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Offbeat -05July 2013

An article I just read tells me that potato chips, bread crusts and roast potatoes also cause cancer.  You got that right. The substance mentioned as the main culprit is called acrylamide. You play with your life and your medical aid fund if you swallow that stuff

I have been rereading the first vampire novel I ever read, George RR Martin’s ‘Fevre Dream’. For those of you who don’t know who he is, he also writes the ‘Game of Thrones’ saga, at least we hope he does. He hasn’t written anything that looks like it heads to a conclusion in a couple of years now. If you are following the TV series, be afraid. Be very afraid.
‘Fevre Dream’ was the book that got me going on the idea that vampires could be cool. I must have been about 12 when I read it last. I’m glad to get hold of it again. The story is set on the Mississippi. It contains the usual disturbing prejudices of its setting. Interestingly, it also has the first blood substitute that I can think of, the fake juice that is so pervasive in stories, now that vampires have become our cuddle buddies.
Of course wherever you get good vampires who drink fake bottled blood, you are also going to have bad vampires who drink whatever human comes to hand. There’s plenty of flesh ripping, blood gushing action. It wouldn’t be worth reading if there weren’t. I’m a compulsive keeper of everything on the principle that nothing should be wasted. I keep blood as well, especially the stuff that is at the bottom of the bag when chicken defrosts. I freeze it in tubs to use for stock. I also have some ‘fish juice’. I’m not sure if it is blood, but it’s going to go into a seafood soup, sooner or later.
Read meat has become a problem, or at least, I have found a solution. I have more or less given up eating the stuff: perhaps twice a month, and possibly a pie at such irregular intervals that they don’t really count. I eat boerewors, every now and then. That’s it.
I sat at a braai last weekend, one of those things that happens on the stoep outside the pub, with everyone partying on beer. I didn’t eat any of the meat: it leaves me feeling bloated and heavy. On that occasion, I felt a bit of a traitor to Namibia. I got weird stares from the assembled compatriots when I said I don’t eat the stuff. Everyone eats red meat in the land of the brave, and then goes back for seconds and thirds, with a bit of boerewors as a reasonable substitute for dessert, at least almost everyone.
The evidence against red meat is mounting up. It causes weight gain. It clogs arteries. It’s hard to digest. If it is overdone, for instance ‘well done’, it can cause cancer. The water burden of producing red meat is horrifying. Processed meat, for instance a nice piece of salami, is even more dangerous in terms of carcinogens.  I console myself with the idea that the bits of chicken I eat every now and then need a lot less water. The water burden of fish, that I eat almost all the time, does not enter into things.
Unfortunately, just about every single food I can think of has been proven to be harmful in some way or other. An article I just read tells me that potato chips, bread crusts and roast potatoes also cause cancer.  You got that right. The substance mentioned as the main culprit is called acrylamide. You play with your life and your medical aid fund if you swallow that stuff. There are other chemicals, but that seems to be the worst of the lot. Apparently you are safer with stuff prepared at home. I know a bit of baking, and it’s not a major effort. How, on the other had, should I find the time to make those nice tomato or barbecue flavoured chips that come from the shop at the petrol station down the road? It seems like the only way to go is to eat raw stuff and try and eat as organic as natural. On other words, if you want to eat safe, healthy, environmentally friendly meat your best bet is oryx rohak, which is oryx crudos to all you foreign people. Google the word if it sounds a bit weird.
Salads are an obvious choice. The problem is, how do you eat a raw potato, or raw rice for that matter? All of this leads me back to the book and, in my own estimation, the reason why vampires live so long. They eat their food raw. But don’t take my word for it.

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