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Tomatoes at Last

First ripe tomatoes
It is September, and I spent much of the summer growing two tomato plants that are the size of small trees. At last, I picked three, ripe, yellow tomatoes yesterday. There are many more on the vine. Until I pick them, these first three are worth about $10 apiece in the cost of the plants, slug bait, time and water.

I have worked and worked on my book, Notes from an Island Food Oasis. Or, The Clueless Eater.

So far, I have been told that 1) Notes from an Island Food Oasis is a terrible name for a book, since it sounds incomplete; 2) I need to include EVERYBODY in my book, not just the people on this island; 3) I need a more definitive arc to this book, and 4) I need to be IN this book more.

The quest for good, healthy eating began when my doctor told me my cholesterol was 300. After a year of mostly local, healthful, unprocessed food, it had lowered, but not enough to suit her. Then came six months of taking statins. Not good. My cholesterol came down still more, but my intestinal tract felt as though I had been swallowing steel wool scouring pads. I decided that I would rather drop dead of a stroke than try to function while feeling sick all the time.

My GP sent me to a specialist, an endocrinologist, who looked at me skeptically. “You have no health risks,” she said. “You are not overweight. You are not diabetic. But your triglycerides are high.”

I described my family history to her of strokes and diabetes. She sent me home with orders to take four fish oil capsules a day. I looked up high triglycerides and found that this was part of an overall condition called metabolic syndrome. It usually goes along with diabetes and excess weight. It is prevalent among Hispanic women. Oh great.

So I decided to lose those extra ten pounds. I gave up breakfast cereal in favor of black coffee and fruit. For lunch, I have water and raw vegetables and fruit. Then I have a regular, balanced dinner. It has taken about three months, but I am now two pounds from my weight before I had a child. I don’t feel any differently, and was surprised when someone remarked on my loss of weight.

As a fiction writer, I guess I am blind to myself. How do I include the invisible figure in the mirror (like a vampire) in a nonfiction book? I must also, I was told, make every chapter title COMPLETELY self-explanatory; it must be evident from the table of contents what each chapter is about. This is so very different from fiction, where one tries to draw the reader in, to explore the mystery and find the answers along with the writer.

I’m giving myself until the end of the year to come up with a draft that answers these questions, one way or another. What has been your experience eating locally? Did you see an improvement in your own health?
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