Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Faux Food

Another summer has ended, and our nation’s school children have returned to their classrooms thanks to the old agrarian calendar. While the school year may continue its primitive revolution around the seasonal till and harvest, few are the children who have personally beheld the phenomenon of fertile farmland, let alone worked in the fields at harvest time.

Although many of our children will probably never participate directly in the hands-on science of crop cultivation, most are taught in science class about a very fundamental part of the earth's ecosystem called the food chain. A grade school science lesson on the food chain teaches us how energy flows from one level of existence to another upon consumption; and since food is energy, every living creature in the food chain gets its energy from the food it eats.

Naturally combining food chain principles with proverbial wisdom never fails to yield the ever popular: “You are what you eat”. Nutritionists have been preaching these timeless words of warning for centuries (and so has the Catholic Church with its Eucharist for that matter; but contrary to parishioner belief, the church isn’t part of the earth’s ecosystem).

The irrefutable science supporting the importance of a balanced ecosystem prompts us to question the motives of Big Food (and the reason behind government farm subsidies) when we consider the methodical alterations being perpetrated upon the natural flow of our food chain.

Foods today are described as processed, fabricated, artificial, and synthetic; and are full of chemical flavorings, artificial color, preservatives, fillers and binders as if this is normal. Even our basic staples like sugar and flour are known to be bleached, processed and refined. And let’s not overlook the customary corn syrup and casein infusions found in most things prepared and pre-packaged for human consumption.

Perhaps the reason we eat three times more than we should is because we’re unable to get the nutrients our bodies need from the foods we're eating and consequently, we never truly feel full or satisfied. Grade school science reminds us that it’s impossible to get life sustaining nutrients from something that is not alive and a natural part of the food chain.

We had a flashback in the rear view mirror that made us gasp in horror right alongside Charleton Heston as we watched a long line of waste disposal trucks pull up behind the Soylent processing plant, and proceed to dump one cargo of corpses after another. After the dead meat was delivered and then cleverly reconstituted into soylent green wafers, we could only gag when the recycle of life was fed to an unsuspecting and hungry population of 2022.

To dismiss “Soylent Green” as just some old 1973 dystopian sci-fi flick that couldn’t possibly have any relevance to our 2009 reality seems logical. Surely everyone knows that only in the movies would people be dumb enough to fall for a corporate gorilla marketing campaign designed to convince them that soylent green was a nutritious processed food made from high-energy plankton, and something they couldn’t live without.

Well, no one ever said that truth in advertising standards actually require anyone to tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Far from it, for standard marketing practices make it a point to routinely stretch and manipulate the illusion of truth for maximum profitability. Any detrimental consumer side effects are usually considered negligible when measured against bottom line profit margins.

Case in point offers us a side mirror view at the marketing strategy for a popular brand of sucralose, and how its no calorie sweetener is a better alternative to real sugar. The product slogan rationally asserts “it starts with sugar, it tastes like sugar, but it’s not sugar”. What is never disclosed in plain speak, however, is that this artificial sweetener is basically chlorinated table sugar, and after intensive chemical processing, took what began as natural and made it unnatural.

An appeal to our collective need for sweetness without caloric consequences or accountability makes it a profitable marketing triumph, and the masses have been properly convinced that real sugar is bad and artificial sweeteners are good.

Corporate capitalism shamelessly intent upon increasing profits without a conscience has worked hard behind the scenes to remote control every facet of contemporary life. This clearly includes what we’re being fed, on every level.

Our supermarket shelves and delicatessen counters are being stocked daily with tasty mystery foods - foods consisting of unknowable and unnatural ingredients that are incongruent with the very food chain ecosystem we are an integral part of. We suspect changes in the lucrative business of reconstituting food will not be forthcoming from Big Food any time soon … not until of course it gets outed like Big Tobacco did. Until then, caveat emptor – let the buyer beware.

So will the cumulative effects of consuming nothing but faux food eventually turn us all into mannequins?

What’s the rush? Take some time to weigh in on our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ September 18, 2009 posting "Wait Weight".

www.InTheRearViewMirror.com

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