Friday, July 25, 2008

virtuetarian

I am currently working in a natural food store as a cashier. The meditative practice of ringing up other people's food has sparked many reflections within me. As the stream of organic, natural, vegetarian, vegan, raw, whole, gluten-free, politically correct food flows past me on the conveyor belt, I contemplate what it is we're really doing when we eat.
I see a lot of neuroses. People buy food by the bite-sized chunk... they give me three grapes to ring up. They buy $6 energy bars because they're addicted to this particular brand... they buy bottles of herbal extracts made specially to cure your addictions. They buy bottled spring water by the case -- but they wouldn't DREAM of using a non-reusable grocery bag (it's so wasteful). If they happen to forget their canvas bags, I have to listen to their tirade of self-deprecating guilt, and for penance, they juggle armloads of food out to their car.
I'd hesitate to call it a national eating disorder, but maybe it's Northern-California-wide? In any case, it is more than a few people's quirks. It's some kind of movement -- the need to feel good about what we eat. It needs to satisfy a long list of virtues in order to justify the idiosyncratic pleasure we seek.

I want a simpler kind of ethics. I want to get rid of the deserving stuff, and the justifying stuff. If we, the rich, keep craving luxuries, no matter at what justification, the poor will never be free and the earth will never be healed. I want it to be okay that apples are not in season right now -- and so I won't eat them now. I really don't need a global tour of bite-size-tastes on my lunch plate. I need a plateful of the things we call carbs, proteins, fats, simple things made of the produce of the earth. But oh, we are too rich, and those addictions are too tempting. The physical craving for a salmon steak overpowers us. But we don't deserve it, so we have to generously support organic fishfarming to get in touch with our pescatarian nature. In fact, the more expensive it is, the better we'll feel about sacrificing our selfishness for a virtuous plate of fish.
People, this is just silly. Eat food, and stop dreaming about it all day long.
love,
me

PS -- EVEN IF YOU ARE RICH ENOUGH TO BUY CARBON OFFSETS [=indulgences], YOUR CAR STILL POLLUTES.
and the bumper sticker that advertises your carbon offsets was made in a factory in China.
nah nah nahnah -- you can't get away from your guilt. I see through you.

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