By BILL DUNCAN
The View From Here
There are times when I wonder if everything I eat isn’t killing me. At my age, doctors keep narrowing the diet. A cardiologist even told me that despite my restriction on what I eat, the liver was probably creating triglycerides — the latest health threat for me that doctors are concerned about.
Would you believe that one of the prescriptions I take for congestive heart failure can elevate triglycerides? But I am reassured taking the medication is necessary, therefore I should control triglycerides and glucose levels with diet, exercise and omega 3 fatty acids. But wait,
because I am a bionic man with an artificial heart value, I must take coumadin. Omega 3 (fish oil) thins the blood and may be contraindicated with coumadin.
The one meal of the day I enjoyed the most is breakfast — my kind of breakfast that is, two eggs over easy, bacon, grits and dry toast.
Mention that to a cardiologists and she will have a heart attack.
Take away the eggs and bacon and what you have left is pure carbohydrates that increase the blood sugar. Maybe I should get a bionic stomach.
A nutritionist at the VA hospital worked out a breakfast menu for me sans eggs and bacon. To my delight she included one of God’s gifts to mankind — peanut butter. Charlton Heston was once asked why he had a stable marriage when Hollywood had so many divorces. His answer was simple: "My wife always has chunky peanut butter in the pantry."
My marriage is a little more stable than a dependency on peanut butter, but peanut butter has long been a part of my diet and I was elated when the nutritionist included it. Strange, the week that I received my breakfast menus from the VA dietitian I read in Max Lucado’s "Cure for the Common Life," the story of how Dr. George Washington Carver, an agricultural chemist, had urged farmers in the South to restore worn out soil from endless crops of cotton that had depleted the soil nutrients, to plant peanuts and other legumes to restore nitrogen and fertility.
Farmers rejected the idea because there was no market for peanuts. That energized Dr. Carver into discovering three hundred uses for peanuts from paint to shaving cream and of course peanut butter.
Carver never patented any of his discoveries because he said "God gave them to me, so how can I sell them to someone else."
The epitaph on his grave says it all:
"He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world."
Actually, peanut as a food source dates back to 950 B.C. and in South America the Incas were known to have made it into an edible paste. Peanuts are not a nut, but a legume that grows under the ground. Food historians trace its migration from South America to Africa and then to Spain and eventually to the American colonies.
The first American crop was grown in North Carolina in 1818. Peanut butter was already in existence before Dr. Carver’s research on the multiple uses for peanuts. But its widespread use certainly came after his efforts in making the peanut a significant crop in the American South in the early 1900s.
My own peanut butter craze was noted by my mother who traveled all the way from Florida to investigate my eating habits after one of my brothers wrote her and said I was living on peanut butter sandwiches while going to college in California. I still eat peanut butter and if my diet restrictions continue I just may be living on peanut butter sandwiches again.
(Bill Duncan can be reached by writing to P.O. Box 812, Roseburg, OR 97470)