Wednesday, August 11, 2004

the processed debate

I never cease to be amazed by the alarming frequency and increasing shrillness with which nutritioners, health practioners and the like announce new "facts" and "discoveries" that are an absolute must if you want to stay healthy.
Joining the low carbohydrates, low sugar and 99% Fat Free products debate, we now have processed vs unprocessed.
And unprocessed can be just plain "unprocessed" or organic. While i navigate my way through the different kinds of "processed" and "unprocessed" meats at the local supermarket, it's with a little nostalgia that i remember the days when meat was just strings attached.
If i was a little less sleepy or perhaps had time to spare from timing my little Python script, i'd write a dissertation worthy of First Class Honours (maybe a PhD) on 21st Century Consumerism and the Health Industry. It is not just about the ingredients anymore. The word "processed" carries negative connotations, conjuring up an image of an industrial wasteland dotted with dumps, factories and slaughterhouses, the industrial waste mixing with the blood from the abattoir and where people in white blood stained grimy lab coats "treat" meat with chemicals.
If i had studied Psychology beyond first year, i would make that thesis: Consumer Guilt and the Health Industry. To the dismal industrial marshland image, we add the psychological connection. People who buy into the "healthy debate" feel a need to justify their own unabashed consumer mindset, to explain the consumer-ization of modern society in developed nations. When you see images of people starving in Darfur, you tell yourself - "i don't have it easy either. look at me, everywhere around me there is 'processed' meat".
And the inspiration behind my rambling -
at coles today, while i contemplated the number of slices of bacon i should get, a woman walks up and asks, pointing to some kind of ham, the attendant - "what is that". To the attendant's reply she then, with a look of repulsion, says - "oh...its processed...."