MAD DOG: Eating to Live

It sure is refreshing to hear that after years of having scientists solemnly declare that every food, habit and activity you enjoy is bad for you, they've finally discovered something that is not only healthy but may actually lengthen your life. Unfortunately it's broccoli sprouts.Since, like all red-blooded fad-following Americans, you no longer eat fat (clogs the arteries and adds inches to the waistline), grilled food (carcinogens may taste good but they're not), and caffeine (better to be sleepy and alive than awake and dead), this is good news indeed. Better, in fact, than the news that the new TV season has begun and Chevy Chase still doesn't have a new late night talk show. Scientists have known for some time that broccoli is a good source of sulforaphane, a chemical that rallies the body's defenses against cancer. Now it turns out that three-day-old broccoli sprouts have between 20 and 50 times as much of this miracle ingredient not discovered by NASA for the space program than mature broccoli heads, which incidentally is what they call people who like the stuff.Without going into the gory details—which only make sense to the researchers at Johns Hopkins University who reported this, Stephen Hawking, and the guy at the end of the bar who's wearing aluminum foil on his head so the Venusians can't read his thoughts—the powerful ingredient in New and Improved Broccoli Sprouts neutralizes free radicals. These are electrically charged molecules which can screw with your DNA, resulting in mutations. They're also members of the SDS, the Weather Underground, and the Symbionese Liberation Army who haven't been caught yet, and eating all the broccoli in the world won't help the FBI find them at this point.Telling people broccoli sprouts are good for them and getting them to eat the stuff are two different things. Try this test: The next time you make a sandwich or salad for someone, ask them if they want sprouts on it. First, they'll accuse you of being from California. Then they'll say "No thanks, I don't eat anything that has a face or begins with the letter 's' and ends in 'prouts'." Don't be a wise guy and try to fool them by putting the sprouts on anyway. The smell of musty, dirty sweat socks gives it away every time.The scientists who discovered the Miracle Broccoli Sprouts of Turin say they taste tangier than regular low-octane sprouts, kind of like radishes. This will do wonders to increase their popularity, since radishes are the number one vegetable sold at a little market on Main Street in Hackensack, NJ while every other grocery store in the country still has the same three bags they bought ten years ago.But before you go searching the stores for this Wonder Vegetable of the 90's, be forewarned that broccoli sprouts have yet to appear on your grocer's shelves. Unlike the 23,000 new food products that were introduced last year, Cancer-B-Gone™ brand broccoli sprouts will have to wait a while before taking their place next to Hi-Calcium Lo-fat Chunky Style Unsalted Saltines.It seems that commercially produced broccoli seeds ("The growth industry of the 21st century!") are addictive when smoked in water pipes. Just kidding. Actually, the problem is they're treated with fungicides and insecticides and all kinds of other -cides so while you may stave away cancer if you eat them, you won't live long enough to appreciate the fact.Probably the best news of all is that this scientific breakthrough will vindicate George Bush. Well, at least for his dislike of broccoli. But that may be little consolation to the millions of people who will soon be coming home from a hard day at work to sit down to a big plate of lo-fat, lo-taste turkey meatloaf, baked potato with no-fat margarine and non-dairy soury-type cream, and a heaping pile of yummy broccoli sprouts.Pass the Jolt Cola and four brownies, will you?

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