January 16, 2010

I'll Pass on Easy and Cheesy

I was reminded this morning about our obsession with things being easy. Actually, I think it first surfaced last night, while I was watching my Birthday gift - the Julie and Julia Blue Ray disk. ( I know, a 'chick flick', but we need a little distraction away from the horror of our recent natural disaster, and it was Friday night, and Joes gone for the weekend so I can watch all of the chick flicks I want.).

In the film, there is this scene where Julia and her best friend from France, and co-author of her first book Simone Beck are lamenting over why their once interested publisher , Random House or LIttle Brown, I don't remember, reject their now famous and influencial book, Mastering The Art of French Cooking. OK, in 1960 I can completely understand the business reasons why the publishers beleived that "housewives" in America would rather cook with marshmallow Fluff, rather than take the time to debone a duck, but I was surprised, as a garden and style writer, how today things have both changed, and how they haven't. Basically, the concept that the masses are more likely to migrate towards 'easy' and 'simple' rather than "challenging"and "complex".
But why is this still true? In some ways, yeah, it is, if not worse. But in some odd and refreshing ways, today, there is also this alternative cultural appreciation going on, and many of these people are writing and sharing their journey of discovery in 'alternative' media such as blogs. But I can't help but wonder if people like us are a dieing breed. Sure, Martha Stewart prooved that there still can be this rennaissance of appreciation, that some young people still may want to raise goats in Vermont and make small-batch cheeses, and there is this whole thing around the youth cultures new fascination with victory garden's and organically grown food that is susstainable. But I'm not sure if this is just a trend that might change in the future, or if this is the start of something big. But since I work in the design world, I have already heard stories of big brands saying such things in packaging meetings like " OK, last year we tried the susstainable packaging thing because the consumer wanted it, but this year, we are trying something different" ( something with more plastic). It's not really about the meaning, just, what it means. And that tends to change as trends change.

This week, while driving home from work, I heard this report on NPR about youth culture, and how they are getting their information essentially their news, from. Mostly, they do not read newspapers and a recent study showed that all magazines will be gone by the year 2050, since someone did the math and that's about the time that magazine readers today, will all die. Nice.

Then, for my birthday this week, I got a Wii system, with WiiFit. Besides that being a hint, I admitted that since I am just older than most gamers today to know little between a joystick and a Xbox, that we should keep technically current, lest we get left in the dust, besides, it looked fun.

You all may know this, but when you attach the Wii system, the navigation page that appear on your big, flatscreen TV gives you the option to click on a number of buttons, such as weather information, shopping, or the News. And, the entire sound and visual experience makes the Weather Channel and CNN look amazingly ancient. Now, between Manhun2 and blasting my ab's, I can check out the latest news on anything I find interesting, just by scrolling through the titles of the reports, even news on subject I might find interesting and which would never be covered on commercial TV. And that's the other thing that's changed, living in Massachusetts, I can't help but be blasted with bipolar news - on our ABC channel, the earth Quake in Haiti, on our Fox affiliate, no earth quake coverage. I just hate these options, for now, even the media has had to take sides, in what NPR called "Partisan news". I never know who to really trust any more. So blogs and smaller news outlets become the preferred source for news for younger people who will not read Newsweek, the Newspaper or even watch the news on TV.

I don't know about you, but I always believed that as societies developed and evolved, that along with that will culture. I suppose, in many ways, our American culture has started to evolve, for now we in larger metropolitan cities and blue states can now fine good cheese, better bread, and more ethnic restaurants. But at the same time, the Wal Mart-ization of America, (if not the world), is distilling any advancements made in taste and culture, into a much more digestible bland and easy, mess. Basically, an american cheese stuffed, bacon-wrapped steak is more desireable than a grass-fed, organic heirloom dry-aged strip steak.

Our world of plants shares many of these same development issues, for just as many of us are thrilled with the broader availability of heirloom tomatoes, species and wild forms of plants and rare or once hard-to-find plants like Hellebores and Orchids. But at the same time, there are branded plants, copywritten complete with glossy four-color plant tags showing photos of how 'beautiful and easy' they are, fool-proof Supertunia's®. Plants for non-plant lovers must be simple, and the big retailers know this, as do the plant breeders who develop and research for the few companies who service this trend. Plants today, I'm sorry,....FLOWERS today must be over-performing, 'blooms all year!', care-free!, and virtually Fool-Proof!. In many ways, the same way flowers were marketed in 1955. Which, I think is sad.

We know, as plant lovers, that appreciating anything, takes an investment of time, and that knowledge and challenge combine to make the entire process even more enjoyable. Maybe it's me, but I can help but make a connection between younger generations obsession with instant gratification and disposabiity with todays surprising lack of patience and appreciation, basically, most people don't have the time, or is it interest in depth. Knowing just enough to get by, but to still have it look good, seems to be enough.

I happen to have the Food Network on in the background as I type this, let's see what's on today.....

Mexican Made Easy
Meals in a Minute
5 ingredient Fix
30 Minute Meals
Slim in 6
Sandrs's Money Saving Meals
Slow Cooker Savings
A Can, a man, a plan



  1. Kathy M9:56 PM

    Thank you for your thoughtful statement!

  2. Your well written post reinforces my opinion that there are some fundamental differences between what I knew growing up and what I see in my son and his peers. They have so much more pressure on them at school to succeed and are submitted to constant testing and evaluation. They also feel as if they must constantly be entertained either with TV, internet, video games, Ipods, etc. They do not know the simple joy of doing nothing.

  3. Thanks Les,
    I know, I heard this morning on TV that young people now spend 8 hours a day on their personal digital devices. It will be interesting to see how this all affects growth and development, but at a great risk of sounding grammy-ish, I sure wish young people will learn to find soulful interests. I'm sure things will all work out in the long run. TV and the automobile, electricity and all......these new-fangled contraptions.....like my laptop, and cell phone, and GPS collar for my dog....

  4. What a great post! Well put. My sympathy to you and yours (brown)


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