Dear Umbra,

Your kindness article inspired a question: Is it possible that pesticides make people mean? Perhaps because their bodies sense that they are under attack? The parking lot behavior at regular food stores versus organic stores serves as my non-scientific database.

Pedestrially yours,
Pat G.
Albuquerque, N.M.

Dearest Readers,

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angry driver

RoundUp rage?


Back again for another day of Spring Inbox Cleaning, in which we go over a few questions that I have let molder away in the Inbox Closet. These are queries for which I have no legitimate answer, either because there is no answer or because I am left speechless. And I am left speechless by this potential Health Rumor, speechless due to awe at its brilliance.

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Sure, it’s possible that pesticides make people mean, and it also is impossible to argue with the notion. Arguing can be construed as mean, and we all have consumed pesticide-laden foodstuffs. I can see the debaters being driven crazy as we speak: “I’m not being mean, I’m just trying to point out the flaws in this idea.” “Oh, you never agree with anything I say, you’re always such a downer. I think it’s all those conventional apples you eat.”

Also in the body department, Jacobi in Compton wants to know: If he goes vegetarian, how long will his body hold on to residual meat? I am a lapsed vegetarian, and I think I spy a famous health rumor lurking behind this question, that one about old hamburger lurking in the villi for all eternity. I believe the rumor involves actual completely undigested meat lurking in corners of our intestines. This is a seductive rumor, as folks seem to have a tendency to believe that their bodies are in some way unclean (see: world religions). However, I think if you go vegetarian on Sunday, Saturday’s pulled pork will be gone by the end of the week. The digestive process — in which the body efficiently absorbs nutrients and expels useless bits — takes anywhere from a day to several days.

It does matter what you eat, and we should be eating healthy, whole foods that don’t contribute to environmental degradation (see how I work in the environment?), but the only residuals left from a hamburger are its component microscopic parts, whether these are positive (protein) or negative (fat, E. coli). I suppose you could consider the old axiom “A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips” to include hamburger, in which case “a lifetime” is the answer to Jacobi’s question.

Thirdly in the body department, I don’t want to receive any more questions about human pee. Mark of Portland wants to pee in the sink. Pee away, Mark, pee away.

On a slightly different but still vaguely health- and body-related topic, Rebecca of Minneapolis doesn’t know enough dogs to use all her defunct tennis balls. Luckily, there is at least one company gathering and recycling old tennis balls. Hopefully Rebecca knows enough tennis players, or has enough storage, to gather at least 250 old balls and ship them to Rebounces.