by Christel Swasey

Mental Health Hazard, Advertising Leeks

With cold weather keeping us indoors and Christmasey television shows attracting us to our couches, winter families (at least mine) end up watching a lot of television.  We know there is a naturally occurring junk food-and-couch connection.  But watching loads of television can be hazardous to health in more ways than one.  I’m talking about the unhealthy side of  t.v. ads to body and mind.

First, there’s the mental health hazard of t.v. ads’ economic brainwashing. How does anyone maintain mental (not to mention economic) health in the face of such ad-brainwashing culture?  It goes:  “Jingle-shop!  Jingle-spend!  Spending-equals-love!”  (If you really love someone, you will dive into strangulating debt to get them expensive gifts)  Or try another favorite t.v. ad-brainwashing sermon, which goes sort of like this:  “If –and only if– you buy this product, (insert any product here) you will be permanently, absolutely bulletproof” (i.e., pretty/handsome/healthy/rich/well-traveled/tidy/efficient/famous/happy/immortal etc.)  If only it were true.

But  this year, the ads that are driving me the most crazy and making me wonder about our national health seriously, are the medicine ads.  It seems there are more ads for –of all things– medicine, than ever.  Medicines for depression.  Medicines for high cholesterol.  Medicine for headaches.  Medicines for anything!  Of course, in the ads, any scary or deadly side effects of these medicines are minimized, while horrific symptoms of the ailments (and the medicine’s curative benefits) are trumpeted loudly and clearly.

Meanwhile, (no coincidence here!) there are the food advertisements.  Ads for hamburgers and fries.  Ads for cookie dough.  Ads for caffeinated, sugary soda pop.

Do you think, possibly, by any chance, there could be a connection between our culture’s proliferation of junk food ads and our ever-increasing numbers of medical ads?

Think about it.  Healthy looking, disease-free, fat-free ad models are promoting the very foods that, eaten habitually, are proven to create obesity, disease, depression, and death.  Lies, lies.

It’s almost as if someone is simultaneously creating and solving a problem.  For money. Hmmmm.

My point is simple:  we have to stop swallowing the brainwashing so passively and use our brains.  These are ads, not advice from mom, and not contextually honest scientific research results.  They are ads, designed to make us spend.  That’s all they are.

But advertising works, so healthy wanna-bees must think smart.  Admit that no one (not even you) is immune to the multi-faceted messages in ads, not even though we think we are immune, and not even though we all make fun of ads.  Advertising has been proven to work; that’s why advertisers pay the millions.

And realize that we have to go out of our way to think of healthy choices.  We’re probably not ever going to see an ad for anything Mother Nature designed.

The miraculous properties of plain water will not be advertised (unless it’s part of some political environmental agenda).   The curative powers of herbs and vegetables will not be advertised, though they are real.  You won’t be seeing a million dollar Christmas Season ad for hot, homemade, inexpensive, cancer-defying leeks.  Nope.

Can you even imagine it?  –An ad that went like this: “Yummy leeks!  Super leeks!  High in Vitamin K and A!  And lots of manganese!  Plenty of fiber, low in calories, totally fat free!  Find out why leeks were the favorite vegggie of Emperor Nero!  Come and get your warm and zesty leek soup today!”

Ha!

But that kind of ad, over time, might –if it existed– cancel out the need for so many medicines and medicine ads.

Just saying.

Anyway.  In case this (agenda-free) leek ad got your taste buds going, here’s my extremely uncomplicated recipe for leek soup.

Easy Leek Soup

1. Rinse and chop leeks into 1/2″ slices) Use about four large leeks. Chop off any part you don’t want to eat.  I use all the white to dark green.

2. Sautee leeks in 2 tablespoons olive oil.  (Complication alert: if you have time, add fresh pressed garlic here; if not, use garlic powder later.)

3. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, and whatever herbs you like.  (Anything!  I like thyme, marjoram, dill, cilantro, or parsley)

4. Cook until the leeks are softened but not brown.  Puree half of them.  Pour all of them into a soup pot or crock pot.

5. Add 3-4 cups low sodium chicken broth.

6. Add a pound of sliced mushrooms, if you have them.

7.  Cook, sample, serve.

 

P.S.  I’ve always thought that most any vegetable, sauteed in olive oil, cooked in chicken broth, sprinkled with herbs, will turn into a yummy soup.  I like to puree part of the soup, to keep it simultaneously creamy and chunky.  But that’s up to each cook for him/herself.  Another trick that I personally love:  add some raw veggies in to the soup at the very end, for texture and color.  And, if you want to trick non-lovers of veggies into loving your veggie soups, add cheese or heavy cream just before serving.  (Not as low-cal, but still very nutritious.)

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