I just came back from visiting my folks on the Jersey shore. The water was pristine and the weather was great. While I was there, I was thinking about how when I was a kid in the 60s, they used to run trucks up the highway spraying DDT, and they used to pump sewage directly into the Barnegat Bay. As a result there were no birds, there were signs prohibiting eating any shellfish caught in the area, and the water always had a slick, oily feel to it. It was like a toxic waste dump.
These days, the environment seems to have recovered somewhat. Its been decades since they installed a sanitation system, discontinued pesticide use, and stopped dumping garbage into the ocean. The difference is remarkable, at least to me. For one thing, there are tons of bugs! But there are also many birds, and schools of fish are plainly visible on the many days when the water is clear. The beaches seem cleaner and even the air feels less choked with automobile fumes.
By the same token, when I was a kid, my food environment was equally toxic. I was reminded of this because thatís one area that has NOT been cleaned up at my familyís beach house. The cabinets are full of trans-fatty snacks, thereís nary a vegetable to be found, fruits are limited to rotting bananas and some sorry old grapes, and the meals are laden with fats, refined sugars, sodium and calories.
In spite of myself, I fell head first (and mouth open) into that particular vat of chemicals over the weekend. From the second I walked in the door, I was suddenly downing all kinds of foods that I never keep around my own house (donuts, cookies, ice cream, pastries, candies, crackers, full-fat dairy products, etc.). And like the Jersey shore of old, I found myself feeling queasy, and had kind of a slick, oily sensation!
Flying back to California, having scarfed down in three days the amout of calories I normally would spread out over several weeks, I spent a lot of time thinking about why and how this all happened. On the one hand, I take full responsibility for all of my food choices. On the other, its clear to me that an unhealthy pattern of eating, established early in my life, took hold in a fairly fundamental way.
Iím not sure if it will take decades of clean living for my healthier environment to prevail. Thatís a long time and Iím not the worldís most patient person. At the same time, its pretty obvious that the long-term offers either health or sickness and every step I can take today will have an impact in the future.
For now, Iím relieved to be home in a house full of organic veggies, fresh fruits, lean meats, healthy snacks and Ďcleaní cabinets. I can almost feel my arteries unclogging.