Monday, November 12, 2012

Frankenfood and the Skunk Whisperer

Audio file / podcast

I stopped at the midpoint of the stretch of Turner Turnpike from Oklahoma City to Tulsa, drawn to convenience store, diesel, parking spots, and a big McDonald’s. I used to drive straight through, but getting up at 4 am to make it to the office by 7:30 am was never as easy as I thought it would be. I liked to tell myself it was better than returning the night before – better to have a relaxing evening and set the alarm for 3:45 am.

It was a colossal lie.

And, it wasn’t the first I had told myself. I am a master of self-deception and conflict avoidance. My early-morning thoughts are not happy thoughts.

But was it? On this particular morning, I was mulling over a series of articles I had just read: “The Wheat You Eat Is Not Your Grandmother’s Grain.”

Monsanto took a bacteria gene that kills insects and spliced it into potatoes, corn, and cotton.
DNA from fish has been spliced into strawberry plants.
Winter flounder genes have been spliced into tomatoes to make them resistant to the cold.
Wheat is “monster wheat” and even contains tiger DNA?

Tiger DNA?

So. What’s the conclusion??

I conclude that there is nothing left to eat. We must avoid meats, dairy products, and fish due to antibiotics and growth hormones.

When confronted with this dilemma, a friend of mine retorted, not missing a beat, “That’s why I stick to fried foods.”

Corn syrup, candy, fast foods, and other convenience items are in reality petrochemical products.

Well. It’s not all bad. People are worried about the impact of extreme longevity on the Social Security fund. With all this tampering, I don’t think we have anything to worry about.

Today, during a lunchtime walk I encountered a young woman – in her early thirties, I would guess – who passed me in her motorized wheelchair. She was missing both feet. They had been amputated above the ankles. She was obese, so I concluded she suffered from diabetes.

When I was 19, I flew out to Reno, Nevada, after having completed my first year of college (chemical engineering), and I relaxed by driving around to intriguing historical spots. Virginia City’s mansions appealed to me, as did an old fort outside Carson City.

In the gift store, I purchased the “Pioneer Woman’s Recipe Book.”  It contained recipes for food that early settlers were likely to eat. The ingredients were amazingly limited: lard, salt pork, corn meal, baking soda, flour, sugar, salt, dried beans. They also drank water from wells that contained arsenic.

It amazed me that anyone lived past the age of 10 or 12.

I guess they got a lot of exercise.

Pulling up to the E-Z Go Convenience store, I stretched a bit as I walked in and made a beeline for coffee. I contemplated the chemicals likely to be in the water, and I added a bit of cappuccino (pure corn sweetener poison). I regarded the “grillers” rolling on a hot dog / taquito / breakfast roll hot plate. I congratulated myself for having never even tried one of the glistening meat & fat tubes, and then picked up a miniature pumpkin pie. How much pumpkin did it really have? It was some sort of guar gum and flavoring concoction. Yum. Satisfying.

Just one more thing to feel apocalyptic about…

I made my way back to my car, coffee cup in hand. A pickup truck pulling something that looked like a modified horse trailer caught my eye. It had dramatic styling – a huge spray-painted skunk and the words, The Skunk! Whisperer.

Skunk.  Skunk Whisperer.

The sign gave rise to mental images of a guy coaxing a skunk out from the crawl space of someone’s old Craftsman house, or gently scooping up skunk pups from their plush little nest in someone’s tool shed.

What do skunks eat?  What eats skunks?  And, are they safe to eat? Why not splice a rose with skunk DNA?

If there are any non-tampered-with items in our habitat that we can eat, I think the list is pretty short. In Oklahoma, here are the things you can eat with some assurance that it has not been genetically modified:

Venomous snakes:  copperheads, water moccasins, rattlesnakes (Western Diamondback and Pygmy)
Armadillos (although now somewhat scarce, and largely leprous)
Weeds and wildflowers (away from yards and fields):  purple vetch, black-eyed susans, virginia creeper, dandelions, johnson grass, mistletoe, sumac, poison ivy, poison oak.
Tree leaves and nuts: pecans, acorns, mimosas, redbud flowers, catalpa flowers and bean pods, mimosa poms and seed pods.
Most of these items are probably toxis (aka “medicinal”)

I read the stories about genetic modification and the adulteration of our food supply right after listening to Jerry Sandusky and his wife excoriate all the people who testified against him. They were greedy. They wanted to get at Penn State’s riches. They were in it for their own gain.

It was intriguing. What if it had been – like some claim that the U.S. moon landing was – a huge conspiracy?? How, exactly would that work? How could everyone pull it off – a stunt which would require pretty dramatic and emotionally draining acting as well as lurid story-telling. I guess it can be done – think of all the people who became convinced they had been abducted by aliens. Think of the individuals who had false recall of having been abused… (turned out to be the power of suggestion)…

The flaw in the story is … what triggered it? Why would someone invent such a story – and such an elaborate one with so many victims? It had to start somewhere – why start THAT story?

Sigh. Don’t worry about it. Just pull your chair up to the computer and take notes as you stream “Swamp People: The ‘Swamps-Giving’ Episode.”

Every last one of us needs to know how to make “turtle etouffee” and “horny toad fritters” or “jackrabbit sausage.”

Yum. And now, just let me get back to my coffee and mini pumpkin pie from the EZ-Go.