September 20, 2006

Interview about organics disappointing

Guest editorial about Salon article (click title):

This guy is the classic American capitalist dolt. He thinks everything is going swimmingly, and if Americans don't have a "languid Mediterranean culture" and are always in a rush and everyone in the family has to work just to scrape by or to buy lots of stuff, and families don't eat together, and Starbucks' McDonald's-like sterility and sameness invades every street corner, that's fine by him. Hey, we are rushed Americans and so what? Ain't life grand in busy-land? He's a modern guy, who cares about those old finger-wagging fogies nattering on about homecooked meals of real food? We aren't time-wasting Europeans, after all! Because you can now routinely get mesclun and good coffee, he surmises that Americans eat better and society is improving. Why then is obesity and diabetes on the rise? Why is there more junk food around than ever before? Do average Americans really eat that much organic food, or even recognize many healthful foods like kale or mustard greens, for example? Just look at the terrible school lunches most American kids eat (even though they are supposedly being improved, they don't seem to have changed significantly) and the junk that they bring from home in their lunchboxes. It's not that their parents don't care; it's that they really don't seem to know what nutritious food is. And there are people in this country who go hungry for lack of food. Food pantries and soup kitchens are serving more people, not less. And why would Mr. Arugula continue to buy Jif peanut butter if he could choose organic peanut butter? Peanuts are one of the most heavily pesticided crops there are. People are free to eat what they like -- the problem is that these pesticides are poisoning the planet, which means all of us. There's no reason for an unnecessary product like Jif to even exist. Organics shouldn't be just a consumer choice, it's about the bigger picture. And why is it acceptable that it's actually abnormal to have a family that cooks its own real food everyday and eats it together? Families like that aren't busy enough!! If you have time to make meals from scratch and eat in a civilized manner by candlelight, you don't have enough to do or are just an old person out of touch with progress! Apparently Americans should have more important activities than routinely cooking real meals and then sitting down together to enjoy the food, the company and conversation.

We need to try to be more like those more "languid" cultures; not simply dismiss the idea that this society could ever change or that it is even a desirable thing to evolve. This country isn't doing too well right now, on many different levels, but apparently this "Arugula" guy hasn't noticed. People do die from overwork, from relentless stress, from eating tons of meat and crappy junk foods that pass as meals. The fracturing of family life has made this society more sterile, shallow, alienating and even more violent. Many kids seem to barely have any connection to their parents and many parents seem to avoid their kids. It isn't like this in most of the rest of the world, not to the extent it is here anyway. In most other societies, there is still a true relationship and respect between the generations and some of this is because those families eat together, and not in a big rush.

It's true that there is more produce and usually some tofu available in most American markets now. But there are plenty of people shopping at markets where it really isn't so different from stores in the 1960s, with little or no organic produce to speak of. Maybe there is now a bit of chard and kale, but it is always pesticided. And organics are definitely expensive, even if they are worth it, so many people can't afford to buy them regularly. But it is a whole sea change that needs to take place -- people cooking their own healthy meals, growing some of their own vegetables if possible, working less if possible, slowing down, educating themselves about pesticides, GMOs and the cruel folly of meat-eating. This will not happen easily. But it is tiresome to see someone glamorizing lethal American busyness and the endless crap that envelops this ugly nation. If we were really improving, there'd be lots of real cafes with distinct identities not owned by corporations serving good coffee, not just boring Starbucks selling overpriced treats. Starbucks is not progress. Maybe people could figure out that they could make their own superb coffee at home and carry it with them, resist advertising and stop automatically supporting every corporate giant that comes along.