He told us how excited he was about the grocery. So I asked, as I ask everyone, what he wanted that he couldn't currently get in town.
"That high-fiber bread," he said, and named a brand.
Well, all of our bread is going to be freshly baked, said I. And she has whole wheat.
"Nope," he said. "We get that brand. It's approved by Weight-Watchers." And then he rattled off a list of other products that no person who actually likes food-- skim milk of a certain brand, frozen food, pre-packaged salads-- that he and his wife buy.
America has such a f-ed up relationship with food. It's political (fair-trade, organic versus local versus Monsanto). It's marketing (shelf-space sold to companies, Dora the Explorer on tiny expensive overly sweet yogurts). And for so many people, it's what it isn't-- milk that doesn't taste like milk! Eggs with extra vitamins and omegas in them! Diet drinks and a can to take the place of a meal!
I have never participated in Weight-Watchers. I think the idea of points is a fine one-- although it seems kind of obsessive, it works for a lot of people. But the leap from allotting points to food to only "allowing" certain brands is pretty problematic.
Fresh tomatoes are glorious. Real cheese is glorious. Fermented and brined and pickled and preserved products of all kinds are glorious. But what bears little resemblance to glory is an anemic, packaged product of nothing, and though the B.T.C. will have to cater to its customers, we won't be looking up brands approved by Weight-Watchers. We're in the business of selling food, not... propaganda? Mush?
How my sweet neighbor can think he's better off eating packaged and preserved "high-fiber" bread rather than freshly baked whole wheat, I don't know. I don't care which bread has more fiber. Which one will nourish his soul?
That's what real food does.
And that's what we'll be selling.