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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Dark Chocolate Flavored Brussel Sprouts

Trends and Tradition in American Ingenuity

     Bacon flavored broccoli isn't a madman's fantasy anymore. It's America's ticket to reasserting herself as one of the world's top scientific super powers. In order to climb back into the saddle Americans needs to tap back into what has united them over the centuries in a singular purpose. A sense of collective ideology has enabled Americans to undertake and accomplish things so that are both exceptional and revolutionary. Yet America's ingenuity is a double edged sword. It's both a blessing and a curse. A question lingers as to how America's shared ideological ethos has evolved. From it's inception as an Eden and refuge for peoples who found themselves marginalized and unwelcome elsewhere, America has come harness and tame those differences within a climate of “hyphen” American culture. When asked what it means to be American or what overarching ideology binds Americans together, a laundry list of demographically subjective opinions spring up. Alex Tocqueville figured it out more than a century and a half ago. Tocqueville was a French political philosopher and a de facto historian who travel throughout America during the 1830's. He was from an aristocratic French family and a dyed in the wool European Romanticist. He set the tone for future exploration in social sciences with his seminal work known as “Democracy in America”. Essentially Tocqueville asserts that a collective subconscious pioneering spirit is at the core of what unites Americans ideologically. He draws attention to the concept of “The Frontier”. Americans at the time Tocqueville visited had been on a steady march towards the west for roughly 6 decades. These pioneering folks shared a kindred spirit, he deduced. A deep-rooted ingenuity to conquer new and unfamiliar territory is what defined the American esprit de corps. The ability and independent fervor to try unconventional ideas and trends in order to pacify unfamiliar territories lends itself to a loosely knit ideological cohesion. However, if the ideological trends stay fluid they are subject to eminent change which is ever looming on the horizon. It stands to reason then that if these trends are in perpetual state of change then an inevitable loss of a uniting tradition will be the outcome. This tendency towards experimentation can bring about alienation. For instance, when a shared problem arises there can be no meeting of the minds. Individuality and personal ingenuity take over in lieu of collective societal traditions. However, melding trends into traditions and forcing them to be elastic in their pragmatism is a highly beneficial thing. Abandoning a staunchly rigid approach of choosing either trend or tradition needs to be promoted. Altering trends to fit into tradition might pull America out of its moral funk.

     Modified trends could be as lucrative as they are nutritionally beneficial. One multifaceted trend modification could be genetically manipulating veggies to taste like savory snacks or deep fried foods and would certainly be a sure fire hit. Or why not create a sweet tasting veggie like Brussel sprouts harvested in either dark or milk chocolate flavors? We have manipulated every other type of fruit and veggie. Even taking a relatively conservative slant we have can say that we have tweaked evolution enough to create super cows. Maybe it's time to take a page out of the vegan/vegetarian manifesto which produces and consumes a whole butcher's shop full of soy and fungal meat substitutes which taste nearly identical to genuine meats. Like salty tofu-bacon or faux turkey for those thanksgiving day feasts. Lo sodium, low carbs gluten free and the list goes on and on. The toxic love affair, I can't reiterate enough, of the Western world with traditional agriculture is robbing our collective ingenuity. Why can't the governing bodies of countries overproducing pork and beef and dairy products as well as maize and wheat and other grains turn the tables on farming subsidies? It's a “no-brainer” list of benefits. Not only would scientific research be stimulated but the excitement of discovery and the prospects of cold hard cash would come trickling down to the high school level straight through to universities which could receive grants for the burgeoning SMET education. That scientific ethos would carry over into the private sector where companies could capitalize on the modified trend. Most notably the pharmaceutical industries which are assuredly going to benefit financially. The short term investment of racking up patent after patent would be a boon for all industries who choose to get involved in this pioneering research. Environmentally it's a sound ethical and moral step forward. The arable land now devoted to raising ruminant livestock such as sheep, goats and buffalo but more importantly cows, can make a desperately needed transition away from those monstrously large tracks of grazing land they now occupy. Those beguiling bovines consume vast amounts of grasses which we affectionately refer to as roughage. Anyone who has ever embarked on a fad diet can attest to what havoc roughage inflicts on your constitution. The realm of yucks and chuckles know all to well. The comedic world has proven that nothing is easier at getting a hostile crowd into the laugh groove like a good potty joke. Poop or pee references will nudge an otherwise uninterested audience into a moment of deep comedy focus. But what really mesmerizes the audience like dangling yarn in front of a kitten are fart jokes.

     Flatulence is a universal and wonderful experience shared by all mammals. Farts are tiny peepholes into a private world which surreptitiously unite us by laying bare the profane and ferreting out hidden familial bonds. We are served up a raw dish of what the Germans call “Schadenfreude” and the Dutch refer to as “Leedvermaak”. Both words are characterized by a mischievous delight one gets by proxy from the suffering of another. When someone farts we may become squeamish because we are inherently more sensitive to the odors which are not ours. Or perhaps we overlook the olfactory elements and are merely revolted by the breach of social decorum. If, however, we peel back a layer or two of the onion, we find what is really being played out is that we have become acutely aware that flatulence is a common experience to us all. The psychological processing of someone else's faux pas illuminates the underlying social and biological solidarity between us all. Farts have gotten a bad rap in modern times as a bona fide scientific endeavor. Fortunately, history can bestow upon us a modicum of intrinsic commonality while polishing off that taboo by imbuing it with an tinge of intellectual respectability. The father of erudite philosophical church doctrine, Saint Augustine, pontificated about the mystical abilities of musical farting. In Saint Augustine's 5th century book, “The City of God”, he exalts a otherwise mundane and ordinary act to that of a divine gift from a benevolent God. He writes; “(humans)...have such command of their bowels, that they can break wind continuously at will, so as to produce the effect of singing". By now you're wondering what connection a digestive diatribe has to do with the romantic ideal of traditional farming. Remember the cow? Cows fart often and with those farts, as well as with humans, they omit methane gas. Methane is one of the dastardly greenhouse gasses. The best horror stories don't come from the fantastic creations oozing out the minds of writers. No, they are the factual stories which are tucked away on page 4 of the morning paper or gleaned from verbose and dull governmental studies. Luckily, the United States Environmental Protection Agency doesn't balk at the chance to simultaneously educate and bore. One such study by the EPA paints a lugubrious picture of the impact of flatulent cattle; “Globally, ruminant livestock produce about 80 million metric tons of methane annually, accounting for about 28% of global methane emissions from human-related activities. An adult cow may be a very small source by itself, emitting only 80-110 kgs of methane, but with about 100 million cattle in the U.S. and 1.2 billion large ruminants in the world, ruminants are one of the largest methane sources. In the U.S., cattle emit about 5.5 million metric tons of methane per year into the atmosphere, accounting for 20% of U.S. methane emissions.” Just imagine if we could reduce the amount of cow farts by one half what a inadvertent global health benefit it would be.

     Encouraging scientific research through bestowing government grants to universities and tax incentives to agribusiness, in order to develop, produce and harvest savory crops of pork chop flavored beets and caramel flavored okra, might just be the first notes in the swan song of global warming and rampant malnutrition.

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