written @ gunpoint

Gastronaut 6

The white truck tirade.

A few days ago, at the tender hour of 6 am, I found myself outside of Safeway. 6 am is a little early for me, so I have a tendency to wander around and ask silly questions of the poor unfortunate souls who have the misfortune of bumping into me. On this particular occasion the poor unfortunate man was delivering foodstuffs out of a gigantic white big rig to our favorite local pizza place, Papa Murphy’s. The big white truck was from the Sygma company, which is what initially drew my attention, since there are essentially two big names in white truck distribution that I have dealt with or seen on the left coast: Sysco and US Foods. These large multinational food distribution companies have done to food production, packaging and retail what Carnegie and Rockefeller did to steel and oil. I had not heard of Sygma; I actually thought for a moment that some unknown franchisee had decided to experiment with a pizza-delivering particle accelerator or some such. I guess that was another 6 am insight.

So I went home, wondering if I’d missed the boat on this particle accelerator idea, and determined to find out who the fuck Sygma was. I did a web search… I mean I googled Sygma, and, lo-and-behold it is a subdivision of Sysco. Hoo-rah we’ve got one nice big corporate family.
These huge ‘white’ truck companies fuck everyone they deal with. They run factory farms that produce low quality GMO products that they buy from themselves at artificially low prices to drive the competition out of business (all the while raping the American farm subsidy program for all it’s worth); they produce products that partially resemble the real thing but contain dangerously high levels of various nasty products, (Case and point: Kraft Singles are mostly hydrogenated oils and flavorings that are chemically closer to a plastic than a dairy product) they package them in as many different ways as possible, and then they sell them at outrageously low prices to undercut any legitimate local competition to institutions of various sorts: prisons, schools, Safeway, the American Military, Bon Appetit, and franchises just like Papa Murphy’s.

Jeez, what the fuck is his problem, you are wondering. I know you’re thinking it. I can hear you muttering already, and it’s five days ago, and I have headphones on. What did someone do to the Gastronaut in his formative years that would cause such frothy vitriol to spew from his fingertips?
First, I am worried about the future of our nation. How are we going to fend off the alien invaders if the average American is thirty pounds overweight? We can’t blame a consumer service corporation, however evil and profiteering they may be, for ruining our country. They fill the demands of their customers, who happen to make their living feeding a large number of Americans every day. Are these corporations guiding the forks of every American? What is driving the nation’s addiction to low quality, unhealthy, and UNDELICIOUS food? I won’t call it disgusting, for taste is subjective, but ain’t no one gonna call home to momma about that last take-n-bake Hawaiian pizza they just ate. We have choked on the gristle of our own crapulence. It scares the fuck out of me.

Second, because good restaurants run by good chefs who employ good people who have a passion for what they do and a concern for their patrons and their employees are closing at an alarming rate. Three restaurants, all good ones, have closed in southeast since September 20th. The average local, (meaning non-franchise) restaurant has about a 20% chance of surviving for two years. The failure rate amongst franchises is frighteningly low. I don’t buy the market-forces argument. The American conception of eating out has changed to incorporate the size-is-everything rubric. I think it sucks.
I’m not telling you to eat out more; eating out is costly, regardless of where you go. I don’t really know why I wrote this. Supersize Me made this point much better than I have. I guess this is a not-so-gentle reminder that there are businesses that deserve your patronage, and there are businesses that have come to expect it. Please, think about whom you are supporting with your consumption.

Tirade complete. Someone give me a Valium.