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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Light and Dark (05/21/09)

TITLE: Breakfast Bad For Your Health
By Diana Dart


A strong coffee and crispy toast join me for breakfast daily. Both warm from the inside, coaxing still-sleeping brain cells to life. Nibble, sip, sigh - such are my simple pleasures. Pay close attention now as I call you to battle in defense of the modest toast and jam and the quiet morning java. Gear up, cinch your robe tight and grip that mug with both hands. We’re in for a dirty fight.

Being a reader and calling my computer friend, I can often be found scanning through online articles. Headlines catch my eye, but what I’m drawn to are the lists near the bottom or along the sidebar. “Related Articles” or some such thing. I’m certain there is a gang of us following the meandering path of links, unknowingly chasing each other, possibly led on by some evil marketing genius. But treasures are waiting there to be discovered, sensational stories tucked away behind bold captions. I fancy myself a Magellan of the World Wide Web.

The internet, as I’m sure you know, is a vast expanse of unedited information that requires a pound of skepticism and a strong sense of humor. Occasionally we might be caught unawares with our sensors down. Multiple cups of coffee may serve to remedy that - I’ll experiment and keep you posted. It was on such an occasion that I became aware of the attack on my beloved breakfast.

After pondering the health benefits of Gingko – which apparently reduces stress – and revealing the little known jewel that zinc may increase the male libido, I stumbled upon a hidden enemy. Lurking in my favorite foods is a chemical compound named acrylamide. It follows my general rule of thumb – if I can’t pronounce it, it’s bad for me. Acrylamide (it’s the “cryla” part I trip over) was found by some curious Swedes in foods like bread, cereals and potatoes.

Apparently, when exposed to high temperatures such as in baking or deep-frying, acrylamide concentrates to dangerous levels. Hazardous at least for lab rats. Now, this is where my skepticism would generally kick in – last time I looked, I was without whiskers and a long snout (although others may disagree) and I don’t live in the sewer. Could someone out there explain to me what the correlation is between a lab rat and the general human population? These things have four legs, a brain the size of a walnut and enjoy chewing on electrical wire. What happens to them when they take Gingko and Zinc on a regular basis?

Alas, living off a single coffee that morning, my alarms were silent and I read on, anxiety rising. My eyes ate up three articles – by the FDA, Health Canada and Harvard – and all shared the same cynicism. Humans must attempt to avoid all foods that contain dangerous levels of acrylamide. Did I mention it is also found in roasted coffee beans? Keep gripping that mug.

All authorities attempted to assure me that I must simply prepare the foods in a safe manner. No high temperatures. No deep fried potatoes (otherwise known as French fries - another mark against the so-called skinny killers). I could live with boiled or microwaved taters, but then the attack turned to my toaster.

Apparently, when bread is toasted, the dark spots indicate higher concentrations of acrylamide. And so we are to only lightly toast. Is it my imagination or is that just plain old bread? Slightly warmed, but not crunchy and definitely not able to maintain a delicate balance with my chilled jam. Crusts must also be avoided, as they’re doubly darkened. My mother would be appalled – what a waste!

The idea of a light slice of bread without crusts for breakfast is disgusting. Added to my confusion over how to make coffee without roasted beans and I am sunk. Please help.

Who was this dark demon called acrylamide? How much is too much? How dark is not light enough?

With determination amidst my confusion, I will stand my ground and search for answers. Perhaps some chat room buddies have heard of this and can help. Or they might know of something to discredit the ever-powerful FDA. Do you?

For the sake of each morning I have left in this world, for the good of every toaster everywhere, please search for the truth. And perhaps we can all enjoy a dark, crunchy slice of toast again. You could even follow that up with an order of fries, I won’t tell.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Robyn Burke05/28/09
Brilliant writing! Just the right touch of humor and cynicism combined. How dare anyone attack the breakfast of champions for millions the world over-- coffee and toast are sacred in my humble opinion. :)
Really enjoyed this one!
Mona Purvis05/28/09
Just loved this well-written take on the ludicrous poison of the day. Wait long enough and you'll read how good it is for you. great humor.
Jan Ackerson 05/29/09
Clever and witty--and I'm not giving up my coffee no matter how bad for me they say it is.