The commodification of Easter festivities.
The word commodification refers to the process by which something that is not bought and sold becomes something that is. As capitalism has progressed, more and more parts of our lives have become commodified. Restaurants are the commodification of preparing and cleaning up meals; day care and nannying is the commodification of child raising; nursing homes is the commodification of caring for elders.
We sometimes post instances of commodification that tickle us. Previously I posted about a company that will now put together and deliver a care package to your child at camp. A parent just goes to the site, chooses the items they want included, and charge their credit card. As I wrote in that post: “The ‘care’ in ‘care package’ has been, well, outsourced.”
I was equally tickled by this photograph, taken by sociologist Tristan Bridges, of pre-dyed Easter eggs. This is a delicious example of commodification. If you don’t have the time or inclination to dye eggs as part of your Easter celebration, the market will do it for you. No matter that this is one of those things (e.g., a supposedly enjoyable holiday activity that promotes family togetherness) that is supposed to be immune to capitalist imperatives.
While we might raise our eyebrows at this example, newly commodified goods and services often elicit this reaction. We usually get used to the idea and, later, have a hard time imagining life any other way.
I can still imagine life another way…
Kulich i Paskha. Kulich is the cylindrical bread with white icing. Paskha is the pyramidal white cheese confections surrounding it. Here the artist imagines them as a Kreml, or fortress.
And yes, they are on the table today. And I’m not as tired as I would have thought.
TO SERVE MAN
What’s so funny about this? This joke is more about philosophy than wordplay. Here is a so-called “All-American” breakfast meaning a typical American breakfast that also happens to be pretty typical English and Northern European. Many people eat this stuff almost every day without thinking of it from the point of view of the contents of the breakfast. One of the things that religion does, is to make us a bit more aware of the connectedness of all life. If you say a prayer before a meal, it does make you stop and think how fortunate or blessed you are to have the food you are about to eat. In Buddhism they acknowledge all living things, especially animals for the sacrifice they have made so that humans can eat. So, ham and eggs - where do they come from and what’s involved? Well, eggs come from chickens, that much we know, though we don’t know which came first. As the joke tells us, it takes about a day for a chicken to lay an egg. We’re talking domesticated chickens here, born and raised on a farm for this purpose. The farmer goes out every day and collects that days’ worth of eggs. Now the chickens might be stuck in barn on a shelf for their entire lives, or they might be free range chickens who roam around the farm yard. But after it lays its egg, the chicken will go on living for another day as long as it continues to lay eggs. The pigs on the other hand, are a very different story. From their meat, we get pork, ham, and bacon. We get a whole bunch of stuff from their insides, as well as their skin. The big difference however is that we only get these products once from an individual pig. Pigs do not continue to daily produce pork, ham and bacon. They only get one shot at it and it costs them their lives. It’s not that chickens and pigs have much of a choice in their behavior. They have been bred and born specifically for these purposes, to provide food to humans. Let’s hope we’re not invaded someday by an alien species that wants to serve us. And THAT’s what’s so funny!
This joke was sent to me by Bob Wiener
Listen to my audioboo: https://audioboo.fm/boos/2088583-to-serve-man
Cat playing with squirrel
More like, the squirrel is playing the cat.
Off Topic. But do you think they’re confused about the predator - prey relationship?
My respects to Nebraska’s activists and artists who have made their statement with the world’s largest crop art installation.
(Image from romanticasheville.com)
" For food hub proponents, food hubs “are the solution both to scaling up local food and ensuring its integrity.” The food hub approach aims to achieve volume through the aggregation of product from many small and mid-sized farms. Big retailers need large quantities of product, and they want to do business with a few, large suppliers. Local food, produced by smaller farms, can’t meet this need individually. The solution – pool production.
The problem with this line of reasoning is in the misunderstanding of how volume producers (and retailers) make money. It confuses scale with volume. Large producers specialize and spread out their fixed costs over large quantities of production – making profits of pennies on the pound but producing many, many pounds. Aggregating production from small producers cannot achieve the same result. Small volume producers can’t produce profitably on pennies per pound – they just don’t produce enough pounds. So food hubs might, by aggregating, achieve volume, but they rarely achieve scale. Food hubs need to pay their smaller scale producers more, particularly food hubs with environmental or social justice goals, but they still must compete in markets where price is determined by large scale production.”
This is just two paragraphs of a brief insightful essay co-authored with the Director of one of the oldest food advocacy groups and a recent Ph.D. “ASAP” stands for the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project.
Breweries have been selling spent grain to livestock farmers for feed for ages—but the FDA is taking issue with the sustainable practice.
Ouch. Few things are more fearsome that the public servant who seeks to do good. For me, the most distressing thing about this is FDA is proposing a solution to a possibly non-existent problem. I applaud precautionary and preventive measures when it is shown that they are effective. It is very difficult to prove effectiveness when the available data indicate… well, nothing. // It is also well to remember that this is the same FDA that assesses the quality of double blind pharmaceutical studies.
A statement from the Brewer’s Association, the trade association for craft brewers, can be found here.
An article by Dan Flynn today in Food Safety News provides some additional insight from the perspective of agricultural politics. Colorado is home to a lot of craft brewers, as well as Coors, and home to a “lot” of cattle feeders (pun intended). Under current business models these serve as complimentary industries. Also in Colorado Democratic Senator Mark Udall is in a tough re-election campaign against Republican Representative Cory Gardner. Udall has stepped forward and asked the FDA to suspend rulemaking on this until they perform a risk assessment. Gardner meanwhile represents a number of cattle feeders. Will this be a case where partisan adversaries come together on common policy.
Not holding my breath.
One final thing: that’s a great stock photo of feeding cattle that accompanied the TakePart article. Pity they couldn’t get one of cattle eating spent brewer’s grains.
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