During the holidays, you may spend more time cooking and baking. So today's timely topic
is "Killer Kitchens."
I read the guest column in my local weekly four
times, trying to determine if author Amy Todisco was serious or doing a parody of
"Living and learning in the Non-Toxic
Kitchen" began by stating that the kitchen, once the "heart center of the
home," has become, "like the rest of the house, more like hearts with
arteriosclerosis clogged with all sorts of toxic synthetic chemicals.
"Have you heard about the human and
environmental health effect of: food irradiation, genetically engineered organisms, food
additives (artificial colors, flavors, preservatives), hormones, antibiotics, municipal
sludge used as fertilizer, mold, bacteria, or industrial chemicals in our food
Sufferin' succotash! let's never eat again. No, wait,
read on for the solution.
"Certified organic (editor's note: organic is
now apparently a noun), ideally home-grown or locally grown, is the only choice for my
family. We also choose to filter our drinking and bathing water to protect ourselves from
the many contaminants present in our water supplies."
She filters her bath water? I began to suspect she
was joking. So I skipped past the section on cookware, with its long-debunked theory of
Alzheimer-causing aluminum pans, to the section on Microwave ovens, in which she
references a book called "The Zapping of America." Ms. Todisco informs us that
she is "a proud member of the 10 percent of the population that does not have or use
a microwave oven."
O.K., I'll admit I've always been a tad uneasy about
a product whose operating guide contains two pages of safety instructions. I have,
however, dealt with this uneasiness by actually reading and following the instructions,
just as I deal with my fear of my gas oven by not putting my head in it and blowing out
the pilot light.
I also buy the cancer warnings in her next section,
about barbecuing and grilling, which is why we only do it on occasional summer weekends,
not every day. And I don't use disinfectant sprays either; I don't want my household germs
to build up immunities and become killer plague bacteria.
By the time I get to the part about avoiding cleaning
chemicals, I'm almost hooked: I don't like the way some of those things make my eyes
water, so I clean as little as possible. Maybe I too can be a home-environmentalist! Then
I read about "the formaldehyde outgasses from pressed wood kitchen cabinets (solid
wood is a much better alternative)," and the toxic chemicals in "paints, stains,
wallpapers, adhesives, vinyl flooring." What if we don't eat them; are they still
Well, fair warning for the upper classes, which can
afford cherry cabinets, organic foods, oak floors, and who-knows-what for walls. Are the
rest of us doomed to die?
Actually, yes; we are all, including those who bathe
in filtered water, going to die. But on average we are dying a whole lot later than we
used to, back when we lived in pre-industrial revolution harmony with our natural
environment. A very high number of us now live long enough to reside in a nursing
home, one shared room with bath, no kitchen at all.
When I wrote a letter-to-the-editor expressing my
enjoyment of the amusing column, I soon learned that it was not in fact meant to be funny;
the next week's paper contained Amy's response to my "odd and twisted sense of
humor," an inference that I never heard of Rachel Carson, and a recommendation that I
read a book called "Our Stolen Future."
I've read Rachel Carson, I don't use pesticides, I
recycle hazardous waste, I'd be an environmentalist if I didn't have to hang out with
humor-impaired technophobes who are afraid of wallpaper! I guess I could stick my head in
a microwave oven and get it all over with fast, but instead I'll just plead guilty to a
twisted sense of humor and get on with my dangerous life.
"Our Stolen Future" does sound riveting,
but I think I'll read the new Anne Rice vampire book instead. Better to fantasize about
living forever than drive myself and others crazy actually trying to do it.
As for you, you've been warned. If you can't afford
the premium cost of organic food, try to develop a twisted sense of humor too, and use
laughter as your best medicine when the genetically-engineered chickens come home to
Barbara Anderson is co-director of
Citizens for Limited Taxation and Government. Her bi-weekly column is syndicated and
appears in the (Quincy) Patriot Ledger, (Salem) Evening News, (Attleboro) Sun-Chronicle
and the (Worcester) Telegram-Gazette.