On the Road: Day 2, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food"

I know this is a travel blog, so I should be posting pretty pictures of the landscape and trying to make you feel inspired/envious/excited and whatnot, but I also feel responsible to share some lessons that I’ve learned on this trip. Let’s see:

Lesson 1: Never lock your keys in your rental car. Bad things happen.
Lesson 2: Always have towels on hand when taking long drives. You never know when a natural lake or a grassy hillside will tempt you.
Lesson 3: People in California love talking about celebrities and sometimes this can be interesting. So, the first two lessons, basic, right?

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I’d like to elaborate on the third. As I stood nestled in between two aisles of vegetarian and vegan snacks today, doing in-store demonstrations, someone asked where his favorite brand of Kombucha was, and a store clerk replied that it had to be taken off the shelves because of Lindsay Lohan.

I know… this was weird to me too. What does the freckle-faced actress-turned-pop-singer-turned actress and star of The Parent Trap have to do with a blend of fermented tea that’s great for your stomach?

Apparently, Ms. Lohan was under some kind of physiological surveillance, and the state attached her to an alcohol detector to monitor her. It seems that she drank Kombucha (a fermented tea product that’s really helpful with digestion, that some people claim prevents cancer… click here for more info) in a larger than normal quantity. People say this may have set off her alcohol-detection machine (click here for the article). Normally, I would not care what someone famous is drinking, but after this story became public knowledge, the Food and Drug Administration put Synergy brand Kombucha under intense scrutiny and for fear of upsetting their customers, certain health food stores took their Kombucha off their shelves.

I’m happy that the FDA cares to check up on products to make sure they’re not dangerous to our health, but Kombucha? Really?!

That’s lesson three.

Lesson 4: is still something that I’m working on understanding and that I’ve heard over and over again when talking to health fanatics in California:

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

This Maxim (excuse the pun) was made famous by a Greek physician named Hippocrates. Ever heard of the Hippocratic oath? It’s in honor of this dude! He was a believer in the balancing the 4 humors of the body (blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile), which now that I think about it is a kind of rudimentary or earlier version of the whole eastern belief in healing (yin/yang and chi energy)… But anyway, his ideas were based on maintaining a balanced connection between body systems and that the “humors” your body produced were an indication of how well a person was taking care of her/himself.

I’ve been musing about this question as we’ve been traveling around California, and it’s only led me to ask more questions…

How often do people sit down at a restaurant and ask themselves how the food they’re about to order will effect them in the long run? And I’m not just talking about caloric content… I’m talking vitamins, minerals, hydration… etc. Is it possible for us to think of food as medicine in a culture that constantly scares us about what it means to be overweight and obese? Why does the FDA make “High Country Kombucha” write “These statements [about the nutritious/medicinal value of Kombucha] have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease” when people have found correlations between drinking Kombucha and maintaining a healthy body?

Which leads me to Lesson 5: Be cautious about labels.

People are always trying to sell us stuff, but labels are the easiest way to learn more about what we’re being sold.

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