Friday, March 21, 2008

Random Thoughts of a Gas Guzzler

I've been joking around lately that if I don't recycle, then Al Gore comes to haunt me in my dreams. You know what they say, be careful what you say in jest, lest it come true.

I have been trying to get my mother to recycle. She doesn't like to do it because it's "messy," which really fits in with Al Gore's film title An Inconvenient Truth. I have to admit that until seeing that film, I thought of recycling as kind of a fad (and I consider myself occasionally to be an intelligent person) and had the impression that it didn't really help anything that much. But I suppose we grow older and wiser. My mother is now being very good about the recycling, as long as I promise to take it before it becomes overwhelming. (I used some very ugly tactics to bring her over to the green side, of which I should be ashamed, such as telling her she might as well vote Republican - I know, that was harsh, but I did it for the lush, green earth).

This morning I was driving to school and thinking about all sorts of environmental things. I don't remember my dreams last night, but I woke up thinking about Al Gore, so I think he was in them again. He likes to hang out there and chastise me. I thought about how difficult it is to be a good greenie. I am trying to eat organic foods and I'm trying to recycle as much as I can, but I still have to drive over an hour each day to get to work/school. I drive a small VW, so at least it's getting good milage, but according to Al Gore's website(, it still puts me above average on energy consumption. I thought, on my drive to school, about the fact that I try: I've recycled for the past three years, I drive a small car, and I try to eat locally and organic, and I quit smoking. What about people who don't even care at all? How would they fare on Al Gore's calculator? Most people don't think about their environmental footprint at all. I'm not trying to say that I'm better than them because I do, I'm really just thinking about our society and its priorities. What are people supposed to think when their president tells them it's patriotic to buy a Hummer? Then you have the car companies, who instead of concentrating on making small, economic cars are building enormous hybrid SUVs and then patting themselves on the back because these behemoths get the same milage as a large car. No one is preaching sacrifice. No one is requiring it. Shouldn't someone be setting an example?

It seems it's a long and lonely road for Al Gore.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Campaign for Real Food

To briefly explain the title of this blog, the phrase comes from the first episode of ST Deep Space Nine. Benjamin Sisko realises, through the guidance of the Wormhole Aliens (or Prophets, depending on your religious views), that he has been existing inside his head at the moment of his wife's death and has not been able to free himself of this restriction on his life. This blog and its title intends to act as a conscious step by me to live a life free from emotional restrictions tied irrationally to the past and move through the world with a determination to actively create positive situations and a healthy, enjoyable lifestyle on my own terms, while engaging in increased respect for others and for the environment.

For the past couple of weeks, following, perhaps predictably, a breakup, I've been making sweeping changes to my lifestyle, both in thought and in action. It occurred to me that I, a person who has read books like Fast Food Nation, Fatland, and You Are What You Eat, a person who knows the dangers, have for the past year, been treating my body less like a temple and more like a landfill. As I write, I am absorbing the absolute veracity of that statement. I had become lazy and relied on fast food increasingly more often. I ate at Arby's and Hardee's and McDonalds several times a week, when at one time in my life, I didn't eat at those places for years. They had become for me voids in the landscape where nothing existed except the physical exteriors of the buildings. I never considered the fare cooked inside, food filled with preservatives, chemicals, trace metals, and even plastics. And yet, during this past tumultuous year, I had allowed them to creep into my life and I found myself enjoying the Spicy Chicken Biscuit from Jack in the Box without a real consideration for what it actually is. Of course, over this past year, I've put on a disgusting amount of weight, a side-effect of this lazy, calorie-rich, nutrient-poor life.

These actions perpetuated a decline in my concern for my appearance and environment, which ultimately has eaten into my confidence the same way I ate my way through pounds of greasy fare. Last week I cut my hair, quit smoking, and decided to make some changes for good.

I pondered on my way to work today that if I continue to cut out fast food and unhealthy food from my diet and try to eat as naturally as possible, then what are the options available to me in approximately the same time as fast food on my way to work. Sadly, they are severely limited. I counted, amid the golden arches and red glowing cowboy hats, only one coffee/sandwich shop (Panera) and a grocery store that might provide healthy, natural, quick food. What is the state of the country (or perhaps only the region) if healthy, natural food is both difficult to find and prohibitively expensive? What has happened to us in the last century that we accept this state of affairs?

I do want to lose weight, but I'm not prepared either to eat chemically altered low-fat food or foods in which the fat has merely been replaced by sugar. If I'm going to do this, then I'm going to do it right. I'm giving up white flour and white grains, well at least severely limiting them as much as possible. At one time, this would have been a huge sacrifice for me, but lately I've found whole grains I like and a whole grain bread I really like too, and I've realised that they do fill you up much more substantially. Saving calories on things like that has allowed me to drink a couple of glasses of wine and enjoy some dark chocolate when I feel like it. I've also given up sodas and started drinking fizzy water and occasionally juice instead. I'm experimenting with different foods so I can experience a whole new way of eating and won't be bored. I've eaten bulgar wheat and wheat berries and brown rice in the past couple of weeks and thoroughly enjoyed them. I'm still eating butter and olive oil and eggs and almond butter and the occasional steak. I'm just trying to be judicious instead of allowing myself to eat any old crap that's quick, cheap, and easy, because ultimately if that's how you eat, that's how you end up feeling. I agree with the adage, "you are what you eat."