We Still Like Ike
Volume III, Issue II - Fall 2012
  • Buns. Hot dog. White. Carbs 21 grams.

    It began with the Atkin’s diet. 1998. My Aunt Sue’s backyard. Her husband, Van, barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs, shaking special seasoning on the burgers, flaying the dogs in half for an even sear. One by one we lined up one by one. And one by one, we took our plates to him as the faithful line up for the Eucharist.

    “Where is your bun?” Van asked.

    “Just put it right there on the plate,” we each said, pointing to a blank triangle of Styrofoam plate.

    We sat on folding chairs, the nylon straps pinching the skin on our thighs, our fingers greasy. Buns double as napkin. It’s hard to eat a hot dog on your lap without a bun or without a knife and fork. We wiped our hands on our shorts willing our thighs to thin themselves. Let the chairs pinch some other white-bread eating fool’s thick thighs.

  • Corn. Whole. Cob. 23.50 grams.

    However, corn occupied the corner of our plates like a protest group—wobbly, infringing on our lettuce, touching our meat. The butter, not entirely melted, was the pinnacle of our diet. Butter, butter, butter everywhere. Corn was OK because it was not white bread. Corn was our lie and corn was the reason the marks from the chairs continued their claim way past barbecue, way past beer, way longer than the carbohydrates lasted in our stomach.

    Corn. Whole. Ethanol.

    But let’s say we gave up the corn. Let’s say we truly commit to Mr. Atkins and read the whole book and find out, corn is also not an option. It is full of carbohydrates. Twenty-three and a half of them. Let’s say we’re going to stick to meat, no barbecue sauce. We can devote our share of corn to the future of the world. It takes a little more than a third of a bushel of corn to make one gallon of ethanol.

  • Corn Syrup. Two teaspoons. 16.89 Grams.

    There is corn syrup in barbecue sauce, corn syrup in hot dog buns, corn syrup in Coca-Cola, corn syrup in that plate of store-bought cookies. The Atkins diet seems so carnivorous until you read the labels. Corn syrup in all that white bread. Corn syrup in your saltines.

    Saltines: 2.14 grams per.

    My grandma kept a sleeve of saltine crackers on the butcher-block top of the portable dishwasher. She also kept a square of butter and a butter knife within reach. If you wanted a saltine, all you had to do was ask. You should bring her one too. Maybe not with butter. Maybe you should bring her three. 2.14 times 3 times all the day long. After the first sleeve was gone, open another. You forgot about the saccharine tabs she put in her coffee. The teaspoon of sugar those replaced, those were carbohydrates the doctor warned about. The diabetes doesn’t recognize Zest saltine crackers. Generic-brand saltines? We’ll never know. We do know she made a noise deep in her throat, like the protest of a mired cow, every time we mentioned Atkins,  ............

  • South Beach, The Zone diets citing how few crackers we’d had that day.

    Corn: Feed. Silage.

    Cows, mired or otherwise, eat about 40 pound of corn silage 30 pounds of haylage and 20 pounds of grain every day.

    Corn. Shucked. Ground. Mashed. Fermented. Ethanol.

    In the United States, we use 20 million barrels of oil a day. Production of ethanol stands at 5.6 billion gallons. A gallon is to a barrel as a single saltine is to a sleeve.

    Potatoes, mashed with whole milk and butter: 17.53 grams.
    Potatoes, Russet, baked: 21.44 grams.

    Obviously, the more fat you can squeeze into the potato, the better they are for you. Once I read a recipe by Joel Buchon. A whole pound of butter for four russet potatoes. If you define forever as the length of your life and you eat four times one pound  ............

  • every day of your life, your life will last forever.

    Corn. Yeast. Distilled. 10% alcohol.

    Ethanol is another name for ethyl alcohol, or “grain alcohol” (CH3CH2OH). The alcohol in a glass of wine, beer, or liquor is ethanol. Fuel ethanol is “denatured” by the addition of 2-5% gasoline, which makes it undrinkable. In the U.S. today fuel ethanol is mostly made from the starch in corn kernels. They make vodka out of potatoes? Why not fuel out of potatoes? Vodka is too precious a resource.

    Pie. Pumpkin 7.74 grams Cherry pie. 9.1 grams Lemon Meringue 13.37 grams.

    I wanted to have pie instead of cake at my wedding. I also wanted my mom and my dad to walk me down the aisle but my dad died of maybe cirrhosis of the liver (vodka plus Chardonnay), maybe heart disease (butter plus New York Strip) so I walked down the aisle alone. He ate salmon twice a week. Swam every day. Still. The alcohol. Still. Such an iconoclast was I. Still. Ended up with cake. Carrot.

  • Corn. Meal.

    Animals consumed most of the corn produced in the U.S. in 2005—54.5 % of 11 billion bushels. The rest went to exports (18.2%), ethanol (14.7%), and domestic food consumption (12.4%). I have met the domestic food consumers. Even though most of the corn goes into the mouth of cows and most of the cows go into the mouth of consumers, the consumers are still not thin.

    Black beans. 41.8 grams per 1 cup.

    I spent most of my life avoiding beans. I never liked them. Refried, aduzi, pinto, lima, corona, kidney, garbanzo. Now I know why. All those carbs. And yet, a good portion of the world survives on beans and they are quite thin and I am not. Quite.

    Corn. Bushel. Wet.

    It takes 2500 gallons of water to grow one bushel of corn. A fire truck holds 1000 gallons of water. Imagine 25 fire trucks lined up next to each other. That’s how much water it takes to grow 20 gallons of ethanol.

  • Beef Tenderloin: 0 grams.

    Knife and fork indeed required. For every slice, redemption. Erase the cracker. Erase the bun. Erase the rice and mashed potatoes. Paleo man ate meat! There was no baguette. I don’t know how long paleo man lived. 32 years? 48? I know how long that cow lived though. That cow and that cow. And that cow.

    Corn. Ethanol. Math.

    According to a study at the University of California at Berkeley, the energy stored in the corn is not free. Tad Patzek, professor of geoengineering at UC Berkeley's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering says, “To grow the corn, you've used up soil and water. We must also account for the disposal of waste water polluted by nitrogen and phosphate fertilizers, as well as by pesticides and herbicides.” When calculating the net energy loss, Patzek and his students took into account the energy equivalent contained within one bushel of corn. According to the report, it takes a total of 0.87 gallons of gasoline equivalent to grow one bushel of corn, which itself contains 3.17 gallons of gasoline equivalent energy. That calculation includes the fossil energy  ............

  • expended from the use of fertilizer, pesticides, machinery, irrigation and other inputs in corn production. After the corn is produced, it then takes another 0.89 gallons of gasoline equivalent to ferment and distill one bushel of corn into 2.66 gallons of ethanol.

    Wine. Red. Holy. 0.5 grams.

    At least it’s not grain alcohol.

    Caffeine-free diet coke. 0 grams.

    The only thing the doctor plus the religion would let my grandma drink.

    Eucharist cracker: 10 grams.

    10 times 0 is zero. A Eucharist times caffeine-free diet coke is closer to God than a Eucharist times wine. They don’t have Eucharist crackers in the Mormon Church. They have Wonder Bread. Still, in the house of the lord, there are no carbohydrates. This is how you transubstantiate. You must get yourself down to  ............

  • zero before you can make it up to heaven. Meat plus meat plus meat times zero. Carbohydrates times zero. My grandmother was large most her life. Camel-like, she stored up all those crackers. As the diabetes constricted her veins, not letting any food reaching her muscles, she became thinner. Thin enough to slip through the eye of a needle. You would have thought it impossible to weigh so little in the middle of the richest country in the world. And yet, the consumption of nothing anoints. All the dead Americans eating corn in the sky.

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