There’s a problem on aisle three

There’s an article in the Atlantic magazine called “The 50 Greatest Breakthroughs ┬áSince the Wheel.” Number one is the printing press from the 1430’s and number fifty is the combine grain harvester from the 1930’s. Probably anything you might think of as important is covered in between one and fifty, from the internet to gunpowder.

It reminded me of Jared Diamond’s book “Guns, Germs, and Steel” about why western powers came to dominate other continents and cultures and why it wasn’t the other way around.

Our western civilization continues to chug along ┬álulling us into trusting that we’re well protected from things we don’t even think about, but maybe should.

No one likes taxes but it’s the price of civilization which allows us to become accustomed to things like stop lights, cops, and the FDA protecting us even though hardly anyone gives it a thought.

So it’s understandable that most people assume anything for sale at a grocery store is good for you, or at the least, ok to eat. “If it’s for sale in a grocery store it must be ok.”

Walking into a grocery store is entering a post-scarcity Eden for consumers. There’s regular food of course, like apples and steaks, but much of it is food-like stuff engineered for maximum appeal to our taste buds.

People seem to be slowly realizing that industrially processed food products aren’t good for us. In moderation they probably wouldn’t be a problem, but they taste so good and there’re now so many and so well marketed that most consumers can’t resist ’em.

I don’t think we need to wait for the hard science to tell us what’s in front of our eyes – an obese and unhealthy population that wasn’t nearly so bad off a couple of generations before.

That’s what’s missing from the list, modern marketing. And it’s really successful. “There’s a problem on aisle three. Actually on most of them.”