The Socialism of Food

McCarthyism is over. Well, sort of; it depends on the color. We’re not so obsessed with red flags as we are with white ones, the ones curled into a keffiyeh on an Islamist’s head, wishing the wind would unfurl it into a flag of surrender. The Soviet Union’s iconic hammer and sickle no longer nails rivets or harvests potatoes. The populace’s potatoes are now rendered from formidable and unknowable constituents into potato-like fries laced with crack, as any binger will testify. In the age of pastiche, our food has become that too. Michael Pollan has more compelling and viable things to say on the matter. Me, I’m just a recovering Big Mac addict.

With agricultural policy’s political theory safely tucked tightly between two bookends, or latent in my Amazon wish list, the world I enter is a hungry one, downtown somewhere, someday, any day, walking around until I walk into a McDonald’s, only mildly in shame but mostly excited. Food pickiness is inherently bourgeois; however radical, it comes from a place of economic privilege. I am humbled by food, grateful. I eat anything.

“One death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic,” remarked Stalin, who evidently wasn’t talking about cows. Vegetarians tend to be more relaxed than vegans, as filet mignon is more relaxed than mutton. To call McDonald’s “evil” is just as moralistic as saying “tofu is good,” the latter’s carbon footprint arguably as high as that of the former. This isn’t an argument for or against the meat industry. It’s simply a call to be more humble. In the ethics of nutrition, we are all bulimics vomiting ideas about morality. I don’t know if God put cows here to be eaten, as I don’t know if there’s a God. All I know, if you’ll spare me the conceit, is that you can’t eat raw fish and call it sashimi. I tried, and my toilet remembers.

“When we hang the capitalists, they will sell us the rope we use.” Yes, Lenin was quite the clever one. He lost the war, and here we are, all, fat and happy (miserable). I gained 30 lbs. when I hit age 30. My cholesterol and blood-pressure was through the roof, while my salary and libido remained on the floor. My doctor said I was going to die, and I said duh. He said at age 50 of a heart attack, and I said fuck. I lost those 30 lbs., and thanks to the awfulness of salads and tofu, I am, well, happier.

There’s a McDonald’s on Market Street in San Francisco that has a subterranean dining level, without windows or proper ventilation. I took my seat downstairs, and had my grease-ridden super sized value meal, wolfing down the loneliness, convinced that the stomach had somehow become the heart. All I needed to do was fill it, to patch up those ulcers of a wounded youth.

As I walked out, an extremely powerful belch – a kind of uncontrollable exorcism – rose from within, starting from my bowels as the violent apparition of a ground up dead cow. It was very loud, and happened so quickly I didn’t have time to be embarrassed. There it was, my incredible belch displayed for the public – we the alliance of pliant patrons, half of us morbidly obese, sadly sitting there swaying to the tempo of our own mastication. People smiled at me. I, the loudest one, had become their leader.


    1. the tone was hardly a diatribe, however totalitarian the imagery invoked was; i was juxtaposing two inherently disparate themes, of commie and commerce, without preaching to the choir, or in your case, the evangelist

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