Musing during a break at a family reunion in Manitoba, Canada:

The septic pumper begins to pump-out our neighbor’s tank – tanks are pumped regularly in Matlock and the effluent allowed to work its way back to the lake through settling ponds, gravel, roots, reeds, and cover crops – I think about how we used to blame our parents, schools, teachers, for all that was wrong with us. Now many of us blame our food.

Here, the community septic system is “state of the art” and, we are told, wins praise from around the globe and is emulated elsewhere. The Matlock community chose to have individual septic tanks pumped rather than invest in a series of pumping stations. Note: many tanks are below lake level and to make the septic system work, the effluent has to be moved to higher ground, something of an achievement on land squished flat by a 5,000 foot thick glacier 20,000 years ago.

You might wonder what septic has to do with blaming food for our problems. I will get to that shortly. The septic system here is awesome. It’s on the western shore of Lake Winnipeg. It removes phosphorus as well as other chemicals, keeping it out of the Lake where otherwise it causes deadly algae blooms. Algae blooms are implicated in the mental confusion and ultimate death of sea lions and harbor seals off Northern California. Researchers in Manitoba are checking to determine the system’s effect on medications such as birth control, antibiotics, etc., which routinely are found in North American lakes and rivers.

Oh, yes: Blaming food. There’s no connection between food and the Matlock Septic system. The system has been created by community members intent on reducing their community’s impact on the environment. In doing so, they created research opportunities to determine if their design might benefit others by eliminating not only the bacteria, but also harmful chemicals and potentially the residues of chemicals we put in our bodies and those of the animals we eat. These community members reduce stress on the environment.

On the other hand people  create more stress in their own lives when they blame their food for their problems. Many argue they must be “compliant:”  No salt, no sugar, no oil, no gluten, no white rice. They are stress cases and they take stress with them. We are on the road and we see this often. In restaurants, some potential diner demands, “What can you do for me?” rather than ask if some menu items might meet their needs. Years ago, I would join friends at a local drive-in restaurant. They ordered hamburgers. I ordered the bun with all the fixings, just not the meat patty. I didn’t worry about the cost nor did I want to stress out the wait person or myself. And the last thing I wanted to do is to explain, but rather enjoy the company of friends.

Today, it is easier to eat out. If the menu is not plant based, I’ll order a salad or just French fries. I don’t use oil at home, but on the road – no problem. No problem =  no stress. No stress =  better health. And, by the way, if asked why no meat patty, “I have allergies.”