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Vitamized water, fortified orange juice, and franken-foods…

May 25, 2011

Now that nature is no longer good enough for many of us – now that we have television  commercials selling me the virtues of adding calcium to yogurt, vitamins to water, and plant sterols to orange juice – I realize that we really have become masters of our own universe.

Nature, in the new hyper-reality that is 2011, simply isn’t good enough any more.

Everything in life must now be more (unless it’s calories – which then must be less). In our fast-paced world we need super juice, frankenwater, biologically manipulated uber-vegetables. Never mind that most of us are in fact obese – (maybe it’s because we are obese) – that we fetishize food as some kind of Freudian response to our fatness.

Within a culture that demands (deceives) us to go faster, work harder, social network more, learn more, and forget less, nature too must be more than it once was.

Our foods have to keep up! What Nature gives us is no longer enough. Water from the tap is no longer good enough. It needs to be bottled. Energized! Fortified!

It seems that the more we urbanize ourselves – the further we remove ourselves from nature – the less we trust it – and the more we want to manipulate it. To treat it like a commodity, and subject it to our paranoid anxiety-ridden fears.

Here’s a prime example: Toronto’s tap water is checked for 300 different contaminants every day. Coke and Pepsi take that very same tap water and sell it to you – wrapped in plastic – at a 10,000% profit mark-up. And you have been told that it is safer to do so.

As more and more of us become allergic to the environment (stop and think about that concept for a minute – that more and more of us are, in fact, becoming allergic to the environment), isn’t it ironic that our response is to try to manipulate nature further rather than deal with the cause of our growing allergic response (i.e. pollution, urbanization, sedentary lifestyles)?

And it’s not only nature. We are also doing it to our own children. Did you know that the fastest growing segment of the education market is Kumon-type classes for pre-kindergarten children? Kindergarten wasn’t enough. So we added junior kindergarten. Now there is rote learning pre-kindergarten classes. It’s never to early to achieve!

(Never mind that there isn’t a single scientific study that suggests that this does any good for children – and in fact is quite harmful (in the same way that TV, computers, video games, are harmful for young children: watching TV under the age of 5 will actually change how a child’s brain develops). But nobody cares if it actually works or not. That’s not the point. It’s the idea – the conception – that three-year-olds too must be manipulated to go faster, think smarter, play less.

People! What are we doing to ourselves!?

Why the performance anxiety?

Canada is consistently ranked as one of the very best places to live in the world. It’s not perfect but it’s better than most. So stop pulling your hair out!

Three-year-olds need to play, explore, develop imaginations. Rote learning won’t build a genius. (Just a future bureaucrat.)

Relax a little before you give yourself a heart attack (not surprisingly the leading cause of death among adults in North America).

Stop buying into the consumer hype that you need fortified orange juice, calcium-injected yogurt, and vitamized water. Stop with your fetishizing of coffee, yoga gear, heirloom vegetables, cycling, cheese, and edible gardening nonsense.

How about you eat an actual orange? Real yogurt (not the sugar-laced crap sold to you in the supermarket). If you want some plant sterols – eat some plants! It’s not rocket science.

Stop buying into the consumer hype that is telling you daily, constantly, on 500 channels, that you are somehow missing out. That you are not good enough. Not successful enough. That you must multitask more. Go faster. Buy more.

How about you try this: Breathe. Walk. And give yourself a good dose of [real] reality.

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