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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Let's Eat Now! Let's Eat More!

Air Date: Week of December 27, 1996

The holidays are upon us, stirring up feelings of goodwill towards fellow humans and sometimes, fellow animals. But commentator Ian Shoales says there’s no reason to go overboard with this.

Transcript

SHOALES: Let's not kid ourselves. One of the main functions of the so-called holiday season is to eat ourselves into a stupor and end up groaning on the floor with our friends and relatives trying to stay awake until the angel shows Jimmy Stewart what things would be like if he'd never lived at all. How things have changed. Jimmy Stewart's S&Ls have become Charles Keatings and the banks, forget about it, they're merging faster than the Blob. Even a miserable old coot like Lionel Barrymore would be no match for the new batch of bottom liners, he'd be out in his golden parachute before you could say have yourself a merry little Christmas or you're fired. And now it looks like the holiday feast itself may fall victim to the bottom line among animal rights activists, vegetarians, people panicking over their cholesterol levels, pesticide watchers and bacterial contamination counters; we may soon be sipping barley-flavored water as we watch our colorized Jimmy lurching through the snow screaming, "Burt! Ernie! Don't you know me?"

I'm second to none in my admiration of tofu and gluten, but forming a gelatinous mass into the shape of a large bird is a poor substitute for the actual turkey itself. Oh sure, I've read the literature. It takes 4 pounds of grain to create each pound of turkey meat. So, for a 20-pound butterball you're talking a waste of 80 pounds of grain, supposedly, to which I say who better to eat 80 pounds of grain than a bird? Were you going to eat that grain? I doubt it; you wouldn't leave room for the cranberries and mashed potatoes, much less the pumpkin pie. Besides, a turkey is nothing more than a fast vegetable anyway.

Holiday dinners are bad enough. Uncle Charlie who had one nog too many stand up and start screaming, "You people are all empty inside!" before passing out on the spuds. Cousin Bert a ditto-head, and Cousin Dell, a Clintonite will start heaving fruitcake at each other's heads; they can put an eye out with that thing. Aunt Sue will tell Aunt Bea there are special sauces, too much nutmeg just one too many times, she'll kick everybody out of the house. You'll all have to troop down to the all-night diner for the hot turkey and biscuit special.

And now we have to be environmentally conscious as well? Say, that'll really promote family harmony. Pass the candied yams to Elmo and he'll accuse you of despoiling the rainforest; before you know it you'll all be peeling sweet potatoes and blood off the ceiling. Measuring contaminants at the dinner table may become part of the etiquette of tomorrow, but it won't do wonders for our appetites.

Once upon a time in our glorious past, we'd go out and bring down a mastodon, render the hooves, make clothing and shelter from the hide, build a great big fire, cook that bad old thing, eat the meat gone, then cower in our stinking hovels in fear until the long cold winter went away. Those were the days. That's why we still have our eating holidays now; it's an atavistic throwback to the times when thinning the herd was an integral part of the hunter-gatherer economy. Nowadays the holiday feast is just another anachronism, a futile gesture against the downsizing of everything, urban indulgence in a massive whim poor old Mother Earth can no longer tolerate. She 's going to kick out all us good for nothing children pretty soon and we're all going to have to eat tofu down at the all night diner.

Until then I'll take the dark meat, thank you, and try to imagine the world as it might be if we'd never existed. Hey, don't even need an angel for that. Not in today's economy. I gotta go.

CURWOOD: A great-grandson of Ebenezer Scrooge, the semi-famous Ian Shoales lives in semi-obscurity somewhere west of the Mississippi.

 

 

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