Bear With Me

Next week we’re all supposed to be thankful for a day, but what does that do for our bank accounts?

Last year I made a mistake. I wrote about the Lord’s Prayer diet: Chew slowly and thank God for each bite of our daily bread. But the commercial problem with such a diet is that, like grace, it’s free. This year I’ve been trying to create a new diet that could be packaged and sold for $14.95 at And, since lots of people will eat heavily next Thursday, the day after Thanksgiving is the time to introduce a huge moneymaker.

Think. Think hard — there’s money to be made. Maybe, like diet book gurus, I could start with my own tastes and cogitate reasons later. Ergo, three questions: What do I like to eat? How can I package my preferences for mass appeal? And, in a grudging bow to facts, could my brilliant diet be reasonably healthy?

Hmm. My favorite dinner food is salmon, preferably Alaskan. I admired the Anchorage Daily News for its willingness this past May to have a "salmon haiku" contest. Readers contributed haikus such as this one from Elizabeth Towers: "Courageous salmon/ Did you swim all this way/ To land on my grill?"

I also like nuts and berries of various kinds, and my eating tendency while writing or editing during the day is not to sit down for a standard lunch, but to forage every couple of hours. So, how about proposing a diet with salmon and berries through the day, with some grain in the morning for breakfast and a big salad for dinner?

Now, to the marketing of the concept. Locations (South Beach? Scarsdale?) are passe. How about naming a diet after an animal — yes, the Bear Diet! Bears love salmon when they have access to it: a 200-pound bear likes to eat 30 pounds of salmon a day, and orphaned cubs have learned how to catch and eat salmon on their own.

And berries? The Idaho public television Web site reported that in summer bears "will eat throughout the day as they search for nutritious food, such as berries." A Web site of the College of Environmental Science and Foraging (oops, I mean Forestry) of the State University of New York notes that bears are "eating machines because foraging for food is a near-constant activity, except in winter."

The SUNY Web site also says: "It is not uncommon for bears to gorge themselves on a particular berry species for several days, or even weeks, eating virtually nothing else before moving on to another location or a different food resource." I could do that — and Adirondack black bears particularly like raspberries, as do I. (Hmm — I’m not descended from monkeys, though you may be fooled at first glance, but how about bears?)

What about the health aspects? Aha! Salmon is a good source of protein and Omega-3 fatty acids, while berries are low in calories but rich in antioxidants, including vitamins A, C and E, which help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. (Not sure what they are, except that in the early 1970s I hung out with them.) And, new studies published in the Archives of Ophthalmology suggest that a fish-rich diet helps fight the leading cause of blindness in old age. (Not spiritual blindness, though, or Jesus would have told Peter to be a fisher of fish.)

Two cautions. First, Oregon salmon expert Charley Dewberry says we should be careful about farmed salmon. Wild salmon, although more expensive, taste better and are healthier for us. Second, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that some bears "eat so much their stomachs drag on the ground." We’ll need beautiful models to demonstrate the wonders of the Bear Diet, so we may need either to sacrifice some accuracy. Anyone for a cookbook?