Carvings May 15, 2021

What will your life be like in 2022?

            We are finally beginning to enter a post-COVID era.  What will life be like a year from now?

            It will take a long time for us to be less wary of crowds, concerts and even church services. Not only because of COVID but because we have become aware that nasty germs lurk everywhere and the next pandemic might be just around the corner. There will be a certain amount of complacency, of course as the threat of becoming infected becomes a memory. Most Americans will have been vaccinated against this quirky coronavirus by year’s end but there will be a smoldering fear that will linger for many months. Even the scientists who developed these vaccines don’t know how long true protection will last.

            Will you wear a mask when away from home, or at least have one available in pocket, purse or your car’s console? Will you unconsciously maintain social distancing, as if by habit? Will you frequent your favorite venues – restaurants, theaters, and clubs – less frequently?

            Here are some positive things to consider. First, we know that the coronavirus vaccines prevent serious disease and the need for hospitalization, even though some are rookies in the sense that they have no long track record.

            A second “positive” is that the enormous effort to come up with a vaccine has spawned a treasure trove of vaccine-related knowledge that will certainly lead to a long-lasting influenza vaccine, vaccines that we will take in our favorite drink or snack, childhood vaccines so effective that first-graders will be spared a plethora of booster shots, vaccines against cancer, heart disease, even obesity.

            When the next pandemic arrives – and there certainly will be more in the coming decades – health authorities ought to have their act together so that there will be no need to bring nations’ economies to their knees with draconian shutdowns.

            Let’s hope that the new normal will be a blessing, not a burden.


            What’s the skinny on organic? There’s no good answer. In its wisdom, the government has established five different kinds of organic food, and trying to remember which is which is a real challenge.

            The argument continues to rage over whether organic food is nutritionally superior or tastes better – or both. This is never going to be settled! There are too many zealots/moneyed interests/dumb regulations (take your pick). Judging from the paucity of publications on this topic in the past few years the scientific community doesn’t seem to consider the organic issue worth pursuing.

            A few studies have shown that there isn’t much difference between the amount of leftover pesticides on organic and “regular” produce, partly because of government regulation and partly because lots of that stuff is removed or evaporates by the time it gets to you. Some pesticides drift over onto organic fields from the “regular” farms.

            There is some increased risk of cancer to farm workers who handle pesticides and fertilizers but the amount that the average buyer ingests is not really a great threat. There is lots more risk from tobacco smoke, even for non-smokers.

            If taste is what really matters to you, grow your own fruits and vegetables or shop at your nearest farmer’s market, where the produce isn’t picked long before it’s ripe and doesn’t have to be shipped hundreds of miles, stored in warehouses and gassed to keep it looking fresh.

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