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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Part Versus Whole

When Bow eats an apple, he eats the whole apple.

There is no differentiating core from outer layer.

There is no concern over seeds or less tasty fibers.

Bow likes to examine every part of the apple, to see what is there, but when it gets small enough to slip it into his mouth, he does so, and the apple disappears.

There is only one part of the apple that Bow does not eat: the stem.

When he is done with the apple, Bow hands me the stem.

To many, the apple can be divided into slices and eaten in parts, or even shared among friends. But a little apple is too small for Bow to subdivide. Portion size will vary.

To most of us, the milkweed flower is an indivisible whole, a poof of color in an otherwise drab field.

But to the bee, the contents of each individual floret of which the  complex flower consists is the meal being attacked.

The bee can visit more than one floret per feeding, but it can't possibly finish harvesting the contents the whole flower. And this is true even though the bee is bringing food home to the hive, and not consuming it all on the spot.

I have stood there and watched a bee flit from one floret to the next.

But as many times as it comes in for that landing, it still cannot cover the entire flower.

There is enough food in a single milkweed flower for a whole hive full of bees.

One size does not fit all, and the portions you purchase or consume are an individual matter. But there is a movement afoot among government officials to suggest that portion size is something that is immutable and dictated from above.

A couple of recent items made me think of that. One was a picture of a school assignment, in which a math problem was posed: "Luis ate 2/3 of his pizza and Marty ate 1/2 of his, but Marty ate more pizza that Luis. How is that possible?" In a childish handwriting, the student replied: "Marty's pizza was bigger." Then in a green marker, an adult -- presumably the teacher -- wrote: "That is incorrect. Marty could not have eaten more pizza, because 2/3 is always more than 1/2."

Now I don't know if this was a real example of a teacher/student interaction or a hoax, but it would not surprise me if there are teachers who don't realize that pizzas can vary in size. We are fast approaching a world where everything is standardized,  and portions are set by the government.

Then there are officials who want to ban super-sized sodas on the ground that they are "not healthy", but if you want to drink that much, you should have to buy two regular sodas. Or the federal regulator who forbade a manufacturer from labeling a low carb snack bar as "healthy" because it had "too many calories."

Portion size varies. How much of anything you eat also varies. How much you need to eat varies. How do the regulators know if the soda or the snack bar are going to be shared with a friend or not? How do they know you won't save some for later? Do they know how big you are or high your metabolism? They don't! It varies.

My daughter and I regularly ask for doggy bags every time we eat out. Yes, restaurant portions seem to be designed for people at least twice our size. But this does not upset us or cause us to waste the food or eat until we burst. We just have the other half the next day, and it makes the meal more economical.

Even a bee knows when it has had enough, and their food is loaded with sugar! Why on earth do they assume portion control is something individual humans cannot manage?

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