Fat. Dumb, And Happy

September 17, 2010

Everything our parents said was good is bad. Sun, milk, red meat…college. –Woody Allen

Recently scientists have announced that eating fat actually makes you happy. At least that’s what the headline I read said, and I was confused because eating an entire box of Oreos topped with big chunks of lard really doesn’t make you happy. I speak from personal experience here, but that’s another story. Actually it turns out the fats that, according to scientists, make you happy are the omega-3 variety, and also, occasionally, the Minnesota, Waller, or Domino varieties. Normally I trust what scientists say because basing conclusions on observable and tested evidence seems like a pretty effective way to figure out what’s really going on, but in this case I suspect the announcement that fats of any kind can make you happy wasn’t really made by scientists. It was made by "scientists", the same people who, right before Thanksgiving one year told us cranberries caused cancer, so the cranberry sauce that year was passed around even more than the holiday fruitcake that’s never left its original package and has been around the world more times than Sputnik. And then they told us that, in order to get cancer from cranberries you’d have to eat thirteen pounds of cranberries a day for at least a decade. I’m not even sure about that, because I had a crazy uncle who ate at least that many cranberries and who not only never got cancer but ran in the Boston Marathon until he was eighty-two. And these are probably the same people who announced a few years ago that eating gingko would make you smarter.

So I ate tons of gingko. I took gingko pills, I ate gingko cereal, and I had gingko powder that I sprinkled on everything. And maybe it did make me a little bit smarter, because after a while I realized it was pretty stupid to think that eating all that gingko would actually raise my IQ. Anyway, I’m pretty sure that the people who are now saying that certain types of fats are the keys to happiness are the same ones who originally told us eggs were good then told us eggs were bad, then told us the yolks were bad but the whites were okay, and now I think the yolks are okay if the eggs are boiled, but only if they’re soft-boiled, except you have to make sure to soft-boil them at the right temperature, otherwise you can get salmonella. This raises an important question: why is it you can get salmonella from chicken but you never hear about anyone getting chickenella from salmon? I think I’ll ask a scientist about this, but before I accept their answer I want to get their thoughts on gingko.

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