Even the most lackluster year-end party calls for that annual ritual known as New Year's resolutions. These secular vows are taken as a show of faith in the middle-class ideal of perpetual self-improvement. The New Year's Day of a new century and millennium calls for some truly super-extra-special resolutions.
Since the Cafe section deals with life's second most important activity (after breathing, you filthy-minded sot), we at Skewer Central offer up some carefully considered food-related resolutions for those still casting about for guidance. For non-food-related resolutions, you're on your own.
1. Swear off margarine. A long-term study of thousands of nurses shows that margarine is the unhealthiest spread of all. Always substitute it with butter -- if you can't get lard, of course. Lard has the lowest percentage of harmful saturated fats of the three. This is real science, not Madison Avenue cant.
2. Avoid buying organic produce. There are several compelling arguments for this. First, if something is grown without pesticides, it stands to reason that it is more likely to harbor some sort of creepy pest. Second, organic produce is much more expensive than the conventionally grown variety, sometimes by several hundred percent. Only the top economic layers of society in the most industrialized countries can afford the luxury of boutique foods grown according to the improvised rituals of nature worshipers. The idea that organic agriculture is a "sustainable" system that will lead to a world free from hunger is 180 degrees off from the truth.
The other organic myth is that people in poverty-stricken rural areas need to grow foods without having to buy all those allegedly expensive pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and hybridized seeds, so therefore by buying organic you are somehow "sharing their world." If you really want to experience solidarity with the poor in our society, drink Coca-Cola and eat Whoppers and potato chips like they do. If you want to experience solidarity with the poor of developing nations, drink water from puddles in Memorial Park and treat yourself to a banana or a cup of steamed rice every other day or so.
3. Take two-hour lunches, at a minimum. Have a glass of wine with lunch. If you are so all-fired successful, why are you gobbling diet yogurt with a plastic spoon at your desk like a naughty schoolchild in detention? Successful people have the time to enjoy life. Consider the French, who incidentally also have the greatest cuisine in Europe. They take long lunches with wine, and they have much less heart disease than we do. Lest you think they pay for their lunches and summer vacations by missing out on the joys of contemporary life, the French have acid-rain-free nuclear power (75 percent of their electricity is nuclear-generated) without having had a Chernobyl or even a Three Mile Island; they have freeways and supermarkets and terrific traffic jams just like we do. And they have things we only dream of, like high-speed trains and health insurance for children. All children.
4. Seek out genetically modified foods and buy them whenever possible. By doing so, you will be supporting the scientific and agricultural efforts that have the best chance of feeding the world's exploding population. You also will be resisting the Neo-Luddite and generally anti-intellectual trends in our society that became popular in the 1960s and have been dumbing-down the developed world ever since.
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5. Avoid exercise. Especially after meals. Especially if you are a man. Research suggests that a heavy meal increases a man's chance of having a heart attack by 400 percent. Strenuous exercise also increases the chance of a heart attack by 400 percent. So strenuous exercise after a large meal is either increasing your chances by 400 percent plus 400 percent, or maybe 400 percent times 400 percent. Either way, you're really entering the danger zone.
6. Avoid sex whenever possible. The third thing that increases a man's chance of having a heart attack is sex, so you'll want to eliminate that from your life as well. The only thing more stressful for a man than sex after a heavy meal and violent exercise is trying to get sex. Maybe you should also resolve to avoid trying to get some in '01. When tempted, consider the possibility that if Bill Clinton had preferred two-hour lunches to sex, Al Gore would be humming "Hail to the Chief" as he shaved this morning.
The sixth resolution has very little to do with food or dining, but it is something to think about, isn't it?
These six resolutions, if carried out in concert, should transform anyone's life. They also will make this new millennial world a finer place to live in -- for all humans. Even carrying out one of them will alter the course of most readers' lives, at least somewhat.