Tuesday, May 03, 2011

On nonperishable food snobs

Okay, so if I know one thing about the hundreds upon hundreds of victims left without any form of shelter or source of food by the mile-wide tornado that scored a 200-mile path across the Southeast, it’s that they deserve the absolute shittiest shit you can give them in donated food. Three-year-old Chef Boyardee? Bam. Whatever’s in that can with the label off? Go for it. Beans? More beans? Who doesn’t love more beans?!

And how do I know it’s wrong to offer healthy food to people standing next to the rubble of their own lives? Because the awesome folks at Gawker let me know.
Sure, you’ve lost everything and your entire town has been obliterated by one of the most devastating series of tornadoes in history. Doesn’t mean you can’t still eat smart, local and organic!

Magic City Post, a lifestyles website from Birmingham, offers “25 ideas for non-perishable items that will provide high-quality proteins, good carbs and health fats.” It’s just something to consider when you’re loading up that box of canned food to bring to the shelter.

Gawker’s Seth Abramovitch, who I’m sure came all the way down to ‘Bama to take those disaster pictures himself, because he’s obviously just busting out with concern, offers a mockable short list of items in his post. A few others that he seemed to miss:
1. Canned or pouched tuna
2. Canned salmon
3. Canned chicken
4. Canned black beans
5. Canned chickpeas or lentils
8. Smart Balance or natural peanut butter
13. Shelf-stable milk
14. Oatmeal and grits
17. Herbs, spices and spice blends
18. Canola, olive, flax seed (linseed) or peanut oil
19. Lundberg’s Rice Chips and Chip’ins Popcorn Chips
20. Minute white rice
21. Raisins and other dried fruit
22. Olive oil, mayonnaise and other condiments
23. Wheat crackers

Look at those stupid, pretentious foodies, trying to give people... healthy proteins. And milk. And dried fruit. And rice. And oil and seasonings and condiments to make their nourishment a little less bland. Those... bastards?

I’ll be the first to mock the self-satisfied tone of some of the organic/local/whatever food evangelists who seem entirely ignorant of the fact that the majority of the country doesn’t get to eat that way. But when we’re talking about people who have access to good, healthy food and want to put it in the hands of people who are desperate for any food at all, I can’t really find anything critical to say (outside of the suggestion that we donate microwave popcorn to people whose microwaves are currently being picked out of trees).

However I could--and probably should--just mock the hell out of them. I could see Jen begging for help for all of these tornado-ravaged people and just say, "Ha ha! Southerners are stupid! They don't know how to follow package instructions and open jars! Look at the stupid Alabamians who want to donate healthy nonperishable food instead of Easy Mac and shit in a can!"

I could say stuff like this:
Now, they can not only feel good about "giving selflessly," they can also feel doubly proud that they're donating $4 cans of Amy's organics shit to people who have lost everything they own in the world, many of whom could have never afforded Amy's stuff prior to the tornado. This takes self-satisfaction and smugness to a whole new, shitty plane.

See? It’s good because everyone in Alabama is too poor to buy Amy’s soup and because we shouldn’t bother buying good food for them! It’s a double whammy! (As opposed to a Double Whopper, which is apparently what these folks should be eating.)
Or this:
I do, in fact, think that a lot of the rural and lower-income individuals WILL have a problem understanding the foods involved. I grew up in a rural area in Oklahoma, and I understand that many people in those areas do not have access to this type of food, and will consequently not understand what to do with these items. That has also been reiterated by other posters here. It doesn't make them dumb, uncultured or "trashy," as someone eloquently stated above. It means that we need to take into account the culture of this particular area of the country.

I understand poor, rural culture, and am annoyed by the way that wealthy urban individuals seem to think that somehow the shit they live with on a daily basis is commonplace every across this country.


I don't understand why it is so hard for people like you to grasp that there is a different culture out there.

See? Because everyone from Tuscaloosa eastward is an ignorant hick who’s too dumb to read the package and boil pasta for three minutes. They don’t understand this bizarre food we offer. If this dude hadn’t been taught to cook fancy-schmancy food, he wouldn’t know what to do with an... olive. We (meaning, apparently, those of us in the community) just don’t understand the different culture of... our own community. We should have more respect for Unfrozen Caveman Tornado Victim and give him nothing but a spoon and a can of chili.

So that’s the takeaway, folks: These people are miserable and homeless and would appreciate anything you can give them. Which means that you should be giving them the cheapest, nastiest shit you can find at the back of the store shelf. When those people lucky enough to have tents and camp stoves are sitting in front of their tents and cooking on their camp stoves, the simple pleasure of a little Mrs. fucking Dash is more than you should bother with. Given the opportunity to help, it’s more important that we mock the self-satisfied foodies, and then if we have time we can throw the tornado victims the bare minimum of Cold War canned dreck and tell them they should be grateful for it.

Other things you might want to donate, as long as you buy the absolute cheapest shit you can find and then feel superior about it:
- Money (natch)
- Bottled water
- Baby stuff: diapers, formula, baby food
- Living-outdoors stuff: tents, sleeping bags, pillows, blankets, Ziploc bags and sealable containers, eating utensils, camp stoves, stove gas, flashlights, batteries, generators (some people are actually donating those, which are kind of awesome), gas, gas cards
- Cleanup stuff: work gloves, shovels, axes, chainsaws, hand saws, pry bars, wheelbarrows, garbage bags
- Comfort stuff: clean socks and underwear (all sizes), simple toys/stuffed animals/comfort items for children (if you don’t think it’s too good for them), prepaid cell phones and top-up cards (ditto)
- Self-care stuff: shampoo, soap, toothbrushes/toothpaste, deodorant, feminine items, bug spray, sunscreen, toilet paper, towels, moist towelettes, bandages, basic OTC medications
- Pet stuff (if you think they should be allowed to keep their pets): pet food, leashes, collars, crates, cages, litter, litter boxes, Dogloos, toys, treats
- Tarps
- Boxes and packing tape

Jen gives a list of drop-off locations and contact information in her snooty post, and self-righteous bastard Wade condescends to provide us with more ways to help in a constantly updated list.

These people have been through so much. Won’t you care enough to not care?


Holly said...

I've now posted this on Twitter, Facebook, and GShare, and I still don't feel like it's enough, because GOD DAMN. Love you.

Wade Kwon said...

"Self-righteous bastard Wade condescends to provide us with more ways to help in a constantly updated list."

I prefer "self-righteous and unbelievably handsome Mr. Wade condescends ..."

Thanks for the post, ACG. Any bit of humor is good in this disaster. :)

ECR said...

Take heart: it's not like they can read. They'll have no idea what's being said about them in that big box thing.