I’m not sure I want to know… – February 7th

I always knew I was being played – milked – deceived – used – screwed over by the food industry.  But I don’t know that I wanted to know just how or how much.  I knew enough to steer clear.  There was always an ominous sort of image in my mind, the clang of a feedlot gate, the chemical smells of the lurid gels that are pumped into what’s shrinkwrapped to last months and advertised with the calculations of an army of psychologists and devoured without a single thought.  Of aliens in lab coats speaking telepathically about the newest ways they could manipulate my taste buds and addict me to something only they knew how to make.  And imagining – that was enough to keep me away.  But now I’m scared.  I’m horrified, and you’re making me feel that food – all food – is my enemy, Mr. Kessler.  You’re Hitchcock.  You’ve taken the horror out of the toxic swamp and put it in my kitchen.  And I don’t trust myself any longer.  I feel vulnerable and wicked, and now when I say I’ll die if I don’t have a bit of chocolate, I feel I’m part of the scheme you’re explaining to me.  I’m sure this is your intent, sir.  But there’s a part of me that’s covering my eyes to it.  Because this is as frightening as any sort of guilt you could press to me.  This is something I love.  And you’re making me scared of it.  I’m not trying to be childish or flippant – I feel like I’m reading about people’s problems with control and becoming more susceptible to the same with every word.  I don’t object to being made to question my actions.  But I don’t appreciate being made to feel with such vicious logic how my every pleasure is just a turn of a cog in this horrific machine.  You make me want to apologize for liking to eat, even though I know that’s not your aim.  Maybe I’m just another consumer who doesn’t want to see the facts.  But I feel like you’re spoiling something beautiful, and I want to talk about something else today.

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One Response to I’m not sure I want to know… – February 7th

  1. Mr. Sturdy Knight says:

    Oh dear. This is really not the response I was hoping to provoke with my choice of reading for the class.
    I understand where you are coming from, Imogen, but I think you are neglecting an important part of Kessler’s argument. He is not trying to make us feel guilty for liking food. On the contrary, he is explaining why it is completely normal and natural to desire the foods that most of us desire (e.g. sugar, fat, and salt). The key is in being aware of the mechanisms that underlie these desires, and being able to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy appetites for certain foods.
    Kessler’s descriptions of what the food industry gets up to with our chicken breast are pretty graphic and horrifying, but again, the goal is not to turn us off from restaurant food forever, but help us be aware of why we like it that way, and what has been done to make it more palatable. As informed consumers, we can make our own choices about what we eat. None of the processes we heard about actually detract from the chicken-ness of the chicken (at least, not in my opinion); the point is that we understand what else has been added in, and choose whether or not that turns us off from the whole thing. For me, it doesn’t: I like Chili’s, and so long as I don’t eat there every day, I don’t see the problem with that.

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