You Are Who You’ll Eat

Ottawa XPress – Shotgun – December 23, 2005

To gauge a stranger’s appeal and what will in turn make you attractive to others at home, in the workplace and out in the city in the New Year, you have to look beyond the usual indicators-money, repute and power.

To figure out if someone digs you, or to decipher the suitability of someone you’re eyeballing, in 2005 ask yourself the question: “If I were a chicken, would people want to eat me?”

More than a measure of your own tastiness, the question will get you thinking about the quality of those around you. Chances are, if you know what makes you a healthy option for others, you’ll know what to look for and how to select a fit and fabulous choice for yourself to enjoy the whole year through.

Are you the kind of chicken who suffers de-beaking, gets crammed into a tiny cage among your decaying dead brothers and sisters and fed artificial food? Whose every artery and birdbrain is soaked with adrenaline as your featherless body shifts in a flight-or-fight response aboard transport trucks, preparing for your inevitable doom at the slaughterhouse? Or maybe you’re like an Atlantic salmon, smacked up on the pharmaceutical equivalent of goofballs-pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics unnatural to your regular habitat?

Given the choice, wouldn’t you want to be a free-range chicken that roams the open wild like Peter Fonda, with strong, succulent Lance Armstrong chicken thighs and sweet, juicy pecs like Rocky? Who checks out the blue sky in between full-beaked nips here and there at your organic feed like a culinary appreciator, and then, when the time is natural and right, gets taken out back and humanely slaughtered by Farmer Joe, someone who sells to the locals and not some supermarket chain, and makes considerably less money but is banking loads of karma?

If we as humans are anxiety-ridden, pill-popping, genetically-altered (i.e., high heeled, boob jobbed, hair plugged) creatures forced daily unto horrific trips to large companies to have our own little hearts ripped out and souls sucked away all in the name of generating money for The Man, then ask yourself, how tasty are we at the end of the day? And over time, what will become of the human species if we continue on like this?

Think about it.

We recoil after hearing horror stories from organizations like PETA about the inhumane treatment and genetic manipulations of chickens. It’s clear we appreciate healthy alternatives when choosing both what we eat and how it was produced. Nobody’ll turn down some tomatoes from Grandma’s garden or a barbotte fished clean from the river up at the cottage. But still, many people buy fast-food products because they consider it a treat, a quick fix.

We torture ourselves with many bad habits-smoking, excessive drinking, rebound sex, obsessing, spending, procrastinating-and all these quick fixes are doing our bodies in, not to mention our heads.

As 2005 approaches and we commit to New Year resolutions to get healthy, it’ll be important to take daily inventory of how we and those around us measure up to the production-line chicken.

Look after your health today even if there are no symptoms. Changing things that are modifiable now before it gets too late is smart. While some things like high cholesterol can be genetic, you can still do something to prevent further damage.

But physical health is not the only focus. While a good diet and exercise will keep you feeling great, can it improve your mental outlook? A daily fitness regime may keep me as fit as a Postman but is it enough to prevent me from going postal?

In the 1700s, poets and critics, the pundits of their time, went on and on about how Brits should tend to their gardens because maintaining a plentiful garden reflected Nature’s beauty, so property owners were paying homage to God’s perfection.

Giving good garden gave gusto. It took time and it gave people character. Gardening inspired others the same way that keeping ourselves in order can be inspiring to our neighbour. And hey, if you don’t give a shit about yourself, why would you give a rat’s ass about others?

A walk or skate down the Rideau Canal in a month’s time will prove this. For those of you who are no strangers to the gym, you’ll feel at home alongside the active bodies. And the slackers? They’ll see the participaction and want no part of it.

Skating, yoga, kung fu, snowboarding, walking, and even making love takes time, and the glow cannot be achieved instantaneously with a pill. Wholesome wellbeing gives you more energy, aspirations, and radiance. It puts out the vibe that you care.

Maybe you think you are fine just the way you are. But remember, the quality of factory chickens and farmed fish may not be distinguishable from their healthier counterparts. And philosophically or spiritually speaking, there is a big difference between the two whether we’re talking chickens – or You.

On that note, I’ll take one healthy Rama Lotus Hatha Yoga instructor and a side order of organic-produce consuming Gatineau Park cross-country skier to go, please.

– Sylvie Hill