Letter to the editor of the AZ Republic March 30th, 2020 (limited to 200 words and 1200 characters)
During the coronavirus pandemic, there have been tons of stories of people freaking out when they can’t get their eggs, milk or meat at their local grocery store. They should consider themselves lucky. Many of these “staples” are just the sort of carcinogenic, inflammatory and mucus-generating foods that should be avoided, more so under the current circumstances.
Diabetics are at particular risk, and a third of Americans are diabetic or pre-diabetic. World-renowned Chef Jason Wyrick from Casa Terra in Glendale reversed his own diabetes by changing his diet, and harnessing the power of plants for health. Long before the pandemic he started “The Vegan Taste” to deliver delicious and healthy food directly to Valley residents. This is what we should be celebrating, not sugar, salt and booze-laden margaritas from a drive-through.
And while we are at it, we should stop slagging China about their wet markets with bats and civet cats and bear bile. There are plenty of factory farms across Arizona and the US where chickens, pigs and cows are packed like sardines in barely more humane conditions, and incubating the next bug that could jump to humans. The next bird flu, swine fever, and mad cow disease anyone?
Valerie and I have been talking a lot about fear. Certainly there is a lot of fear and anxiety in the world today. The question seems to be can we muster the bravery and willpower it takes to push through it? Or as Valerie wisely put it, can we allow ourselves to be curious about the origin of these “gut feelings”? A willingness to be curious about our difficult thoughts and feelings is a form of bravery.
When we have a pantry full (or perhaps even overfull) of food, why does the appearance of an empty grocery store shelf freak us out? A curious examination might remind us of earlier times in our lives when we were deprived (or felt deprived). Maybe we remember admonishments from parents or grandparents who lived through war and depression. Or we might even reflect on epigenetics – the stresses our parents experienced may end up baked into our DNA or its expression in how we cope with triggers in our own lives. Even if solutions to our problems elude us in the moment, new perspectives open up new possibilities for healing.
On the topic of curiosity, it features prominently in this excerpt from one of Walt Whitman’s most famous poems. Apropos of our times, of all times, it closes out this brief piece:
Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” Chapter 4 (First published as an unnamed poem in Leaves of Grass in 1855).
Trippers and askers surround me,
People I meet, the effect upon me of my early life or the ward and city I
live in, or the nation,
The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies, authors old and new,
My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, dues,
The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I love,
The sickness of one of my folks or of myself, or ill-doing or loss or lack
of money, or depressions or exaltations,
Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of doubtful news, the
These come to me days and nights and go from me again,
But they are not the Me myself.
Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am,
Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary,
Looks down, is erect, or bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest,
Looking with side-curved head curious what will come next,
Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it.
Backward I see in my own days where I sweated through fog with
linguists and contenders,
I have no mockings or arguments, I witness and wait.