Fake News (Part 1)

Here is a fake news article:

You People Are Too Light!

Statistics gathered for the 2010 census declared that about 1/3 of adults in Houghton County, Michigan, need to gain some weight. Local physicians have been hounding their patients to no avail:

“I told Dean he needs to spend more time on the couch with his remote in one hand and the other hand inside a bag of potato chips. But he insists of biking winter, spring, summer, and fall. He only eats low fat, and just laughs at me when I tell him a good full bodied beer before bed would help him sleep better.”

“But Doc, if I have a headache in the morning, I may not be able to do my 3 mile treadmill before my flax and oatmeal hot breakfast.”

Local doctors are exasperated and some claim they may seek other professions due the stress of seeing such healthy people for their annual physicals.

Now for the real news:

Over 1/3 of all adults in Houghton County, Michigan are obese. Of the top 10 causes of death in the United States, 6 have a component in obesity. Unless you smoke, probably the best thing you can do for your health is to lose weight.

But how? Weight gain/loss is a factor of two things, exercise and diet. I grew up in a suburb, and can attest to the lack of physical exercise available. You drive everywhere you go. When you are too cold, you turn up the thermostat. You buy your groceries at the market. Entertainment is delivered to your home.

Life here in the country is a bit different. During the summer we are outside a lot working in gardens, cutting, splitting, and stacking firewood for the next winter’s heat, cutting grass, walking, and all manner of physical activities (yes, those activities include swatting mosquitoes.) Winter sees snow to be moved, firewood to be carried, roofs to be shoveled, ashes to be dumped, and dogs to be walked. If we owned farm animals, the physical chores would increase.

Come spring, the most physical season of all, maple syrup time arrives. Much of it is on snowshoes in the early part of the year. Some years the snow leaves early and the walking is easier, but some years there is snow to the end. There are buckets to empty into the storage barrel, firewood to carry, specific gravity to be tested, and finished product to be carried out of the woods.

I’m suggesting a couple of things. The old model of factories surrounded by suburbs is rapidly becoming outmoded. Many jobs can be done from home. Homes could be spread out such that some acreage would be available. Firewood could be grown and harvested sustainably. Food could be grown in gardens and a few farm animals could round out much of a family’s diet.

Like a lot of people, I’d sure rather just stay inside and rest all day. But when there are outside chores to be done, I’ve found that once I’m outside, one thing leads to another and pretty soon my heart rate is up. I get addicted to the flavor of our own squash, green beans, dried tomatoes, and garden onions. Besides the flavor, there is the satisfaction of knowing we’ve done a lot of it by ourselves.

Humans are smart. We can do a better job designing the communities we live in. Some communities are already bike and pedestrian friendlier. Let’s figure out a way to live that encourages us to get outside and sweat a little. It would probably do most of us some good… except for Dean.

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