A lot of the time I find I’m not so much “for” something as I am definitely “not for” its alternative.
Like with elections. There’s usually some guy that’s like, “I want my foreign policy to resemble that Toby Keith song where America puts boots up other country’s asses not the fancy book learnin’ approach that involves knowing the names of other countries. The Gays shouldn’t get ‘special rights’ like ‘not getting beaten up’ and ‘getting married.’ Contraception and sex education are wrong. On a completely unrelated note, so is the unintended pregnancy rate and the number of single parents. Also, evolution and global warming are made up and some border line racist stuff about Muslims and Mexicans. Somehow this will all create jobs. Vote for me.”
So I vote for the candidate that’s not-that-guy. Not because I’m particularly excited about them but because they’re not-that-guy. I feel like there’s some kind of take away lesson to be had here about the dangers of a political system centered around hyperbolic, inflammatory rhetoric and a binary choice but I digress…
The phenomenon of being not so much “for” as “not for” is not limited to politics. Over the past week or so “pink slime” – otherwise inedible bits of beef that are sprayed down with ammomium hydroxide and spun in a centrifuge until it separates into a beef-filler type product – has been in the news. Turns out pink slime is in 70% of ground beef sold in grocery stores.
McDonalds and Taco Bell won’t use it but the vast majority of grocery stores and the National School Lunch Program sell it without any obligation to inform consumers that what is labeled as ground beef is not just beef put through a meat grinder.
The American Meat Institute, the USDA, and the company that makes pink slime all argue that ‘lean finely textured beef,’ as they prefer to call it, is just fine. (I know, right? I’m over here dying of not surprise.) They won’t say exactly how or what they do because of intellectual property rights but they assure us that making people food out of what could previously only be sold as dog food and then not informing the consumer about it is perfectly healthy, safe, and legitimate.
When I eat ground beef I want it to be old school ground up cow. Surprise and/or secret slime is not cool. Something fishy is happening when a widely available, basic food doesn’t meet Taco Bell standards.
So I buy ground beef from farmer’s markets or buy chuck and have the butcher department grind it up for me. Not because I’m particularly excited about doing that but because I really don’t want to feed my family food-eque or food-adjacent products cleverly disguised as food.
Pink slime is not a unique example of dodgy food labeling practices or general food industry shenanigans. So a decent chunk of my interest in food is by necessity centered around wanting to eat not-franken-food much like a decent chunk of my interest in politics is often centered around wanting not-that-guy.
Is being not so much “for” stuff as “not for” other stuff just an inevitable part of life? Or even anything that new? Or is it indicative of greater systemic issues? What say you?