I Haz Flavr and It Is Cake

Hummingbird cake, to be exact, which is a walnut and cinnamon thing with cream cheese icing that I bought on sale at Loblaws (it had a Last Day For Sale sticker). It also claims to have pineapple in it, but I didn’t find any obvious signs of pineapple; it needs more pineapple. Pineapple in cake is a good thing. Actually, pineapple in most situations is a good thing.

I find this cake noteworthy because a) it’s very tasty, and b) about half of the ingredients are organic. I like the idea of organic but can’t afford to eat an entirely organic diet. The cake was the same price as the non-organic cakes, though, which pleased me.

Many months ago, I read something (a comment – a blog – a blurb – nothing with any evidence to back it up) about organic food being an utter waste of time because the world population could not be fed if we only grew and ate organic food. I recall thinking that this may be true, but wouldn’t it be good if we tried? Couldn’t we have a semi-organic diet? After all, I’m not so devoted to the environment that I refuse to heat my house in the winter and walk to the other end of Mississauga rather than take a bus; half-assed is alright by me.

I wish I could remember where I read that thing. I’d like to see evidence to support it. For millions and millions of years, humans subsisted on an organic diet. And, exactly how much food does each person require? We throw away food that’s rotted in our fridge, or things we think “are probably stale by now”. If it wasn’t quite so easy to get a wide variety of perfect food just by walking two blocks to the supermarket, maybe we would be a little more careful with what we have. A couple of years ago, there was one of those spammy emails with a handful of photographs showing the weekly food requirements of families from all over the world. In most places, the fresh food just covered the table top, but the North American families had a massive pile of boxes and containers and packages that threatened to fall over. None of the families looked hungry or unhealthy, so is the per capita food requirement based on the rural Asian family or the North American family? I would think the mathematics would be entirely different.

While walking home from the grocery store with the Hummingbird cake under my arm, contemplating organic food, I happened to peer over the edge of the bridge at the water fowl in the Credit River. The ducks were doing their usual bossy bit; the swans were swimming around, completely ignoring the ducks. The swans all have big yellow tags on each wing (I suppose having only one big yellow tag would make them lopsided when they tried to fly). Why do swans need big yellow tags? They look like little girls playing dress-up with their mother’s jewelry. I know, I know: scientists want to keep track of the swans so they know who migrates where and mates with whom and eats what.

Why?

Why do we have to know these things about swans?

In last month’s Canadian Geographic, there was an article about an American dude who traps the lynx on the border between Ontario and Minnesota so they can put little g.p.s. systems on the lynx.

Why do we need to know where the lynx are going? Will we give them passports?

Understand that I’m not scientifically-minded, so the idea of even conceiving of counting animals strikes me as a little sociopathic. It’s kind of like testing kids: do you really need the test, or could you just spend some time with them to see what they know? Do we really need to tag birds and collar lynx, or could we just say “There are suddenly a lot of swans sticking around for the winter. Maybe we should make arrangements for them to be accommodated”?

I don’t think we need social insurance numbers and student numbers and health card numbers, either. We have names. Maybe the government should spend more time putting together a list of good names for babies and less time trying to number them. But, just as with the organic food, I’m willing to accept the middle line: maybe we could all have one name and one number, and then everyone could be happy, yeah?

Think I need more cake. I have to eat the whole thing today, don’t I? I’m sure that’s what Last Day means.

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