Category Archives: Health

Bananas, bananas, who wants bananas?

Vegetables on display

Vegetables on display

My Brazilian Brasil is a blog about Brazil and everything in it. So, in this post, you’ll find something pretty typical from here. The urban open market of fish, fruits and vegetables.

Named “feira livre” (which means open market in english), this legal congregation of several fish, fruit and vegetables producers happens from sunday to monday in most of brazilian cities, in several neighborhoods at the same time. Vendors set up their tents from 7 a.m. ’till 3 p.m. in specific streets or squares determined by local city halls.

When I say streets, I really mean streets. Traffic is closed in the period of the open market, and only gets back to normal after everything is cleaned up. 

Fruits on display

Fruits on display

Normally, this is not a problem for cities traffic flow, because the open markets generally occurs in specific secondary streets, always leaving drivers an alternative way to get from A to B with no delay.

There’s an open market every monday on the street next to mine. It’s always something like a party with fruit and fish scent. Vendors shouting, fighting for the client, giving discounts; housewives and househusbands jumping from tent to tent, choosing the best looking tomato and the greener lettuce, sometimes with a little arguing about who caught the bigger papaya first; a traffic jam of small fruit carts taking food up and down the road; and the thing I like most: the visual sea of bright colors and kinds of people everywhere.

Bananas! Who wants bananas?!

Bananas! Who wants bananas?!

I’m 24 and I can remember open markets since I was a baby. It’s a true tradition. I’ve also been to fruit open markets in France and England, and I can tell you for sure: the brazilian ones have nothing to do with those. Ours are funnier and more colorful.

Other cool characteristic of these open markets is that you may not find only it’s regular products. I’ll take my neighbor market as an example once again: I’ve seen portable butchers (small frigo-carts with pieces of meat inside, like a hot dog cart), tents of fried food, like chips and “pastéis” (pastéis is the plural of pastel, in portuguese, which is a sort of brazilian tortilla, but well.. not a tortilla.. actually, I think there’s nothing like it anywhere, come here and taste it), and several other stuff, like even clothes tents (more rare, but I’ve seen).

Credit cards welcome

Credit cards welcome

Despite the visual aspect of the open market, it has, in fact, a positive impact on family’s income. According to Rio de Janeiro’s city hall, there are 182 legal open markets in this city nowadays. Together, they serve as employment for over 6.000 legal producers, helping to raise 30 thousand people indirectly.

For consumers, it’s always a good deal. You’ll pay cheaper for fresh fruits and vegetables than if you were buying in the supermarket. Because of that, open markets make more than 15 million Reais flow (something like US$ 8 million) monthly, with 12 thousand tons of food being sold.

Tip: when the open market day is coming to an end, prices go down. In a matter of minutes, you can save up to 70% in some items. Also, it’s a rule to bargain. Never accept the first price, throw an offer! For last, if you’re short on cash, relax: take your credit card: it’s welcome in some tents.

Eating fruits and vegetables is surely a great way of keeping up your health safe and your body fit – keep that in mind.

Build me up!

We are beer bottles

We are beer bottles

Dictatorship of beauty is a well known concept in western countries. The United States and Europe are, in my point of view, the icons of this modern and sad culture to glorify good-looks, leaving behind the true beauty of a fruitful mind.

But Brazil does not stand far behind. In fact, our behinds are way more advanced than other country’s. And this is not a joke, it’s a matter of national care. Here, having a perfectly shaped body that matches the common pattern of beauty may represent the only way to have a way in life.

We see beauty clinics opening and advertising everywhere, aiming to attract both the rich and the poor to a massage table or to a surgical center. Gyms pop out from nowhere and get packed everyday, no matter how much they cost. Stores specialized in selling supplementary products, like amino-acids, proteins and fat burners are easily found wherever you look. It’s not even difficult for a normal citizen to find and buy prohibited steroids in some gyms and drugstores.

There are plenty of factors that contribute to this paranoia. The main one, in my opinion, is the large influence of TV and magazine ads.

Brazilian women are definitely amongst the prettier of the world. But it’s a shame they’re treated like garbage by ourselves. Actresses are compared to beer bottles; auditorium TV shows have their peek of audience when the camera zooms almost inside of their soul; sex tourism is one of the main income activities of some cities, and nothing is done to, at least, try to cover it up a little.

And, thanks to the massive brainwash, a large quantity of women think this is ok and actually work hard to become the most desirable object of the society.

For me, the most dramatic issue of this regards young people. Not just girls, but boys too are unsatisfied with their bodies, even tough they all have no apparent reason to feel this way. Beauty treatments (even surgery) are attracting more and more teenagers to a situation that can definitely ruin their health. And nothing is being said about it.

I believe there should be a more reasonable way of creating ads, specially those made for men. If the message continues to be sent like is being sent today, maybe tomorrow no one will have brains to understand that the ad is to buy the beer, not the woman.

Cheers! Or not…

Last month, Brazil’s government approved a new law, popularly named “dry law”. As the name suggests, this law forbiddens any quantity of alcohol to be consumed before driving a car. If someone drinks a can of beer or a single glass of wine and gets pulled over by the police, a fine up to almost one thousand Reais is given (something like US$600) and the driver’s license is apprehended for one year.

Brazil has a sad characteristic of having laws that no one respects, mostly because the lack of fiscalization. But with the dry law, things are happening in a different way. You actually see lots and lots of police barriers in the cities, specially on fridays and saturdays, pulling over drivers near known bar areas. Nationwide press is showing these actions almost everyday. Government representants are saying that car accidents have dropped almost 20% in the entire country after the law began to take effect.

At a first glimpse, some may say “well, that’s excellent! Nice job!”. But there a few points that should be taken in consideration before judging.

As I said before, no alcohol is permitted before driving. Neither a small cup of wine, or fifty packs of black ale. But I believe there’s a difference in there. Here in this country, it’s part of the culture to meet friends, loved ones and family at a bar just to chat and cheer something. This practise doesn’t mean that everyone is going to get their heads blowing drunk every night. No, far from that!

Also, it’s no longer permitted to go out to a restaurant and ask for a fine glass of wine with your wife or your friends to celebrate a birthday, an engagement, a job promotion, or anything. If you drink, you will be treated like a criminal.

This law is unnecessarily harsh. I’m strongly in favor of hard punishment for drunk drivers who put other people lives in danger. But that’s not what this law is about. It has actually reduced the penalty for those who commits a crime while drunk driving, like hit someone else. It’s totally nonsense.

There’s another point. Before this dry law, Brazil had another similar law, but not that severe. The difference is that when that old law was on, police didn’t care. There was absolutely no barriers, no fiscalization, no equipment to detect alcohol, nothing. But now, with a new sensation and with the media daily coverage, policemen and government are having their 15 minutes of fame. All on the people’s back.

To finish, car accidents are not caused only because of alcohol. Amongst the several causes, we can list badly conserved streets and roads, covered with holes; lack of signalization; narrow two way roads; cars with absolutely no conditions to be on the streets, but out there anyway; lack of driving education; animals on the road, and so on. All of those items listed we have plenty here in Brazil, and many others I’m forgetting right now.

If you want to visit Brazil and taste the famous Caipirinha, remember: don’t rent a car!

Heal me, please!

Amongst several problems we have here in Brazil, one that is really severe is our public health system. Hospitals have a routine of crowded rooms and halls everyday, with a huge lack of medics and medical equipment. Doctors and nurses are paid terribly low, making the level of attendance fall at lots of units. Also, some hospitals are located near what we call here “conflict zones”, zones that are poor, dominated by drug dealers and violence, which sometimes are inaccessible for doctors to reach.

For example, haemophiliacs are suffering in the entire country without receiving properly their medication. This situation started one month ago, and nothing has yet been done about it. People with liver problems also face several difficulties to receive pills, injections and care. Equipment to detect cancer is obsolete and]or not working in several hospitals. There’s a lack of bandages, surgical instruments, beds… and so on.

There’s one single issue that, as far as I know, deserves to get a good rating. I’m talking about our HIV/Aids program. Public health stations are giving regularly the pills these patients need. But, as I said, this affirmation goes as far as I know. But one point continue to lack among the STDs program: a correct and continuous distribution of condoms. People with no money to buy condoms in the drugstore will surely face difficulties to get one free.

It’s a shame when you see you homeland fellows, and yourself, so badly cared by the government. I believe our health system is one of the major anchors that leaves us parked in the third world country class. For now, if we cant take a painkiller, we go on swallowing the hope of a better day tomorrow.