By Joe Rector

I don’t know about the rest of you, but the WHO’s latest proclamation turned out to be one big bummer for me. Processed meats, those wonderful things like bologna, ham, sausage, and bacon, are now declared cancer causing. Are you kidding?

For years I’ve known that eating hotdogs and bologna and other meats in this group weren’t especially good for me. Still, I grew up eating this stuff, as did my grandparents and parents. It’s part of what the lower middle class and middle class have eaten for years. My mother fried bologna and Spam for supper on more than one occasion. Cub Scout gatherings, as well as picnics and cookouts, always served up hotdogs and hamburgers. Chili was available for those who wanted to douse a dog with something other than mustard. The processing of those foods certainly helped make them tasty and become favorites for millions of folks. Now, we’re told that eating the stuff increases our chances of developing cancer.

Before this, we were warned about the dangers of red meat. It will choke the life from us as it clogs arteries and causes heart attacks and other threatening conditions. The ones who know what’s best for us implored us to turn our backs on red meat in favor of chicken, turkey, and fish. Hey, I love all those as well, but at some point I swore that if I ate one more piece of chicken that I’d start spitting feathers.

How in the world are people supposed to patch together a diet without a pound of hamburger? Meatloaf was a once-a-week meal when we grew up. Spaghetti with meat sauce still is a favorite in our house. I guarantee you that I am not a fan of pasta topped only with tomato sauce. Nope, just give me hamburger mixed with garlic, cumin, chili powder, and tomato sauce crowning my plate of noodles. Too, a weekly menu without hamburgers and tater tots violates my sense of what is right, what’s normal.

I understand that the WHO and all medical groups are trying to make recommendations that will help our lives to be healthier. Yes, we must watch for too much cholesterol-laden foods that might adversely affect our blood pressure, hearts, and arteries. At the same time, I remember at one point such groups warned of the dangers of eating chocolate. Then, they cautioned us that coffee would kill us. Not long after those announcements, professionals changed their minds and told us that the two things were okay to consume.

It seems that if the medical community had its way, we’d all live on a diet of leaves and twigs. If something tastes good, it’s bad for us and will kill us. I don’t eat all the right foods, but I do try to make some right decisions. With this new report out, I will cut back on the bologna sandwiches that I eat for lunch each day. Hey, I offset the sandwich with a baggie of raw carrots, and I eat apple sauce or an apple as well. Seaweed and artichoke hearts and Brussel sprouts are NOT claiming space in my diet. Instead, I’ll eat cooked cabbage, broccoli, and fresh asparagus. Isn’t that a good compromise?

Before long, other studies will come out that tell us that the evils of processed meat are not so grave. I doubt already that these foods are as bad as cigarettes, something that the WHO stated and which immediately discredited much of what they claim. Moderation might creep into my consumption of these new taboo foods, but I’m not giving them up completely. I gave up cigarettes several years ago; I’m not about to give up hamburgers. What’s that old saying:  “live well, eat healthy, and die anyway?” To this latest report, all I can say is “Baloney!”