Thursday, January 29, 2009

All That's On Offer

Once again, my mishugas makes life harder than it needs to be.

I was in Wally World early this week, not because I crave low, low prices, but because they and their ilk have managed to eliminate just about all the competition for miles around. I don't make a special trip there, it's on my route for other errands I routinely make and I pop in about once a month to pick up a few odds and ends. In a perfect world, I'd never darken the door of this evil empire, but I'm no hero and I try to avoid tokenism and martyrdom. Besides, places like this won't be around much longer, but that's a different story.

I was looking for some rubber sink mats, the kind that go on the bottom of a porcelain kitchen sink so it doesn't get all scratched up during pot scrubbing. A simple thing, right? In America, more often than not these days, when we go to buy a simple item, we are often overwhelmed with a blizzard of choices, but on this day I faced a different problem.

I found what a first glance looked like just what I was after: a plain, inexpensive, rubber sink mat. But, wait! What's this? The mats were treated with something called "Microban." I didn't spend a bunch of time studying the miraculous benefits of this marvel of modern chemistry. I didn't want it and the entire line of rubber and plastic kitchen accessories on sale in this store were from the same supplier and they were all treated with this anti-microbial chemical. No untreated product was on offer.

I'm proud to say my local doctor is enlightened and not easily swayed by the pleas of sniffling patients for drugs. I know many docs will blithely prescribe antibiotics at the first sign of a cold, and I'd venture a guess that the vast majority of Americans wouldn't think twice about taking antibiotics for a cold. But most colds are viral and antibiotics will do no good, and unnecessary drug-taking may well come back to bite us.

Likewise, antibiotics are fed to our food animals. Chickens and cattle are regularly fed all kinds of drugs, partly because they are so crowded together on factory farms that many would sicken and die as diseases swept through the vast poultry sheds and squalid feed lots. Also, animals fed a diet laced with chemicals grow faster and fatter and are more profitable. But what could all those drugs be doing to our world?

We seem to be facing wave after wave of childhood diseases and disorders today that were almost unheard-of when we were kids. ADD, ADHD, allergies, asthma, autism: you name it, and that's just the A's. What's going on? Perfect parents who have done all the right things for their precious darlings like to blame mercury in vaccines. I like to think that if we let kids be kids and didn't program and schedule all the fun out of life so they can all get into Harvard, kids would be a lot more relaxed and better behaved. But maybe we're doing something else, too. Maybe our kids are too clean and our germs are too strong.

We've been trained by modern science and commerce to believe that all germs are bad and should be exterminated. We've also been taught - at least for the past eight years - that evolution doesn't exist. Well, not all germs are bad, they can't all be killed anyway, and the ones that don't die will evolve and develop resistance to our weapons.

We try to raise our kids in sterile worlds where everything is scrubbed, sprayed and treated. Little bottles of hand sanitizer are everywhere. I think you can even buy entire kitchen countertops treated with some kind of germ-killing poison.

How many times do we hear a story about somebody who went into the hospital for some minor routine procedure only to be infected, consumed and killed by flesh-eating bacteria. Even multi-million-dollar NFL quarterbacks can go in for a little knee-scoping and wind up with a staph infection.

So, now we have the world's largest retailer selling only kitchen accessories that are biocide-enhanced. I'm not buying it. I'll keep my kitchen clean (If you can call it that.) the old-fashioned way with a little detergent and elbow grease. I embrace the friendly microflora that dwell happily in my sink, in my mouth and on my body. I want my gut to be an ecological wonderland. I want my soil to be a veritable Garden of Eden for worms, bacteria and fungi. I want us to keep our powder dry and save our miracles of modern medicine for fighting real diseases and not to make our Big Macs cheaper.

Crap. I did it again. Can't I even go to f-ing Walmart without getting all worked up. What time does the Super Bowl start?


Erica said...

So, I'm sitting here reading your blog and a news blurb comes wouldn't believe what it said. Don Shelby (WCCO from Minnesota) goes on how our ultra-clean environment is doing more harm than good for us and degrading our immune systems. It fit in perfectly with your post.

Anyways, just found that ironic haha. I clean my toilet with baking soda and elbow grease, don't own a bottle of bleach, my kids play in the dirt (and eat plenty of it also), and 3 out of my 4 kids haven't been to the doctor for being sick in years. Guess I might be doing something right!

Erica said...

Oh Oh you go!

Hope it works :)

Deb said...

I agree; I'm sure all the microorganisms and bugs living in and around my house would agree too. :)

I may have to set foot in Wally World tomorrow. Last week after a visit to Evil Sam's my family got an earful about how they set things up to manipulate you to buy more stuff than you came in for, and set you up for future purchases (the big wall of ginormous flat screen TV's is the first thing you see walking in), while the savings they offer aren't really that great.

SimplyTim said...


We live in a world where "it's all connected." Yet the actions of "the system" says that bugs and such should be eliminated, etc.

When I get a cold I have a 2-step strategy: 1. I mild it for all it's worth, and 2. I say: "ain't it great, my immune system is getting a great workout!"

There's that saying that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. That's where #2 above comes from. BUT the "world" ignores that and also ignores the fact that by overmedicating "the bugs" makes for ultimately stronger "bugs."

Jung talked about that when he talked about "the shadow." It's a trick that people play on themselves to make themselves feel comfortable. The trick is to deny the presence of some aspect of yourself and put it in a garbage pail somewhere out of sight.

When the pail gets too full it may tip over, and it's like Pandora's box all over again. And if we still don't want to look at it, we "project" it onto someone or something else...hence the scapegoat.

I guess we do that with our paranoia about "germs." Of course we don't want to see that they are connected also, just like we don't want to see that we are all connected to all also. Of course we want to project that the germs are mindless, and exploit our resources without regard to the "host," etc., etc., etc.

Great, Al, now you got me going on a rant and I didn't even have to go into w.w.

Ain't it great!


SimplyTim said...

oops....the "i mild it for all it's worth" should read "i milk it for all it's worth." :)