As one of today’s chores I put away the 90-day supply of meds that was waiting for me in the mailbox when I got back from a weekend away. I stashed one bottle in the basket on top of the microwave that holds my suddenly-enormous collection of medications and supplements, and took the other two bottles into my cramped bathroom to store.
But where to put them? Since I occasionally think in tweets, the quip “I wish my 90-day supply of meds came with a bigger medicine cabinet in which to store them.” flew through my mind and made it’s way onto my twitter feed in short order. As I crammed the two huge jars of pills into the one Tupperware bin that holds all the overflow of my bathroom supplies I rejoiced to find the lid still fastened shut.
I don’t really want a bigger medicine cabinet. I wouldn’t mind a slightly bigger bathroom (as it stands right now, I’m not sure a long-legged person could close the door while on the toilet), and I’d love an apartment big enough for my bedroom to have a door. But any bigger than that and I would just fill the place with crap, and feel eternally guilty for giving up a life in which all of the excess stuff fits into neat plastic boxes.
I finally finished The Omnivore’s Dilemma last week. Yes, I know this was culturally relevant five years ago, but in all honesty I put off reading it because, well, I’m an herbivore! Ok, not exactly an herbivore per se, but I don’t eat meat, mostly because of general uneasiness with the meat industries.
Michael Pollan’s book only clarified my uneasiness with meat production in the United States. His book has way too large a scope for me to respond to its entirety, but I will comment on one observation that is woven throughout most of the book: our agricultural producers have become way, way too big.
I’ve always been uneasy with things that seemed too big: casinos, amusement parks, shopping malls, even really large supermarkets. It feels unnatural to consider these behemoths individual units. But enormity has been the name of the game for decades. is it somehow un-American of me to deny this fundamental tenet of our economic system: that bigger is always better?
The research done for The Omnivore’s Dilemma proves that sometimes bigger just doesn’t work. To mass produce meats involves cutting corners and making sacrifices. Ostensibly these don’t affect the bottom line – or if they do, it’s for the better. Churning out more chicken cutlets equals higher profits, even if the chicken is poorer quality, the land is depleted, and the product is less healthy. When financial profit is the ultimate goal, who cares what other sides of the ledger show a loss?
Sometime today I need to go to the grocery store. My preferred market is tiny: 8 aisles or so, with limited selection, which is just fine with me. I don’t need 400 types of ketchup at my fingertips (although one that isn’t packed with high fructose corn syrup, would be nice: I’m not optimistic). The Omnivore’s Dilemma – what should you eat when you’re born to eat anything? – extends to those of us who don’t quite eat “anything”, but who come pretty close.
What we eat is so very important, and the way we produce what we eat has been sacred for hundreds of years. Now it has more to do with fluorescent light, flashy packaging and cross-country tractor-trailer rides than with reverence for the land or our bodies. So I’ll keep trying to keep it simple, no matter how tough it may be. Keep it simple, and keep it small.