There's nothing quite like a Saturday morning drive to the Farmers' Market. In Laguna there's a tradition of eccentric characters who assume responsibility for greeting people. The most famous of the Laguna greeters was Eiler Larsen who died in the '70s after years of standing on the corner of Forest Avenue cheerfully greeting perfect strangers. Eiler, a Danish immigrant, could have been the model for Forest Gump for he once walked across the US on the way to Laguna and having found a town as funky as he was, made it his home.
When I saw this cheerful soul standing on Eiler's corner, hard by Main Beach, I jumped out of my car to take this picture. With the mission of greeting the world, this was one happy guy.
Main Beach is rich in character. On the opposite corner I found a young couple passing out invitations to come to Jesus. Impressed with their sincerity I stopped to talk. "Do you think you'll get to Heaven?" they asked. "I'm doing my best," I replied. I couldn't help but mention that when I was their age, I spent 2-1/2 years as a missionary tromping around Central America. That got me some respect but I had respect for them also.
Forest Avenue is named for the Eucalyptus trees that once graced the neighborhood. They were planted in the 1880s as a way to homestead government land. Only a few have survived but the street was given new life by the charm of the shops and botiques.
There's a saying, often expressed by people taken aback by the funkiness of Laguna Beach: "Only in Laguna!" It's not always a compliment but I love this town and most of the characters in it. I just started going to the Farmers' Market a few years ago. It's a great place to walk around on a sunny Saturday morning and you can count on meeting someone you know, or wish you knew. It's a great little market.
The beautiful wife once sent me to buy a chuck roast. I came back with one that cost $12/lb. It seemed a lot to pay but the guy below (with his sweetheart getting him ready for a picture) was a good salesman. The beef, from an Oregon ranch, is pasture-raised, finished on alfalfa, and then dry aged for 21 days. We invited the kids over and had it for Sunday dinner. Best, and healthiest, chuck roast we had ever eaten; worth every penny. There's a URL for his website in the picture.
Katie, picture below, is a hard working girl and an advocate for "good, healthy food." She makes an incredible chili. I once bought a quart (it's not cheap), added a can of beans to it and took it to the church chili contest. Won the first place ribbon, thanks to Katie. Katie was pleased when I told her about it.
On this day I tried to buy some of her beef stock. She buys bones from a butcher and cooks up big batches. Unfortunately she was out, but it's on my list to catch her when she has some in stock. You can visit her blog, "How to heal a cowboy."
Oh, I almost forgot. I have a book report on Fat Chance, by Dr. Robert Lustig. You may know Lustig for his YouTube video on the dangers of fructose, "Sugar, The Bitter Truth". If you want to understand what the fructose in refined sugar or HFCS does to your body, check the video. The video ends with a poignant endorsement of the natural fructose in fruit: "When God makes a poison, He wraps it in the antidote." So enjoy your fruit.
Lustig makes the point in Fat Chance that the primary factor behind today’s disastrous obesity epidemic is excessive dietary sugar (in all forms) and refined grains. As noted before, sugar and refined carbs drive insulin levels up and insulin causes fat to be stored in your body, and keeps it there. So to reduce body fat, you have to keep insulin in a healthy range. Here are highlights from Lustig's thoughts:
#1. A high insulin level drives the storage and retention of fat. The three primary causes of high insulin are: a) any sugary high G.I. meal; b) a history of high G.I. foods (which make you insulin resistant so the pancreas has to pump out even more insulin), and c) persistent excessive stress which increases insulin through the action of cortisol, the stress hormone.
#2. So, per #1 above, reducing the sugar in your diet is just one of three possible remedies. Insulin resistance and protracted stress may also be factors. How do you know if you have insulin resistance? It’s not easy to determine but because of the link to visceral fat, your waist circumference is a simple test. If a guy has a waist over 40”, or a girl over 35“, you’re likely insulin resistance. Lots of people have it.
Another check is the waist-to-hip ratio. If the ratio is greater than 1.0 for men (meaning your waist is bigger than your hips) or .85 for girls you may be packing the dangerous visceral fat around your organs that is linked to insulin resistance. This is a good reason to consult your doctor. (Percutaneous fat, the stuff around your waist you can grab, is less a worry.)
#3. I have a little experience with stress, the 3rd cause of high insulin. In this difficult economic time there’s plenty of stress to go around. Stress can be a deep-rooted problem and we’ve talked about it here and here. The only thing I might add is to get plenty of exercise (besides relieving stress it also turns up your metabolism), stay close to your loved ones, and trust in the good Lord.
#4. A diet rich in fiber is another way to keep blood glucose levels in a healthy range. Fiber slows the absorption of sugar so you get a longer benefit of a meal and keep hunger in check. Fiber has lots of other benefits—more reasons to eat a plant-based diet.
Talking so much about refined sugar and other refined carbs has put a dark cloud over me this week, so I thought a stroll through Laguna would help. And that’s my report on Saturday morning in Laguna, and Lustig’s book, Fat Chance.