Saturday, September 1, 2007


Women's Health has a recent article with a guide to the 100 Best Packaged Foods For Women. They state these will "fight disease and stop weight gain before it starts". I find both of these claims dubious (eating healthy will not necessarily mean you are not fat, fat is a naturally occurring body type) and these foods have no special claim for women vs. men or children. However, I do agree that for packaged foods, these knock the socks off other choices.

For those of us who cannot make things from scratch (including those of us who are disabled and can't keep fresh ingredients on hand all the time), these choices will make a huge difference. An ex of mine long ago taught me that whole grains are simply where it's at, in terms of your diet -- well worth any small extra cost, they give you energy and fiber without glucose spikes. All the "carb-free" bullshit is really about the benefits of eliminating white flour and processed grains from your diet. Here's the best way to tell if something is whole grain: Read the ingredients! If the FIRST ingredient is not "whole grain flour" or "brown rice" or another whole grain, then it ain't whole grain, move on to the next product. Also, if they feel the need to "enrich" it or add back in things like wheat germ, then it's been messed with in ways your body may not find optimal.

And these days, whole grain is very tasty. Brown rice leaves you feeling satisfied. Real bread makes a sandwich an entire meal. Go check out this website, make a list for yourself and, especially, your kids, and don't allow anything else in the house. I was a Wonder-Bread kind of girl before I made the switch, and honey, my cholesterol (despite eating red meat and pork whenever I want, lots of dairy, and having a strong family history for hypercholesterolemia) is always under 180. If I can learn to love these foods, you can too.

(Photo of Lorraine Barr by Amanda Friedman for Newsweek)

In a Newsweek "My Turn" essay titled The Love That Will Finally Speak Its Name, 88-year-old Lorraine Barr comes out, stating "Finally, after almost nine years since my beloved partner's death, I am able to do what I could never have braved in earlier years: pre-sent myself herewith to the world as a lesbian, along with all the women who ask to be judged by the full facet of our characters." Check out the photo of her -- she's a beauty.

(Roppingi Spider by Louise Bourgeouis)

Last summer, it was gigantic wasp nests filling entire barns and abandoned vehicles, with as many as 100,000 workers (compared to the usual 3000 for a formerly "large" nest) and multiple queens. In my own anecdotal way, I've noticed the yellow jacket constructions on my patio are bigger every year, and this year's has so many amazons they stud the boarding around it, unable to find a hold-fast on the nest itself. I've worked hard to overcome my fear of bees and wasps, inculcated in me by having two extremely allergic brothers and a consequently phobic mother. These matriarchies do only good in the world, and wasps in particular are first-class predators when it comes to other, less attractive insects. I send them good-will vibes whenever I go out my front door, and they leave me utterly alone.

But this summer, it's a ginormous spider web built cooperatively (almost unheard of) in a state park near Wills Point, Texas -- a park where I'm pretty sure I've camped. The female park ranger they interviewed on television said it was "beautiful", and I'll take her word for it. The guy who has to mow the grounds underneath the tree-filled webs was not as happy about it.

A photographer/blogger I know, Pam Isherwood in the UK, went to a London Zoo "Fear of Spiders" program last year to overcome her arachnophobia and wrote about it (with some great photos) at her website. I was and remain impressed. But I'm not sure it would be enough for her, with what we in Texas have conjured this summer.

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