Yup, that’s a gnarly proposition, one worthy of the Emmaus Burger King, but the thing is, if Chelsea Handler does that, the brown rice will still be brown. In fact, it’ll be even browner than before. The relevance of this disgusting introduction is explained below.

If I were less scrupulous and could tell more convincing lies, I just might go into business as a writer and publisher of rubbish about health foods. You know, the kind of unprocessed and semiprocessed foods that any reasonable person would always eat given half a chance because things like refined flours are so totally devoid of nutritional value that they’ll kill you if you let them. This is a lucrative sort of publishing, especially when it’s done by, say, Oprah, but really, it’s an easy sell in any sort of publication that promises women panaceas to become fit, trim and sexy.

Speaking of which, here’s a quick tutorial for men and women alike on how to become fit, trim and sexy:

Step 1: Don’t be a lazy bum. Get off your ass and get some exercise. If you don’t have any muscle tone, lift some weights. That’s you too, ladies.

Step 2: Enjoy eating shit like Spicy Bites slathered in mayonnaise, deep fried artichoke hearts slathered in mayonnaise (an aioli might be nice, but Castroville isn’t an aioli town), Panda Express, and Bon Appetit blueberry cream danishes? Get some more exercise yet. I didn’t have to think hard to come up with those examples, so if I’m a fat-ass, I know why.

Note: If you have gastric motility, meaning that you don’t have to go to the ER because you can’t shit, no long-term dead weight is hiding out in your intestines. None. It ain’t there. It either gets absorbed by the gut or passed along. It’s inexorable. Here’s a riddle: if thin people have gastrointestinal tracts and regular bowel movements, and if fat people also have gastrointestinal tracts and regular bowel movements, where, then, is the extra weight being stored? Might some of it be in their copious layers of fat? I reckon so. High colonics hucksters, on the other hand, don’t reckon so, because they reckon that such reckoning would be bad for business.

This too shall pass, and it came to pass. Unless it didn’t come to pass and was surgically removed to free up the primary route of egress. First World Problem, First World Solution. Caveat: if you’ve had a bowel movement in the past week or feel any sort of rumbling preparatory to a bowel movement, don’t ask your doctor if surgical excision of your feces is right for you. If you do, your doctor has my permission to give you a whack on the head for being an idiot.

(It’s too bad that the fat doesn’t contain enough estrogen to reverse male-pattern baldness, but that can be remedied with a combover (maybe; hope springs eternal) or a toupee. See the Lawrence Welk Show and James Traficant for ideas. If corsets, makeup and steroids worked for John Kennedy, they might give a boost to your vigah, too. You definitely want to be man enough to put on some foundation and a subtle mascara when it’s time to dress to impress, or they won’t have old Dick Nixon to kick around any more.)


Actually, there were only two steps, but since we were on the topic, I threw in Step 3 as a general public service announcement. The reform that we truly need, unfortunately, isn’t for Jamie Lee Curtis to shut up, but for the public not to believe in such things as colon-balancing laxative yogurts. Lord have mercy.

You didn’t even have to pay for any of that. It was free advice. Of course, you may have read what I had to say about “free content” a few days ago, a steaming pile of doodoo being about what it’s worth. However, If I do say so myself, I’ll be able to demonstrate that I’m reasonably well qualified to discuss these subjects, having taken college-level human anatomy, physiology and microbiology courses and paid some attention to them.

That doesn’t mean that you have to believe me just because what I’m summarizing is rigorous, peer-reviewed science, while Activia and Philips Colon Health Probiotic bacterial pills aren’t exactly. See, this here is a free country, and just as advertisers have the right to say whatever they want about their products (mostly, but their lawyers know the details, so it’s all good), you have the right to believe whatever you want about the bullshit advertised on television or promoted by your favorite quack psychologist. Furthermore, you have a right as a citizen to compel its instruction in the public schools. Yet another set of articles for the Opposing Viewpoints series: “If you eat it and it’s good for you, your tummy will absorb it intact and make you totally healthy” vs. “Do y’all even know about hydrochloric acid?”

Alien Aunt is rather taken with high colonics because she likes the idea of quick fixes for weight loss. She considers exercise a spectator sport. Once, when I snickered cynically at the blatant product placement in “The Biggest Loser,” she told me, “Hush, I love that show.” It isn’t exactly a class act to tell someone to shut up for criticizing a television show whose plot is centered around thin people yelling at fat people until they lose weight, with the ultimate goal of persuading the peanut gallery to buy overpriced cereals, especially if you’re binging on cookies all hour long, but I had violated first principles of Alien Aunt’s, including reverence for hackneyed television and get-rich/thin/otherwise perfect-quick schemes. Alien Aunt is a very pious Evangelical, but I wouldn’t have offended her a whole lot more by saying, “You know, that Jesus character? Sounds like a fraud and a nut to me.”

That said, Alien Aunt’s nuttery doesn’t particularly bother me because she doesn’t really impose it on other people. It helps that I’ve only watched TV with her a handful of times. Still, it’s a small but very real mercy that she doesn’t make other people take part in her half-cocked health panaceas. As a 29-year-old who can damn well feed himself, I appreciate that.

Stoner Aunt has a lesser appreciation for the self-determination of what I put into my mouth. Stoner Aunt is Farmer Uncle’s wife and the household health scold. She, much more than Farmer Uncle, has absorbed various sorts of nuttery that are popular in Ashland: Daniel Amen’s brain-scanning quackery, neurolinguistic programming, energy fields, and, of course, whole food zealotry.

Stoner Aunt’s main objection to white grains and flours is that they’re “just sugar” and can’t be properly digested. No, they aren’t, and yes, they can. The starches in white grains and flours are exactly the same complex carbohydrates that are found in their unrefined counterparts; sugars are digested much more quickly because they’re simple carbohydrates, with fewer chemical bonds that need to be broken. That’s all there is to it, unless you want to play Devil’s Advocate in “Gasoline: careful, or it’ll blow up” vs. “Gasoline: finally, a low-volatility alternative to diesel.”

In point of fact, white grains are more completely digestible than whole grains because most of their fiber has been removed. Fiber is by definition indigestible by humans. That’s why it makes us shit; our guts can’t derive any sustenance from it, so they push it on down the pipe, along with useless and toxic wastes and some residual nutrients and calories that the GI tract missed. Maintaining intestinal motility is important, but it’s different from digestion, and it’s different from absorbing the extra vitamins and minerals (but not a whole lot of them) that are present in whole grains but missing from refined grains. Just because these things are important to good health and involve the same organs doesn’t mean that they’re the same thing. I know, I’ve gone over the heads of Ashlanders by a mile, but these are distinctions worth keeping in mind if you’d rather not make an ass of yourself.

The reasoning used by some of these health food fanatics is equivalent to declaring menstruation and childbirth to be the same thing because each involves the expulsion of something from the uterus through the vagina. What’s missing is the definition of “something.” That isn’t as odd an analogy as it may sound: I haven’t heard Stoner Aunt express agreement with this particular idiocy, but there’s a lot of currency in Ashland for the notion that refined grains upset the body by lowering its pH, one of the alleged side effects being vaginal yeast infections. As someone who is familiar with pH buffering by the GI tract, lungs and kidneys, methinks not so much, but that’s open to debate. Also open for debate: “Trees: an effective way to sequester carbon and produce atmospheric oxygen” vs. “Trees: if it weren’t for the damn things, we’d be able to breathe.”

One of the most bizarre things about Stoner Aunt’s understanding of nutrition is that she often conceives of it exclusively in terms of crude colors. Last night, she cooked a delicious pan of Avery Island shrimp, then proceeded to carry on about how she had added some spinach because “I wanted some green. Otherwise it would have been all brown.” I could barely taste the spinach, but the complaining about horrible “brown” foods was as distasteful as ever.

“Brown” isn’t so much a descriptor for Stoner Aunt as a derogatory epithet. She even complained about “all that awful brown food” at Grandma’s memorial service. Grandma’s friends were mostly church ladies, and a few gentlemen, of a rather Midwestern sensibility, so they very much enjoyed the brown spread, most of which was in fact closer to white or tan.

It turns out that I like me some ambrosia now and then, too. And all the deep-fried crap that I listed several paragraphs above. And an occasional loaf of Safeway sourdough or jalapeno cheddar fougasse, both of which are whiter than Will Ferrell. And an Arco barbecue pork scrap sandwich with a hot chocolate fresh out of the machine, or maybe a Whopper meal. And Mexican food.

Stoner Aunt routinely criticizes me and Farmer Uncle, and not in the most pleasant tone, for enjoying this stuff. A few days ago, I got into trouble with her for comparing some hash browns that she had made to a cowboy skillet that I’d had at Denny’s. In no way did I mean it as backhanded praise; the cowboy skillet was a delicious pile of steak, onions, peppers, cheddar and barbecue sauce with a side of fries for only $8. Stoner Aunt, however, prejudicially assumes that Denny’s serves nothing but crap, and evidently that I have poor taste for freely choosing to eat at such an awful place. Denny’s is obviously the sort of place that serves brown food, including a lot of white (but not brown) grains. (Don’t even try to understand the reasoning. You won’t.) We must be a bunch of ass-backwards, tasteless Republican cretins who don’t care about our own health to frequent that joint.

Here’s another riddle: if healthy vegetables have bright colors and if starches are, for lack of a better term, brown, and if sauerkraut is also, for lack of a better term, brown, is sauerkraut then a vegetable or a starch? I won’t spoil the ending for you.

I dare say we have some medieval thinking in these parts.

I don’t bitch a tenth as much about the puritan hippie whole foods that Stoner Aunt makes us eat as Stoner Aunt does about the junk foods, alleged and genuine, that Farmer Uncle and I feed ourselves. Not that the latter business is anyone’s but ours, although Stoner Aunt might disagree. If nothing else gives her standing to snark at her husband for eating things that she finds contemptible, he’s married to her, and he’s fatter than she figures he ought to be. Way to drag me into insipid marital disputes again. ‘Tain’t the first time.

But I’m not married to her. In fact, I’m not married to anyone at all. So why am I party to that wretchedness? It has something to do with boundary incursions. I’d prefer to hold fast to the 49th parallel, so to speak, while Stoner Aunt’s motto is, to understate things, 54’40” or fight. Maybe the fundamental problem is that I enjoy discord even less than the average Canadian does. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that discord doesn’t enjoy me.

And since I’m not married, a brief shout out to all the single ladies: Denny’s tonight?