I don’t know about the rest of you out there, but I’m suffering from what Julia Child called “Fear of Food.” She was referring to Americans’ avoidance of butter and all the other ingredients that make French food so good to eat, but it’s more serious than that.

I?m old enough to have seen many food fads come and go, most of them sincerely endorsed by doctors, who filled their pockets with money made by selling us books. First you were supposed to eat mostly protein, then you were supposed to eat mostly carbohydrates, now you are supposed to eat mostly protein again.

First calories counted, then only carbohydrates counted, now calories count again. Margarine was good, now it’s bad. Sugar was bad and Aspartame was great, but now Aspartame has been associated with brain tumors, so it’s back to sugar. Honey was good, but now it’s been traced to a few cases of botulism, so you can’t feed it to babies anymore.

Liquor was to be avoided, now we’re supposed to drink it (so I guess the news isn’t all bad).

Vitamins were supposed to supply us with the nutrients that modern food processing removed, except now we’re warned that too many vitamins can stimulate the production free radicals in our body, which cause cancer.

A few years ago, only vigorous, daily exercise that got your heart rate up to a specific rate, and kept it there for a certain amount of time, counted. Now, according to the experts, a stroll several times a week will do the trick. I wish they’d decided this before I blew out my knee playing racquetball.

But now it’s getting more serious. Fish was once considered to be better for us than meat, but now the world’s waters are so polluted that you’re not supposed to eat much of it. We’ve learned that poultry and cattle are fed antibiotics, meaning the drugs won’t work for us anymore, when we need them. When cows are fed the bone meal of other cattle, they can give us Mad Cow Disease, a fatal malady that slowly creeps up on us over the years and wrecks our brains.

We’ve found out that China imports food to the U.S. that has been fertilized with human waste, and that South America imports fruits and vegetables to us that have been sprayed with pesticides that are banned here. One of the few pesticides used by organic farmers has been associated with Parkinson’s disease.

Now we’re confronting the latest scare: Genfoods, which are genetically modified crops that have not been tested on human beings. Since they don’t have to be labeled in the U.S., it’s hard to tell which foods in our grocery aisles are the results of genetic experimentation and which are not.

Big business and big government assure us these foods are safe, but after all the contradictory advice we’ve received over the years, we can’t be blamed for feeling skeptical about their claims.

NOTE: This Diary entry, previously published on our old site, will have any links removed.

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