|collection of kj vonallmen|
when pondering thiebaud's still lifes of cakes, pies, hotdogs, club sandwiches, gumballs, and other food delights, one cannot help but think of them as "unequivocally american": aesthetically beautiful, extravagant by nature, designed to trick you into wanting more, gluttonously unhealthy, and destined to wreak bloody havoc on that temple we call body.
i've been preoccupied with the health of my food since i was just a girl of sixteen. i remember it vividly: i was on an extracurricular road trip for the theater troop, in a bus driving to ashland to witness the shakespeare festival. we were giddy, snuggled together, flirting and joking on the sticky green vinyl seats. and then it happened: a chicken truck drove by. at eye level, there they were: damn near three hundred birds staring right back at me, deep into the whites of my eyes, huddled tightly in their cages, covered in their own shit, windblown and squished together like the cushions on an overstuffed couch. I cried for those chickens on their way to slaughter, and became vegetarian that day.
since then i've learned a lot more about "american food culture". my scrutiny started with meat production. it dabbled around in refined sugar, hydrogenated oil and other food additives, then went all the way to frozen corn in plastic bags that we microwaved for our dinner growing up. i won't go into great lengths to describe what many of you already know about, but i will say that we middle-class supermarket shopping americans have a silent enemy in our midst. genetically modified, "conventionally" grown, mass-produced, factory processed, and junk foods are the new weapons of mass destruction, creating a culture of disease, malnourishment, emotional instability and drug-dependency.
so yesterday, when i was at the co-op spending a million bazillion dollars on one small box of high quality food, i didn't flinch. because i deserve it, because i would do no less for the health of my body and for the future of the world. and when i overheard a disgruntled woman ask an employee why the co-op was so damn crowded all the time, i was delighted by his reply: "people are finally catching on to the idea of real, healthy food." now that's cause for celebration.