July 17th, 2020

You are what you eat

When Healthy Food Meets Stupid

When I had my newspaper column, I regularly wrote about two things: My family, and things I screwed up.

My family asked that I stopped writing about them. Luckily, I screw up plenty.

But there are times when I do something so stupid that I hesitate to admit it to anyone. (This is what I don't like about the proliferation of cell phone cameras. I'd rather have some control over which embarrassment I share.)
So it was recently, when I made a bowl of oatmeal.

The simplest things can go horribly wrong, especially for me. Remember, I've been a volunteer firefighter for four decades, and was never seriously injured in that position, depending on your definition of "seriously" (not counting my original back injury, which didn't seem serious at the time). Yet I once pulled a muscle jumping over a mud puddle. As a teen, I gouged out a piece of my ankle while hauling trash to the curb. There's a reason why my wife doesn't let me use power tools.

So it's no surprise that oatmeal almost did me in.

In my quest to be healthy--yes, there is some irony here--I've been eating food that's supposed to help lower my cholesterol. So it was one morning when I came downstairs, in my usual post-sleep stupor, and decided to make a nice bowl of healthy oatmeal, to which I always add brown sugar because, hey--I've got an unhealthy reputation to maintain.
Cholesterol or not, no. Just ... no.
The brown sugar, to my surprise, had hardened. Annoyed and half asleep, I chipped out enough to throw into the food, where it softened and mixed just fine. Then I ate while watching a documentary about the first Americans: I'm one of those people who has to read or watch something while eating. I haven't eaten at the table since 1989, except at holidays.

(In fairness, I've been researching for a story that involves the first Americans, so there. Spoiler: They didn't call themselves Americans.)

Then I took my bowl into the kitchen, started to put the brown sugar away, and noticed it was white.

Brown sugar is supposed to be brown. That's why they call it brown.

At first I thought my wife must have spilled some powdered sugar in there while making something, which is dumb because both packages were sealed up. Then I looked more carefully. I'd never seen it on brown sugar, but I've seen it plenty of other places: Mold.

I'd eaten a bowl of mold.

Oh, and by the way: I'm allergic to mold.

It didn't really seem that bad at first. I had a bit of a gut ache, which is to be expected, I suppose. I'm allergic to almost everything else, but I've never had an allergic reaction to food or medicine, so I figured maybe my body had just harmlessly digested it. And I guess it partially did, because my mold meal made it all the way into my lower digestive tract before the trouble kicked in.

I see no reason to give you the details. For all I know, you're reading this while eating.

What I can say is that my intestine is no friend of mold, and that the only real advantage of the whole thing is that I caught up on some of my reading while stuck in the bathroom. Also, I lost six pounds in a day. I would not recommend this as a diet, because once I got some 7 Up and soda crackers into me, I gained most of it back.

The stupid part, of course, is that I didn't look into the bag and spot the mold before I put it into the oatmeal. It wasn't the oatmeal's fault, obviously. Just the same, for safety's sake, maybe with future breakfasts I should change over to donuts, or pancakes, or bacon. Or all of the above.

After all, we must take care of our health.


I could just eat eggs. Nobody ever died from eating too many eggs.