Saturday, June 26, 2010

Strawberries and Illusion in Reality

Strawberries in any supermarket are red and luscious in appearance, but in fact are shot through with brilliant red dye in order to make them appealing. In my innocence, I did not realise this initially. I simply thought that Strawberries had degenerated as a Crop and naturally had come somehow to taste like cardboard and to be hard as rocks, even when ripe red.

This morning, I was cutting Strawberries purchased at a local supermarket when I came upon one that was pallid, almost white in spots, as though it had contracted a variety of leprosy special to fruits. Evidently the dye had missed parts of this pathetic fruit. It made me think about reality and illusion and I decided to write about it, taking a photograph of a portion of this Strawberry next to one that had been fully blasted with the brilliant dye.

In fact, it was only when some one purchased Strawberries recently from a farmer's stall in the country and brought them to me that I finally recalled what natural Strawberries WERE. I remembered as a child how, in Nepal, we grew Strawberries on the compound and how they almost dropped from the vines when ripe. The proper method of removing the little green hat they wear was to pinch it between two fingernails and pull it off, thereby wasting none of the fruit. The taste was sweet and the texture succulent. These roadside Strawberries had all these qualities...

Playing Facebook farming simulation games recently in order to compare and review them, I thought of how the Strawberries in a game called Farmville are dull and small unless fertilised by a neighbour. When fertilised, they are large and attractive, causing the player to lust for real strawberries.

Farmville is virtual reality, but how real are the fruits sold at Supermarkets after all? Where is the dividing line between illusion and reality? Consumers are bombarded with marketing devices through the media as well as being deceived visually by the appearance of items in shops. Even when laws require disclosure of ingredients, few consumers actually bother to read the 'fine print'.

Yet, the fruits sold in supermarkets, although they provide some semblance of taste and a small amount of nutrition, are almost as false as the Fruits harvested in Farmville. Sadly, a child who never tasted a fruit that ripened naturally on the vine would believe that these dyed, processed items represent the 'real deal'.

I recall experiences I had with vegetarians who purchased false meat deliberately in order to recreate traditional meals. The 'meat' was made from soy but rather than using it in its natural form, they purchased soy 'turkeys', 'roasts' and soy 'sausages'. These ersatz meats never really looked like the items they were intended to replace but evidently, some people prefer to add a layer of illusion to their lives, especially where food is concerned. After all, most people know that real butter is white, but how many individuals would be happy to spread white butter on their toast?

In many cases, illusions are tools for seduction, whether it is prompted by an advertiser or seller or by oneself. Any illusion that makes an item or a task more attractive is embraced happily by most people. In most cases, there is nothing sinister about these illusions but I am beginning to believe that the effects are cumulative.

I always have been very conscious of the illusions and propaganda that are promoted deliberately by the media where 'news' is concerned and actively fought in the trenches to dispel these falsehoods. It became very discouraging, however, when I realised that the majority of readers or viewers of the news actually do not care whether it is true or false as long as they believe it will not affect them personally. How many people outside of Palestine cared about the Israeli violence against the Flotilla for Justice, a genuine humanitarian effort to deliver necessities to a people in desperate straits? How many Americans actually know where Gaza is? The entire 'war against terror' is based on carefully constructed propaganda designed to promote the interests of the military machine and civilian firms like the notorious Halliburton and KBR who make billions by working with foreign forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere throughout the world... The interests of the Israeli State often are placed above domestic and even international American interests in the U.S. in Congress as well as 'on the street'. The simple mantra taught to the general public to the effect that 'Israel is our friend' is enough to whitewash any number of crimes against international law and humanity. True friendship allows criticism and disapproval but the U.S. 'friendship' with Israel is a one-way street that does not allow even a breath of criticism against ANYTHING that the Israelis do. The most courageous Jews in the U.S. such as Norman Finkelstein, who dare to criticise Israel and its policies are villified regularly in the media for doing so and are defined as 'self-hating Jews' as though Israel and Jewish were one and the same. The Jewish organisation of Neturei Karta is compelling proof that this is NOT the case:
Neturei Karta

For those interested in learning a little more about Norman Finkelstein:
Norman Finkelstein

I try to steer clear of politics in these posts, but it infuriates me to see how easily the general public is manipulated in the name of patriotism to embrace dangerous falsehoods, especially where international affairs are concerned. Education is another venue for propaganda and history textbooks in schools and universities change each decade or so with the tides of political and social propaganda. Students who question the official dogma, even at university level, especially in the area of a topic that is 'sensitive' often run the risk of being punished for doing so. If the student is a child, the official response can be extremely intimidating.

This is far from the topic of dyed Strawberries, however... It saddens me always when I lose friends who cannot countenance political disagreement and I hope this little outburst will not cause me to lose MORE friends. In my view, as previously stated, true friendship allows disagreements, even on matters close to the heart. A friend who will not allow such disagreements basically blackmails his/her friends into silence with the implicit threat that should he/she dare to speak out, the friendship will be terminated.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

ah yes. this is why we need better food labeling (such as GMO and clone labeling) and stricter enforcing of organic food laws. wonderful fruit is had by buying local and organic.

i hope you are incorrect in your surmise of human nature. do we really not care or do we feel helpless and therefore appear not to care?