Challenge #01509-D048: The Fundraising Franger
This is an Aussie thing, you go to vote locally, and outside will be a barbecue set up selling snags (sausages), wrapped round with a slice of bread, onions and sauce, plus soft drinks. Fundraisers for good causes. No politics, just, "tomato or barbecue, Mate?" Those of us who are on diets or vegans usually donate the price of a 'snag'. -- Anon Guest
First, they came for the cake stall, and Valerie didn't speak up because cake was a sometimes food, and there were far too many fat people coming to the polls. Including herself. She did not want the extra temptation of patriotic lamingtons to fund the school library or whatever.
Next, they came for the markets, and Valerie didn't speak up because it was all people selling each other their household junk for a spare dollar. It was despicable and unclean. She could never be certain how much that anything sold there was broken or otherwise faulty.
Then they came for the raffles, and Valerie didn't speak up because raffles were yet another form of gambling. Everyone knew that gambling was a drain on household budgets across the nation. Besides, the meat tray or gift basket was never worth it.
On the day that they changed the sausage sizzle to a tofu sausage sizzle, Valorie didn't object. Everyone knew that a vegetarian or vegan diet was healthier than omnivorousness. They also swapped the bread to wholemeal, and replaced the usual tomato sauce with something that had been made out of beets.
It had to be good. Everyone said so.
But year after year, election after election, everyone kept getting sicker. More and more mobility scooters turned up to the polls. Children were taking medication to keep themselves functioning, both physically and mentally.
Valerie didn't understand it. Everyone she knew was doing everything the government told them to do. Everyone bought everything that was healthy. Something had to be wrong, but she could never figure out what. Until the Weirdo Family moved into the neighbourhood.
That wasn't their name, of course, but Valerie called them that inside her head. They installed some weird hydroponic rig in their backyard, which the cops insisted was just another kind of garden. They were rarely at the shops. They never drank coffee or went to the take-out places. They went for walks through the winding streets of the cul-de-sacs, talking about all sorts of weird things.
And, very occasionally, they would buy a quarter of a cow, bring the carcass home in boxes, and spend the evening filling their freezer with it.
They were a very strange lot. But they were also fit, healthy, and happy. They donated the price of the patriotic tofu snag-in-a-slice and debunked to the picnic tables to share an entire, pre-cooked chicken.
Valerie had to pilot her mobility scooter over to them and ask, "How do you do it? You're eating to kill yourself and none of you look sick... How?"
"We did a lot more homework than the government health people do," said the mother, her hair dyed a vicious green. She had more muscles on her than Valerie's husband. "Turns out the dietary recommendations are a lie."
The father, a shaggy thing with piercings, said, "Go paleo. You might be surprised."
"Or at least go Whole Foods. That's a good place to begin." The mother grinned. "Slow cookers will be your best friend for a month or so."
And since her doctors were talking emergency surgery... Valerie felt the need to try any kind of alternative. The Weirdo mother was right. Slow cookers were her best friend for a while. And an amazing thing began to happen. When she prepared everything from scratch, she started feeling better. The danger signals began to reverse.
She started doing her homework as well. Looking into Paleo and Keto and all the other alternative lifestyles that had been decried as slow suicide by the media. Looking into where the funding was coming from for all those studies and alarmist reports.
As her health improved, she told her friends about the lies. About the insidious creep of sugars into pre-prepared foods. Some listened. Some dismissed her as a weirdo. But she was not silent after that.
She got together with the Weirdoes every election to run a Cooked Chook stall to raise money for homeless kids. And hand out pamphlets about how diets really should work. It wasn't world-changing, but it was a beginning.
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / urbanlight]
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