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100 days of Love and Hate - Day 34 [Oct. 13th, 2006|10:14 am]
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A Sanitised Life
In the last 100 years or so, Western society has increasingly catered to the over-sensitive, and business/social ideals of what we should prefer. Everything is being sanitised until there is little left that challenges people or offers variety.

For instance, as a huge example, there's food. Everything has to fit a homogenised norm. You're not allowed to know that this stuff came off a tree or out of the ground. Apples have to be waxed to make them more appealing. Vegies and fruits that fall outside a certain range in the way they look, even if they are perfectly edible, are rejected. Supermarkets sell only the types that fit a look, unconcerned if the nutritional values may be lacking compared to their 'ugly' relatives. They want you trained to only eat their product.

The side effects of this attitude are worrisome. Many farmers grow a particular sort of potato that McDonald's prefers for its fries - it's a confirmed and growing market. That's fine, until Maccas decides it doesn't wish to pay as much for the potatoes, and the farmers who only grow that type find themselves trapped. Either sell at a lower price or be stuck with a product that isn't popular ouside the main market. I'm just using Maccas as an example, there are supermarket chains, airlines, and of course other restaurant franchises just as guilty.

The huge numbers of farmers growing only specific types of potato for the McDonalds and supermarkets naturally reduce the strains of potatoes grown. So you have less variety to buy, and of course genetic diversity is down. Does no-one remember the lessons of the potato famine? That's just a really good example of what relying overly on a single strain can do, it applies to all foods equally, not just the odd spud.

All these extra problems and potential side-effects because someone somewhere has decided that this is what the ideal is. And anything outside that is simply wrong or unattractive.

And meat! Since when was meat not allowed to look like it came from a living thing? Blocks of muscle in polyurethane packages, the actual bodies hidden away so that people don't have to be confronted with the reality of what they are doing - eating another once-living thing. There are people who eat meat but don't want to acknowledge that it was once alive, because if they do, they can't eat it. Since when did not recognising what we need to do to survive become more important than the survival itself?

In a world as vast and overly complex as ours has become, it's not possible for everyone to kill their own food. That's fine. Not everybody is capable of it, not everyone wants to do it, so paying someone else to do the work is acceptable. But at least be prepared to acknowledge where the meat you're eating came from. If you can't do that, you don't deserve to be eating it.

The fact that there are children in today's world that don't realise the meat doesn't just come from supermarkets is both ridiculous and tragic. And it sets the kids up for a fall. It can be a nasty shock to a child to discover the steak they like to tuck into was once Daisy the Cow. But bring them up with that knowledge and you avoid the issue. They also gain a greater appreciation into the work involved in putting a meal on the table.

Human death... homogenised until it's an abstract, hidden away so that people don't have to deal with it. Hospitals where they place the dead on the lower level of a trolley, then put a sheet over the top, so it looks like someone wheeling an empty cart. Don't get me started on how disrespectful I find this attitude, hiding the recently deceased like a dirty secret or so much garbage, out of sight, out of mind.

Dealing with the death is often a major step towards acknowledging your grief. Hiding death away, not allowing people at least the option to say a proper goodbye... sure it's good for now, but does it help in the long run? At least give people the option of a viewing...

Some roses are bred without thorns. Toilet paper should be only be white and/or scented. Orange juice with barely a hint of pulp. All bread should be light and fluffy. Seedless grapes. All flowers should come on twelve-inch stems. There are so many more examples, I could go on for ages, but my point is this - we're not doing ourselves or our children any favours. We're breeding a people who are less and less able to cope with common realities - not everything is a perfect process, things die so that we may live, we and our loved ones die.

And worse than that, we cease to gain access and experience to what is different in the world. If you only ever get the chance to eat Granny Smith apples, how would you find out if you love or hate Golden Delicious, Jonathans, Lady Williams, Pink Lady, Fuji, Braeburn, Sundowner, Firmgolds, Cleo, Russet, Red Delicious, Bonza or Royal Gala?

You wouldn't, and that's the tragedy of the whole situation.

It's funny. Because I like to go bush and drive the Nullarbor and such, people expect me to know about birds. I know sweet F.A. about our feathered friends. There's a handful I can identify by sight a few I know by sound, and that's it. Beyond that it's just 'Ooh pretty!'

But I love their songs, especially in the morning and the evening. I love the variety, love the sound in general. Just generally enjoy it. And of course I have a particular fondness for those that I do recognise. The magpie... the... er... sparrow... Kookaburra! Yep, got that one pegged... um... peacock... chicken... errr... See what I mean?

I may not be able to recognise the types by the sound, but I do recognise the language. Every tweet and twitter.

"I'm a bird and I'm here."

"I'm a bird and I'm over here."

"Predator! It's a Predator! There's a Predator here!"

"I'm a bird, I'm over here."

"Clear off pal! This is my patch!"

"I'm a bird and I'm here."

"OMFG! Something's coming this way! Go away! Go awaygoawaygoaway! AAarrrghhh! Go Away! That's right. Yeah, keep going. Go on... gone... Good. (pause) OMFG! Something's coming this way..."

"I'm a bird and I'm over here."

From: leecetheartist
2006-10-13 10:26 am (UTC)
Harvey Fresh keep all the pulp in their standard orange juice. Yum. Be careful though, because they do an evil strained version.
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[User Picture]From: strangedave
2006-10-13 10:53 am (UTC)
I'm not sure 'sanitisation' and monocultures are quite the same issue, though they do tend to go hand in hand. Its good to see the growing foodie culture seems to be gradually pushing back against the food monoculture - my memory is that we had a lot less strains of basics like potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, etc in mainstream grocery stores a couple of decades ago. I'm not sure its helping with the sanitization, though - there is certainly an element of foody culture that likes to connect with the reality of food production, but I think its a minority yet to influence supermarket practices.

When it comes to hospital policies, my impression (which obviously has its bias) is that they usually only hide death away from those who have nothing to do with the person, that family do not have it hidden from them unless its their request. The privacy of the family is an issue here, as well as their wishes. Policies on things like death and bereavement are not made lightly.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2006-10-13 10:37 pm (UTC)
That was good, (about the privacy issue) thanks Dave. I only mentioned hospitals but I should have also mention the funeral industry. Partly didn't get that far because I was tired and it's a whole other big rant.

I was very aware when we buried my father of how they tried to distance us from the whole thing. The suggestions were geared towards towards distance and making everything 'easier'. The feeling was that grieving at the funeral wouldn't be 'nice', that it should be saved for private.

And having dealt with a number of funerals over the years, and been the 'music guy' on a handful more, these people were actually good to deal with. When I wanted to go against their suggestions, they bent with easy grace, but many actually try to push people into something safe.

From what I've seen over the years, get the grieving started or it stays with you for ages. And funerals especially are a starting point for that.

The foodie culture is good! We are getting more variety but there is still the strong push to only eat select strains.
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[User Picture]From: purrdence
2006-10-13 11:26 am (UTC)
Just look at what's happening with bananas... really only one type of banana is being grown for consumption in Australia (and most of the world, I think). Now it's being affected by a fungus. Include the drop in numbers caused by large chunks of the breeding stock being destroyed due to natural disasters, and it's looking like the banana as we know it could be gone within a few decades. Just think, a world with no more bananas.

I do agree we are breeding a generation that can't cope with with the bad things in life. You should see what it's becoming like in the education system - it's slowly changing to expose children less and less to failure. Don't feel like making the deadline? That's ok, your teacher has to accept the assessment anyway, and you're mark won't change if it's handed on the due date or 2 weeks late, because the 'leveling' system doesn't take when it was handed in into account. Don't feel like putting the effort in on that assessment? That's ok, you won't get a 'fail'. You may get a demonstrated' if you don't hand it in at all, but you'll at least get a level if you do. Of course these kids don't think it matters now, but they'll be the first to complain when they try to get into TAFE or uni and find out they're not up to the standard. (of course it won't be *their* fault either).

But I digress - this is probably a very good idea for a post my own 100DoL&H.


I don't know didly about birds either. I did miss the kookaburras when I was in Japan. I got very tired of the Japanese crow - true crows and ugly brutes.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2006-10-13 10:39 pm (UTC)

Re: Birds

I saw some choughs at the You Yangs yesterday. I wouldn't have known what they were but for Tiki naming them.

Thank you for the book loan! You rock!
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[User Picture]From: rachelholkner
2006-10-13 02:13 pm (UTC)
"I'm a bird and I'm here."

"I'm a bird and I'm over here."

"Predator! It's a Predator! There's a Predator here!"

"I'm a bird, I'm over here."

When Abbey (aged nearly-three) and I go into the backyard tomorrow I'm going to introduce her to this story. It's marvellous, thank you!

And you'll be pleased to know we had a deep conversation about fish the other day that involved her asking questions like, "Do we eat the head?" "Do we eat the skin?" "Do we eat the body?"
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2006-10-13 10:41 pm (UTC)
Glad you liked it. It's adapted from something said to me once by Tiki.

That's cool about the fish. Just wait 'til you feed her tripe and black pudding!
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[User Picture]From: tikiwanderer
2006-10-16 10:53 am (UTC)
...adapted from something said to me once by Tiki...

That would be that there's four(ish) main categories of bird conversation, three of which are peaceful and one of which isn't.

Companion calls - the little sounds pairs and groups make to each other to let everyone know where they are, that they're still here, it's all OK. The bird equivalent of "Yes dear".

Thanksgiving and territory - the song marking of space and identity and being part of the world.

Aggression - get out of my territory, it's all mine, I'm the sexiest male here and all the women are mine, it's all MINE!!! This is a peaceful one, believe it or not - you'll only get birds squabbling with each other when there's no immediate threat to them. Bring in a dangerous predator, and they'll be hiding under the same bush together, best of friends, until it's gone.

Ohshitohshitohshitohshit - self-explanatory. (This is the not-peaceful one.)
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[User Picture]From: rendragon
2006-10-13 02:40 pm (UTC)
Yay for the Farmer's Market! Fresh and tasty! No "kept in cold storage for 9 months just so Mr Smith could have xxx out of season" for me. Except for carrots. Farmer's market carrots are too carroty for me =P

I agree with the farmer who sells us our lamb. You deserve to know where your next meal came from.

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[User Picture]From: paul_ewins
2006-10-14 08:07 am (UTC)
Funnily enough, potatoes are the one vegetable where there seems to be dozens of varieties, inlcuding the "Mondy" that we discovered at Apollo Bay (just browse through my recent posts for that one). My ancestors were Orchardists and my Great Grandfather developed a few varieties of peach including the "Anzac" and "Zerbe" (Zerbe being the family name).

I spent the first nine years of my life in the country and most of my uncles were farmers so I got to see a lot of farms. The smell of cow manure immeadiately makes me think of milking sheds, while a magpie's warble or a crow's "faaark" makes me think of deserted country roads with sheep in the paddocks. Crows and sheep also go together in my mind ever since the time I was told about the crows trying to peck the eyes out of the new lambs.
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[User Picture]From: purrdence
2006-10-14 06:16 pm (UTC)
It's a bit freaky when you share a first name with a potato.
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[User Picture]From: willowgypsy
2006-10-22 07:13 am (UTC)
Pork is a great example of the world gone sanitisation crazy...

They bred pigs to have less fat so they could market pork as 'lean meat' and 'the other white meat'...


Certain fats in over consumption can be bad - but in meat - fat = favour!!!

*indignant look* Go go Piggy Fat! I say!
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2006-10-22 11:27 pm (UTC)
That was something I learnt while studying to be a meat inspector - fat is important to the flavour.

It's the usual kneejerk reaction. Too much fat is bad, therefore all fat is bad!

It's like the word 'moderation' never existed.
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[User Picture]From: willowgypsy
2006-10-22 11:48 pm (UTC)
I'm a big fan of moderation ... hee hee ... NOT!!!
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[User Picture]From: willowgypsy
2006-10-22 07:19 am (UTC)


My other comment about food and sanitisation is a concept called Eating Sustainably.

Which is about knowing where the food came from and trying to eat as much from your local community (South Lake, then Perth, then WA, then Australia) as possible. Difficult, but not impossible.

As I used to work for Greening Australia I met people who, when asked for their dietry requirements/allergies on conference registration forms, would ask that the food be 'sustainable'. Or would write "I prefer to eat sustainable products' in the same way others would write "I am allergic to lactose".

Oh! And don't get me started on allergy's - aside from the fact that humans are the only species of animal that continues to drink milk after we are weaned AND WE DON'T EVEN DRINK OUR OWN SPECIES' MILK!! Lactose intolerance is not surprising :)

(BTW - I love a glass of icy cold milk... cows milk :) )
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2006-10-22 11:29 pm (UTC)


*Danny gets briefly distracted by thoughts of lactating women, then moves on...*
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[User Picture]From: willowgypsy
2006-10-22 11:50 pm (UTC)


Doh doh doh!

BUY not BY ... :(
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