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Reality Check

I keep seeing references to Dr. Regina Benjamin’s weight as being something important to her appointment as Surgeon General. While she isn’t as svelte as Dr. Antonia Novello, the Surgeon General under GHW Bush, Dr. Benjamin also lacks Dr. Novello’s fraud conviction.

Dr. Benjamin reflects the reality of the area she lives in, Bayou la Batre, Alabama, a fishing village on the Gulf Coast. There are a lot of people who are carrying extra weight in the area because they have limited access to good food at a reasonable price. While seafood, in good years, can be great tasting and plentiful, man does not live by protein alone, and that’s where the problems begin.

You can’t grow much in a salt marsh. The fresh fruits and vegetables that the nutritionists talk about are a wonderful concept if they are available. The closest store that would qualify as what people think of when “supermarket” is said is a minimum of 20 miles away by road. The markets around the Bayou are the equivalent of “convenience stores” in the rest of the country. They generally carry products for the Vietnamese or Mexican segments of the local population.

The common menus feature rice, corn meal, and beans, and anything green comes from a can. People eat a lot of fish and some chicken, but beef and pork are special occasion foods. You gain weight on diets like this, and there is no way of avoiding it without a lot of manual labor. It is what poor people eat on the Gulf Coast, and Dr. Benjamin is well acquainted with poor people.


1 Comrade Kevin { 07.25.09 at 4:52 pm }

I take pride in her appointment because her alma mater and mine are the same—The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).
.-= ´s last blog ..The Plight of the Activist =-.

2 Bryan { 07.25.09 at 5:10 pm }

She’s “good people”, and she earned this.

3 Kryten42 { 07.26.09 at 2:34 am }

I don’t know anything about Dr. Benjamin, but from what you’ve said here and what I’ve read, she certainly seems like the ‘good people’ type. 🙂 Amazing! I wish her all the best and hope she is great at coping with stress! I suspect she’ll be dealing with that a lot in her appointment, sadly. Still, with good family and people around her, she should do fine. 🙂

4 cookie jill { 07.26.09 at 12:21 pm }

C. Everett Koop wasn’t bony. Newt Gingrich isn’t svelte.
Her weight is an issue because she is a woman…and the Rethugs have nothing to offer our country’s discourse than to be racist, sexist, imagist, etc.
.-= ´s last blog ..More Peruvian Paso perusing? =-.

5 Bryan { 07.26.09 at 4:20 pm }

She should lose weight if she moves to DC, as she will have access to fresh food, other than seafood. It’s all well and good to complain about what people eat, but the truth is that people eat what’s available and they can afford.

If they would like to improve the American diet, carpet bomb agribusinesses so the small farms that produce variety can survive.

Stop blaming consumers for choices made by corporations. No one asked me if I thought substituting high fructose corn syrup for cane sugar was a good idea.