December 29, 2000 (Ira Pilgrim)


Lunchtime. My momma used to pack those tongue sandwiches. And I couldn't eat them tongue sandwiches. I couldn't eat tongue. I couldn't eat nothing that came out of an animal's mouth. I had too much class. My favorite was egg sandwiches.

Larry Storch

Hardly a day goes by when you don't hear something about what to eat and what not to eat. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are good for you and fat and cholesterol isn't. Meat, milk or eggs can be good for you or not, depending on who is doing the talking. What is good for you or not good for you comes and goes as food fads, which change every few years or so.

It should be obvious that not eating food that contains essential vitamins could give you a vitamin deficiency disease and not eating enough food results in starvation and sometimes death. Beyond that, I take everything that I hear about diet with a grain of salt. This, even though there was a time when a grain of salt was considered bad for you. To quote the doctor, in army basic training, who taught us about heat exhaustion, "If you don't give that man salt, he's going to die."

Man has evolved over a long period of time in various parts of the world having different climates and different food supplies. We know that different races and ethnic groups have different skin colors, different heights and weights, different hair colors; some have curly hair, some straight and some kinky. In Africa, you can often tell which tribe a man comes from by looking at him. I think that we can also assume that different groups are adapted to different diets. The diet that is best for an Eskimo is not likely to be the best one for an Italian or Zulu. Someone from middle Europe on an Eskimo diet would probably end up very very fat, while an Eskimo on a African diet might freeze to death and/or starve.

How did these differences come to be? They came to be in the same way that all characteristics came to be, by a process of mutation and natural selection. People with the genes best suited to a particular environment continue into subsequent generations, while genes that are not suited to the environment tend to drop out because the people who carry them tended to die young. An example of this is a gene, or genes, for putting on weight rapidly. This gene is very suited to cultures that have to endure occasional famines. Fat people will naturally live longer without food than will skinny people. As a consequence, people in central Europe often have these genes. Along with the ability to put on fat rapidly, the gene is also a gene for late onset(type 2) diabetes. It should also be obvious that when the environment no longer poses any danger of starvation, that the gene for putting on weight and developing diabetes is a decided handicap. A person with the genes for putting on fat easily has a problem in America. However, without that problem he probably wouldn't be here at all since all of his antecedents would have died of starvation.

There are a variety of heredity anemias (sickle cell anemia, Mediterranean anemia) that occur in malaria ridden areas. Having one gene confers immunity to malaria. Having two (homozygous) confers anemia and early death. Having none often means early death from malaria. In other words, the gene for sickle cell anemia has a great advantage in tropical Africa and is a handicap in the US.

Yet, despite what we know about individual and ethnic differences, everything that we hear and read, without exception, treats human diets as if all people are the same. What is good for a Swede is the same as what is good for an African and so on. That is pure baloney, as is so much that is fed to the American public. I don't consider a diet of baloney to be particularly good for anyone, no matter what their ethnic background happens to be.

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