the 20's and 30's, my grandma grew and canned most of their food (including some meat).

My dad's family also lived in poverty but also had a big garden (even though they lived in town, unlike my mom), and though they ate frugally, they didn't eat processed foods because there weren't any. Of course, they had to buy stuff like rice and pasta, or the occasional great treat of a bit of genoa salami. ;)

By the 50's, when I was little, though we still lived frugally, we didn't "need" a garden, and both my parents viewed not having to rely on a garden as a sign of a step up in the world. We ate almost all our meals at home, together, except of course Dad was at work during the day, and the kids ate lunch in the school cafeteria, where the cooks were Italian moms and grand-moms (pretty darn good school lunches).

By the 80's and 90's, when I was raising my kids, lots of people I knew rarely cooked and almost never had family meals. (In later years, our family was usually at, let's say, basketball practice or a game at the time when my birth family would have been eating supper together.)

So down the generations:

-- garden, raise a few chickens, put food by, and make all meals at home, mostly from ingredients produced on the property or in the neighborhood; eat family meals together

-- buy everything at the grocery store, but still make all meals at home, and eat them together

-- buy food at the grocery store (a lot of it processed), eat (take-)out a lot (fast food, pizza), only cook now and then; eat individually and on the fly because everyone is so busy.

This is an over-simplification, of course. But my point is that making fresh foods more available isn't enough: many people don't know what to do with them any more. Besides a serious habit-changing efforts, we would/will need a lot of re-learning to get back to something healthier (for ourselves, the land, etc.). For the many years when I had a garden of my own, I had to pick up knowledge piecemeal, from classes, etc., because the knowledge had been lost in my family context. I think it’s the same thing now in relation to cooking, never mind the question of how our hectic and scattered lifestyles affect even the possibility of sitting down to meals together.

I can't seem to make a link work in preview right now, but I want to mention MOFGA (www.mofga.org) -- "the oldest and largest state organic organization in the country" -- in little old Maine. Sometimes it reminds me of tilting at windmills, or a not-big-enough finger in a crumbling dike, but it would be even worse to quit trying.

This is an over-simplification, of course.

Actually, I don't think it is. I think it's pretty much right on.

We live in a weird and profoundly dehumanizing culture. Few, and increasingly few, folks know or remember how to just live on the planet.

Seriously, how many folks here could walk out their back door and make a meal out of whatever they could find or catch?

Homo sapiens has been around for something like 200,000 years. The phenomenon I've just described is probably 100, maybe 200 years old.

In historical terms, industrial and post-industrial culture is a sneeze. And it's a very, very high-maintenance way to live.

The weight of precedent is not on our side.

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