From the Blog

“I Don’t Want To Know”

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I don’t know about you, but I like to know stuff. I like to know regular, get-through-the-day stuff, but I like to know odd stuff too. Mostly odd stuff, actually. I often don’t know why I know something, where I heard it, or why I remember it. And it’s usually incomplete bits of knowledge, which is often frustrating and frequently useless, except to start interesting conversations then trail off awkwardly.

I suppose knowing random bits of things is like being a collector, and collectors are often weird, right? Stamps, or Civil War hats or dead pets or whatever. Weird. Why is my brain wired in a way that makes me fascinated with geology or impressionist paintings or container architecture? Why those particular things?

Not that I know a lot about any of that stuff. I know very little about most everything. Some people are really, really good at retaining knowledge. People with big, scholarly minds, who remember dates and details and are smart. I am not one of those people. While I may be voraciously curious, my brain is like a sieve. I may hold onto little bits, but most everything goes right through. So it may seem like I might know a lot of stuff. And I do. But it’s a mile wide and an inch deep. I’m pretty insecure about it.

Frequently, on a daily basis, I discover some new curiosity, or I am reminded of some familiar interest and I am forced to remember how much I don’t know. For instance, I recently watched the documentary Food, Inc. I’ve used this blog to bleat about grocery consumerism a number of times. Here too. Also here. Grocery shopping has to be one of the most universally mundane activities we all must do on a regular basis. Grocery shopping is booooring. But grocery stores are a study in American commercialism. And culture. As consumers, we are lulled into a stupor by rote familiarity. Once we are softened and captivated by the sheer routine of weekly or daily grocery shopping, we are manipulated into everything we buy. Grocery stores absolutely fascinate me.

So I knew what we were in for when I asked to put Food, Inc on our Netflix list. I have Fast Food Nation on my bookshelf, and I’d like to read Omnivore’s Dilemma. I think I read a snippet of Fast Food Nation when it came out and it made me a vegetarian for six months. As an aside, I’d much rather read a book than watch a movie or documentary. I do love documentaries, but I always feel a little dirty afterward. I want the knowledge, not always the advocacy. I’m naturally critical when reading, and I form mental rebuttals and arguments as I go through the book. But with films, even some of the most well researched, and even documentaries where I agree with the advocacy, can lead the audience in a way that I find suspicious.

Food Inc was gut wrenching and has again made me consider my meat eating habits. And it agitated my natural curiosity even more. I want to know MORE about where our food comes from. And it made me wonder about all the other processed consumables that are really hard to avoid. And vegetables, too. Tomatoes in February. From Brazil. That don’t even taste like tomatoes. We are so used to “just shopping” that we don’t stop to consider what we are buying. Because it’s easier that way.

And across the board, that’s what I hear people say. “I can’t think about that,” or “I don’t want to know.” Really? Maybe it’s better not to think about it too much. It’s easier not to know. Groceries are an example, but there’s so much we aren’t aware of. Who has the time to dig in and spend time being curious about such things? Who has time for moral dilemmas in the goddamned cereal aisle?

And there. You see that? I just became a pompous ass.


  1. You’re very lucky to live really really close to a butcher who can tell you all about where the meat they’re butchering comes from (that’s a good thing). ;)
    I’ve been eating as “local” as possible for a while, and have nearly got the fresh-fruit-less and fresh-veggie-less winters down. I find shopping at the store boring, but I love shopping at the Farmers’ Markets; I love seeing what new veggie is in season that I totally forgot about, and I adore getting the first taste of strawberries in the spring.

  2. Omnivore’s Dilemma is an excellent read. I loved it so much I got the junior edition so my 9-year-old daughter could read it as well. I’ll read anything written by Michael Pollan…I’m reading “Second Nature” now, which is helping me justify my refusal to have a nice green lawn in the high desert.

  3. Eating my bagged spinach lunch and see this: just what they talk about in that movie. Great.

  4. I prefer to be uninformed. Keeps things nice and simple…

  5. I’m like you, curious, retain bits but he majority slides through. Food is a dilema, defintely. I am meh! on fruit and veggies. I try them, but they are, for the most part, gross. I have issues with texture. I absolutely hate a firm outside and squishy inside. tomatoes are disgusting. i famously will not eat tomatoes, unless they are pre-mashed.
    i go back and forth with the food thing. I have read Fast Food Nation, Deadly Feasts (the origin of Mad Cow Diisease, and really really horrifying) and Skinny Bitch. I get on my high horse for a while and then I backslide. At least it is getting easier to eat locally. There are farmer’s markets everywhere, even in my backwater. We now have locally grown and provately slaughtered beef, poultry and bison. Bison!!
    I would love to be a vegasaurus, but just can’t manage it. But whenever I stick my head in the sand in the interest of an easy meal, I feel a little bit slimey.

  6. I want to know everything about everything – but especially about food. I love food and I love grocery shopping. I look forward to it. I think about it in advance, planning things I’m going to buy and make. I don’t think it’s boring at all. And i don’t even think it’s pompous to encourage people to be a bit more mindful about the things they use to fuel their bodies and about the real cost of those things.

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