January 24, 2011
Based on the tweets I saw today, Rush Limbaugh launched into an extended diatribe against the dietary inadequacies of fruits and vegetables. He did this because our First Lady, Michelle Obama, has been spending much time touting the value of these foods as a means to combat obesity. Even if we stipulate that Rush is accurate, the body of human knowledge—the science, if you will—surrounding the benefits of more plant fiber (not Metamucil, mind you) is vast and undeniable. They have been a part of a healthy diet for a very long time.
Plants have evolved fruits to benefit themselves: they are seed-dispersal mechanisms with benefits to the animals that would aid them in their effort to perpetuate the species. Yes, the trace elements found in fruits and vegetables are miniscule in amount and easily supplemented. Yes, fruits are about 90% water and greens are about 70%. Yet, it is the dietary packaging of a whole fruit or a fresh vegetable that provides the best means to get the best benefit. Instead of trying to make a case for fruits and vegetables here, just look at the health profile of a person who lives without roughage. Find me a man who lives on grains and the flesh of animals alone and I will show you a very unhealthy man.
But because Mrs. Obama has chosen to promote fruits and vegetables, Rush has chosen to attack the low hanging fruit instead of going after the real prize. Sarah Palin is equally guilty of this by celebrating with baked goods in response to Mrs. Obama’s finger-wagging.
I have a personal rule. I prefer not to advise pundits and public figures on what they should say. Whenever I do, I imagine myself wearing their faces and bodies—pundit-drag if you will—just to resist the temptation. I can bear to do it this time tonight. Rush and Sarah are doing their adherents a disservice. Eating fruits and vegetables are an act of free will, of personal responsibility to one’s own health and long-term enjoyment of life. Just because Michelle Obama wants to beat us over the head and tell us we’re such horrible fatasses for not eating enough fruits and vegetables, doesn’t mean that we should go after the fruits and vegetables themselves.
If you still can’t separate the tyrant from her vegetal yoke, think of it this way. We like to say that guns don’t kill people; people kill people. Well, fruits and vegetables don’t oppress people; the mannish fishwife married to the President of the United States does.