The Last Laugh: Farm Health Vs. City Health

At first blush, farm health is superior to city health. But didn't the combination of city life and country diet kill Elvis?


| June/July 1994


 No one can deny that city living is bad for the body and hard on the mind, or that life in the country is hard on the body but good for the soul. In a city you can live well, even luxuriously; if your soul gets in the way, lose its number. But in the country, I submit you have a better shot at a long and healthy life. To prove this hypothesis, let us briefly compare farm health vs. city health: the two life-styles and specifically, the disparities in diet, exercise, stress levels, and toxin cleansing.

Diet: A typical city breakfast is one piece of dry toast, half a grapefruit, juice, a bowl of cornflakes with skim milk, and one cup of decaffeinated coffee. Aside from quiche, eggs don't appear on the menu very often; city people who care about their health avoid eggs because of their cholesterol. So the typical country breakfast — two fresh, brown eggs easy-over with a slab of country ham and a side of waffles drenched in syrup and butter — would seem to be the serving of a death warrant for the city dweller; three cups of strong coffee with real cream would just about sign it. It was combining a country diet with a city lifestyle that killed Elvis.

Out here, we seldom breakfast on cereal in a bay window like those (city-based) actors in bathrobes who have misplaced their spoons, because most sane country people would prefer real food to a bowl of sweetened kibble. Granola is a city food. Carbo loading was invented in the country, where calories burn off fast, which leads me to...

Exercise: In the city, you sit perfectly still in a chair during breakfast, scanning a newspaper to stay abreast of the murder, mayhem, scandals, scams, swindles, and stock market collapses, all the jangling data to prime you for another day in the concrete jungle. Then you sit perfectly still in a car or train seat until you arrive at the office, where you sit perfectly still in a chair and maybe take an electronic bath in video-terminal rays for eight hours. At the end of the day, you go to a health club and make a little sweat.

But experts agree that running, deep breathing, and/or hard physical labor is the best way to work off stress and stay fit. No problem. Getting out of bed, you observe that the chickens are in the garden or the horse has picked the gate latch and is bolting for the hills. Fifteen minutes of chasing chickens is equivalent to an hour of jogging, but catching a horse makes the Boston Marathon seem like a stroll.

By this time your blood is circulating pretty well, and it's time to get to work. A spade is the ultimate implement for exercise in the country. Few health clubs have shovels in the weight room, but this tool is unsurpassed for working the entire upper body: biceps, triceps, neck, shoulders, quads, pecs, and abs, not to mention the thighs, calves, ankles, and toes. A day spent digging in the garden and pushing a wheelbarrow full of dirt or manure simply cannot be compared to a day spent sitting in a chair, screaming on the phone, and chewing antacid tablets.





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