Last Sunday morning, I was reading the newspaper, drinking bird-friendly coffee and eating certified organic fruit when I realized just how delicious locally grown, cage-free eggs really tasted. My hormone-free milk sat in a glass, right next to my Ginkgo biloba pill. I was just planning my trip to pick up some naturally raised beef for dinner when — snap — I woke up.

It was all a dream.

Or was it? I looked under my kitchen counter to find all-natural, chemical-free cleaning products I had purchased the day before. I peered into my refrigerator to find the organic milk, cheese sticks and celery that had also made it home. Was this my house? What was happening?

OK, I haven't become the person reading the paper in my dream, but I am practically a stranger to my family. They are still reeling from the fact that I bought anything that people who are even minimally concerned about their health would buy. Where were the Cheetos? The soda? The frozen mozzarella sticks? It was a darn near mutiny.

I can't explain it myself, except that a recent health crisis has made me rethink some of my food choices. I'm sure that it's just a phase, but in the meantime, I am learning that almost nothing we eat has any nutritional fortitude whatsoever, and if it does, it costs double its chemical-filled counterpart. This can be a problem when most people have only half the money they used to, mostly because they used their last $100 to buy the "Smash-me Bernie" Madoff doll that is designed to be pummeled with a hammer.

But it's not just the cost that worries me; it's all the latest jargon — all-natural, naturally raised, gluten-free, locally grown, free range, certified humane raised, prebiotic, probiotic — I need a dictionary, or at the least to have Gwyneth Paltrow come over and explain it all. Isn't she the actress who is on some sort of a macrobiotic diet? I think that's the one where you eat nothing with sugar or calories or fat or carbs, but you can inject Botox into your face and get chemical peels.

So I'm wondering if any of it really makes a difference. I know my kids think I've gone nuts. And they don't even know what organic really means. I tested one of my daughters on the hot food vocabulary of the day, just to see if she really appreciates the pains mommy is taking to make the Mediterranean Cod Kale with Sunflower Seeds. Anyway, I asked her to define the following terms and here were her answers:

All-natural: "Things made out of leaves and stuff from the earth."

Organic: "Something that doesn't have a lot of carbs; for healthy freaks I think."

Gluten-free: "When food doesn't have that weird ingredient that a lot of people are allergic to."

Vegan: "Oh, I think those are people who say 'peace out' a lot and are into all-natural things."

Good thing I don't have a lot of money saved for private school, huh? In reality, I'm not much better, but I'm trying to educate myself by taking very scientific quizzes on Web sites like where they rate you on a scale of "health freak" to "very big fatso." Look it up; this is not a joke. Just don't ask where I fell on the spectrum because you might be jealous to know I'm a "semi-health freak." That's right; read it and weep, Gwyneth.

This whole thing is borderline absurd since most people who really know me understand that I can't possibly sustain this level of wholesomeness for more than a few more weeks ... or minutes. The fact is, I just love sugar and processed food too darn much. And sometimes, when I'm feeling really reckless, I even go to McDonald's and get a cheeseburger and a small fry. There, I said it. Don't judge me.

So to sum it all up, I'll leave you with this "ponderism" I received in an e-mail recently:

"Aren't health nuts going to feel stupid some day, lying around the hospital, dying of nothing?"

Amen, sister!


Sue Tabb is a public relations consultant and freelance writer from Newburyport. To read more of her work, visit¬