Cover of The Tao of Chow book

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The Way of Food

I was Macrobiotic, I was vegan, I was Atkins and I was Paleo before it was a ‘thing.’ Between medical incompetence, culinary convenience, personal habits, we make incorrect choices that perpetuate our misery. The food we eat for the very first time in our lives will train our brains to want that taste and texture forever. So what do we give babies? Saltine crackers and canned baby food. Hmmm. So much for well balanced adults. Refined flours and sugars are essentially the same as powdered drugs. The product is far from its original source, thus rendering it toxic. So mom ate her preferred diet of drugs, white bread and commercial ice cream.

Nutrition for Profit is Immoral

Not until recently has a new trend surfaced. This new trend tells us of the poisonous chemicals in our foods and medicines that are causing irreparable harm to our bodies. The final step toward enlightened dining is waking up to cruelty in the form of poisonous feed, heinous overcrowding and normalized abuse in factory farms. The list of abuse for profit goes on, and it hurts us all, including the vicious sadist who were once sweet babies.

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I started writing this book in my head around age 10 to help my mother get well. I intuited that she needed a different diet; that something she ate on a regular basis was hurting her. Schizophrenic and Bipolar, my parents were poster people for the ‘Days of Wine and Roses’. Well, my dad wasn’t really. He was a simple and loving enabler. We didn’t talk about mental illness, addiction, religion or politics those days. That left us with sitcoms and blaming neighbors for stuff. We just said ‘those people’ were wrong and bad, and we left it at that, which is why they would not cop to their issues. They ‘partied on’ until it got to them and they died six weeks apart in their fifties. Mom first, then Dad; because he felt responsible for her and could not leave her crazy ass self to strangers who would undoubtedly match her meanness. They were professionals, after all.

“They wouldn’t be nice to her, Julie. You know how hard it is to deal with her.” Sadly I did, because I was her errand girl and nurse maid from the age of ten until I literally bailed out into the night at age nineteen. After she died my dad begged me to buy him vodka and sit with him while he died of alcohol poisoning. At age thirty two I was not equipped to care for him in this way. My guilt tempered with shame was too great. I took my father to the VA hospital where they cruelly cold-turkeyed him from booze. He would have died of his leukemia soon anyway, but that was just mean. He had known it before hand. Obviously, that was why he wanted his comfortable basement death while regaling me with the stories I had heard repeatedly since the day I learned to speak English. I was too immature to do this for the man who fathered me; who said that my voice sounded like a ‘tinkling bell.’ I was raw, desperate and angry, for the so-called deprivations of my childhood.

During the 60s, Valium, Darvon and martinis and fad diets were Mom’s usual fare. Poor dear; and I must confess that I was angry with her and really hated her for many years during my young adulthood. She berated me beyond all reason. Once, my brother and father commented to each other about “why mom hates Julie so much,” but neither one of them did anything to improve the situation. No one knew what to do. They couldn’t help her  because the word for her condition wasn’t yet invented- Schizoaffective Disorder. While she got electric shock every few years, they sent me to Granny’s house. I loved my Granny because she never swore or said mean things about others. I would have been content to stay with my grandparents, but like all good things, that ended. I had to go home to look into her dead eyes while obeying her orders; enduring her insults.

We thought my mother was stubborn and mean; she was. But she was also addicted to the things that self medicated her condition; some drugs and some foods. Between those two things, she finally crashed and burned at age 54, choking on her vomit on a basement couch, on the eastern edge of Kansas. It took me twenty years to feel sad about losing her. When I learned that food and drugs really did transform her, my heart softened. That was Grace.

As an a adult I learned more about my mother’s life. That understanding came when I learned Astrology for the first time. The picture I found broke my heart. The moment I learned that she was harder on herself than she was on me, I shattered the anger that had shrouded me most of my life. Now, I love her more than ever, for the way she taught me was too hard on her and it cost her happiness. She was my first teacher. All of my searching is done in honor of my vivacious mother whom we all loved, in spite of herself. We loved her deeply and to this day. She was one of a kind. A showman (shaman) – a sensitive flower. She could do everything except carry a tune.

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