For the fourth year in a row Vermont has been named, by those whose business it is to know such things, the healthiest state in the nation.
We are outstanding in access to pre-natal health care and medical insurance. We are–and this surprised me–the least obese state. I see hugely fat people whenever I go to the grocery store: not only obese old people riding in those little carts, and men whose bulging stomachs force their jeans to slide perilously over their hips, but huge young women, in their late teens or early twenties, whose waist-to-hip ratio is the opposite of what it should be. I worry about their skeletons, and what pregnancy will do to them, and how they\’ll fare carrying all that tonnage around by the time they\’re forty. Granted, my supermarket is just over the line in New York, but plenty of Vermonters shop there. If this is the slimmest population in the country, what must the rest of America be like?
Vermont is not without its health problems, though. Binge drinking is one. There are a lot of colleges in the state, which might account for the some of the drinking, not to mention those long winter nights and power outages.
Low rates of infant immunization is another. I don\’t know a lot of people with babies here, and I haven\’t quizzed the ones I do know about their take on vaccinations. But I do know a number of dog owners who, having done a lot of reading and being of an independent mind set, vaccinate their pets minimally if at all. My hunch is that young Vermont parents fall along the same lines.
If you ask me, the main reason Vermonters are healthy is that there aren\’t many of us–fewer than 700,000. My long experience with chickens has convinced me that the best way to keep a flock in radiant health is to keep it small–that means less competition for food and dirt baths, plenty of room on the roost, no manure accumulation, and a benign pecking order. Plus, chickens like to be known and called by name.
For humans, less crowding means plentiful parking, short check-out lines, no road rage, blessed quiet (sometimes it\’s too quiet), clean air, and postmistresses who know you by name. Now wouldn\’t that make anybody feel better?