Are YOU What You Eat?

By Rick Reynolds

If “you are what you eat,” and you’re able to read this, you’d have to be
 a cannibal.

Not all cannibals can read, of course, and literacy is not a defining characteristic of cannibalism. As for myself, I like being a human, and enjoy reading, but I prefer not to eat people when there are other items on 
the menu.

If, on the other hand, I’m on a life raft with you in the middle of the Pacific, and you’re telling me one crude joke after another, you could well end up on my dinner plate: a memory I’m not proud of. Hey, I was hungry. (Blame my boorish humor on that poor soul.)

Illustration by Rick Reynolds

When I eat oysters, my wife tells me I clam up at parties. And I do walk sluggishly after an appetizer of escargot–but still walk at a snail’s pace even after an entrée of lapin au moutarde, so I don’t know: I’ll never be fast as a jackrabbit, no matter what I eat.

My wife, a virtual-vegetarian, eats nothing but hummus and broccoli and thankfully she looks like neither. And who wants to be a cauliflower, anyway? They have extremely unfortunate complexions.

As my cousin Jared will tell you, “Food is my favorite dish.” For him, if it isn’t a rock, it’s food–and he does enjoy some rocks, like salt. He won’t eat wood, but he takes tree sap on his pancakes and brunches on more bamboo shoots than a panda. Omnivores like my cousin Jared will eat anything.

Where am I going with this? you ask. Wait, I know I had a point. It’s coming to me. Oh yeah.

Today, the media tells us more about our food choices than we ever wanted to know. One theory is replaced by another: More carbs, less carbs, more protein, less protein, all veggies, no veggies, organic/ hormone-free, genetically-modified, sugar vs. fructose, roughage vs. smoothies, whole juices, cooked/uncooked, par-cooked, sun-dried, refried, farm-raised, free-range, and free-range with privileges–it’s all so confusing. The only thing more dangerous to your health than eating is not eating.

The bottom line is, no matter what you eat, if you eat like a pig, you’ll not look like a string bean. That much we know. However, my dear 300 lb. grandfather lived to be 101, and he loved (and resembled) his watermelon, so who knows?

And speaking of eating like a pig, “Coning” is trending now, which is not a good sign for the human race. Pulling up to a drive-in window and grabbing the soft serve by the ice cream instead of the cone, just to get the server’s reaction, will hopefully not become part of the archeological record. (All YouTubes of this behavior must be stricken from the web before we go extinct.)

Thankfully, we are not what we eat, and neither are those creatures that eat us. But like those other beasties, our survival depends less on what food we eat than on the delicate ecosystems that sustain it. That we’re near, if not past, the tipping point of cataclysmic climate change is no joke.

Myself, I don’t know what we “are,” but our food isn’t “it.” One thing is for certain: Those critters that will eventually inherit the Earth will not be us. They won’t be inventing iPhones or writing loutish humor columns. And unlike us, they simply aren’t smart enough to do themselves in. No, 
these modest little survivors will not have to pay $2400 a year for a Smartphone family plan–and they will get the last laugh.

Chappaqua alumnus and 35-year resident of Chappaqua, humorist Rick Reynolds resides in southern New Hampshire with his wife, daughter,
and two dogs.

Speak Your Mind