Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cheetos Crunchy: Advert Fauna

Food labeling in the United States is horrible. For most people this isn't a problem. As long as they can sound out the word Cheetos, or recognize the Cheetah, their decision making process for what to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner is complete. Sometimes I wonder, lost in thought in a near-catatonic-state, paralyzed by the endless aisle of false decisions, what it all means -- in the heavy sense of the phrase. Marketing and the decades of product development, the senseless narratives and fantasies that float around these products that populate every aspect of our waking lives. Who is Chester? Why is he so obsessed with being cool, or I should say, the cool equivalent of 1991's coolness. Chester, it's 2011, and Zach Morris is no longer the apex of rad.

I'm not normal or at least not typical enough to be a good, proper consumer. Rather than accept Chester as the gracious, giving icon of cheesy, corn-puffed snacks, I take him for the humanity that might be hidden in such a satyr of a post-capitalist wilderness. This is the disease of anthropology, or of an anthropological outlook on meaning. The menagerie of creatures and mythic beasts that populate the foreground of the market begin to slump in their dance and game. The magic is gone, blowing out the Bacchic fire at the center. What remains are the taut strings of human tinkering. You stop taking things as they are; you contextualize everything, even a cartoon character, in the framework of pertinent histories, of psychological necessities and the pulsating baseness of human desires.

You wonder, with a twisted sense of humor, if the guy that invented Chester knew that Cheetos, or corn-puffed snacks in general, were originally developed as cheap animal feed for zoos. Big surprise: most of the animals fed Cheetos died from malnutrition. Animals are no longer fed Cheetos (excluding pugs). There's a pretty good chance that Cheetos began its legacy with the potential murder of Cheetahs. What kind of sick joke was it to put a Cheetah on the bag?

When you're a kid, you don't realize any of this. Chester helps to further solidify your body's love of simple carbohydrates, blasting straight through your bloodstream into your brain, giving you that neuro-chemical fix. You were going to eat carbs anyway, but you eat these Cheetos because they also pack in the secondary quality that they're cool -- cooler than rice at least. And Cheetos were cool for a kid in 1991 when Zach Morris was cool and the idea of a cheese-dusted Cheetah skateboarding was cool. It didn't take you very long to realize that Cheetos were not conducive to athleticism and skateboarding, hanging your head in shame, standing on a broken skateboard that gave way under your engorged corn/cheese-filled body.

You look at Chester now and the magic is gone. All that is left is the icy clockwork of humanity rife with tragedy or humor --depending on your mood.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Modern Milk Monstrosity

Moving away from the usual setup of this blog, I figured I'd engage with the more popular and mainstream chatter of food politics. The New York Times, being the moderate, liberal bedfellow of the food war machine, approaches most of the big issues on food in their painfully lackadaisical way. What does the FDA say; what does the Mayo-Clinic recommend; what has petty research on hamsters and rats allowed us to speculate about our constitution as humans. Though the New York Times does have its moments of clarity, where they might allow room for the unorthodox, for something radical that engages with the power politics and the irrefutable history of modern food industry, they cannot help but return to their moderating influences, resting assured with a religious-like faith that technology, scientists/doctors and government-controlled institutions are all operating toward an objectivity in the name of the well-being of its populace.

Milk Makeover In summary of the link I have provided, it is a small snippet of the New York Times reporting that various school systems have a dilemma over milk. School children prefer flavored milk, and they will consume it more regularly; however, flavored milk has a good deal more sugar. Trying to counteract the childhood obesity epidemic, school systems have been debating getting rid of the flavored milk altogether or even leaning it out by reducing the sugar content.

The New York Times adds its voice to the tower of babel concerning food obesity. Posing the current health epidemic as a matter of individual choice, plays into the NYT's liberal ideology that wishes to placate the unfortunate with government programs, but will not acknowledge that the system is inherently designed to disenfranchise groups, creating a hierarchical structure of power and ultimately health. Oh, if we just offer a healthier choice to kids, they will consume fewer calories and less sugar and that will offset childhood obesity. Let's not acknowledge that children and school systems determine their consumption by federal government subsidies, pushing down the cost of corn, dairy and meat to the lowest possible prices and that choice on the part of the child or school system has little to do with it. Poverty and obesity are deeply linked.

But I don't want to get too deeply into the general idea of false choice and poverty. I prefer for now to focus on the mainstream ideas about what is healthful dairy consumption. The only issue about the milk that is of any concern to the people in this article is the fat, sugar and the resulting calorie content of the milk. The scientific-aesthetic of calorie obsession really tickles the fancy of those worshipping at the altar of technology, science and physics-envy. But it doesn't work because not all fats, sugars, calories are created equal.

The low-fat milk is accepted dogmatically in the article as being absolutely healthful without question. Isn't that odd when the low-fat milk has the least amount of omega 3 fatty-acids and naturally occurring Vitamin A. All low-fat milk has to be fortified with man-made Vitamin A. The milk is also homogenized, which means the government and the dairy industry, in a mutual partnership of thievery, establish an acceptable quality for dairy milk. They then proceed to mix quality milk with lower quality milk to produce one uniform, lower quality product. The process also guarantees that a milk's fat content won't naturally separate while on shelves -- a meaningless, aesthetic goal.

The milk goes on to be pasteurized or ultra-pasteurized which cooks the milk for a time at high heat to guarantee no dangerous micro-organisms are alive in it; this process also destroys many of the milk's naturally occurring enzymes that assist the body in the digestion of the milk and the absorption of the nutrients. It also destroys and degrades many of the nutrients themselves.

I don't even have time or space to go into the reality of what the cows are being fed because of farming industries, primarily corn, creating sick and diseased animals that produce sick and diseased milk with inferior nutrient profiles.

Yeah, let's complain about the sugar content of the milk, ignoring that the milk we are feeding children is nutritionally approaching nothing. I'm sure nutrients are not essential to the functioning of organs, especially the functioning of the human metabolism. Surely nutrient-devoid milk has nothing to do with obesity, just measly sugar is the culprit. Also no milk fat means no omega 3s, which means an imbalance of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids in the diet, and at no point in human dietary history, has protein ever been consumed without a significant portion of fat. We are designed to eat protein and fat in unison, (think fish and meat) the fat is essential for the absorption of nutrients and also will deter an over consumption of protein which has all of its own ailments. If you remove the fat from milk, kids will consume excessive amount of protein through milk, already a huge dietary issue in America, and they, as the human body craves fat, will replace the missing fat with most likely an inferior omega-6-rich trans-fat vegetable oil in the form of processed food. Enjoy the inflammation, kids.

So the wrong-headed notion of obesity and food politics keep chugging along thanks to the New York Times. And I'll leave you with this thought: at one point kids only drank whole milk, as there was no other option. They even drank chocolate milk from whole milk -- the juice of Satan himself. Somehow they were not obese. Could it be that low-fat milk is not a solution to the obesity epidemic, but rather, a main culprit in the expanding waistlines of America? The consumption of animal fat in the past 50 years has actually significantly dropped because Americans avoid whole milk, cream and butter, but at the same time, obesity, diabetes and heart disease have risen at alarming rates because calorie consumption has increased dramatically. So keep sucking down your skim milk and eating your canola oil by recommendation of the Mayo Clinic and FDA and continue to wonder why everybody is getting so damn fat.

Get your etiology straight.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

When Alcoholism Isn't Enough To Destroy Your Children: Eggo Mini-Muffin Tops: Blueberry


Hate your children but don't know how to convey it? Let Eggo Mini-Muffin Tops: Blueberry show everything you've wanted to say for years to your unwanted children. We know, everybody else was having kids, and you wanted to get invited to shit -- ya know? You didn't realize what kind of a commitment these little shits were going to be. Sometimes drunken rages and passive-aggressive insults are not enough to sufficiently screw up your children.

I'm really not sure who constitutes the market for this product. I guess the children that eat Uncrustables for lunch need something for breakfast, too. You can't just feed your kids Uncrustables for every meal. I'm sure some parents have tried, but sooner or later, you're going to have to stimulate your kid with some new, unholy concoction of corn and xantham gum.

Heidegger and Ho Hos

"Agriculture is now a motorized food industry, the same thing in its essence as the production of corpses in the gas chambers and the extermination camps, the same thing as blockades and the reduction of countries to famine, the same thing as the manufacture of hydrogen bombs."

This blog is an obsession with the war-mechanisms of contemporary food and eating.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Special K Red Berries: Collectivized Schizophrenia

The supplier of a good in a consumerist market is deeply invested in the creation of demand. Demand is problematic for a post-capitalist market, though; at some point, demand fulfills its purposeful cycle -- one is sated. The demand for a good tapers off in the individual and the group when a sufficient amount has been attained. The capitalist, the owner and supplier of goods, must find a way to increase demand if there is to be an increase in profit.

But why bother with more profit? Capitalism exists by propagating itself through its systematic demands and rules. Think of it more as an animal with organs that must function in a very particular pattern for the animal to live. It's primary goal and its meaning for existence is profit; therefore it forces the capitalist to continuously innovate in order to compete with rival capitalists, creating way for more income to acquire more capital to produce more goods. The structure of capitalism forces the supplier to innovate new demand.

The supplier does this by the fabrication of demand through media hosted fantasy. The supplier also does this by the complexification of demand. Focusing on the latter, it is evident from anthropological and paleontological work that cereal grains have been a part of the human diet during prehistoric times, even predating early agriculture; humans have been chomping down on cereal grains, both wild and harvested, for a very long time. The purest and most primary relationship that humans have had to cereal grains is the collection of wild grains, their mashing and steeping in liquid that goes on to create something like porridge or an oatmeal. One eats it, attains the carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals and the body's demand is sated. There's not much room for profit in that game, now is there?

There are a thousand ways to make this game more complicated and to increase demand through distortion. The supplier can mix food products into the grain, cook the grain differently, process the grains in a hundred ways; they can relabel, re-market, use different colors, slogans, make new claims, etc. The game of complexification is simply the small alterations of products, whatever they may be, while keeping the core, natural product (cereal grains) almost exactly the same. This increases demand by making people believe they are deprived of a product even though they have, at the core of the product, the same exact substance in their home they wish to buy.

This brings me to a particularly pernicious new form of complexification that is so painfully and embarrassingly post-modern. Anti-food, non-food, void-food -- it usually has the word diet, light or some synonym plastered on its technicolor box. It can range from zero calories to the arbitrarily-chosen calorie per serving, mysteriously floating around the magic number 100. This is the apogee of marketing creativity by the supplier that breaks demand down into an almost near-schizophrenic state. Human demand has always sought something, a physical thing of substance and sustenance, to sate it, but now, demand has been ripped from a physical product. Suppliers have orchestrated a chemical hallucination of food (e.g. Diet Coke) that sates a free-floating, senseless demand. This is the highest form of collective insanity in the post-modern market place. The idea of having a demand that needs no real product, that sits on top of real demand, is the splicing of demand and the doubling of it; this is an unprecedented complexification that reaches an absolute bifurcation, where, not only are people buying regular food for sustenance, they are also buying anti-food unrelated to sustenance.

Diet Coke is obviously a better example, but maybe, it is too easy of an example. There's something about Special K Red Berries that I have always despised that made me highlight it. I suppose it is the marketing that harps upon its anti-food qualities, recommending a serving amount of something around 150 calories; it also offers itself as a snack item, or something to replace food, making it a prime example of anti-food marketing.

I figured maybe some honest marketing, pardon the oxymoron, would be appropriate.

"Anorectics eat, too. Special K Red Berries."

"Even when Special K became better known as the horse tranquilizer people use as a recreational drug. We kept the name because we know how important the name Special K Red Berries is to our consumers. Special K Red Berries."

"Yeah, you did eat that entire chocolate cake. Don't worry about us though, we're barely even food, at only 150 calories a serving.* Come on', we forgive you. Special K Red Berries."

* Reflecting you eat 1/4 cup of cereal, 1 oz of skim milk and eat the bowl over the course of 2 days.

"They're strawberries. You can buy them fresh in the next aisle and put them on corn flakes. But, would you really be eating Special K Red Berries?"

"A cereal so committed to you, we thought you were smart and strong enough to be an astronaut, that's why we hooked you up with freeze-dried fruit. Because we love you, Special K Red Berries."

I've got a million more!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Monster Energy Drink: Rehab

Food reflects the market. The difference between a capitalist market and a post-capitalist, or consumerist market, is the relationship of supply and demand do not emerge from a drive for sustenance -- a will toward survival. The supply-side of the market, not the demand of a group or individual, fabricates demand through media with the creation of hedonistic fantasies and corresponding identities to populate these fantasies.

Food products begin to essentialize as drugs rather than sustenance. They replace whole food sources by quelling the appetite, e.g. nicotine and cocaine. The chemical makeup of the food is mechanically refined to produce stronger physiological effects that alter mood and with it reality. The product's value is measured by degrees of pleasure, oblivious to their unhealthful qualities.

I saw someone drinking one of these at work the other day. If you have low energy, maybe you should try a nap and spend some time on your life to pinpoint why you're such a spiraling out of control mess. You're probably tired because you're a crackhead. The answer isn't a tallboy of a drink called Rehab -- it's rehab. Though, the most common answer from our medical institutions for dealing with addiction and substance-abuse is, not too far off from Monster's nostrum, usually to put the crackhead on a legal drug instead. Maybe, Monster Energy drink is on to something. Is this some sort of mea culpa by Monster to apologize for the havoc they've placed on the constitutions and taste buds of the white trash that suck this down prior to an off-roading adventure. We know you can't afford rehab since you have no health care, but here, take this can of cold Rehab, maybe it will quench your substance-abuse issues we've only helped to foster in you.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Silk Pure Almond Milk Dark Chocolate

As the Chinese suck down milk like Americans did in 1950s dairy ads, ignoring their chronic and explosive diarrhea reaching epidemic proportions (90 percent of the population suffers from some degree of lactose-intolerance) alternative dairy products are king in the Wholefood's satellite states, i.e. the coastal regions of the United States.

As someone who dabbles in, if you will, alt-dairy products, having too much free time to lurk in a grocer, I am familiar with the various products put out by Silk, Blue Diamond and smaller purveyors. I generally despise alt-dairy though; from soy yogurt, franken cheez' to even the ubiquitous soy milk, it all goes wrong in one way or another. I understand why these foods exist from an ethical stance on the dairy industry to health-related issues, e.g. intolerance and allergens. Animal milk, however, has always been linked to Western civilization, probably in many ways sustained and allowed for the progenitors of our civilization today; this food anthropological hypothesis even finds its way tacitly in myth: Romulus and Remus, the mythological founders of Rome, suckled on a mother wolf -- mmm, wolf milk. Milk is an unmoving monolith in the Western diet, finding its way into every kitchen; now, from such a cultural staple, it is one of the monsters of the food industry that sprinkles its dairy dander into almost every food product available to the average Western consumer. When you're that big, people want to blame you for every ailment and failure that exists, and milk, being an allergenic food with a decent percentage of the population being unable to digest lactose, gives people plenty of room to bash it.

The dissidents of our milky civilization have a new champion: the soy milk alternative to alleviate the lactose-intolerant, a seemingly ever-growing population as self-diagnosis sweeps the United States of WebMD. But, big mistake, almost down right humorous, using soy milk to deal with the self-diagnosed allergy/intolerance army. Soy is an equal to milk in being an allergen and indigestible, and, with the turn of the 20th century, soy is big business that rivals and beats dairy as the feed for the dairy industry. Soy's prevalence puts it in near every food product as well, and with its phytoestrogenic compounds, that make men think their breasts will be luscious and women think their breasts will become riddled with tumors, paranoid blame-game is activated in full force for the neurotic.

Time to abandon that golden calf for a new, shinier one. Behold(!): almond milk! Nutritionally devoid yet novel so nobody has written articles about how it has destroyed their lives -- yet. Almonds are also waiting on beatification by the Pope, as they seem to be universally hailed as a super food. The regular stuff is generally watery and flavorless with mild sweetness and a lingering-ghost-of-almond-past quality. I find it to be inedible in cereal. When I did try it, I felt like that latchkey kid in the Tupac Shakur video who eats cereal with tap water. (Please forgive the racial and class insensitivity of the previous statement.) The chocolate version is surprisingly pleasant tasting, but it is in fact just fortified soda. It is like Yoohoo for the upper-middle class, calorie counting, walking embodiment of food intolerance. None of the micro or macro-nutrients translate over from the whole food source to the beverage, so let the fortification begin and add a solid amount of sugar while you're at it, too. The Silk product has the audacity to claim that it has more calcium and certain vitamins and minerals that regular milk doesn't have. This would be impressive if it wasn't an arbitrary amount of man-made, powdered vitamins dumped into a tank of almond milk. They also, trying to avoid the awkwardness of fortifying something that is suppose to be nutritionally superior to milk, label the vitamins as "antioxidants". This is true, but it would also be absolutely true for Hawaiian Punch to label itself as being packed full of antioxidants because it dumps a couple of tons of vitamin c into a corn syrup slurry with red dyes and potassium sorbate in a factory building.

So while the Chinese are getting stronger, fatter, filled to the brim with synthetic hormones and having the worst diarrhea ever, the neurotic soccer moms, who have taken liens on their houses for elite pilates training, are jumping from one dairy alternative to the next spurred by self-diagnosis and whatever health paranoia is paramount. Almond milk in general is a poor excuse for a beverage or a staple, and it is one of the growing sphere of food stuffs that are varying modes of multi-vitamins sprinkled with sugar.