combos
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I wouldn’t think I’d feel discounted by others over what I eat, though I’d expect it of what I read. Just the other day, I responded — aptly, I thought — to my wife’s charge of only wanting to read great art and not Gone Girl or Stephen King, no matter how popular, by pointing out her insistence at never wanting to consume a sandwich made by the Subway Fast Food Restaurant Company. On occasion, stranded in the city, I will partake of a foot-long tuna (not toasted) while she refuses to ingest the admittedly icky bread and plastic-tasting tomatoes and sweet peppers. Now what could ever be the difference here? One goes into the mind and the other the body, but they both touch spirit, which holds dominion over all organs. More… “On Eating Combos”

Greg Gerke’s fiction and non-fiction has appeared in Tin House, Film Quarterly, The Kenyon Review Online, Denver Quarterly, Quarterly West, Mississippi Review, The Millions, and others. A book, My Brooklyn Writer Friend, is out from Queens Ferry Press. You can find and follow him @Greg_Gerke.

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“Is it not a reproach that man is a carnivorous animal? True, he can and does live, in a great measure, by preying on other animals; but this is a miserable way — as anyone who will go to snaring rabbits, or slaughtering lambs, may learn…Whatever my own practice may be, I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals….” — Henry David Thoreau, Walden

In 1845, Henry David Thoreau set off on a lone journey into the woodlands owned by his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson. He wanted to know if living more simply, in closer proximity to nature, would make him a better person, and if being a better, simpler person was the path to creating a better society. Walden is a unique and pioneering work in civil disobedience. But Thoreau’s two years… More…

 

A few weeks into the new year and I, like so many Americans, have already neglected my predictable resolution to eat more healthfully. This year I kept it pretty simple, endeavoring to eat more super foods like berries, nuts, and oatmeal, and fewer butter cookies and blueberry muffins. While I have eaten more of the healthy super foods, I admit I’ve also eaten more desserts, too (there were just so many left over from the holidays).

I’m left wondering how I could I have failed so quickly. Is it just laziness and bad habits that make achieving the task feel so extraordinary?

Perhaps it’s not simply laziness or habit, at least. While willpower and discipline certainly play an important role in how we eat, I have come across a growing body of research hinting at biological underpinnings that… More…

 

Gout is a strange, medieval type of medical condition that manifests without warning, often in a person’s big toe, of all places, and causes almost unbearable pain and suffering without being fatal. Gout disappears just as mysteriously, and always threatens to reappear at any time, like some sort of invisible, unreasonable, otherworldly punishment.

If ever there was a medical condition perfectly suited to myth and literature, gout is it. Not surprisingly, it has shown up among famous literary characters throughout the centuries, including Sir Leicester Dedlock of Dickens’ Bleak House and Casaubon in Eliot’s Middlemarch. It has also occurred throughout the ages among many literary writers themselves, as well among legendary leaders and intellectual giants, including John Milton, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Joseph Conrad, King Henry VIII of England, Martin Luther, Voltaire, Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton, and Benjamin… More…

Just what makes the Mediterranean diet so healthy has been a matter of debate for years. The diet is recognized for significantly reducing the risk for stroke and heart disease, certain cancers, and dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease. Although not a uniform diet, it typically features an abundance of grains, fruits, and vegetables, and also fish and moderate amounts of wine. And don’t forget olive oil, an ingredient often overlooked when the diet is translated in butter-loving American kitchens. In true Mediterranean diets, olive oil is the main fat, and there is lots of it. “Olive oil is the central pillar of the diet, a major source of calories in what is overall a low calorie diet,” says Paul Breslin, sensory scientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia.

Breslin and his colleague Gary Beauchamp, are involved in work that just might end the healthy diet debate. Their work… More…

The Mediterranean island of Sardinia is dotted with prehistoric stone ruins called nuraghi. Little is known about the nuraghi, or the ancient people who built them, except that they predate the earliest invaders to Sardinia, the Phoenicians, who arrived here about 9,000 years ago.

I passed a number of nuraghi as I drove up into the island’s interior through mountains of limestone and granite, on a terrifying road, into a region called the Ogliastra. It’s never been an easy ramble into Sardinia’s mountains. Neither the Phoenicians nor any of other invaders who came to Sardinia later — Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Carthaginians, Arabs, Genoese, Catalans — were ever able to the penetrate them. The villages of Ogliastra have had very little contact with the outside world since about the 11th century. Even now, the region is considered by many to be a wild, dangerous place and travelers like me are regularly… More…