October 7th, 2013


Food for thought - a column

Is it me, or do we live in a very strange world? Now, I realise that could be a leading question, so I'll tell you what I'm talking about and tell you what I think. (Oh my gods, he's voicing opinions again!)

I read an article on The Press website this morning. The Press is where I get my Christchurch news from, where I go to see what's happening in my favourite New Zealand city (and the wider country) from my own perspective of half a world away.

The article I read was headlined, 'Statistics reveal most dangerous foods'.

That headline made me think, or at least set me thinking about what those foods might be. I couldn't think of anything. Surely, having used the word 'foods', if they were going to stick to their brief, then the only foods that would be dangerous would reasonably be things that some people might be allergic to; and then I would question whether it was the food that was dangerous over the unfortunate situation the person finds themselves in. My thinking was basically, if it’s not food, it’s not dangerous food; if it is food, the very word implies that it’s sustenance.

So, slightly fascinated, hoping to learn something amazing, I read the article – and through the miracle of modern interwebby stuff, you can too if you so wish.

I started gulping for air after the first couple of sentences. After a couple more I was questioning my own sanity, that of the journalist who was trying to make a racy story out of nothing, and finally, that of the insured population of a country I love. The long and the short of it is that the story had the wrong headline, or the headline had the wrong story. I never can quite work out which way round that should be.

How can some idiot halving and removing the stone from an avocado, not thinking about what they are doing and ending up cutting their hand instead, imagine for a minute that it's the avocado that's dangerous and to blame? People like that shouldn't be allowed near sharp objects, let alone an insurance policy. How can someone choking on a piece of meat (and remember I'm a vegetarian, yet I'm still on the side of the meat here) blame that meat for the fact that they don't chew their food properly? Those people should be condemned to eating pre-mashed and mechanically recovered bits of dead animals, with their hands, in those squalid, loathsome MacBurger-type places. Though in those circumstances, they should probably be warned about accidentally chewing off their own fingers.

In fairness, the article does mention allergies and various conditions that mean people have to be careful about what they eat, but surely they know that already, so shouldn't have too many problems unless they are completely off their face.

As far as I can see, we live in a peculiar world where someone who burns their arm by spilling hot noodles on it, blames the noodles (for being hot, noodly and spilt!). But of course, this does seem to have become a world where blame is the universal currency, and along with it ridiculous corporate arse-covering on a humungous scale. The culture is that there has to be a culprit (who isn't the idiot damaging themselves, of course) and there has to be a demand for some form of reparation.

I want to make a pact with the world. It's quite a simple little agreement that I would be delighted to undertake. If people will stop putting patronising little signs on disposable coffee cups that say things like, 'Warning: may contain hot liquid', or, as I once saw on a bottle of shampoo, 'For external use only', then I will happily give away my right to complain, sue or blame someone else. If I'm stupid enough to thoughtlessly try to wash my hair and scald myself with hot coffee, it's my own bloody fault. If I drink shampoo thinking it’s thick, cold, foul-tasting coffee in a very strange shaped container, and it disagrees with me in some way, it's down to my own stupidity for drinking shampoo in the first place. No one else is to blame.

Then, once that agreement has been made, the rest of the world can stop worrying about me and my wellbeing. I'm sure it will be relieved and can spend its time thinking about far more important things. I will certainly be delighted to take responsibility for my own actions and stupidity. The only thing I ask in return is for the world to stop warning me about things that are completely bleeding obvious. 

Then, if I'm cutting up a pumpkin, and the unnecessarily large knife I'm using slips and .... in every sense of the phrase, I'll say no more.