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Look and learn: Diseased human organs at the L.A. County Fair

August 12, 2011|By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • A plastinated human body from the "Our Body: Live Healthy" exhibit shows the spinal cord.
A plastinated human body from the "Our Body: Live Healthy" exhibit… (Our Body )

When you go to a county fair, the last thing you want to be reminded of is what all that fried and sugar-laden food is doing to your body, not to mention the beer.

But there's a cautionary tale waiting at this year's Los Angeles County Fair (Sept. 3 to Oct. 2), at the "Our Body: Live Healthy" show. Featured are actual human bodies that have been preserved via plastination and reveal muscles, bones and internal organs. An attraction at the fair last year, this time there is a special section dedicated to showing what a whole lot of bad living will do.

Included will be lungs, kidneys, brains and livers of people who have squandered their life on too many cigarettes, too much booze and too many chili dogs. They'll be paired with pristine body parts unsullied by all that excess. These will be known henceforth as the aspirational internal organs.

Although it sounds incongruous for a county fair, the monthlong annual event features educational exhibits to balance out the carny games and rides. For this presentation the fair is partnering with Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center and Inter Valley Health Plan, and docents will be on hand to answer questions.

This could be a buzz-kill for people who go to the fair to indulge in the panoply of foods that are deep-fried and/or drenched in powdered sugar and whipped cream. Trust us, we know all about the lure of fair food. Then again, if your diet starts the day after the fair, you may want to take a gander. A doctor can tell us over and over how we're killing ourselves with our bad habits, but many of us turn a deaf ear. Sometimes a wake-up call, in the form of viewing actual diseased organs, is the just catalyst needed to get on the straight and narrow.

The exhibit, which has an extra $8 admission fee, also includes "The Thinker," which reveals the spinal cord and central nervous system and is in a similar pose as Rodin's sculpture, and a body cut vertically showing a unique view of human anatomy.

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