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Jewish World Review July 15, 2002 /6 Menachem-Av, 5762

Tom Purcell

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Consumer Reports

Patriot food | The battle over what we should eat is in the news again, but the news isn't so bad.

During the past week there have been some cover stories on the American diet. Time did a piece on vegetarianism and raised some questions as to whether this strict diet is good for us. The question: does a vegetable-only diet give us all the nutrients we need?

Then the New York Times outdid themselves. In a cover piece in the Times Magazine, they explored the claims of Dr. Atkins, my hero, and other folks who tell us that high-fat meat, eggs and cheese are good for us and that carbohydrates are the real cause of our chubbiness. The Times questioned the low-fat crowd and asked, "What if Atkins is right?"

And I'm delighted by this amazing turn of events.

You see, not long ago, Americans were confused about what to eat. This is because scientists had been contradicting themselves for years. First they told us alcohol is the Devil's brew, then they said that in moderation it prevents heart disease. Then they said we should eat margarine, but now they say margarine increases the risk of heart disease. Caffeine used to be bad for us, but now it's OK and actually increases our brain power.

And in addition to being confused about what to eat, we have been terrified. We've had the heck scared out of us by advocacy groups such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). These nuts suggested that theatre popcorn would bring gridlock to our arteries faster than the Democrats will bring it to Washington. They said deli sandwiches are so fattening, they'll make us look like Roseanne. They said creamy Italian dishes were a bigger threat than communism. And don't even get them started on the Atkins' meat and eggs diet.

But could these two cover stories last week, and other stories that have been trickling in, suggest America is finally loosening up in the food wars? To even suggest that Dr. Atkins might not be all wrong is a major turning point in our gastrointestinal history. To even suggest that meat might not be bad for us is the kind of thing that could have got you arrested a few years ago. But now even the Times is questioning that conventional wisdom.

That's why I think it's time to eat, America. In fact, we should eat the way we always knew how before the food zealots started yammering away - a basic diet of traditional American goodies. In fact, it is our patriotic duty to eat the way we always knew how.

Hey, we Americans are big, burly people because we've got a heritage of eating big hunks of beef. And if we're going to send the message to the world that we're no people to mess with, how are we going to do that if they catch us eating celery for supper?

No, we're meat eaters, America. And it is our patriotic duty to eat and be proud. To quote one rancher in the Time article: "If G-d didn't want us to eat animals, they why did he make them out of meat?"

So, in reverence to our heritage, here is what I suggest. For breakfast, fry up a six-egg omelet and fill it with bacon, ham, sausage and cheese. Wash it down with a quart of whole milk.

For lunch, I recommend a visit to the nearest barbecue stand, where you can find some delicious grilled burgers, chicken breasts and hot dogs, all of them saturated in melted American cheese.

As for dinner, you must visit one of the many steak houses that are popping up all over. Order up the Porterhouse extra medium-rare and follow it up with a pot of coffee, a fifth of cognac and a Winston-Churchill-sized cigar.

Snack time is also important. I highly recommend anything sitting on the hot rollers at your nearest 7/11. Even if the stuff has been sitting there for days, I assure you that once you smatter it with mustard and hot sauce, you'll experience one of the finest gastrointestinal experiences a human can know - in this world, anyhow.

I'm telling you, America, once we get back to the eating basics, everyone will be a lot happier - except for the food zealots. They're not going to be happy about this at all. And that's making me feel better already.

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06/28/02: Eavesdropping on a San Fran classroom
06/21/02: The crowded skies
06/14/02: Contemporary Father's Day: A conversation for the ages
06/07/02: Legal rights for animals?
05/19/02: Advice for prom goers this year: Hold onto your money
05/10/02: Don't take her for granted
05/03/02: Letter to the parents of a tubby teen
04/26/02: Zacarias Moussaoui gets expert legal advice

© 2002, Tom Purcell