you cannot hope to thrive as a society if you let business interests dictate your culture
Nothing has ever influenced culture more than business interests.
True, but I think he means that businesses acting in thier own interests are often to the detriment of society. You seem to speak as this is an inevitability -- and a good one, at that (the business influence, not the detriment, I mean).
One local example to illustrate my point.
I recently went to purchase some hay for our cow. The man I bought it from was a former dairyman. Being new in cow ownership, I chatted with him for a while, and he was glad to talk.
He lamented the loss of raw milk (versus pasturized, homogenized milk) as a staple and viable business. "Dead milk" he called it. Having sampled a gallon of raw milk from the man who sold us our cow, I had to agree with that assessment.
Like many newfangled processed products, such as white bleached flower or refined sugar, homogenized milk was at one time a fad that differenciated social classes or fashionable from the not-so-fashionable. If anyone's ever seen raw milk -- even after the cream has been skimmed off -- it tends to stratify a bit, appearing somewhat unsightly as compared to homogenized stuff we're used to. While I haven't seen any to back my claim, I'm sure there were adds in women's magazines playing up the benefits of homogenization.
The guy was no Luddite backwoods hick, either. He sported a cell phone and whipped out a palm pilot to add another hay-buying customer to his existing contacts. He also kept up with the industry journals, and cited several articles about the health benefits of raw milk (or, more accurately, the dangers of homogenzed milk). It seems that the fat solids in raw cow's milk is naturally too large to pass through some membrane barrier easily. However, homogenized milk has much smaller fat solids, making them more readily absorbed in our systems. This is, allegedly, a factor in high (bad) cholesterol in people.
So, along with white sugar and flour, homogenized milk became another chink in our diet contributing to bad health.
Then came pasturization. (Actually, I don't know which came first, but it was later in our little chat.) It was the next big thing. Probably pushed as health issue. Think of the children! :)
"Doesn't pasturized milk store longer?" I asked. Pasturization, to me, seemed a wise precaution.
"No, not really," he said. "The stuff we kept lasted as long, if not longer, than pasturized milk. And pasturized milk rots when it goes bad. Raw milk just starts to sour, at which point you make sourdough or buttermilk."
Taken literally I think he's wrong, as true sourdough and buttermilk are not make with milk -- I won't waste space here on this -- but I knew what he meant, and he is right. And I had to admit that the gallon of sample raw milk I had did last a couple of weeks in the fridge with no ill effects, longer than I had expected.
I guess that raw milk sellers must have been a problem for the large milk producers, because they lobbied for (and received) legislation that mandated that raw milk have the same -- or lower -- coliform count as pasturized milk if it were to be sold to the public. I guess that's a tough thing to do, so it was essentially a way to outlaw raw milk without doing so outright.
My new mentor said that he ran one of the few dairies that could meet that standard with raw milk, due to his clean, well-run operation. I assume the other dairies either started pasturizing to reduce costs or just went under like most similar family-run agricultural endeavors. So he had people coming from as far as a hundred miles in every direction to buy his raw milk. Eventually, he sold off his stock when his kids went off to school and began raising hay instead. People from all around were dissapointed, as he was the last source of that good wholesome milk.
So, assuming he is correct in his two claims, "business interests" influenced our culture (people's perceptions through ads, and through legislation), and while they benefitted, we as a people lost yet another wholesome part of life.
Yes, that's just the account of one (admittedly biased) man. I'm sure someone can cite evidence to the contrary. But there are many cases of industry mucking up relatively good things in the name of cost reduction. Sure, in the capitolistic sense, you can't blame them. You can even try ot blame people for being "weak" (as one poster bitched about above). But when "business interests" so heavily influence the media and the laws of the land, it's bound to bite us in the ass at some point.
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