Saturday, August 1, 2009

Civilization and Its Discontent --ed Fat Kid

There's an invisible war occurring right now in the United States. Every year food, all food in its many shapes and sizes, becomes less of what it actually is and more of what money-hungry capitalist want food to be -- cheap, synthesized plastics. As we've allowed ourselves to become so removed from reality and so unforgivably lazy, capitalists have taken it upon themselves to create services and products that we never once needed before. Everything in our lives is becoming commodified and its true nature alienated from us, as we have no true connection to how things are made, how things exist. Borrowing from a great movie, Food Inc, I recommend you go see it, food is no longer sold as a true, material thing, but rather, it is sold as an idea or a concept of food.

Consider bread, perhaps one of the most prevalent staples in the Western diet. Not that long ago bread was made at home or at local, town bakeries. Now bread has been commodified on a global level of mass production, and many have no conception for how to make bread; they don't know the material being of bread, they're lost in a world of ideas and notions. Anything could be sold to them as bread, as long as you fulfill the notional ideas of bread that float around in mainstream culture. What has happened? Now a lot of bread is fiberless bleached wheat covered in pesticides, puffed up artificially, sweetened with GMO corn syrup, moistened with GMO soybean oil, filled with petri-dish emulsifiers because the product is so unnatural and unstable to hold a proper shape, and filled with two to three preservatives to give the bread a shelf life beyond normal bread that will harden or mold within a couple of days. Many breads also use a dough conditioner that is poisonous to humans, but luckily(!), it is cooked out during the baking process. A bit disturbing though isn't it? A traditional, typical loaf of bread before its commodificiation is yeast or sour dough, whole wheat or wheat flour, water and maybe butter and salt. 4 ingredients including water, so really 4. Processed bread contains roughly 22 ingredients, and no, I'm not fucking joking!!! Many of those ingredients themselves have to be highly processed with numerous other chemicals and processing plants, like corn syrup. The majority of those 22 ingredients are not found in nature, nor are they derived from natural sources; they're created with chemical compounds as much as a plastic trash bag is created. The primary chemical difference is one can be digested without any immediate, apparent health problems.

I'm just talking about bread. It really isn't the worst. A large percentage of your food in the grocery store are just variations of the abundant and cheap soy bean oil and corn syrup, shaped accordingly with soy lecithin and edible plastics to give it the desired shape. Colorants, many which are banned in Europe but legal in the United States, also go into the painting of your food dream, where like i said, you are merely eating soybean oil and corn syrup paintings of foods you think are normal, traditional and the things they present themselves to be.

But that's not it! Food is being taken even further beyond what deceptions exist today. And it's sad when I am nostalgic for old highly processed food because it wasn't as processed as it is today. When I was a healthy, well-preserved and emulsified fat kid, I loved good humor strawberry shortcake ice cream bars. I would slowly run around in excitement at the prospect of its sugary, creamy, oddly pink, weird bread crumb shit satisfying my fat kid desire. This is 15 years ago, not really that long in the grand scheme of things. I was in the grocery store a couple months ago, and I saw one of these bars. I hadn't had one in close to 15 years, at least I can't remember having one anytime recently. I went against my better judgment because I felt nostalgic for simpler times and my boyhood ignorance. Upon opening the packaging I realized that they made the bar about half the size, and yes, I compensated for the fact that I'm much bigger now. It somehow looked more fake, the coloring was wrong, the breadcrumb shit was nonexistent and had no bready-luster. I bit into it. It wasn't creamy at all; it was more like sherbet, but noticeably oily and crappy. They had clearly removed what little cream and sugar had gone into the original crappy ice cream bar. They made it smaller, and it's more expensive now then when I was a kid.

I couldn't believe it. In 15 years, shitty, highly processed food had somehow become even more processed and shitty. To think that kids will grow up and only know this trash. It's unnerving to think about how much food production could change with coming generations as they have no sense of what food really is. Hopefully something can be done now, as I believe we are the last generation that has some sense of what true food is beyond consumer capitalism's deceptive and wallet-filling notions of food.

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