Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Lot of Clean Fun in a Small Package

It came in the mail today, my delectable little hand-sized treasure that I always eagerly await. When it arrives, I am every bit as excited as Ralphie, the kid in Christmas Story, at long last receiving his secret decoder ring from the Orphan Annie's radio club. Even if my prize winds up telling me not to drink lots of Ovaltine, but instead to eat, uh, crickets, lots of them!

I refer, of course, to Prevention, the magazine published by the health-conscious folks at Rodale in Emmaus, PA. Yes, believe it or not, I have always been a health/fitness/nutrition nut, though one who hops off the wagon more than is probably well-advised. (Little known factoid: Long, long ago, then-Governor Charles S. Robb of Virginia appointed me to his newly created Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Chuck probably rued that appointment when my newspaper editorial-department team whupped him and his Governor's Office squad, which was filled with State Trooper ringers, in a "friendly" game of softball.)

But I digress. I have long been fascinated with Prevention and on board with the idea that it is far better to prevent illness, when possible, than to have to treat it with pricey medicines, surgery, and such. Many years I have just picked up Prevention occasionally in the grocery check-out line, but now I am a full-fledged subscriber. I read it with an open mind -- ready to pick up some fine tips about eating and exercising, but sometimes I confess I just laugh out loud at its obsessions and preachings.

The cover of the December issue smacks you with this along with a pretty girl's smile:  Supercharge Your Energy…75 New Ways to Eat Clean….Fight Fat … Rev Your DNA … and more! 

Now, eating clean is a regular item on the Prevention menu. Indeed, the cover for the May 2014 issue led with Lose Weight . . . Eat Clean . . . 5 Steps to a Lean Body," while the cover of the August 2014 edition invited readers to Eat Clean & Lose Weight . . . How To Be 40% Happier (Seriously).
So it is fair to say that eating "clean" is a recurring theme. But it makes me wonder -- when I am enjoying a succulent prime rib with salad at Outback, or a platter of spaghetti and meatballs at my favorite Italian eatery, am I eating "dirty"? Don't think I would go so far as to say that, but let me concede there are good ideas in this little mag about avoiding additives that might be bad for you -- sugar in particular.

The latest issue has a one-page Eat Clean feature (Prevention has many short, readable nuggets) entitled, "Are Crickets the Future of Food?" The premise is that as we search for sustainable protein sources, the cricket will be a bug of choice. The article quotes such luminaries as insect farmers (one of whom founded Big Cricket Farms) along with a United Nations forestry officer who allows that "eating insects is like popping a multivitamin, and farming them requires very little land." (Insert here your own jokes about the UN bureaucracy being buggy. Crickets.) Prevention then follows with a "Taste the Trend" sidebar (or underbar actually) that talks a little about brands of ginger cookies, P&J protein bars, and sea salt chips, all of which offer extra snap and crunch. The piece doesn't explicitly state that crickets are an ingredient, but I suppose the moral is to read all food labels closely. Your munchies might be bugged.

Crickets aside, this little publication is filled with articles that beckon me, such as "Lose Your Belly/Eat More Fat." Hey, that's more like it!

Clearly, Prevention is marketed primarily to women, as though (I suppose) men are deemed hopeless when it comes to seeking improved health. Which may be a fair assumption. Anyway, seemingly 99 percent of the magazine's models are female, and few articles are ever devoted to male-specific problems. I remember reading at least one letter from a man who complained about that editorial tilt. Not me! I confess that when it comes to photos of folks walking, running, or stretching in their form-fitting workout gear, I wholly prefer gals to guys. (There, I am out of the closet.) All those shapely legs and pretty smiles -- nope, doesn't offend me at all.

The next issue will be the one for January 2015. I will be watching my mailbox as eagerly as Ralphie did, and also awaiting my "Walk Yourself Slim" book that will be my Prevention re-upping prize. Approximately 10,000 miles of walking with Superdawg over the past 12 years haven't made me slim, but hope springs eternal. Plus, maybe we'll have our annual inch of snow at the time of the next Prevention delivery and I can race Ralphie to the mailbox.

                                                      © Robert G. Holland  2014

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