Book Heaven

Where the world of books and life intersect

Location: South Amboy, New Jersey

I am deeply involved in trying to solve the discrepancy between being interested in zen and trying to acquire all the things I've been accumulating

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

No Fat Please, We're New Yorkers

As a certified health nut and medical info junkie, I had long ago banished trans-fats from my diet. This of course did not prevent me from gleefully watching the battle going on in New York as they sought to protect the willpower-less from the dreaded artery clogging goo. Believing as I do in absolute freedom, it was a bit hard for me to fall in with those who would seek to impose their dietary beliefs on others. On the other side of the coin though, don’t we have an obligation to try to minimize unnecessary procedures in this age of insanely skyrocketing medical costs? If you forsook trans-fats, wouldn’t there be a great health care savings as the need for angioplasties and coronary bypass operations was greatly reduced?

Well, maybe not. According to something I read in Medicine By Design by Fen Montaigne (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006), the cost of health care is related to the length of your life – the longer you live, the more health care cost you’re going to ring up. Banning trans-fats may actually increase health care costs in the long run.

Just as I was pondering this new line of thinking, I ran across a couple of interesting books. In Satisfaction Guaranteed: The Making of the American Mass Market by Susan Strasser (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989), an entire chapter is devoted to the development of the "wonder product" Crisco. In a 1915 ad for the product, we learn that many physicians are "personally recommending it to their patients" and that it has "great nutritive value." No sooner had I read this than I came across a book entitled Twinkie Deconstructed by Steve Ettlinger (Hudson Street Press, pub date March 2007). There is a chapter in the book entitled "Consider the Twinkie" but I really don’t have to read it. I have a friend that used to be involved in the manufacture of Twinkies and I learned all I ever needed to know about Twinkies from him.
Maybe I’ll feel a little bit better after I read Brian Frazer’s Hyper-Chondriac (Atria Books, pub date March 2007). This really sounds like my kind of book:

I’m a hyper-chondriac. My prescription? Whatever you’ve got. And quickly, please. I’m in a hurry." With those words, Brian Frazer strikes the keynote for his quixotic quest for total wellness – a seemingly paradoxical goal for a young man who doesn’t smoke, rarely drinks and never misses an opportunity to floss.

Kind of sounds like somebody I know quite well. Except for that young man part.