The supermarket is an amazing place. Whenever I am in one of those joints I wonder how much work must go into stocking those shelves with nothing, encouraging buyers into believing that there is something and hypnotizing them into thinking they got everything when they step out of its doors. A truly superlative effort. A superior hoodwinking. And, of course, supremely superfluous. Make no mistake folks, those markets really deserve the adjective “super”!
Actually, I am kidding good people. Modern man is easy to hoodwink and even easier to hypnotize. That there thing that the supermarkets do to the consumer does not require an MBA or thrillingly creative adverts. It is the easiest sell in the world and requires no marketing at all on the part of the market. All they need to do is keep proliferating like a virus, knocking down the small time grocers and open markets so that when people need to get anything, they have no choice but to go to that brightly lit, rack-filled box and get whatever they are selling. I emphasise – get whatever they are selling – not what you want to buy or what you need to buy or what is good for you.
Mostly, what you end up buying is nothing.
Did you know that in Sri Lanka, we have close to 500 natural foods without counting animal products and multi-purpose plants that are spices or medicines but double up as foods? Do you know the amazing properties of the Durian shell curry? Have you ever eaten a croton salad? Whether you know of these things or not, I am sure you definitely know that there are no more than 10 types of grain, 45-50 types of vegetables and about 30 - 35 types of animal products at a supermarket. You are also probably aware that you purchase on a regular basis only 12 of that entire set. Everything else came out of a machine. We call them processed foods. Some… such as TVP are so processed that you can leave it out for as long as you like and not a single roach, rat or mite will touch it - essentially proving that it is not food! In fact, if you take the contents of five of the seven aisles and leave it all out, no animal will touch any of it except for that really silly animal known as a human being who has been … you got it… hypnotized into believing that nothing is actually something and that textured pieces of old leather is a good, healthy and nutritional oral input into its diseased body.
Ah, I’ve covered in that last sentence three words I want to worry you with in this post. “Health”, “Nutrition” and “Disease”. These days, very few people consume food although a great many people eat nutrients. These days, no one takes treatment for illnesses but everyone has to contend with diseases. These days, almost everyone is doing everything they can to keep themselves in that perpetually debilitated state that results from a 15 year old disease known as CCC - chronic calorie cholera. All in the name of health. This fifteen year old fashion is supposed to be the outcome of increasing advances and developments in the sum total of knowledge of the human race. A small problem here though.
"Did you know that in Sri Lanka, we have close to 500 natural foods without counting animal products and multi-purpose plants that are spices or medicines but double up as foods? Do you know the amazing properties of the Durian shell curry? Have you ever eaten a croton salad?"
Nutrients have not made make us any healthier nor has evacuating calories made us any slimmer nor have medicines cured diseases. Instead, all they have done is encourage the human animal to go to that there supermarket to feed its habit of stuffing its face with various chemicals that are either bottled, packed, sealed or shrink wrapped, look weird, smell weirder and have tiny little labels on them saying “nutritional information” or “active ingredient”. Sounds like the type of thing they put on a barrel of nuclear waste eh? Most have even tinier disclaimers that notify the poor sod who buys something that the manufacturing company is not responsible for a stalk growing out of its head after consuming the product. Come now folks – if people need to be told that they are handling a bomb – then – to all intents and purposes, that is not food. If they have to be told of the constituent chemicals and contraindications of something, then that something should be kept sealed in a leak-proof vault, 2000 feet underground in the middle of a desert. Yet, we, in our blind vote for uninformed, misinformed “wisdom” believe that our neighbour’s Doberman is a greater threat than the nameless goo, grind or gravel inside that next bottle we pick up at a supermarket and hold in our hands. This is where the meanness of the process of marketing nothing comes to the fore. There is near universal acceptance of the usefulness of the useless. There is a near total addiction to the desire on the part of a human being to make incessant trips from home to supermarket and back. And the result is…….?
When everyone is addicted to the same thing, no one considers it a bad thing!
No one realizes that they’ve been had. No one notices that they have been taken in, hook line and sinker. No one understands that they have been sold down the river of marketing mass hypnosis. No one understands that they will never eat well nor ever get healthy.
No one considers the fact that we need to cure ourselves of the habit of popping nutrients and pills do we?
No one thinks – “Oh hell, I’ve been taking nutrients for yonks but I am still as fat as a cheeseburger, I am breathless, I cannot lift this stupid sofa nor climb that silly tree so I think it’s time I acknowledge to myself what a terribly debilitating addiction I have, check into rehab at ‘the natural world’ and start eating food for a change”. No one thinks, “ Oh zark, I’ve been taking meds forever and I still cannot kick any of the things that cause me dis-ease so its time I check my doctor into rehab at ‘Cheaters Anonymous’ and start guzzling a few medicinal plants”. No one thinks, “Oh darn, we eat the same food but my wife is a stick insect and I am a hippo so what’s this rubbish about calories”. No one asks “Why are there 40,000 advertisements for so-called foods that come off a processing line but none that say ‘eat something natural today at one tenth the cost of this here supplement and you never have to spend money on this here supplement or any other supplement’”.
Everyone knows what a pathetic creature a heroin addict is. Sick, sniveling, snorting, slobbering, watering and blanking… insatiably expending its life force and its resources on dreams and puffs of smoke… that apology for a human would rather die than kick its habit. I beg to differ. The heroin addict knows what it is doing, understands the consequences and accepts them.
The majority of nothing guzzlers don’t even know they have a terminal, category 5 addiction problem.
However, ask them to remove three of the seven staples of their lunch (dhal curry, fried potatoes, kan-kun/mukunuvenna/gotukola, fish, sambol and papadam) and they would not call it lunch. Remove chicken fried rice from the dinner menu and they would go hungry to bed. Prevent them from taking a shot of coffee and creamer and they would not wake up. Stop them from stocking their homes with a zillion useless canned or packed or shrink wrapped products and they would overthrow the government. Tell them to stop meds and they would drop dead. Ask them to rotate 400+ natural foods over 12 months eating at least seven of them a meal at 1/10th the cost of a pack of chicken fried rice and they would start shivering uncontrollably. Tell them that eating an average of just 12 types of natural foods out of about the 100 or so available at a supermarket would be the equivalent of intermarriage and would leave them stunted, ill and unable to cope, and they would kill you rather than change their consumption patterns. Tell them that calories and fatty acids are only marginally important and that coconut oil is better than vegetable oil and they would wonder what sort of nuthouse you escaped from. Tell them that all they’ve been doing is stuff up on the equivalent of stale, 3 day old cement and they would want you restrained in a straightjacket and thrown in a nuthouse as fast as possible - with a board around your name saying “danger to society”.
Remove the average human being’s access to a supermarket and you would think that a heroin addict is an angel in comparison to what that very, very pathetic wretch would become. Me? Rather than have that eventuality visit me, I’d rather collapse in utter ecstasy, while waiting to pay heart attack prices for something whose total substance is a little less than a puff of air – to an apron clad kid - at a checkout counter – in a supermarket – in some unfashionable neon-lit box - anywhere in the world.
Let me now take a rest, gasp in a few laboured breaths, reach for a soda picked up at a supermarket, and then… proceed to cackle insanely and hysterically while blubbering about the millions of chemicals used on so-called natural vegetables and explain to myself patiently, carefully, thoughtfully and rationally, the great technologically engineered marvel of vegetarian chicken and keel over insensate as only a true addict can when his habit has come home to roost.
Do I sound like I am super mad? Well, the supermarket is only partly to blame for that. My super dumbness, just like that of any substance abuser, is the bigger culprit.
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