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August 27 2015
Richard Wrangham in his book “Catching Fire” describes the relationship between cooking and nutrition. Cooking does a job that metabolism would otherwise have to do. It breaks down protein molecules of meat and gelatinizes vegetable starch.
Anyone privileged to walk through a cattle feed lot has probably noticed a rich brown cowpie with a golden kernel of corn resting on top like a cherry sitting atop a chocolate sundae. That kernel has passed through the complex bovine gastric system without having been absorbed, even though considerable energy was spent trying to do so.
Likewise bites of potato eaten raw might pass through the human digestive system unscathed like that kernel of corn. That’s why cattle feeders grind corn to aid digestion. Or a mash might be cooked. A 1669 recipe recommended that ground wheat or oats be “boiled in water for cattle to eat.”
Wrangman discusses macronutrients like carbohydrates and proteins, but he barely acknowledges micronutrients like vitamins. Nor is there mention of minerals like calcium, phosphorus, potassium or iron, necessary for human growth and organ function.
It is as if he is describing the operation of an automobile exclusively in terms of energy. Horsepower, speed, and miles per gallon. There would be no mention of lubricants like motor oil or transmission fluid. Wrangham seems to regard fiber as unnecessary, even detrimental, because it requires so much energy to digest that it wastes calories. And in his perspective calories are all important.
Cooking, according to Charles Darwin, has been man’s most important invention after language. It has affected human development in many ways—from larger brain size to smaller teeth and intestines. Wrangham regards cooking as always beneficial. But body maintenance also needs to be considered. Raw spinach contains far more potassium than cooked.
Wrangham writes about hunting and gathering people, so he should think highly of the parties who go mushrooming in spring. Mushrooms are a source of phosphorus, potassium and many vitamins. But since they contain few calories, Wrangham might think eating them would be a waste of energy.
His study of hunting and gathering societies existing today is illuminating. It shows how modern man has developed. But 99% of mankind has evolved from hunting and gathering. We have experienced the agricultural revolution.
Agriculture has brought a larger and more varied food supply. It has almost eliminated famine except in Africa or the Asian sub-continent. The invention of agriculture is only 10,000 years old, barely a tick in the evolutionary clock. It is quite possible Homo Sapiens is undergoing physiological changes in becoming Homo Agricolus. We are growing larger.
Wrangham says that hunting and gathering caused a division in labor between male and female. He does acknowledge that “urban marriages often share the cooking. Especially when there are two hunters, that is salary people. But he makes no mention of single-parent families where the female is both hunter (wage earner) and gatherer (shopper).
When she corrals her offspring at the end of day, she is too tired to cook. So she takes a frozen pizza from the fridge. Or if she has money, she might take her children to McDonald’s. Thus the obesity of America.
August 27 2015
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August 27 2015Some Class Reunion Reflections
IN LATE SPRING 1960, Bob Gaston wrote the following in my Bloomington High School yearbook: “Best of luck to a cool stud. See ya around later. ‘Bebop.’”
“Bebop” was Bob’s nickname back then. Still is, to some old classmates. He was an excellent singer and may have had dreams of a record contract for all I know. I’ve never talked to him about that.
He served 20 years in the navy, then retired and spent several years working for the county clerk of the circuit court in Tampa, Florida, before he retired again. That’s where he still resides. He used to play a lot of golf but now plays much less and always uses a cart.
In high school, he was on the golf team and was (I would guess) the only African American on a high school golf team across Central Illinois. At last Saturday’s 55 year reunion of the BHS class of 1960, I asked him how he got his start playing the “white man’s” game.
“When I was 13 or 14 years old,” he told me, “I was caddying at Bloomington Country Club. Mondays were ‘caddy days’ when the caddies got to play. That’s where I got hooked. I wasn’t the best player on the high school team, but I did letter.”
Whenever we have a class reunion, Bob, urged on by classmates, sings a few songs after dinner. This year, working a capella as usual, he blessed us with “Misty,” the Johnny Mathis hit, “On the street where you live” from My Fair Lady, and finished up with the Nat King Cole classic, “Nature Boy.” That’s the staple; we always expect to hear him sing it.
Here’s why: In the spring of our senior year, there was an assembly in the school auditorium. He sang “Nature Boy” that day and the applause was so long and spirited he was prompted to perform an encore. Bob has told me in the past he doesn’t remember that event, but I sure do and I’m not alone.
I GUESS I’m not surprised Bob doesn’t recall his encore moment in high school. 55 years can dim the memory bank. Some people have still-vivid memories of specific moments that others have long forgotten. It could be a particular play on the football field, a choral performance, or a memory of a one-time controversy.
I have a clear memory of one of those. It happened in September, 1959, in our brand new cafeteria in our brand new school. The current BHS building opened in the fall of that year, making our class the first to graduate there.
Those of us who were seniors sat in the cafeteria as candidates for class offices gave their campaign speeches. Everything was pretty boring and predictable until Phil “Yogi” Bare, a popular thespian and candidate for class president, rose to speak.
He opened his speech with two rather colorful similes: “Some people say a speech is like a baby,” he said. “Easy to conceive but hard to deliver. Others say it’s like a steer’s horns—a point here, a point there, and a lot of bull in between.”
The loud guffaws spread across the room, particularly among the males, but the principal was not amused. He ordered Phil to sit down. “Young man,” he said, loud enough for many of us to hear, “your speech is over. Sit down.” He did so, but with a crestfallen demeanor. Immediately, the cafeteria fell into an uncomfortable, queasy silence.
After all the speechmaking was concluded, I made a clumsy attempt to console Phil. He told me those two one-liners were his only attempts at humor; the rest of his speech was just some standard “why you should vote for me” clichés.
OUR REUNION was held in the Marriott in uptown Normal. We had a nice buffet. The attendance was much smaller than that of our 50 year reunion in 2010. No surprise there.
Amid the talk of recent classmate deaths, health issues, competent and incompetent doctors, right meds and wrong, surgeries completed and surgeries to come, canes, walkers, and oxygen tanks, I shared the two memories with my table mates. Some remembered, while others didn’t. Or remembered only vaguely, not nearly in the detail I did. Some recalled memories I had forgotten.
I couldn’t help reflecting on the collection of memories so clear to some and so long forgotten by others. How different are the folders in our memory files!
In 2020, I’m sure we will have a 60 year reunion. How many will show up for that? Many of our class have already passed on. The current life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.8 years. Those of us in the class of ’60 were born in 1942; time is not on our side
Labor Day is beginning of the lawn care year
If you need to renovate your lawn, now is the time to do it. Every thing done in the fall will have direct bearing on the lawn appearance next summer. If you leave clippings on the ground when you mow, you are returning nutrients to the soil, If you need to fertilize, the September application is the most important. The roots of the turf grass and trees do most of their growing in the fall and early winter. The grass has been under a lot of stress from the heat and lack of rain
By mowing at 3 inches, the blades of grass can shade the soil and keep the roots cooler. Also the longer blades will have more area to absorb the nutrients from the sun. Grass also reduces pollution and removes carbon dioxide from the air and replaces it with oxygen.
The broadleaf weeds are storing nutrients for next years growth, therefore they will absorb herbicides more readily. So now would be a good time to apply weed-killer. The ideal time to apply time released crabgrass control, is in the spring when the forsythia is in bloom. A weed killer that contains dicamba seems to help eliminate Creep Charlie, but you will probably need to apply it spring and fall for a couple of years. As always, follow the directions on the container.
It is also time to cut off your peonies and destroy the tops. You can cut them to the ground.
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The Rest is Still Unrwritten
by John Colclasure of Lexington
August 27 2015
It has become a weekly ritual of watching and “listening” to Mrs. C’s in her continual quest of sorting, emptying; sorting and emptying, sorting and emptying 51 years of accumulated “junk.” She is determined to complete her goal of organizing and properly storing only the stuff that is deemed worthy of a brand new tote. Properly labeled of course. My role, in addition to being supportive and enthusiastically-interested, is usually limited to collecting and viewing photos, recordings and writings of those same 51 years. Recently, she came across some photos of Grandpa and Grandma Lee, and my mother in a scene that appears to be the old homestead in rural Heyworth, Illinois. I had been looking for a photo of Granny Lee ever since Dave at the Normalite requested a photo of Granny Lee in an article (“Memories of Granny”) published in May/2015.
Yes, there they were, Grandpa and Granny Lee seated and my mother, Nadean, standing alongside. In the background, a corncrib can be seen with the grain elevator leading into the crib. At least as far as I can tell with these feeble eyes of mine. Upon closer examination, with a magnifying glass of course, I can tell that neither my mother nor Granny Lee is wearing an apron. Granny almost always wore an apron, if only to protect the dress she wore underneath, because it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and aprons used less material and often served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven. Besides, Granny most likely had fewer dresses than the housewives of today.
As a matter of fact, aprons have been around for a long, long time. Some have said that the apron had its origin in the Garden of Eden (“And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons” (KJV) Somehow I can’t see Granny Lee wearing a “loincloth” or simply a covering, so we will stick with an apron.
As I said she normally wore one and with large pockets. I especially recall those pockets where she kept candy for the kids and herself as well. Always had those circus peanuts and of course some sort of hard candy. Usually those cellophane wrapped butterscotch ones. But there are so many uses for those aprons worn by our mothers and grandmothers and frankly, I don’t know if our kids know what an apron is. Remember “Grandma’s Apron” (author unknown) “It was wonderful for drying children’s tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.
From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven. When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids. And when the weather was cold grandma wrapped it around her arms. Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over a hot wood stove. Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.
From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables and after the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls. In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees. Or when unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds. When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men-folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.
It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that ‘old-time apron’ that served so many purposes.” I bet the politically correct would go crazy trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron. I don’t think I ever caught anything from an apron - but love
Till next time…john
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