Saipan's time-honored diet of potato chips, canned luncheon meats, and soda pop is as healthy as it is elegant. It provides the most essential nutrients such as salt, sodium nitrite, and sugar. Still, nothing is so good that it can't stand some improvement. For example, I've found that hot dogs are an acceptable substitute for canned meat. A properly prepared wiener will meet the daily requirement for mustard intake, and the pickle relish completely covers the fruit and vegetable angle.
But I hedge my bets by taking vitamins, which gives a slob like me the illusion of dietary diligence. I am, in fact, the curator of the Museum of Vitamins and Stuff.
The Museum of Vitamins and Stuff is housed in a cardboard box. And since I happen to own it, I can give you a free tour.
As I lift the box lid with an appropriate air of prideful flourish, you'll notice an inventory of pills that traces every major nutrition fad that has come along since Muskrat Love topped the pop music charts.
I'll start with my most recent acquisition. This is a bottle of turmeric.
I heard about turmeric, which is a spice, on a late night radio show. A guest expert was extolling its benefits. He sounded pretty convincing to me, so by the time the next guest was explaining the recent increase in UFO sightings, I was ordering a bottle of these miracle turmeric pills, which, it is said, can help fend off all manner of ailments.
Before my turmeric acquisition was my vitamin D inventory. This has a little story behind it. I used to know an old-time doctor. He was a pilot and we'd swap flying stories. He told me that a lot of people were getting messed up because they didn't have enough vitamin D. He said that it's normally made by the skin from sunlight exposure, but people spend a lot of time indoors now, which has thrown our evolutional mechanism a curve ball.
The doc would not let you out of his sight unless you promised to buy vitamin D. All my friends said he must be a crank, but his logic sounded reasonable to me.
Lo and behold, a couple of years later, vitamin D did, indeed, become a big deal, with many a newspaper article extolling its virtues. So I guess the old-time doc was right. Not that I ever doubted him. After all, how can anybody doubt a pilot?
Peering back into my museum, our next exhibit is a bottle of pomegranate extract. A pomegranate is an apple-sized fruit that has a lot of juicy seeds inside. The extract was advertised a lot just before vitamin D became a star. It's pretty expensive, about $16 a bottle, which is why we don't give free samples here at the Museum of Vitamins and Stuff.
But if you want to talk really expensive, then here's one for you: ginseng. It's not in my museum, but it deserves an honorable mention because it's a big deal in the exotic East.
I've seen Chinese stores that display prize ginseng under glass counters just like expensive jewelry. We're talking about $3,000 a pound in some cases. It's a root and some of the most valuable specimens come from the U.S., where some guys have made fortunes digging it up or cultivating it.
OK, let's get back to the museum, where the next exhibit is fish oil. I didn't even know that fish had oil. Talk about a biological mystery. Anyway, the pills themselves are liquid-filled capsules that are sort of squishy. I wonder if they'd make good bait. Has anybody tried that?
And now for the prehistoric wing of the museum. Please, folks, no photographs; the parchment is sensitive to camera flashes. As your eyes adjust to the darkness, we hearken back to the days of manual typewriters and vinyl phonograph records. And that's when vitamin E was the fad. It was supposed to guard against aging.
Everybody in college was gobbling these pills by the handful as a ticket to eternal youth. But nobody much talks about it nowadays, so the bloom is off the flower, or at least off some of the people.
The last exhibit is the big daddy of the vitamin world: vitamin C. When I was a kid this was the first and last word in keeping healthy. If anyone within a 40-foot radius of you sneezed, you'd immediately eat 500 milligrams of vitamin C. You could buy it in little rolls, just like candy and mints. Thus packaged, stores displayed it next to the potato chips at the checkout counters. Coincidence? I think not. Good nutrition leaves nothing to chance.
And thus concludes our tour. You may now see the egress. As for me, it's time for a soda pop and some chips; all this health stuff makes me hungry.
Visit Ed Stephens Jr. at EdStephensJr.com. His column runs every Friday.