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Pandemic Cooking

Summary:
The Coronavirus Pandemic and the government shutdown of the economy has put tens of millions out of work. A significant portion of those out of work are lower income Americans often those without a financial safety net. As of today (4/18/2020) CNN said 22 million have filed for unemployment compensation. Lines at food banks have grown incredibly with lines as long as a mile. This essay is going to talk a little about cost effective nutrition in this time of collective misery. We are literally all in this together now. The human body needs three main kinds of nutrition: protein, carbohydrates and and fat. Protein and fat are essential without it the body will wither and die. No one ever died from lack of carbohydrates IF they have

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The Coronavirus Pandemic and the government shutdown of the economy has put tens of millions out of work. A significant portion of those out of work are lower income Americans often those without a financial safety net. As of today (4/18/2020) CNN said 22 million have filed for unemployment compensation. Lines at food banks have grown incredibly with lines as long as a mile. This essay is going to talk a little about cost effective nutrition in this time of collective misery. We are literally all in this together now.

The human body needs three main kinds of nutrition: protein, carbohydrates and and fat. Protein and fat are essential without it the body will wither and die. No one ever died from lack of carbohydrates IF they have stores of body fat. Body fat is not bad if kept to reasonable levels. Do not look to professional athletes and supermodels for body image and food eating behavior they are freaks compared to the rest of us.

A little biochemistry: proteins are the essential building blocks for the molecules that give us life. DNA in our cell nucleus performs one simple role it encodes the proteins that the body needs. Every four nucleic acid bases encodes for one of the twenty amino acids from which proteins are made. There are many types of proteins but structural, enzymes (literally the molecules of life) and regulatory and certainly some whose reason for existence still baffles scientists. Carbohydrates are broken down into glycogen which the body stores fort short term energy consumption. Excess carbohydrates are converted into fat. Fats are the most chemically reduced energy molecules animals can use. Fats can be converted into energy when all the bodies glycogen has been consumed. The sensation of hitting the wall is familiar to many marathon runners. It is that point when all glycogen has been consumed and metabolism shifts over to fat burning. It is a feeling one does not forget if experienced. There are many other chemicals the body needs but in much smaller amounts things like vitamins and co-factors as they are called. A well-balanced diet provides these normally.

When social distancing was announced many state governors mandated this by proclamation many grocery stores started having empty shelves. I like to shop for food everyday and this habit gave me some insight into purchasing behavior. The first thing I noticed was rice suddenly began vanishing off the shelves. Whole milk followed suit as did much of the meat. Most stores only have a days meat on display and suppliers and the butchering process is designed for just in time delivery which works great until deliveries get interrupted. The whole process from raising cows/poultry and pork is designed to always meet this just in time demand. Interruptions cause shortages and waste. With restaurants closed excess capacity get destroyed which is the waste.

I had many Mormon friends growing up and I became familiar with their beliefs one of which is survival stores. The religious dogma demands each Mormon family have a years storage food for each member of the family for times just like these. Why it is dogma I never understood but it is a plank of their belief. If you do not have a year of storage food please read on I will elucidate what I have found true regarding nutrition in this pandemic/economic disaster.

The miracle of capitalism and the market economy is that the cost of proper nutrition for a healthy well-balanced diet is about $3 per day roughly a third of a single hour of the current minimum wage. In these trying times I will explain a simple system for doing this.

Cereal grains are the staple of the third world. Fresh meat is a luxury of the developing world and an essential part of the first world. Meat does not store well for long periods of time unless frozen. Beef jerky is an exception to this but who Wants to eat beef jerky regularly? A family of four’s freezer for their year of storage food would be quite large, expensive and out of range of most families. Instead we turn to grain. Bread, butter and a multi-vitamin pill is all on needs in trying times. Wheat bread, my preferred staple is loaded with proteins. Butter is need to provide the essential fatty acid the body cannot make and without which one will eventually die a horrible malnourished death. Margarine does not contain this. Margarine is a product of an oil refinery not a farm. One of the tenets of the famous Atkins Diet is never eat margarine; butter. Butter is much preferred both by palate and nutritional requirements.

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