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Fork in the Road: Fast food facts and other quirky bits to chew on

Your handy index for inspired living and fun convos, as needed
Have fun, eat well, and be sure to give mom a big hug this weekend for Mother’s Day.

Spring has sprung and with it, that eternally springy, young impulse to run outside and “play,” whatever form that takes and no matter what age we are. Who wants to sit and read a long, boring column, or even a scintillatingly lively one, when the weather’s like this?

On that sprightly note, here’s my latest collection of quirky fast facts focused on the things we care about most—the food we fuel ourselves with, the environment it all flows from and, given the timing, our dear moms we’re about to celebrate on Mother’s Day right around the corner. After all, they were the first ones to nourish us.

Have fun, eat well, and hug the ones you love, or maybe even make them a delicious meal—including yourself!

• Increase to the average daily caloric intake in the U.S. between 1970 and 2009, (with other Western countries following suit), according to a study conducted at the University of Bergen in Norway and based on the Global Burden of Disease Study: 20 per cent, for a total of 2050 calories

• According to the study, if you start at age 20, the number of years that can be added to average life expectancy following the Bergen study’s recommended longevity diet—which largely avoids excessive release of insulin by emphasizing plants and whole grains and avoiding sugars, refined starches and saturated fats: More than 10 years for women and 13 years for men.

• Number of years that can be added to average life expectancy by following the diet starting at age 60: Eight years

• At age 80: 3.4 years

• Extension of average life expectancy that mice on caloric restriction gain: 50 per cent

• Number of years of life expectancy that would translate to for humans who follow caloric restriction: 120

• Number of researchers and number of countries involved initially in the Global Burden of Disease Study commissioned by the World Bank in 1990: 3,600 researchers in 145 countries

• Number of volunteers in Whistler who pitched in and collected trash for, you guessed it, the 33rd Annual Pitch In Day: More than 500

• Amount of trash those community-loving volunteers collected from ditches, forests and streams: 860-plus kilograms, and still counting

• Percentage of the world’s population who have no garbage pick-up in any form: 67

• Number of garbage trucks full of plastic that are dumped into the world’s oceans, rivers and lakes every day: 2,000

• Amount the production of plastic, which is largely made from fossil fuels and chemicals, has increased in the past two decades: Doubled, from 200 million tonnes in 2000 to 400 million tonnes in 2019

• Ratio of early samples from U.S. dairy herds that, according to the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, contained viral fragments of bird flu, or the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus: 1 in 5, with higher ratios in areas with known infected herds

• According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, number of chickens killed in B.C. alone due to bird flu since the first case was detected in April 2022: 5 million

• According to the World Health Organization, number of countries that have reported rare, sporadic cases of bird flu in humans: 23, mostly in Asia and Africa

• Number of human cases reported worldwide from Jan. 1, 2003 to Feb. 26, 2024: 887

• Year that Mother’s Day was proclaimed in the U.S.: 1914, with Canada following a year later

• Number of white carnations Anna Jarvis, who’s considered the “mother” of Mother’s Day, sent to an Episcopal church in West Virginia in 1908 in honour of her late mother: 500

• Percentage of children in Appalachia who died before their first birthday in the 19th and early 20th centuries: 15 to 30

• Percentage of children who died in Canada before age one during the same period: About 20 to 33

• In Canada, infant mortality rate in 2021 for non-Indigenous infants under one year, and Indigenous infants under one, respectively: 4.4 deaths per 1,000 births and 9.2 deaths per 1,000 births (or about double)

• Number of meals the average stay-at-home housewife in Canada in the mid-20th century would have prepared in 20 years of traditional marriage, given she likely made three meals a day, seven days a week, but let’s give her one meal off a week, like when hubbie might have barbecued something or prepared breakfast: 20,800

• In 30 years of traditional marriage: 31,200

• Number of calories in an average two-egg brunch with bacon, toast and hash browns, for Mother’s Day or otherwise: About 1,200.

Sources: New Scientist; Nature; Resort Municipality of Whistler; BBC; United Nations Environment Programme; CBC National News; Washington Post; Time Magazine; World Health Organization; fitbit; and my mom. With thanks and a nod to the legendary index in Harper’s Magazine, founded in 1850 and one of the finest publications on the planet.

Glenda Bartosh is an award-winning journalist who always wanted a partner who would cook 50/50 and got one!