Growing up we all had that one kid in the class who was just a fucking liar. No matter the situation, they had an answer for everything with some elaborate backstory as the cherry on top. They were dating someone in another town, their uncle was a spy, ate a bat on Halloween- always something as unlikely as it was unprovable. We all knew they were full of shit but rarely called them out. It was too exhausting and if you tried, that kind of kid only doubled down. Then their lies got so big, so embarrassing that it was a physical cringe to even hear. So they got left alone- for the most part- while we all wondered why they just couldn’t stop lying. Maybe it was for attention. Maybe it was out of insecurity. You were never gonna get a straight answer. But at a certain age, it stops being a quirk and starts being a problem.
Those kids that told weird, convoluted lies, eventually became adults. And the attitude we all took towards them growing up is the same instinct we still have. The occasional eye roll and maybe a “damn, that crazy” to politely signal to them you’re done listening. Unfortunately, they’ve all found each other on the internet and are more than happy to not just listen but amplify each other’s bullshit. The internet, possibly the truest chaotic neutral anyone’s ever invented, created an echo chamber of confirmation bias and one-upping dumb, often dangerous ideas that work their way into the core of our culture. That kid who told you he had a monkey heart in the 6th grade is now screaming at a school board meeting about lizard people running the world. This is… not ideal.
A week ago one of y’all sent us this conspiracy that had been circulating Facebook, which we had happily missed. Facebook has never been our thing, particularly since its devolution, but damn this one was a doozy. The post was attempting to link a series of recent fires and accidents at food plants in the US to part of a larger attack on our food system. Of course data shows these fires are in keeping with regular plant accidents but facts are never important in stories like these. The post suggests these were intentional disruptions to our food supply at the hands of arsonists and kamikaze pilots whose mission is to starve hard-working Americans.
Unfortunately the conspiracy didn’t die there. The post was picked up by Ali Alexander, an organizer of the Jan 6th insurrection, before ultimately landing at the feet of Tucker Carlson, the silver spoon talking head whose dad married into the Swanson frozen dinner empire. Carlson speculated on his show, which has the largest audience of any cable news program, that the Democratic Party or the Biden administration *might be* trying to cause a famine leading up to the midterm elections. Again, zero evidence. Then he does that thing all bullshitters do, shrugging their shoulders and saying “I’m just asking questions” when they’ve taken their nonsense as far as it can go. Fuck you.
There are actual, albeit less salacious, problems with our food system. Like how we throw away 40% of the food we produce while more than half of US food banks are experiencing shortages. What about access to clean drinking water or how we cut funding to feed school children? How about the fact that only 1% of Americans are farmers and they’re an aging demographic with no one ready to replace them? These are all real and complex issues that impact consumers at every level, regardless of how you vote. But addressing these problems isn’t culture war worthy because there’s no clear villain or fundraising opportunity. Making a living as a bullshitter is neither illegal nor new, but damn, these lies are getting wild while the boring, complicated truth get almost no attention.
Look, there are PLENTY of food conspiracies out there. They range from GMOs modifying your DNA to Outback Steakhouse being a satanic cult. Have you heard the one about how The Health Department puts fluoride in the water to control your mind? That’s based on a scene from Dr. Strangelove, a film from 1964 that some dipshits apparently viewed as a documentary. There are plenty of science-based reasons to reexamine adding fluoride to drinking water but mind control and the lulling of the masses ain’t it. If we had a dollar every time some rando mf wanted to talk about chemtrails with us, we could stop writing books. The celery juice craze, from its insane promises to the fact that the author claims all his medical knowledge comes from a “spirit” has made us lose our cool in public more than once. If it sounds insane, it's probably insane and we all need to call this for what it is- bullshit.
As food prices skyrocket and our supply chain hangs by a thread, we can’t afford these dumbass distractions. But the anxiety is understandable and fear is a cheap tool. We all know something is wrong. Unfortunately, the real problems in our food system aren’t fun or sexy. They are difficult, interconnected issues that take time and an attention span to start parsing out. You won’t get there by following leading questions and caustic rhetoric.
There are facts in this world that aren’t up for debate. Celery juice can’t cure cancer. A random fire at a Hot Pocket factory isn’t inching us closer to a politically-motivated famine. But the horrific conditions of our factory farms are creating superbugs and the perfect breeding ground for our next pandemic. Zoonotic diseases are no fucking joke. We should all focus more on the very real problems in front of us instead of the fictional and divisive narratives. It’s time we stop rolling our eyes and being dismissive and start telling people that no one believes their fucking nonsense. It doesn’t matter if you’re a doctor, ‘miracles pills’ are just magic beans and we’re not buying that shit. Let’s focus on fixing our real problems before getting started on the fake ones.
This week in our recipe club edition of The Broiler Room we’re showing y’all how to make Zucchini Basil Fritters for a fast af dinner any night of the week. There an easy way to sneak zucchini into picky eater’s plates, they’ll want seconds and you get to have a fun secret. We won’t tell.
Thanks again for joining us here each week. We appreciate the support and love all the tips and topics you’ve been sharing with us. Same time next week?
Matt and Michelle