The Costco Effect

Oddly enough, the title of this post was something I have mulled over for awhile and tonight felt like the appropriate time to discuss it.  The reason being – developers are breaking ground on a new, very sizable Costco complex in our city as I type.  My ignorant coworkers are wildly excited for even better access to awful food and useless crap.  I am sickened by the sum of its parts, from the food, to the hoards of dolts the establishment attracts, and let’s not forget the heinous ripple effect of traffic congestion on our surrounding streets.  Finally, I realize more and more how we have completely lost sight of what real, good food is, where it comes from, how it is grown and why the fuck all of the answers to those questions are actually important to our bodies and our world.

I could go on and on about the importance of organic food, sustainable farming, the benefits of primarily eating plant-based, and the need for major changes in our world.  In fact, I think I already have in prior posts.  My heart aches for anything less than success in all of those realms, for all of our animals and all of our people, primarily the little ones that are being born into a world that is slowly killing itself.  Because of all this, the idea of yet another Costco, where the wool is pulled over the mass consumer’s eyes even further, makes me sad and a bit ill.

Despite not trying to be that person at work (you know, the one who has strong opinions and pushes them on others), my coworkers periodically ask me questions.  These questions usually stem from them observing me eating, drinking, or doing something that appears foreign to them.  They normally look and watch, then either ask what it is or make fun of it for what it isn’t.  Either way, I respond with the facts and I always make sure to use that brief moment to teach them a little something about food and its source, without coming off as a cocky, know-it-all bitch!  Sounds easy but you straddle a fine line while doing so.  Sadly, despite the age, formal education or income bracket of the inquiring party, the statistics I have observed are as follows – plain and simple, the vast majority of people are completely clueless about their food.  They couldn’t tell you how it is grown, what chemicals are applied, what the hidden words in their ingredient list mean, and they certainly couldn’t explain the difference between the terms natural and organic.

I don’t write this to mock anyone and I sure hope it doesn’t come across that way.  To be honest, my heart breaks for this lack of knowledge among the masses because those are the consumers that support poor farming practices, by purchasing heavily sprayed veggies, and sickening animal welfare standards, by stocking up on bargain meat from Sam’s Club and the like.  To think, those animals were raised in captivity, provided with pathetic living conditions with the cheapest, nutritionally-absent food, confined to small spaces without bright sunlight or free movement of their bodies, and possibly never knowing what touching grass to their hooves or toes feels like in their lives.  Those are the same cows and pigs you may see piled high in the stainless cargo compartment of the tractor trailers speeding down the freeway past you during your morning commute.  Next time you see them on their first and final trip out into the world, take a moment to think of what their life was like and how it impacts yours.  After those animals have experienced that life (if you can call it that), you purchase their meat on sale by the pound for consumption by your entire family.  Imagine what you are putting into your body and to be honest, it is almost all in vain.  Not only did that poor soul give their life to ‘you’, but you don’t even understand it, you don’t appreciate it, you don’t deserve it and even if you did, it wasn’t good for you.  The whole thing wasn’t good for anyone and that makes me cry.  When I see the tractor trailer on the freeway, I cry for them and I continue to pledge to never support that sickening cycle.

Ok, I ranted.  I promised I wouldn’t rant but I can’t help that I care so deeply about these topics.  As my mom and I always say, if we won the lottery we would buy a huuuuuuuuuuuge piece of land, adopt all of the shelter pets and set them free.  After writing the above paragraph, maybe I would try to educate people just a little bit more.  Rather than allowing people to idly muddle through life, uneducated about the very choices they are making on a bi-weekly basis at Costco, maybe I could offer a little glimpse into a solution.  To me, the solution is a combination of better choices regarding how we farm, better choices with what we regularly eat, and better thinking about this planet we are slowly killing.

Needless to say, Hugo and I won’t be getting a new Costco platinum membership upon our new store’s grand opening.

Oops, I almost forget.  I didn’t totally explain what ‘The Costco Effect’ meant to me.  So not only do my coworkers frequently ask me about my kombucha, spinach-powder colored pasta, or fermented hot sauce, but they also constantly flaunt the outstanding ribs they grilled (Costco brand), chicken they baked (Costco brand), or cake they devoured (Costco brand).  Somehow these people brag about this food as if it was not only delicious (which it isn’t, I have tried it guys), but it was also the best choice solely due to the price tag attached to it.  Somehow people have become so blinded by a price that quality and content have not just fallen at the wayside, they are not even present judgement factors during a purchase for them.  If the chicken is $2/pound, then it must be the best chicken.  That fucking chicken could be soaked in cyanide but if it is $2/pound, it will always beat my $10/pound organic, heirloom chicken any day.  I laugh at it for many reasons, one of which includes my argument that if you are going to ingest such low quality food, whether that is meat or not, you also always have the choice of opting out of eating crap and opting in to eating something else.  In this case, rather than the chicken, you could just eat a veggie salad with tofu or beans (I always choose beans).  That would require breaking this weird addiction many people have to eating meat in almost every meal, as the center of these meals, and that is an entirely different blog post (or book) all together.

I may be preaching to the choir and I may be preaching to no one that cares.  But I don’t care.  I just wanted to write about something I think about every day because my heart is in it.  I also know that I would rather spend $10/pound on anything in life, than compromise my body and the body of the man I love by cooking and eating garbage.  I also sleep soundly knowing I respect the land we all call home, my choices provide for healthy farming practices, and my $10/pound chicken gets to feel the sunshine on her beautiful feathers during her time on earth.

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PS – Thanks for listening because I really enjoyed writing that.  It felt like a therapy session and I could cry today, just as easily as I have many times before, about the poor animals.  Because of this, I included a picture of a truly beautiful little lady in this world, my mom’s mini pony named Brownie.  I took this picture during a trip to visit my parents last year.  She lives on their ten acre, organic farm, with her horse sister (from another mister) Shasta.  The two ladies cruise for fresh alfalfa grass in spring and summer and get doted on by my mom all year long.  Brownie, as all animals do, deserve every minute of it.

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