I spent Friday night out at a movie and dinner with a dear friend whose partner didn’t want to see Thor in a dark world or a dark theater. We Since we’d forgone the pleasures of GMO popcorn laden with insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, fumigants, trans fats, artificial flavors, artificial flavoring and preservatives, we were hungry by the end. Which is where the night took a distinctly different turn from any other “dinner out” night I’ve ever had.
“Pizza?” Tess asked as we buckled up in my car.
Now pizza is my favorite food group in the whole wide world—right after popcorn. Could I dodge both bullets in the same night? I mean it was Friday and party time. Come on!
For once in my life there wasn’t even an inner struggle. “Um. Well. Maybe not.” What’s wrong with me? Somehow a carb fest of gluten with BGH-laced cheese just didn’t seem appealing.
“You’re joking. You love pizza.”
Tell me about it. “Yeah, well, not tonight, I guess. How ‘bout sushi?”
We live in a small town and food and entertainment options aren’t far apart. I drove the short way to the Japanese restaurant where the night’s theme of Consumer Apprehension continued to play out
Ordering a beer and saki wasn’t difficult. But then came the menu. I swear, it could have been labeled, “Pick Your Poison” the way we both eyed it. Tuna? Too much mercury. Crab? Sorry, it’s imitation (red-dyed Alaskan Pollack). Unagi (eel)? Yellowtail?
“Where’s the yellow tail from?” Tess asked the waitress. Another trip back to the sushi chef and we had the answer: Japan.
We looked at one another, the deadly word Fukushima hanging unspoken in the air between us. Forget the yellowtail. Forget the eel. What about the Northwest fallback favorite, salmon? I shook my head. Since Fukushima, for the first time in the 24 years I’d lived in the Pacific Northwest I hadn’t made the annual November pilgrimage to my fishing connection at the local Nisqually Indian tribe to buy the fresh-caught silver salmon that ran upriver from the Puget Sound estuary only 15 miles away.
Just say no to Pacific salmon.
Shocked at our dilemma, we continued to plod through the menu. Chicken? Neither of us could stomach the idea of eating agri-business chicken because of the ghastly tortured existence the birds endured. Same with beef and pork. “Shall I come back?” the restless waitress inquired.
“Christ. I can’t believe this,” I murmured. Eating out used to be so much fun.
“You know, I went to Safeway the other day and walked through the whole store and couldn’t find one thing to eat that wasn’t processed, filled with sugar or artificial crap,” said Tess.
“Really? What about their organic section?”
“Trucked from God know where with a carbon footprint the size of Texas?” she shook her head. “I finally drove to the co-op, bought a bunch of local organic vegetables and we made a stir-fry.”
“Maybe we should just get uki-udon noodles and some veggies?” I suggested unenthusiastically. Maybe we should go to my house and cook?
The waitress came back. For lack of any other real choice, we both ordered miso soup and east coast shrimp. By that time all I wanted was another beer—or something stronger.
But dammit, I’ve numbed myself long enough. Last night was inevitable. It’s been coming ever since Rachel Carson first started blowing the whistle in her book Silent Spring way back in 1962. And although we’ve come a long way on the environmental front, we’re far from a widespread populist movement demanding clean air, clean water and healthy food on our tables. Hell, state amendments to label GMOs have been beaten out in the two most progressive states in the US through the vast injection of Monsanto Money into ad coffers.
We’re being sold bad health with a vengeance and we’re buying it with hardly a blink.
What will it take to change? Glow-in-the-dark caviar appearing on Elitist Corporate Tables worldwide and them finally waking up? Maybe. Or maybe more of us just need an educational Friday night out now and then.