a rainstorm, persimmons and childhood friends
November 28, 2019
It’s the first rainstorm of the year and it is 4am on Thanksgiving morning. I sleep well now, the sleep of the blessed as I told the reporter from PB Monthly https://drplasticpicker.com/keep-it-simple-and-back-to-basics-after-my-interview-with-pb-monthly/, and still wake up at 4am which is really just 5am before the recent daylight savings change. I woke up to the gentle sound of rain. The storm had started yesterday afternoon.
This storm, as explained by the San Diego River Foundation, brings the “First Flush” when a deluge of waters will allow the San Diego River to surge as it drains into the Pacific Ocean. But that first flush will also bring debris, land-based pollution into the river and out into the sea. They will marshall their volunteers to clean the river banks, and I will head out when the rain stops to clean up my bit of the Pacific coast.
But the rainstorm that started yestserday afternoon, also brought a beautiful bag of persimmons, life stories and childhood friends.
I had posted the story Save This Persimmon Tree about a nurse’s sister’s tree in Long Beach, California https://drplasticpicker.com/save-this-persimmon-tree/ and extolled the benefits of the Persimmon peel as a wonderful source of fiber. As you know I am on a separate mission to end the Pediatric Fiber Deficit and the Pediatric Constipation Crisis https://drplasticpicker.com/pediatric-advice-eat-your-vegetables-to-get-your-fiber/. @drplasticpicker is also on Instagram, and the Persimmon Tree picture brought in 10 likes and new readers from South Korea per our blog’s Google Analytics.
But more importantly, a patient’s family brought in the most beautiful bag of persimmons from their own backyard tree.
As an HMO middle manager, I am well aware of all the policies in our system. This bag was monetarily worth less than $20 so I am allowed to accept it. When I was a research fellow at NIH, the federal goverment guidelines was $5. But the dollar value underestimates this bag of persimmon’s impact.
That day I also saw three separate long time patients, who came in for various other reasons but constipation, weight gain, and mood issues came up. I showed families the BMI charts, talked about activity and eating a more plant-based diet and prescribed miralax to help one person short term. But to each of the families, I stopped after my usual counseling and said this.
“I have been telling folks the same thing for 15 years. But what I have learned is that just telling people what to do, does not work. Let me show you.”
So I paper bagged 3-4 beautiful persimmons that had been gifted to me, and I gave the bags to 4 different families. I love persimmons, and I did think about keeping them all for myself. But with each bag, I told them a story. I told them briefly without names that this comes from another family’s beautiful backyard and is as local and organic as can be, and that we are a community and sometimes that “food is medicine.” I talked about the broken food industry. I talked about Miralax in 2007 came onto the market and became the #1 prescribed drug and now generates $1 billion in over the counter revenue and holds 30% of the constipation/laxative market. I talked about candy companies, chip companies, and the plastic packaging that is littering our beaches. My teenage patient with moderate constipation had a Naked Juice bottle with “Veggie Juice” on it. I picked it up and showed him the back, that there is no fiber is that plastic encased “Veggie Juice.” “How much did you pay for this?” I asked him gently. “About $3.” I told him, “you could have bought 2 pounds of apples with all that fiber in the peel. Those food companies have us all fooled.”
But the most beautiful part dear readers, is that in return I had engaged families that told me their own stories.
One father, “You are right Dr. P. We buy all this fruit and it goes to waste. It’s frustrating to me because I buy it and I’m trying to control my weight, and no one else eats it. We get tired at the end of the day and sometimes we grab McDonalds.” He glances at his loving wife and child. “I’m starting to eat oatmeal in the morning, ” he finishes sounding tired and defeated. But I run into my office and bring them these 3 bright cheerful persimmons, and tell them their story and this leads us into a beautiful conversation about real food and fiber and then oatmeal. Perhaps my little patient can sprinkle blueberries in her oatmeal, and begin eating the fruit with peel that is already in the house. His beautiful wife adds in, “I bought a turkey and I’m going to try to cook one this year!” With their beautiful persimmon fruits in a brown paper bag, we walk together into the hallway. I have encouraged them to just get outside and walk together on the beach or at the park. I think getting outside together will lead them to eat more fruit.
The same teenage patient with the $3 Naked Juice bottle told me, “My aunt has a tree like this. She has these persimmons and they are always telling me to eat them. They make them into special recipes.” He also has a bag of 3 persimmons in hand. I tell him, “Each persimmon if you eat the peel has 7 grams of fiber. Take the Miralax, but I promise you if you eat 2 of these at night – you will have glorious bowel movements in the morning! Why give these companies, Naked Juice and this pharmaceutical company your money?” He looks engaged and happy about the prospect of taking down these corporations. I mention that I see vaping pens also https://drplasticpicker.com/drplasticpicker-officially-declares-vaping-is-bad-bad-for-the-ocean-bad-for-your-lungs-bad-for-children/. And he tells me he hates vaping pens and what they are doing to his generation, and that he wants to keep his body healthy.
My last patient is a dancer, and her mother showed me a beautiful short video of her in the Nutcracker. She also needs to eat more fiber and I gave her the last bag of fruit. This leads into a beautiful discussion as mother expresses her concern quietly about weight and eating disorders. We talk about positive body images for young girls, and trying to safe-guard dancers from disordered eating. We agree to focus on talking about fiber, and getting enough plant-based fiber rich foods to displace the plastic encased processed snack foods.
By the end of the day, I only had 2 persimmons left and those I carried carefully home. And this is where I will bring my story to a close.
I have had the same childhood friends for 30 years. We met at the beginning of Junior High School and still see eachother at most twice a year. One friend who is a mother and a hard-working minister surprised me in clinic when she accompanied her nephew for his visit. I am my friend’s nephew’s pediatrician and my friend lives far away now. “Oh my gosh L. I had no idea you were in town?” Her grandmother is failing, and she had to make an emergency trip home. We made hasty plans to get together to go plastic picking and catch up so she could see the beach.
But the first rainstorm came instead, and L my minister friend and another friend M instead came to my house. We could not go plastic picking together. Instead we had tea, and I showed them the beautiful persimmons from my patient and we ate the sweet fruit with peel. Mr. Plastic Picker brought dinner home and we talked as only childhood friends can. But the beautiful thing dear readers, is that after 30 years I am listening to them more just as I am listening to my patients and the earth. We laughed at drplasticpicker and the sometimes farcical nature of my journey. But I listened to them. We have been friends this entire time but so busy with our own lives, that I don’t think I was paying attention before.
“Wait L, how long were you in graduate school there? I did not know where S was born? That must have been hard to have to do that move.” Friend M updated us on her grandmother and health. We talked about our families, our jobs and our Thanksgiving plans. And I watched their dear faces, and they observed my crazy black puppy, and we were together with the two last persimmon fruits at the center of the table.
And Mr. Plastic Picker got to ring his dinner gong that drives me slightly crazy. And my two tall children came out and greeted my friends who they have known since birth. We ate Mexican food together from a local place that has everything in paper wrappers and aluminum foil, and no plastic utensils were needed. We drank seltzer water from aluminum cans and glasses from our house. Friend M brought over a box of Sees Candies, and we each savored one. I have a sweet tooth and admit to eating two. Three hours had passed and it was time to go and the rain had let up. I walked my childhood friends out and our crazy black puppy was yapping the entire time, it’s sometimes embarassing to me. We gave each other real hugs and wished safe travels. I returned to the kitchen and finished the last bits of persimmon slices myself with peel. The fruit was so sweet dear readers. The story of their journey through the day beautiful, and I savored each last bite. I hope that you too will enjoy this fiber-packed sweetness in your life.
Click here to read about how our Thanksgiving Turkey turned out the day afterwards https://drplasticpicker.com/cooking-a-turkey-saved-money-used-less-plastic-and-finally-felt-at-home/