640 Food

It’s not just for breakfast anymore

(Well, actually, it is. For the time being, anyway.)

There I go again, saying I’d abandon the Dewey (R) System and then going ahead and using it anyway. Like I said, the number of hits on this blog is anemic; today, just by accident, I may have found at least one reason why, other than the blog’s having no coherent theme and the likelihood of its being off-putting in polite company. Reason number three: it seems that anyone using a PC without a high-powered microscope probably can’t see the little gewgaws on the right-hand side, the bits and bobs that are so very important to my work here. And, oh, yeah, reason no. 4: this blog is all about me, and as I’m learning more and more, it ain’t all about you.

Be that as it my, I’m asking you all for a favor. I would love to speak with anyone who has any knowledge whatsoever of the origins of the federal School Breakfast Program. By anyone, I mean anyone. Even if you happened to be watering the plants or washing the windows and overheard something when federal officials blew through your town back in the early 1960s and asked all the local city, town or school officials whether students were getting anything to eat for breakfast, please let me know.

I’m doing a research project (full disclosure: it’s with my dad, who used to work for the Agriculture Department) on the School Breakfast Program and a whole passel of other federal child nutrition programs. It’s not a big, dark, secret, Deep-Throat-meets-Michael-Moore type of thing. We’d just like to know how the program got started, who was there when they started it, what research they did, especially in the field, to support getting the federal government involved in school breakfast. I have a whole big  list of other questions I still haven’t finished writing yet. We’d like to know how many sites they visited and who they brought with them.  Respond to me here and I’ll figure out how to get in touch with you without getting all the spammers involved.


John Leonard

Chinese New Year's on Argyle Street, 1/31/2009

Chinese New Year's on Argyle Street, 1/31/2009

770.2 Miscellaneous photography

After watching the Chinese New Year’s parade, we and a friend of ours got some pho down the street. I have seen many varieties of pho before that included tripe, but this place had them all beat: you could get pho with penis. Next time I’m there, I may ask every single person in the restaurant if they had pho with penis. Not such a big deal, I suppose; bull gonads are quite a delicacy in some parts of the American South.

Prevention Magazine Editors. The Complete Book of Vitamins. Emmaus, Pa: Rodale Press. 1984.

p. 62 – Nicotine increases the production of blood platelets and platelet aggregation, which may trigger the formation of arterial blood clots leading to atherosclerosis. Daily doses of vitamin E decrease platelet aggregation. At a level of 1,800 IU, platelet aggregation is reduced by half; however, at this level, blood absorption of vitamin E is also cut off.

p. 63 – The attraction between hemoglobin and carbon monoxide (CO) is 200 times greater than that between hemoglobin and oxygen. Thus, when CO enters the bloodstream, cells are deprived of oxygen and instead are poisoned with CO.

In the Journal of Orthomolecular Psychiatry, Dr. Irwin Stone explains that vitamin C detoxifies the carcinogenic substance benzpyrene in the liver by hydroxylation, the process of raising the content of a chemical compound, rendering it harmless.

p. 64 – Dr. Stone then cites studies that show that vitamin C detoxifies CO, arsenic and cyanide; “vitamin C is a wide-spectrum detoxicant.”

p. 65 – “The findings must be ‘further evaluated’ before they can be extrapolated for human use.”

p. 66 – hazards of nutritional therapy:

  • Self-diagnosis may be overemphasized instead of competent professional advice being sought.
  • Certain nutrients have the ability to change the results of some diagnostic laboratory test.
  • Some nutrients can have harmful effects of their own.

p. 69 – If you take large amounts of carotene, your skin may turn orange.

p. 73 – 300 mg/d of vitamin C can kill e. coli bacteria, the most common cause of urinary tract infections

Magnesium can reduce kidney stones.

p. 80 – aspirin does not prevent heart attacks

p. 88 – large doses of vitamin A reverse night blindness

p. 89 – in patients suffering from Crohn’s disease, vitamin A returns bowel functions to normal

p. 97 – symptoms of heavy menstruation can be alleviated with vitamin supplements

Back before Whole Foods became the Wal-Mart/McDonald’s of overpriced food, there were local stores like Bread & Circus here in Boston and B. Gordon’s in Rockville, Md. There were also a lot of little co-ops like Glut!, which is apparently (and miraculously) still operating.

B. Gordon’s was kind of like an intermediate step between the catch-as-catch-can style of Glut! — where you might find on any given day that the orange bin contained nothing but a yellowish-green mold and some optimistic fruit flies — and the militaristic precision of Whole Foods. I went to B. Gordon’s one day looking for my favorite yogurt (I think it was Brown Cow) only to find the shelves bare, and a well-meaning staffer who said, “Ooh, that’s not good!” About six months later, Whole Foods swooped in, set up shop across Rockville Pike, and that was the end of that.

Here’s a B. Gordon’s shopping list from March 11, 1991:

5 or 6 tofu classics
3 lbs tofu — hard
Health Valley stuff
brown rice
blue corn chips
fruit & vegetables — broccoli
2 big tubs maple yogurt
dried fruit stuff
bulk stuff

Do I shop at Whole Foods? Yeah.

I thought I was long past the age when a quirky Web site could tickle my funny bone, but I got a snicker tonight out of, the online home of the New England Pumpkin Grower’s Association. It brought back memories of the days when chuckles would erupt through the office as people clicked on the link in their emails for sites like,, I Kiss You!!! and one other really, really good one that I just thought of but can’t remember now. Oh, wait, I just remembered:

On, you can check out Pumpkin Toons, get some voyeuristic thrills on the pumpkin cam or place your bid in the Southern New England Giant Pumpkin Growers’ live seed auction later this week.