As I keep saying, I am so glad I’m old and really hope there is no reincarnation. And I especially wanted to yell that the other Sunday when my consort and I were sitting at the window counter eating our Luke’s lobster rolls while watching a family with two little kids out at a sidewalk table. Partway through lunch the mom calmed the shrieking baby by giving her plastic tubular food, in the kind of unnecessary packaging that contributes to the garbage continents (no longer islands) clogging the oceans. I never understand how people can even bring kids into a doomed world to begin with, but seeing the obliviousness was as unsettling as reading this. Heckuva extinction you’re bequeathing her . . .
Archive for the ‘fear of reincarnation’ Category
We get two newspapers a day except (until just recently) on Sundays, and one informed us that feedlots are now in withdrawal from something I didn’t even know existed: “Vitamin Z,” a growth additive that turns cows into “muscle-bound athletes” in a matter of weeks. I immediately clicked over to the hometown paper to see if I might have missed a big story, and at that point the keyword did not turn up a single instance. And this is so far beyond pink-slime-scary it’s insane. Cows are staggering into slaughterhouses after being drugged to fatten them without the need for suddenly pricey feed. Anyone who eats supermarket/burger-chain beef is ingesting a product so freaky it makes test-tube babies look edible. And yet whole business plans are built on a commodity that was never meant to be a commodity . . .
One of the most depressing stories I’ve read in some time was about a free summer lunch program for kids in one of the states that make up the richest country in the world. People are worried about ducks getting force-fed for foie gras, and here’s a whole generation being undernourished. What was doubly depressing was seeing what was on offer. Suffice it to say I’m just glad I grew up poor before Lunchables. Also, too: Call food stamps what they are — supermarket subsidies — and you’d see them busting the budget.
The older I get the happier I am to be past kiddledom, not least because the school lunch program in this country seems to be a cross between “starve the beasts” and “go all medieval on their guts.” My cranial sieve is notoriously unreliable, but I remember bringing crapwiches of peanut butter and brown sugar wrapped in waxed paper to school because my family could barely afford the 4 cents a day per spawn for a quarter-pint of milk. Whatever kids today are getting has to be better than that, even if the privileged are reduced to videographing the sins of the cooks. Although I wonder where the parents are, letting ‘em eat GMO corn oil instead of time-honored butter . . . .
Not to put too fine a point on it, and nothing funny to say about it, but every innovation like plastic spouts on milk and cream cartons is chipping away at a wonderful world. Look inside an albatross, one that’s fed on the garbage patch where so many of those conveniences wind up. We are on the road to Wall-E with no Pandora in sight . . .
Bad enough the icebergs are melting. Now iceberg lettuce needs its temperature checked to be sure it’s not melting into lethal slime. Good thing polar bears in zoos are spared both these days.
Only editors raised on hamburger that never needed helper could be swept up into the drought panic enough to produce this headline: “Food shortages could force world into vegetarianism, warn scientists.” Their message is “be afraid, be very afraid,” which is ridiculous — going meatless would not be the worst thing in the world (spend a couple of weeks eating in India and see if you ever miss red-blooded anything). The real scare is that there will not be enough water or arable land to produce protein substitutes for sacred cows on an overpopulated planet. Actual truth-tellers would type up a hed along the lines of “Food shortages could force Chipotle into leaving both rice and beans out of tortilla-free burritos.” And eventually: “Rat — it’s what’s for dinner.”
Relatedly, I really wanted to make fun of a stupid roundup on “food insecurity” with a link, but I can’t find the original (maybe for a reason). So I’ll just rely on trust, not verification to say it lamented that people are now so down and out they have to “create their own dressing.” If you can’t mix oil, mustard and vinegar, you probably shouldn’t be allowed down the Wishbone aisle. And it whined that people were reduced to buying canned rather than fresh fruit. If we had any sort of education in this country, those sad sack grocery baggers would understand they can buy several cans of no-sugar-added pineapple for one 50 percent-waste fresh one — not all canned is crap. Worst of all, it had people whimpering about having no hamburger. With no directions to the Goya aisle.
But I’m trying here. At this point there isn’t much left to say about the fact that movie theaters rigorously police outside food and drinks yet have no problem with “guests” strutting in with assault weapons and 6,000 bullets. And I anticipate no abatement of the insanity, given how inured Americans have become to not “rampage” but slaughter in so many fast-food joints over the years. But at least I understand why bottled water is, as James Fallows noted, one thing an Aurora-style mass murderer could not bring through airport security. If you have to pitch yours, you have to buy another. And what’s more lucrative than sugar water? Tap water in a fancy bottle in a non-compete environment.
Just watched this to be sure I wasn’t going to be accused of anything unoriginal after dillydallying before posting, but: I decided eons ago I’d prefer to be cremated once I join the choir invisible. Now I’ve learned, thanks to the most beautiful food story in donkey’s years, that it’s not the most environmentally sensitive way of disposing of a body bent over from carrying Baggus for years. Given that I spared the planet any resource-sapping spawn, I’m not going to worry too much about eco-karma. But this does have me thinking Starbucks opening in a funeral home is just perfect placement: Who wouldn’t enjoy thinking “ashes to ashes” while sipping that burnt brew?
Nothing funny about this, but we met up with friends for the awesome “Moonrise Kingdom” and they were all excited about starting to compost at the Greenmarket. I just said: “I didn’t even bring my reusable shopping bags tonight. Doesn’t seem like much point when they’ve found radiation in tuna 6,000 miles from Fukushima . . .” Maybe Wes Anderson can remake “On the Beach.” Fast.
Also, too, I tuned out nearly all the fluffing for the hometown paper’s big “morality of meat-eating” debate — it had all the validity of a HuffPost boob-science screamer, with its naked intent to amass links and comments. But I did read a news story in the relatively-sedate-for-Murdoch competition on the sad state of horses in this country that subtly made a very good case for the morality of eating horsemeat: to prevent suffering. Since the animal “rights” wackos got equine slaughterhouses shut down, horses often starve before they are sent off on long, miserable drives to abattoirs north and south of the ethical borders. If I were the naive type, I’d be wondering where all the concerned citizens of California are in preventing this outrage rather than outlawing the practice of letting ducks eat like the poors. But I’m probably among the very few not surprised that a grandstander would publicly ban foie gras while privately bowing to clients for private parties. Give that paragon a cheese-ass medal.
One of my friends-through-Twitter has been back-and-forthing about how soon it will be until we see ramps on menus, and I feel even sadder about being shortchanged of winter. Already green garlic is in Greenmarkets, and it’s way too soon (I only recently finished off the last of Keith’s Farm’s amazing hard-neck cloves). At this rate we’ll be through with pumpkins by June. The cherry blossoms are already in full bloom in Washington, I saw geese for the first time among the ducks over in The Pool in Central Park and all the suddenly-trusted climate experts are warning mosquitos will be rampaging within the month. All of it makes me think humans were smarter in the age of mythology, when the seasons could be rationalized and so were respected. The explanation of winter is my favorite, how the ruler of the underworld spirited away Persephone/Proserpina and made her stay half the year for eating six pomegranate seeds while, as Kate McGarrigle lyrically put it, her mother, the goddess of agriculture, “punished the Earth” and “turned every field into stone.” Millenniums ago people understood the world needed a respite. With all the information available to us, we still think we can eat pomegranates all year and not pay a price. No joke.
I’m sure I’ve ranted before about how clueless the hometown paper has been in its coverage of how Washington evolved from brown-liquor backwater to serious food scene even as the country went down the Bush tubes. Exhibit A was the DI/DO piece back in the reign of error that went on and on about all the new restaurants but never mentioned the scarlet letter: A for Abramoff. Once lobbyists moved in, the food scene changed. My first plane ride was to Dulles in the mid-Seventies, and I’ve been back more times than I can count thanks to my consort’s connection to the yellow magazine. Through all the fat years the Alzheimer’s patient and then the cigar manipulator were in power, Washington was what it was; prosperity somehow passed it by. Now I see it’s the wealthiest city in the country, and of course restaurants do very well on expense accounts. But one thing has apparently not changed. Kal Penn told USA Weekend he was mugged there shortly after going to work for the Big O. Bloggers I follow often have similar scary stories you won’t read in the papers. So basically the elephant in the room never gets covered. The nation’s capital is America’s Jamaica, where the super-rich are prey to the desperately poor. You’d think they’d do something about it, but they’re too busy trying to figure out how to cut Social Security to enrich the cat food companies. Jean-Louis never knew how easy he had it.
I acknowledge that we’re living in interesting times, as the Chinese curse goes, but it’s still amazing how little we know in the most amazing age of shared information in all of human history. Thanks to my consort, I had lunch the other day with a woman who knows from Chile and who mentioned just a few of the “Darwin’s Nightmare” things she’s seeing there: pesticides on northward-bound fruits and vegetables overused to the point of poisoning farmworkers, plus farmed salmon pumped with 700 times the antibiotics even the free-dosing Norwegians are using. Which made me wonder about the grapes transformed into the sauvignon blancs I love. Guess I shouldn’t have asked — there’s a reason why they’re cheap. (And why the industry is flying so many writers down to get snockered and snookered [excuse me: wined and dined]). But there’s always a pony to be found in the heap o’ manure: All this made me not at all surprised to read that wild salmon in the Pacific Northwest are now infected by a virus thanks to their penned-up cousins bound for supermarkets everywhere. Americans wanted chicken of the sea. And have they ever gotten Perdue with scales.
Aside from the miserable dogs, the saddest things I saw in 10 days were the trash cans at Ephesus, the ancient ruins near Selcuk. There we were, surrounded by vestiges of civilization well before Christ, and the artifacts of our time are plastic water bottles. Which will still be around in another thousand years. And I don’t even want to dwell on the cat we spotted that was chasing two boys eating a bag of Lay’s potato chips. . . What would Mary think?