Spinach: Popeye promotes its power

“I’m strong to the finish ’cause I eat my spinach!” — Popeye the Sailor Man.

Thrust into a ‘shiver me timbers’ situation, Popeye the Sailor Man gobbles a can of spinach, then boldly, with good intent, overcomes. For those of flesh and blood, adrenaline is the spinach that prepares the body for fight or flight situations. A stimulated response mechanism can be protective when threat is eminent and perilous, but can also open vulnerabilities if frequent or false. Taking the proper course of action is important to one’s well-being.

The exceptionality of spinach dates to 1870 when German scientist, Eric von Wolf, misplaced a decimal point reporting the amount of iron in a 100-gram serving as 35 milligrams versus 3.5. The impression became part of the character of Popeye, developed by Elzie Crisler Segar in the 1920s. Interestingly, a study by Freie University in Berlin concluded that an extract of spinach, ecdysterone, elevated athletic performance. Regardless of spinach, the animator develops Popeye’s character.

“I yam what I yam, and dats all what I yam!” — Popeye the Sailor Man.

Popeye’s frustrations and conflicts are focused on his affection for Olive Oyl and mistrust of Bluto, a potential rival suitor. A simple scenario, a dose of spinach, then ‘POW!’ a brief altercation to set the world straight according to Popeye. Perhaps the character of Popeye has endured because people yearn for solutions to problems that match their own perceptions.

In today’s world, issues that get the dandruff up are endless and complicated. A Pandora’s box opens when the 24-hour news is turned on, or the personal electronic device is logged into. Sign onto Facebook and dare to comment on the news of the day, your opinion is chided, and you are insulted by faceless snides. Probably overstated, but this is basically an accurate assessment of what too many of us spend too much time doing, in the best of times, not to mention days of “stay home, stay safe” and social distancing.

“That’s all I can stand, cuz I can’t stand n’more!” — Popeye the Sailor Man.

If you’ve come to feel frustration from things that don’t matter and want to do something about it without throwing punches, Dr. Laurie Santos, psychologist specializing in the science of well-being, has an option. She sees it as a “stoic challenge,” the ability to identify and strengthen the fundamentals of living that will sustain you for the long haul. The procurement, preparation, and consumption of food is basic to us all and it’s a good place to start.

Make like Popeye and get some spinach, not frozen or canned, but fresh and locally grown, available at local farmers’ markets. A farmers’ market is a good place for a coronavirus coming out, open air and plenty of space for social distancing, that offers opportunity for discovery of other green leafy vegetables — kale, swiss chard, and various lettuces. Ahoy Matey!

“There are opportunities all around us, even during a crisis. Focusing on the bigger ones can help you emerge stronger and wiser than before.” — Brad Klontz, financial psychologist.


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