We Are What We Eat?

WHO… ME? . . . Photo by Laura Anderson on Unsplash

Since I moved to Panama almost a year ago, I’ve obviously not been able to use food stamps from the United States. I used to have some food intolerances, not allergies though, but now I eat a carefully considered but also very inexpensive diet. I’m amazingly athletic and slender for 68 years old, the only fat on me is a little bit of belly fat that comes and goes as needed on a daily basis. I can eat wheat or potatoes, though I couldn’t before. I don’t eat them on purpose, but when neighbors bring me dinner, I eat it. Turns out that yucca is fantastically delicious. (My mouth is watering!)

One note that I need to get in: here in Panama the animals we eat are largely free-range, as far as I’ve seen. Here the people are caged in cities or at least in houses, and the cows and chickens wander around our yards. Well, the chickens at least — they just don’t respect barbed wire.

The lentils and rice, dry of course, are extremely inexpensive. I’ll cook up a kilogram of the two, mixed together, about once a week. Then, along with pieces of shredded chicken, occasionally balanced with a glass of milk or a couple of fried eggs, well, it’s a case of literally being what you eat. If an embryonic chicken or piglet could live on my diet, then I can too.

All this while the native population around me is getting fat.


The results are obvious, and not a happy story to have to tell. People are wasting their money and getting fat. I can only say that there are some people around here who are over 30 years old and not fat. I’m trying to think of who. I think it’s older people, 50 or 60 years old. But there aren’t many slender people around.

The money waste, and the growing waistlines, come from targeted, fancy and expensive ads that come over the smartphones (stupidphones). Sometimes a dark shadow at one of my neighbor’s houses will suddenly stand up. Yeah, my vision isn’t that great anymore, but when shadows jump up like that it’s always someone who was immobilized by, well, a mobile phone! I never thought of it that way before.

I sort of get it. When I’m writing on my laptop, like I am now, I go into a fugue state. I don’t move for an hour usually. I find myself sitting near a pillow, but that’s the closest I got before getting wrapped up in writing. Other writers have told me they do pretty much the same. After I un-kink my body I’m usually OK, but well, it hurts a bit for a half hour afterwards.

I don’t see much difference with smartphone addicts. At least I get another story written, even if I don’t remember doing it. Who else could be writing this crazy stuff but me? Right, the true voice of sanity. But the smartphone users haven’t gained a thing except more weight. (Except the very few who are naturally slender.)

I care about my fellow Panamanians. I feel like crusading against the corporations that are reprogramming the people. But in Latin America there’s nobody to complain to. No top-heavy government. Do they even have a government? (I maybe overstayed my visa by . . . I didn’t just say that, did I?) That was the fugue talking. Ignore it please.

FUGUE… Where am I, where was I? . . . Photo by Mi Yeoun Jun on Unsplash

Actually I’ve said what I wanted to say. Sorry — I never learned how to drown my readers with a lot of words. I am a bit curious how readers in the U.S. feel about what I’ve written, and other readers and writers around the world. Everything internet-related is necessarily American-related. But the U.S. is only one country, hopefully on track to become more international. But people in Malaysia, in wherever, have different points of view. I wonder if eating disorders or destructive corporations are causing similar health problems elsewhere. I’d guess they probably are.




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Fred Ermlich

Fred Ermlich

Living in rural Panamá — non-extractive, non-capitalistic. Expat USA. Scientist, writer, researcher, teacher. STEM mentor +languages.