"It never gets any easier. You just go faster." ---Greg Lemond
"Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades." --- Eddy Merckx
"You drive like shit." ---The Car Whisperer


Thursday hate

Fuck you, Michael Pollan.

I can't walk past the meat case in my grocery store without wanting to vomit, and like Haley Joel Osment, I see dead people, and high fructose corn syrup, everywhere. Dead people made of corn syrup and oil.

Of course, I am partially kidding. I have referenced Mr. Pollan many times in this space, and I highly respect his writing. After reading his piece, Unhappy Meals, in the New York Times Magazine I felt compelled to write a somewhat longer piece than I will give tonight. Partially because it is late, mostly because I am filled with such apprehension and indecision.

I have read excerpts from his book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, before and have spoken with many people who have finished it. But I never expected that upon finally reading for myself that it would affect me so deeply.

I shop at my neighborhood farmers market almost every weekend in the summer. I try to buy free range beef and eggs whenever I can. But I honestly have never imagined anything so wrenchingly beautiful as Pollan's account of Joel Salatin's "beyond organic" farm, summed up so succinctly by his image of a happy pig scratching itself against a tree, grunting with pleasure in the afternoon shade.

That image is then contrasted with the madness that is the alternative, the shit-stained, scab-covered hordes of steer and chicken driven insane by close quarters and lack fresh air and sunlight, being fed a diet of relentlessly subsidized corn that makes them sick, requiring them to be pumped full of drugs to get them through to slaughter. It's not really the suffering that hits me so hard, for there is an equal amount of human misery to worry about, but the unsustainability of it all. The hubris we display in thinking that our answer is the only answer. It's the wrong answer: the barren, scorched, burned earth we leave behind, polluted and diseased by manure so toxic farmers can't use it as fertizer.

And yet, the days and meals go by, shopping carts and mouths fill up with colorful boxes and labels all filled with the same mountains of unending corn, just reassembled into different shapes. What was once a delicacy, what once was slaughtered in rituals and prayers, is now merely shrink-wrapped in hunks of manufactured meat, or pre-cooked into a ready-to-microwave meal, now at a low, low price. Why not have it every day? And they do.

I now know what Chris McCandless must have felt like; I understand his irrational compulsion to throw it all away and leave it all behind, to become one with the earth. It makes me want to scream, as I type on this plastic computer, made from oil and corn, powered by petroleum...I can't escape it.

To be ignorant is one thing. To be willfully ignorant is quite another. I know I can't change the world, but I can't be sociopath, in good conscience, either...and to buy into this system knowing the inputs is to be a willfully ignorant sociopath.

So I choose delusion, and hope that I can change the world.

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