Wednesday, May 9, 2012


In the routines of everyday life we often take things for granted. We are blinded to the eccentricities and oddities of the familiar simply because of the preconception of so-called reality that is created in our mind’s eye—an image that, by the way, it’s often hard to shake. In her review of Mark Kurlansky’s Birdseye, The Adventures of a Curious Man, Janet Maslin comments about the author’s subject, “The oxymoron ‘fresh frozen’ would  be nowhere without him.” (“The Inventor Who Put Frozen Peas on Our Tables,” NYT 4/25/2012). There are other wonderful locutions that Maslin quotes from Kurlansky’s book or that the book inspires in the reviewer. Here's a graph that combines both. “His philosophy of vegetable consumption, promoting agribusiness over local farming, is at least a talking point for being so unfashionable. Birdseye, Mr. Kurlansky writes, thought like ‘a foodie in reverse.’” Later Maslin quotes Kurlansky saying, “when Birdseye found something in nature, he always wondered what it would taste like and what would be the best way to cook it.” If Birdseye were alive now, he would be considered politically incorrect. One could imagine him as a right wing radio shock jock, but in his time he was an inventor and entrepreneur who embodied the essence of American innovativeness and ingenuity. One wonders what a character like Birdseye would have thought about the inhumane conditions under which animals today are raised and slaughtered that Miyan Park and Peter Singer describe in their essay “The Globalization of Animal Welfare,” in the March/April edition of Foreign Affairs.

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