WD Fyfe

A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society

Food: A Western Self Indulgence

I have never wondered why a good portion of the earth’s population is so mad at our society they want to kill us.  It seems self evident to me.  We, as a society, have tons of stuff – more stuff than we’re ever going to need.  In fact, if you think about it, we have lots of stuff we don’t even want.  We have stuff we don’t remember how to use, stuff that has no function at all and stuff that spends its entire existence in a box in the basement.   I’m not talking about stupid stuff like Aunt Edna’s ugly souvenir lamp or the “it seemed like a good idea at the time” electric shoeshine kit.  I’m talking about the regular things that ordinary people have.  The kind of stuff people around the world see when they look at us.  The stuff that makes them say, “WTF are those people doing with all that stuff.”

You don’t have to look very hard to see the enormity of what we have compared to everybody else in the world – just take a look at food.  We have food in such abundance that whole aisles in our grocery stores are devoted to soda pop (grossly over-sugared water) and potato chips.  Think about that.  We take thousands and thousands of acres of perfectly good, nutritious potatoes and turn them into snacks.  That’s the food we eat off-handedly — between meals.  We plant them, harvest them, process them, add at least a dozen artificial flavors, salt the hell out of them, bag them and sell them by the carload.  That bag of All-Dressed you’re saving for the ballgame was once the only thing between an Irish family and starvation.  These days, during the playoffs, it doesn’t even last until half-time.

Our society’s gourmand self indulgence is beyond measure.  We’ve bred food for aesthetics alone.  Apples and oranges are all the same size.  Tomatoes are round and uniformly red.  I’m surprised onions still make us cry.  When I was a kid nobody liked the little black seeds in the bananas; now they’re gone.  For that matter, when was the last time you and the bros spit watermelon seeds at each other?  Not only that, but in Japan, for a hundred bucks, you can get your watermelons square if you want.

We have food in such variety that we don’t even recognize some of it.  We have food that looks and tastes like other food.  Can’t afford crab?  Surimi is half the price.  Don’t want to eat meat?  Barbeque a veggie burger.  We have bacon made out of turkey.  A sugar substitute that brags it’s made out of sugar.  What is the possible reason for having a substitute food that’s made out of the very food you’re substituting it for?  We have an artificial butter that is made from corn; the same organic base as ethanol and synthetic motor oil.  Think about that the next time you have a tuna sandwich.

We have food that doesn’t exist in nature.  No one, to my knowledge, has ever picked a red berry, or a mixed berry.  No one has ever harvested an oat cluster or a wheat flake, and nothing that runs, floats or flies looks anything like the chunks of whatever I’ve found in some processed meals.  And speaking of processed food, there’s food on the ready-to-eat shelf with so many additives in it it’s actually poison.  That’s the scary stuff whose new and improved label boasts 25% less sodium or sugar.

We have food that doesn’t even claim to be food.  There is at least one something out there that proudly calls itself a meal replacement.

Meanwhile, back at the grocery store walk around the corner from the soda pop and you’ll find an entire aisle committed to food for our pets.  A whole row, two metres high and ten metres long, packed on both sides with different kinds of food for animals – dogs, cats, birds and hamsters.  We have food especially processed for kittens, for God’s sake.

And who gets all this food?  Bill Gates?  George Soros?  That 1% everybody’s always ragging on?  No!  This food is available to 95% of the population – anytime, everytime.  You don’t want to hear the carpin’ and bitchin’ that goes on if any grocery store runs out of Chocolate Cheerios™.  And I’m not even talking about what’s out there for those folks who don’t bother to shop or cook their own food.  There’s a whole different industry devoted to them.

Now, remember this is just food — not water, or power, or clothing or any of the other goodies our society has to offer.  Each one of them is also available to us, in nearly infinite variety.

To anybody looking at us from the outside it must look like insanity.  We must look like 21st century debauchery incarnate — reckless hedonists with the morals of Attila the Hun, Henry VIII and Jean Des Esseintes, rolled into one irresponsible brat whose only concern is self-gratification.

We are the people our parents warned us about.  It’s no wonder that — to a lot of people — we look like the bad guys.

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2 comments on “Food: A Western Self Indulgence

  1. shelley
    March 12, 2012

    Great food for thought, Bill :o)

  2. amoriarty
    March 13, 2012

    Great post, Bill. I’m hoping you’re including Asia as part of the “west” now because their snack aisles are beyond belief. There was so much food pushed on me in Korea that I stopped wanting to visit people. Apparently, not being hungry is rude.

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This entry was posted on March 12, 2012 by in Social Comment and tagged , , , , .
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