Everything But The Kitchen Shrink


I can see the logic of choosing Sanjay Gupta for surgeon general. The job, after all, pretty much entails doing the kind of thing he already does every week on House Call: exhorting America to stop smoking, eat right, and get more exercise. It's not rocket science, and it doesn't take a brain surgeon, either--though Gupta happens to be one.

But if we're going to have a celebrity doctor for surgeon general, I would have preferred good living guru Dr. Andrew Weil. He strikes me as a physician who's more into small farms than Big Pharma--after all, he's got a 2,500 square foot organic garden at his home in Arizona. As an undergrad botany major at Harvard, he wrote his thesis on the narcotic properties of nutmeg. Weil's said to be a big believer in the power of medicines derived from natural plants over patented, high-profit pharmaceutical creations.

Plus, he's got that beaming, bearded Buddha kind of demeanor--much more soothing than the eternally wired Sanjay. Weil would be like a new-agey C. Everett Koop.

He doesn't have a chance, of course, because he falls into a demographic that's already over represented amongst political appointees: old white guys. His history of dabbling with drugs might be a problem, too, come to think of it.

That's too bad, because Dr. Weil has a lot of great advice on how to live a healthier, happier, less stressful life. One of my favorite tips from Dr. Weil is his suggestion that we could all benefit from going on an occasional "news fast." According to Dr. Weil, "research has shown that the emotional content of television news can affect mood and aggravate sadness and depression. Addictive watching of news programs can also promote a negative view of life."

Tell me about it. As a blogger and incorrigible media junkie, I find the idea of tuning it all out for a spell utterly alluring and yet totally undoable. I've been bogged down with non-blog obligations in recent months, and it's kept me from posting as much as I would like to. But no matter how busy I am, nothing can stop me from getting Googlemired and sinking into all kinds of scintillating links. Not to mention all the great new websites that keep popping up to pull me in.

Let's start with Civil Eats, the newly revamped website originally launched to help promote Slow Food Nation last summer. It's got a whole new look and a great roster of regulars, and I consider it a must-read along with the Ethicurean and the Eat Well Guide's Green Fork.

Then there's Change.Org's brand new Sustainable Food site, which gives veteran blogger and fellow Kossack Natasha Chart a well-deserved forum in which to share her incisive posts and air her ag-gravations. Natasha's one of the smartest people I know and can actually explain the concept of carbon sequestration in a way that doesn't make you sleepy.

Another must-see site is the Ethicurean's new favorite blog, the excellent Obama Foodorama. Presumably they'll be weighing in any second now on Ben and Jerry's latest flavor, "Yes, Pecan--An Inspirational Blend! Amber Waves of Buttery Ice Cream With Roasted Non-Partisan Pecans!." And though it's not new, I just learned via WNYC's Leonard Lopate show about Jonathan Bloom's terrific site devoted to the fascinating and appalling topic of food waste, wastedfood.com.

But wait, there's more! This one's been around for a few months, but was also new to me--a blog by an organization called the Center For A Livable Future. Lots of good stuff there, too.

Some other goodies you may have missed:

An eerie flow chart documenting the spread of Wal-Mart, looking like a noxious, creepy green pox.

A wet 'n' wonky keynote address that Rachel Maddow gave on December 3rd at the Fall Conference of the Association of California Water Agencies in Long Beach, California. Turns out Rachel's dad is a prominent water attorney in the Bay Area and she has a lifelong fascination with water conservation. Who knew? Maddow was her usual adorably self-effacing, down-to-earth, wry self on the Daily Show last Wednesday, and I have been a fan going back to her days on Air America, but her speech calling for a commitment to invest in our water infrastructure endeared her to me even more, if that's possible. (hat tip to wideye at dKos.)

Dan Imhoff, who pulled off the astonishing feat of writing a book about the farm bill that's fun to look at and easy to read, Food Fight: The Citizen's Guide to a Food and Farm Bill, had a great post on HuffPo the other day giving an overview of the kind of sea-change all us sustainable ag types are longing to see from the new administration.

Tom Philpott of Grist's been on a roll, too, with his proposal for a stimulus plan that includes a revamped food system, as well as his excellent rebuttal of a bone-headed op-ed by George McGovern and Marshall Matz, who, alas, is Obama's chief adviser on all things ag.

Mario Batali posted an exuberant, eloquent tribute to his 10th grade literature teacher on HuffPo that explains, in part, where his own passion for learning stems from.

What's next, Bono pontificating on the op-ed page of the New York Times? We'll have to wait till next Sunday for that.

In the meantime, we've got the excruciating spectacle of Joe the Plumber "pronunciating" from Israel for Pajamas Media.

If you've made it this far, and you're still awake, here's a bonus, related neither to food nor to politics--a sleepy bear from a website whose name is self-explanatory: cutethingsfallingasleep.org.

But if we're going to have a

But if we're going to have a celebrity doctor for surgeon general, I would have preferred good living guru Dr. Andrew Weil. He strikes me as a physician who's more into small farms than Big Pharma--after all, he's got a 2,500 square foot organic garden at his home in Arizona. As an undergrad botany major at Harvard, he wrote his thesis on the narcotic properties of nutmeg. Weil's said to be a big believer in the power of medicines derived from natural plants over patented, high-profit pharmaceutical creations.

Oh come on. Andrew Weil makes tons of money hawking untested nutritional supplements:

http://www.drugstore.com/templates/brand/default.asp?brand=52274&aid=336...

How is that different from Big Pharma... he's not as big? It's the same kind of thing, except that Big Pharma is regulated by the government, and actually has to prove that their medicines do anything at all. Weil, of course, does not. (Not intended to treat or cure any disease)

He also believes that mushrooms have "lunar energy"... What on Darwin's Green Galapagos is that?

I love that photo of Dr.

I love that photo of Dr. Weil! He looks like he's about to float off into space, which is kind of what he looks like in person. I was lucky enough to see him speak at a nutrition conference (with Marion Nestle and Dan Barber - talk about a good food love fest), and he was like Food Santa, who comes down your chimney and brings you tasty seaweed snacks and grass-fed cheeses. He would make a fabulous Surgeon General, were he not too good to be true.

This January I am reading a

This January I am reading a book you may be interested in - "Wild Fruits," a rediscovered manuscript by Henry David Thoreau. In it he extolls the virtues of reaching over and picking the fruit growing right in the meadow you are in, instead of shipping in pineapples for food. Thought it may apply to our modern question of eating locally. Thoreau: American legend, literary giant, philosopher, worldclass freeloader, locavore extraordinaire...