Garrison Keillor: And now it's time for...


GK: Each week we answer a question chosen at random from the public radio mailroom and today's comes from Becky G. of Oxnard, California...

Sue Scott (VALLEY): Yeah, like-- I was, you know, out with my girlfriends and I had this, like, taco? And so I go to eat it and I like take a bite? And it went down but I had like this really really weird feeling. Like, what was going on anyway? You know like, inside, where you can't like, see?

GK: Where does food go when we eat it? Let's find out. We're going to implant a microphone here in this turnip (GRINDING OF MIKE BEING SHOVED INTO TURNIP) And now Fred Newman is going to eat it. Here you go, Fred. A turnip--

Fred Newman: Hey, wow, thanks. (BITE, CRUNCHING)

GK: And down it goes (BIG GULP) -- down his throat by a series of peristaltic contractions (SFX)-and through the gastric valve (VALVE SFX) and into the stomach (GROANING), where gastric juices (HISSING, STEAM, SPLORT SPLORT SPLORT) are breaking up the turnip even more and turning it into mush (SLOP) and now here comes another valve-the pyloric sphincter (SFX)-and the turnip leaps that hurdle and now it heads through the duodenum (SUCKING, PERISTALSIS), the jejunum (SUCKING, PERISTALSIS), and the ileum (SFX) -and through the approximately 24 feet of intestine that lead to the escape hatch, and no, we are not going to go there, so for those of you listening anxiously at home, you can put your phone down. We're exploring the small intestine, and here in the small intestine are colonies of bacteria (LITTLE VOICES SINGING), who help break down the food further (LITTLE VOICES ATTACKING), and then it's down, down, down into the colon-the ascending colon (ASCENDING), the descending colon (DESCENDING), and you know the rest, so we won't insult your intelligence by explaining it.

But what of the nutrients of that turnip? They get absorbed by the small intestine and whisked away to the liver, which is busy making bile (SQUIRT SQUIRT SQUIRT) purifying any toxic sludge from incoming food and drink (SFX) --this particular liver is sort of worn out from a big party last night (ILL LIVER) and it's complaining to the kidneys (LIVER GRUMBLE) but it does its job and (PULSING), and the nutrients get pulled through the venous system and up to the lungs (BREATHING), where the blood gets oxygenated and sent to the heart (HEARTBEAT), which shoots the blood (BIG BURSTS) into the arterial system (SFX), and away we go, back down through the arteries, and into the blood vessels (SFX), and into the capillaries (SFX), and then finally through the cellular membrane (SFX), where the food molecules pass right through and into the cells, which are hungry and waiting (GOBBLING), and now they're satisfied (AAHHHH), and isn't it amazing? How do you feel, Fred?

FN: I feel good. Nourished.

GK: Good. And that is where food goes when we eat it, Becky.

SS (VALLEY): Oh my God, like, that is so gross. I'm never going to eat again. Ewwww.

GK: Of course you will.

SS (VALLEY): No, I totally won't. Never ever ever. Oh my God, are those Cool Ranch Chips?

GK: They are.

SS (VALLEY): Can I have some?

GK: Be my guest.

TR: Radio Mailbag!


GK: That's it for this week's Radio Mailbag. Join us again when we stick our hands in the sack and pull out another question at random. Who knows, it could be your question.