Thanksgiving 2015: Don't be S.A.D.

Killing Ourselves (slowly) with Our Knives and Forks

By Don's Early Light, Donald J. Brix, Ph.D.

Thanksgiving Thursday, November 27th, Breakfast, Drury Inn, Joplin, Missouri. Piggin’ out on rolled oats. A darling, maybe 10 year old, girl heads for a table to join her family, taking care to not drop or spill her food. Like the old song says, “it’s a wonderful sight when the family unites.”

A steaming bowl of oats, a box of almond milk, topped with some chopped dates, a sprinkle of walnut pieces, a banana, and an orange. That’s breakfast. Pretty healthful stuff. Problem is, that’s what I’m eatin’. The girl’s plate isn’t my sissy food but rather the embodiment of the larrupin’ good standard American diet (SAD). She was having scrambled eggs, a sausage patty, a biscuit with gravy and a doughnut. 

What evil could possibly lurk in food that tastes so good and is so comfortably familiar? The Shadow knows and so do I. You probably know too, but in case not, it’s you’re lucky day ‘cause I’m gonna tell ya. The unsuspecting child was about to take on an ample load of animal fat, sugar, salt and cholesterol. The latter from “nature’s perfect food,” the egg. But this meal isn’t just one of excess. There’s a deficit here too. So, what’s missing? Well it’s FIBER. Natural born enemy of colon cancer, etc. Hardly enough in her breakie to bother counting.

But Brix, you curmudgeon, let up, it’s Thanksgiving for goodness sake. Feast day! Okay, but the rub is, the youngster’s breakfast tomorrow, coupled with similar meals day in, day out for weeks, and months, and years will almost surely, eventually make this innocent child sick and fat. Her chances of developing one of the “diseases of affluence” will be markedly increased. These are the diseases from which most Americans die, and all too frequently they die only following years of dependence on outrageously costly drugs, drastically compromised health and outright disability. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer (colo-rectal, breast, prostate), various autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, kidney disease is but an incomplete list of ailments that are linked in varying degrees to the high fat, high sugar, high salt, animal-based Western diet. 

Adopting a low-fat, plant-based diet too demanding though, too drastic, too weird? Drastic? How ‘bout having your chest split open to temporarily rescue your vascular system, or you watch helplessly as a wound that won’t heal gives new and personal meaning to the word diabetes, or you’re wheelchair bound with an arm or hand gnarled from the sequela of a stroke. Pretty “drastic” stuff compared to a benign plateful of healthful starches and colorful vegetables. Think about it.


A year or so ago Consumer Reports told us that rice, due to growing largely submerged in water, is unusually proficient at absorbing adventitious arsenic from its growing environment. Making matters worse, brown rice has more of the poison than does white rice. This is because the arsenic is concentrated in the otherwise health promoting outer bran layer which is removed to turn brown rice into white. When this is done, it removes a substantial load of arsenic.

This is bad news to those of us who buy brown rice in 15 – 20 pound lots and hose it down like candy. The FDA has reported that arsenic levels are too low to be of immediate or short-term concern. The long-term question remains open, and the FDA’s work going forward will focus on how long it’ll take the stuff to kill us. 

Here’s what one can do to reduce the toxicity level of brown rice. Thailand and India are typically mentioned as sources of rice with the lowest levels of arsenic. Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, and Texas generally have higher levels than rice from other areas. I’ll continue to use brown jasmine rice which I buy at an Asian food store. Expert opinion suggests rinsing at least a full minute before cooking. Cook in 6:1 water to rice ratio. When done, drain and thoroughly rinse again. Consider alternatives, e.g., quinoa, millet (yuck!).


Though I know and appreciate that there are individual factors in each person's life that can present real impediments to giving up all animal foods and cooking oils, notwithstanding, I’ve become increasingly convinced that there are few, if any, overwhelming reasons for one to continue to eat in a way that supports the cruel travesty of factory farming of sentient creatures, wreaks havoc on the environment, and, sooner or later, engenders grave health problems in most human beings.


“Oh I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener, for that is what I’d really like to be. For if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener, everyone would be in love with me.” Sound familiar?  An example of how our “friends” in the food business convince children that nothing could be more fun that eating junk food. 

Good eatin’, Don

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