In Part II of this series, I’ll be covering education. In Part III, I’ll be covering something I call “structural pliancy”. —GL
One of my brothers-in-law, C., is moving from Chile to America to take over a fairly large corporation. He is a highly educated, highly successful guy in his late-thirties—a big strapping guy of about 6’3”, a former rugby player, big on golf, with four small kids and a tall willowy wife who looks like a model.
|[Originally a picture of a two-headed chicken.|
I didn’t have the ©, so Blogger blocked it.]
Yeah, it has two heads—but it was
raised organically. So it’s safer
than your lunchtime Chicken McNugget.
“It has no taste,” C. told me. “Or rather, supermarket food has no taste: Beef, fish, chicken—it all tastes bland and watery.”
He told me how vegetables too tasted oddly bland, and on top of that, he and his wife were worried about what is actually in the food.
The reason they’re worried about American food is because of the size of American children in his kids’ new schools:
“Our kids were among the tallest in their class in Chile—but they’re among the smaller kids in their U.S. classroom. On top of that, the girls in my older daughter’s class are starting to menstruate—and they are nine years-old! That’s not normal.”
C.’s conclusion: “It’s the industrially processed foods—God knows what they’re sticking in it. But we’ve got four children—and we want them to be healthy. So that’s why we started buying all our food at organic markets. The food bill is triple what it would be, but I don’t care, I can afford it: I want my family healthy.”
That—in a nutshell—is what will begin to distinguish rich people from poor people in the XXI century, as it has for millenia before: Diet.
But what kind of diet is the issue.
If in ages past, the diets of the wealthy had more calories, in this century and the future, the diets of the wealthy will have less chemicals and hormones.
And as in the past, we will see the difference in their children.
In the nineteenth century and before, the mark of the wealthy was fat: Plump women, plump men, and their plump children. They were all fat because they had the wherewithal to buy more food. More food meant more calories, which of course meant plumpness. It’s no surprise that early portrait photography almost uniformly depicted fat people: Photographs were expensive, and the people with the money to get their portraits done had the money to eat well.
The poor, of course, were skinny and frail-looking. They were short of stature—because they hadn’t received enough protein as they were growing up. Look at any nineteenth century picture of a crowd, say soldiers on a Civil War battlefield, and everyone looks as skinny and slight as a professional jockey—not an ounce of excess fat on anyone, and no one over 5’6”.
Today, in the XXI century—where presumably everyone has access to enough food—we can easily spot the poor as well:
They are fat. They sport massive bellies falling over their belts—or more often, hidden under tent-like t-shirts (both men and women)—and the flesh of their faces runs smoothly into their shoulders: They have no necks.
Their obesity comes from the cheap processed foods that they eat: Fried meats and starches, not to mention sugary soft-drinks drunk by the gallon.
The poor today are also big: Not merely fatter but taller, larger. This is because of all the hormones that they are ingesting, hormones injected into the cheap processed foods that they eat by the corporations trying to bulk up the poultry and beef they are selling.
The food processing companies are trying to maximize their profits by hurrying the growth process of the meats and poultry that they sell. To hurry this growth, they inject antibiotics—to prevent sickness, which makes the animals lose weight—and they inject growth hormones, which make the animals fatter, and therefore more profitable in less time.
A cousin of mine who’s a veterinarian told me never to buy chicken breast. “That’s where they inject the hormones,” she explained. “So unless you’re sure the chicken was slaughtered at least six months after getting a hormone shot, you’ll get a big dose of hormones when you bite into that chicken sandwich.”
“But chicken hormones aren’t the same as human hormones,” I said ignorantly. “They won’t affect me.”
“No: They affect you just the same,” she replied, going on to explain the details until my eyes glazed over. I never was one for biology, but I got the gist of what she was saying:
Hormones take a while to be rinsed through an animal’s system—a long while. Thus if you eat a chicken breast that only recently—say three weeks ago—got a dose of hormones, likely as not, you’re going to be injesting those hormones along with your turkey club sandwich.
This points to a troubling issue that I’ve noticed for quite a while, but which nobody seems willing to discuss: The feminization of men and the masculinization of women.
I am not talking about the social shift, whereby men are taking on more stereotypically “feminine” roles—such as, say, ironing clothes or washing dishes—and women are taking on stereotypically “masculine” roles, such as being the primary income provider. I have no problem with that—on the contrary.
I’m talking about the physiology of both men and women today. People look and sound different—radically different—from just a couple of decades ago.
Notice how so many men speak with a high-pitched nasal voice, and seem pear-shaped: Thin-shouldered, wide of hip. Notice with women, how so many seem to lack mature-sized breasts, and thus often resort to breast implants to get a more “normal” physique. Men’s chins seem non-existent—just a straight slide from the lower lip to their Adam’s apple (which is not particularly prominent, by the way). Women’s jaws, on the other hand, seem larger, wider.
If you look at the current population, then compare them to filmed crowds of the 1920’s and ’30’s—when talking movies appeared—what you can’t help noticing is that stunting of so many of the secondary sexual characteristics of both men and women. Go through the list of secondary sexual characteristics, and you notice how every single one of them seems stunted or somehow off in the general American population.
Though there are radical changes going on with how people look, it doesn’t seem as if many people are discussing these changes—in fact, if you do mention such obvious observations, people will shrug insecurely, or else automatically brand you as a “right-wing reactionary”, or an “enemy of diversity”, or some other such secular heresy.
It’s understandable how talk of aggregate human physiology might make some of us queasy—reminding us as it does of creepy nineteenth century eugenics “science”, or worse, Nazi ideology.
But to turn a blind eye on an obvious problem merely because it reminds us of something distasteful is no excuse at all. My thinking is, we must look that which disturbs us in the face.
C., my brother-in-law, certainly doesn’t pretend this change in physiology isn’t happening: He thinks it’s because of the chemicals that so many plastics sweat out, and which get into our food and eventually our bodies.
“Put one of those plastic sippy-cups in a microwave, the kind that kids use,” he told me. “Stick it in there for twenty seconds, empty, then run your finger over it: That greasy stuff that the plastic sweats? That’s toxic like a nuclear meltdown.”
He’s right—and in point of fact, there are credible, mainstream studies pointing precisely to that fact: The chemicals sweated out by plastics under heat—like a microwave—secrete bisphenol-A (BPA). In fact, BPA is sweated out of plastic baby-formula bottles when they are microwaved—a common practice among harried mothers who don’t have the time or inclination to heat their baby’s formula in a glass baby bottle in a boiling pot, as of old.
BPA affectes estrogen levels in both men and women. In fact, bisphenol-A was originally developed in the 1930’s as a known estrogenic: It can severely affect a human’s estrogen level, be they male or female.
That’s why in Canada, they banned consumer plastics with BPA—all of them. In Europe, they have stringent guidelines as to where and what can have BPA.
But not in the United States. The FDA—captured like so much of the American regulatory apparatus by corporate interests—is on the fence about bisphenol-A.
So what is C. doing, now that he and his family are living in America? “All metal, all glass, no plastics, and no microwave” is his family’s mantra. “No teflon either, just in case”, he adds—and this is not some hippy-dippy tree-hugging rainbow-flag-waving Commie nut-case: This is a hard-core MBA-toting golf-club-swinging capitalist who constantly bitches about high taxes and government regulations.
Without the convenience of the microwave, and with the wholesale banishment of plastics and teflon from the kitchen, food preparation of course takes much more time—
—but then time is what C. has got plenty of: Not his time, or his wife’s time—the time of his private cook.
Like any wealthy household, C.’s family has a “support staff”—servants, in the judgement-free jargon of our day—who handle all sorts of chores: Cleaning, ironing, cooking. And the private cook they employ has strict orders: No plastics touch any food, no microwave in the kitchen, no teflon. Food is stored in glass containers, absolutely no food is stored—or bought—in shrink wrap. In fact, they have a rule that no food that has ever touched plastic is eaten in their home.
This is the way of the rich, in the XXI century: Not merely “healthy lifestyles” but healthy food—food harvested free of hormonal additives or chemical insecticides. Food cooked free of any inadvertent chemical additives.
And we will see the difference, over time: The children of the rich will be healthier. They won’t blimp out from the moment they start eating solid food, the way poor people’s toddlers do. The girls of rich parents will menstruate at age 13—not 9. The boys of rich parents will crack their voices at age 14—not 10. The adult children of the rich won’t have difficulties conceiving childred of their own. Nor will they have stunted or abnormal secondary sex traits that currently beset the middle- and lower-classes. They won’t suffer from diabetes at the age of 40.
Once again, diet will be one of the factors distinguishing the rich from the poor.
This needn’t be the case—but it is, and the tragedy is two-fold:
First, our society is rich enough to feed everyone properly—yet only the rich will get the benefit. Therefore, our society begins leaving behind its ideal of egalitarianism, because a person’s origins begin to limit their possibilities. But unlike the Bad Old Days where inequality was a product of discrimination, stereotypes and racism, the future inequality will be of the sort prevalent in the Even Worse Old Days, where diet dictated possibilities.
Second, any effort to deal with the problem will be shouted down by both sides of the political spectrum: The Right will object to more government regulation of the food supply, and say that antibiotics, hormones and plastics are necessary for a “modern” food production and supply. And the Left will object to there being a problem at all, claiming it is “diversity” that accounts for the obvious physiological changes we are seeing among the general population.
Meanwhile, C. and his family will skip out on the whole debate: They will spend their wealth to ensure their children eat healthy untainted foods.
“Not only is it healthier,” C. reports, “but it tastes better too.”
So once again—as always—diet will be what distinguishes the rich from the poor. And once again, only the rich will get the benefit.