Monday, 28 March 2016

What are we Doing to Ourselves

   I got to thinking about some issues that are wrong with the world today. My brother Jim actually brought it up while we roasted a wiener over a campfire on the weekend. Of course, I did not sleep well due to pondering all the issues as I see them. I will write a few of these over the next little while and watch for comments coming from my peanut gallery. I can assure some of you that I will not always be very popular but I will try to be respectful. Let me know  your opinions on the subjects as they come up. I will not delete any of them unless they don't fit in with a family audience.

      Sometimes it just takes a small thing to set me off. The proverbial “straw that broke this camel’s back” is probably an accumulation of seemingly insignificant events that finally strike the wrong chord. Yesterday, Fay and I stopped for breakfast at a small cafe beside a busy highway in a medium sized town in central Alberta. Sausage, sunny-side eggs, hash browns and rye toast. While selecting a topping for the peanut butter already smeared onto a toast slice, I noticed in one of those tiny plastic, single serving selections, what I thought to be honey was instead, “Honey flavored spread.”
     What the hell is honey flavored spread? It was clear and runny and upon a quick glance, looked like honey and smelled like what you would expect clear, runny honey in a plastic container to smell like. It even tasted a bit like honey, not great honey but plastic encased honey if you weren’t too discerning or in a hurry.
     I went onto the internet to see what this product might be. There are no answers or recipes for honey flavored spread. There are plenty of comments and photos along with some ideas. Generally there seems to be some consensus that many honey products sold in stores are far from real, whole honey. They seem to be pasteurized and highly filtered in hopes of removing any impurities and pollen from the real thing.
     Now, my question is, “why?” Natural honey is one of Mother Nature’s real foods that does not spoil over time. It has been found in Egyptian tombs after a thousand years, still edible. If somebody can explain to me why real honey needs to be so processed as to be barely recognizable, please do.
     The answers have to have something to do with consumer vanity and laziness. Are we so harried that we cannot even spread real honey onto our peanut buttered toast? Is it because it is difficult and messy to smear? We may even tear our toasted, enriched, white bread if not gentle enough. Perhaps we don’t like left over peanut butter in our honey dish.
     Perhaps our litigious society is looking to sue any corporation that may have inadvertently failed to sift out all of the hardworking bee-parts before bottling their product. Maybe there is a bit of honeycomb wax chunks or some flower pollen dotting the honey on the peanut buttered toast. Lord help us of a speck should float to the top of our honey sweetened tea along with a gob of wayward peanut butter.
      Honey has to be very processed so it can be poured into and out of those plastic bottle. We can easily squeeze a desired amount onto our toast without the struggle and fuss of smearing creamed honey. The corporation must heat and filter all impurities from the natural product so that it appears to be totally clear and pure for our judgmental public.
     The root of all evil is probably the money involved. I wonder how much cheaper the packaging corporation can produce and sell a honey flavored spread than real honey. Is it a penny, if we still had such a coin, per plastic package difference or even two pennies? Is it easier to sell crystal clear honey in a clear plastic bear-shaped bottle than in an opaque plastic tub?
     While enjoying our breakfast, Fay tried one of the jam spreads. Judging by the color, this was not real jam either. It did not taste like any jam we have ever sampled so the same corporation that made and packaged my honey like spread is also packaging some jam like spread. What’s wrong with real jam? All they have to do is grind some real straw berries, add some sugar and a bit of pectin to jell it and “voila!” Jam. You don’t even have to add the pectin if you don’t mind a bit of juice running off your peanut buttered toast.
     I won’t even get into how the sausages I ate are made because I don’t want to know. They are tasty and flavorful and I don’t eat them very often but I shudder to think of the mass production and contents enclosed within that thin casing.
     We have all seen photos of how the wieners that we burned over the campfire yesterday are made. We have heard the jokes about these “lips and rectums” and spare parts delicacies that are ground up and blended in a giant vat to produce this favored campfire fare.
     We purchased a small packaged ham a while ago from our regular large grocery chain. It doesn’t matter which chain because they all sell the same thing from the same manufacturers. I believe that this ham was at least ¼ water. Every time I opened the package to cut off another slice, I poured water out of it. As it fried, more water boiled out. I have had to pour copious amounts of water from the pan in order to get it to brown and crisp a bit. I suspect that water is much cheaper than real pork hams and the more water the corporations can add and sell as meat, the more money they will make.
     I don’t want to just place blame upon the food manufacturing corporations of the world. The members of our population as a whole claim to have so much to do and are time stressed, work stressed, and family stressed so badly that we don’t have time to cook a real meal. Instead, we grab any time saving convenience meals we can to feed our families. These prepared meals are most often overloaded with sugars, salt, preservatives and artificial coloring. They are all encased within tons of disposable plastic containers leading to mountainous landfill sites, littered roads and highways, beaches and oceans. I don’t have to walk very far to see several of the paper coffee cups littering our towns and cities either. Coffee and a breakfast sandwich to go is another labor and time saving option for thousands of harried and distracted commuters rushing our kids to schools and daycare centers before heading to jobs on their big gerbil wheel.
     Today, I went to the big chain store for a few groceries and there, hidden behind the cart parking stall was a television. I imagine the former owner did not want to pay the disposal fee to get rid of an old TV so he chose to dump it in the grocery store parking lot. Many of our rural residents regularly complain about people disposing of garbage and used appliances along county roads. There is a total lack of respect happening here.
     What the hell are we doing to ourselves?

To be continued…

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