Fear sells, but why does the food industry use anxiety to sell products? I mean, if there’s one thing the seven billion people on this planet agree on, it’s that we need food. (And Baby Yoda is adorable. That’s universally accepted.)
When COVID hit last spring, I heard we’d run out of beef by autumn. My husband lost his mind. Someone told me canned vegetables would be as valuable as gold, which is good because I’d rather wear a can of peas on a chain around my neck than have to eat them.
Experts tell us food is plentiful and cheaper than ever before. Just the food leftover from Las Vegas buffets could feed several third-world countries for generations. They’d all develop diabetes and heart disease, but they’d have plenty of food.
And that’s the other fear; the idea that the food we eat, even broccoli and kale, has no nutritional value because the soil’s been depleted of nutrients and we’re consuming the dietary equivalent of Rice Krispies for each meal.
So, we hear companies proclaiming to have discovered new, perfect foods. Not just foods – Super Foods (with a heartbreaking origin story). They ask questions like, Do you poop every day at noon? Are you often irritable? Well, you’re eating the wrong food!
Social media is awash in these types of ads. “Buy our product made of 300 superfoods found only in caves along the Ganges River!” “Learn the secret of Cleopatra’s radiant skin, Helen of Troy’s weight loss supplement and Queen Elizabeth’s longevity.” (Spoiler alert: it’s never having to clean your own toilet.)
Companies tell us fans are “raving” about their green juice. False news. No one raves about green juice. The recipes have unknown ingredients like chlorella (a dried sea vegetable) and rhodiola, a cold-climate plant used by Vikings. Mmmmm. Yummy. (Sidenote: Vikings are dead. Did rhodiola kill them?)
Mushrooms are the new meat. The reishi mushroom is called the Queen of the Mushrooms because . . . um . . . it has a crown? I guess psilocybin mushrooms would be King of the Mushrooms, or at least the laid-back, hippie brother-in-law of the mushrooms.
Pretend meat is also the new meat. Impossible Meat might be better for the planet, but with its soy, wheat, and vegetable ingredients shaped and colored to look like chicken nuggets, it’s definitely not health food.
And don’t think it’s safe to drink water. No, sir! You can’t drink tap water, bottled water, well water, river water, toilet water or any other water unless it’s gone through an expensive, artesian reverse osmosis process. I used to drink water out of the hose in my front yard. I’m sure I’ll die full of mercury, lead, and chlorine.
Spinach and romaine lettuce routinely try to kill us, and don’t get me started on GMO conspiracy theories. I don’t have that kind of time. Are apples still good for us? Can we eat corn without worrying about growing a third arm? Does everything have to be organic, farm-fresh and certified because according to Facebook, we’re all doomed!
I know Americans don’t have the best diets but throw me a grass-fed bone. We’re assaulted on all sides and just trying not to dive headfirst into a bucket of chicken for a morning snack.
Originally published in the Davis Journal