Fish Tales

05/05/2016

When I call up Royal Hawaiian Seafood Co. most days, I talk about fish types, price and sustainability. The fishmongers’ voices are quick and specific. This morning, however, I called later, and we strayed into other topics: flavor likes and dislikes, empty calories and the way the body processes already over-processed foods with sugar spikes and falls. How salt, fat and sugar-laden products saturate grocery stores and how commercials are marketed toward children. Restaurants and food purveyors must duplicate these flavors because of what consumers are conditioned to crave. The companies that produce them are not accountable for health, only to the growth of their profits. Their food scientists, having perfected the craft of flavor manipulation, create addicts literally killing themselves slowly. 

The fishmonger said he was just finding this out. Information about health and diet was confusing and history and nutrition seemed complicated and political. It should be more important. I said, “Yeah, it needs to be political. It’s you Millennials, or whatever the heck you call yourselves, who are going to change our taste for health.” We have Michael Pollan and Alice Waters to educate us, but where are the young chefs? Who still listens to Julia Child and Jacques Pepin about common sense in the kitchen? When will we learn to take time to chew and taste, instead of grab and go? Or eat with others, or cultivate nutritious heirloom varieties? But the big question is, as the all-powerful consumers we are, what are we doing with it? If we don’t buy it, they can’t sell it! Let’s live in reality for a little bit: this is a food revolution. Between denial of climate change and the concentration of wealth on this planet, things need to change soon or the peasants will revolt. 

He confessed that he was 22 years old and trying to cut back on energy drinks because he drank them all day and didn’t think it was a good thing. “Every time I try to quit, I get these massive headaches,” he said. I told him it sounded like addiction withdrawal. He agreed.