Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Unnatural


Parker Kay accused stood before the judge, with thick chains hanging between his wrists and neck.  Behind him, the crowd in the gallery jeered and laughed, waiting for justice to come crashing down on him.

“Mr. Kay,” the judge intoned, “you have been found guilty of inventing an unnatural, processed food product.  Furthermore, you introduced said food product onto an unsuspecting public without warning them of the dangers.  Uncounted numbers of men, women, and children have been stricken with heart disease, cancer, diabetes, infertility, depression and obesity because of your actions.  Do you have anything to say before I pass judgment?”


Parker looked around at the unsympathetic judge, the jury who found him guilty and the crowd howling for his execution and sighed.

“It’s not unnatural,” he said, “and I swear to you that butter is safe if used in moderation.”

He was beheaded the next day.

There is a thriving black market for butter in Norway right now.  It inspired me to write today’s post.

Back when I was among the yuppie masses, I visited Whole Foods regularly.  It was a time before I found hundreds of dead bugs encrusting my organic kale, before I discovered their entire “medicine” section was homeopathic, before I couldn’t find a leg of lamb when I was in a hurry to buy one (Passover Seder can be a bitch).
What is the egg for?  NOBODY KNOWS.
One of the things I used to buy regularly were Wholly Wholesome, all-natural, unbaked Christmas cookies.  (Yeah, I see the irony of me buying a Christmas product, but they were disturbingly good, and my son had fun frosting and decorating them.)  Then, one day, I looked at the ingredients; butter was listed as an all-natural ingredient.

Butter is all-natural?  Try to wrap your head around that.  All-natural means occurring in nature without interference from humans.  I thought about it for a moment and then wrote an email to the Wholly Wholesome company.

“I can think of few products less natural than butter. . . To make butter, first milk is expressed from a cow with a high-speed, electric pump. The milk is then pasteurized at unnaturally high temperatures. Then it’s churned with more specialized, electrically run equipment. . . Does butter exist in nature through some process I am unaware of? The only way I can imagine it happening is if a nursing calf spat some milk down a volcanic vent in Yellowstone during an earthquake.”
"Spit fast, baby.  It could erupt any moment!"
I didn’t really expect a response, but the Wholly Wholesome people surprised me.

“This is certainly a new and challenging perspective.  Though there is no legal definition of natural, the natural foods community considers a food to be natural if it does not have synthetically produced ingredients. . . Cooking is in itself a process.  Butter, like, bread, pasta, hamburger, French fries and even orange juice does not exist of its own accord in nature.

“Cookies themselves, would not be possible in any form without some type of processing. Since we see no way to provide you with cookies without grinding wheat, crystallizing cane juice and churning butter at high speeds at this point, we will have to rely on the current methods available.

“We do promise however, to keep on the lookout for a talented herd of spitting calves willing to re-locate to Yellowstone for a truly ground breaking food production experiment.  Thanks again for trying Wholly Wholesome and keep stickling, it helps keep us on our toes.”

You really can’t get a better response than that.  From then on, I decided to correspond with companies more often.  It has been… Enlightening.

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