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Eat the Pretty Food!

My older sister is much better about organic and natural than I am. I have to admit, when I’m faced with paying a huge amount of money for organic milk vs. being able to afford a cool new piece of jewelry? Hm. Gotta think long and hard about that one.
Anyway, she sent me a link to Dr. Greene’s website. Isn’t it just darn cute that his name is Green? Reminds me of Herb Caen in the good old days.* Herb Caen loved “name phreaks” — people whose names have an amusing correlation with their line of work. Dr. Bonebrake comes to mind. (If you don’t drive regularly through Soquel on Soquel Dr., you might not know what I’m talking about!)
I went to Dr. Greene’s website and found this article about artificial dyes. Let’s talk about reality for a minute. The reality is that the prototype for our prepared foods came about in the fifties and early sixties, times of heady excitement in the land of the American consumer. Dishwasher? Gotta have it! Two car garage? Gimme one! Pink cookies? Totally cool. (The linguist in me reminds me to tell you that amazing as it may seem, people didn’t say “totally” all that much in the sixties.)
But my point is, we started to get a little carried away in that time after World War II, before Vietnam, when we thought that “progress” was progress. We thought that every generation would go further than the last. It was the time that spawned Star Trek. I read an article one time about Gene Roddenberry, the man who invented Star Trek, back when I was a sort of Trekkie. I never went to one of those get-togethers where people wear Klingon suits and talk Klingon to each other (in fact, the Klingons were never my favorite intelligent race, to tell you the truth), but I completely bought into the world view of The Next Generation, when everything was possible, before Warp Drive was found to harm the universe irreparably! I loved that world in which the ideal could exist.
Back to reality. Reality is that reality not only exists: it rules our existence. Here we are in reality, and no matter what we do, here we are. We’re in Oakland and the murder rate is through the roof. Or we’re in India and the pile of garbage outside our town is higher than any building we have. Or we’re in Santa Cruz, and we drive our fossil fuel-burning cars to get to the Earth Day Festival. It’s all weird and a little bit difficult to sort out.
*I am wondering now whether I define as “the good old days” those days before I had children? Hm. Better talk this out with a therapist before I go any further with this blog entry.
So back to artificial dyes. This might connect with my blog entry about the bottle of shampoo that I’m still using. Why is it that we have artificial food dyes at all? I mean, really, do we need our cookies to be pink? And if we really do, can’t we use beet juice? People have been eating beets for longer than we’ve been using telephones or writing down words, and we’re all still fine, right? But instead, we have red dye number whatever, and we happily pop those babies right in our mouths as if it has never occurred to us that perhaps, we really don’t need pink cookies at all.
I’m thinking about pink cookies because that’s about the most egregious use of artificial dyes that occurs to me right now. You know what I’m talking about: those pink cookies in Safeway that you never buy (right?) but that seem to turn up on tables full of goodies at school events or parties.
Why do we have them? Clearly, if we have learned anything in the last fifty years since we started this whole mess, we have learned that you shouldn’t just throw chemicals willy-nilly into our bodies without, perhaps, pausing first to consider whether they’re ones that our bodies are capable of handling.
Dr. Greene says that artificial food dyes should just simply be done away with. I have to say: I can’t think of a single argument against that. I am skilled at argumentation — I once taught it to college students and I practice it daily with my family. I can take any side you’d like in almost any argument, but I’m having trouble finding anything to say about pink cookies except…they should simply not exist.
Unless they’re made with beet juice. I’m all for beets. Go to the farmer’s market, get yourself some chioggia beets. And then tell me that pink cookies are better. Just try it. Try to say it with a straight face, and then apply for an Oscar. I dare you. I do.

Posted in Parenting.


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