Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar
Necessity being the mother of invention

Iron chef

Iron_chef Lovely green curly-leaved kale, rich in iron / New Jersey / Jan. 2010

Several years ago my doctor told me that my iron was low. I should buy some iron pills and take one every day. I bought the pills and the bottle sat unopened on the top of the refrigerator where I could see it. I never opened the bottle. Each time I went to the doctor he would mention the low iron and ask about the pills. I would artfully dodge his questions (I'm not sure exactly why I wouldn't take them except that I hate taking any kind of pill). About 18 months ago I joined an organic food co-op. Every two weeks I get 15 pounds of fresh produce. This bonanza sitting on the counter greatly increased my intake of fruits and vegetables. Even when I couldn't get to the supermarket I was usually able to cobble a meal together out of the produce (an added incentive was that I felt guilty if it spoiled before I could use it). On my last visit to the doctor he asked about my taking the iron pills. I hemmed and hawed as usual, “Well, I don't take them regularly.” He tried to pin me down: in an average month how many would I take? “Well, in some months none at all” (how's that for an artful dodge?). [Disclaimer: I don't want to lie to my doctor, but I also don't want to admit to being irresponsible; was I being irresponsible by not taking the pills?] A week later I got a phone message from the doctor that my saturated iron was 29% which is good (my stored iron was still a little low, 23%). What??? Had the produce done the trick? When he first mentioned the low iron I asked about eating more red meat, would that help? No, he said, you'd have to eat an awful lot of meat. I hadn't asked if eating more fruit and vegetables would help. Had I been rescued by that beautiful curly-leaved kale?

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