Saturday, March 14, 2009

Everything is Hazardous to your Health

It seems there always needs to be some sort of bogeyman to keep Americans in agita pretty much the whole time. Things have hidden evil powers that can turn against us at any moment. Cellphones give you cancer, lipstick has lead, toys are toxic, cows contaminate the planet.
Americans are expected to worry about the contents of everything they put in their mouths, or touch with their hands (and probably with good reason given the shady nature of corporate America).
But these things tend to change with the times (and, I assume, the yearly budgets of lobbyists):

Used to be chocolate was bad for you; now it's good. (yay!)
Wine was bad for you, now it's good. (double yay!)
Coffee: bad, good, bad, good, bad, good...
Tequila? Very good for you. Said who? Said I.
I'm still hoping for the day where the Surgeon General announces they've made a terrible mistake and smoking is actually good for you; it destroys cellulite, improves your sex life and makes you 10 years younger. One can dream.
Eggs were good from the beginning of time until someone invented cholesterol; currently bad.
A safe rule of thumb for me, is whatever they say is bad, I do the opposite. I eat eggs, I eat red meat and shrimp and grits when I feel like it.
Isn't it too much of a coincidence that the things that are supposed to be very bad for you also happen to be the yummiest? I eat plenty of those (salt, sugar and fat) because they make me happy, and being happy is definitely healthier in the long run to being miserable. It is a proven scientific fact that miserable, depressed and unsatisfied people get sick more often and die younger.
So there.
Lately, as some puritanical food paranoias are being relaxed (coffee, wine and chocolate are all on the good list now), the environment is the new bogeyman.
I am not disputing that we are turning the earth into a giant garbage dump and a soon to be collapsed planet. I'm the first one to deplore the unconscionable amount of waste that America, a spoiled nation of spoiled people that have never really endured hardship, produces. I'm just saying that the environmental crisis provides seamless continuity to the paranoia. It even turns it up a notch. McDonald's is now not only bad for your gut, but bad for life on Earth.
We want our American way of life to continue as is, (that is, to live with the maximum of comfort and waste, with the minimum of effort) and in exchange we worry and we fret about hidden evils in absolutely everything. Nothing is ever good. Everything has suspect origins. Everything is bad and inmoral. Be it far from us to consider adding and using public transportation or riding bikes instead of using an SUV all by ourselves to go buy a quart of milk. We'd rather fret about lead in lipstick (which, I must say, worries me to no end).
By the way, it now turns out that multivitamins, those marvels of nature that the doctor is always telling you to take every day, well those are not really doing anything good for you anyway.
Also, it turns out that toilet paper, one of mankind's greatest inventions, is now very, very bad.
Apparently, the softer the paper, the more trees get killed. So now, every time you wipe your ass, you are also faced with a moral conundrum, the way our Puritan forefathers would have liked it.
I buy sandpaperish toilet paper because I find it obscene to pay almost six bucks for toilet paper.
But now I can claim some sort of moral purity and assuage my environmental conscience.
Speaking of which, don't buy dyed toilet paper or tissues or paper towels with colors or little butterflies and rainbows. The dyes are terrible pollutants.

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