I am amazed at the progress that has occurred in society, just in my lifetime; progress that made our lives significantly easier….but were these modernizations really good for us?
I can remember my father slaving over our BBQ with lighter fluid, (the scent and flavor of which invariably permeated the food) fanning the charcoal for ages until they turned the uniform shade of white that meant they were ready for cooking, and because of the time and work involved BBQ’s were a rare treat.
With the invention of propane tanks BBQ’s are now almost a daily event in most households from May to September, and now include burners and rotisserie’s for enhanced cooking options. No muss, no fuss, BUT research has shown that grilling on high heat allows carcinogens to form and neither charcoal nor propane is exempt from these risks. Better to just avoid grilling,,,,, or eat raw meat; anything to avoid having to go vegetarian. (although there is some speculation as to whether or not humans were ever meant to eat meat – we don’t have the teeth of meat-eaters. So how do you suppose it started? Did a caveman sit down to dinner one day and declare that he wasn’t full enough, so he went out and clubbed some poor unsuspecting pig? And how did it occur to him to cook it? Ahha! I bet this is where the issue of vegetarian teeth came in! Tearing raw meat off the bone wasn’t working so he put it over fire to make it chewable) Ok, I digress.
Microwaves came on the scene which meant warming food was fast and easy, and dirtied no pots. (I could never accept microwaves for actually ‘cooking’ the food because you couldn’t brown anything and it just looks too pale to appreciate) Even popcorn became an instantaneous snack, no more oil and big pots to clean! Sure there’s speculation as to the dangers of radiation from microwaves but in the absence of any glaring issues publicly identified, it seems people believe the benefits still outweigh the risks, and it made cooking faster (and we all know ‘fast’ is what we want, right?)
VCR’s, DVD’s, CD’s, PVR’s, IPODs, IPADS; all came into our lives allowing us to watch what we want, when we want, AND without commercials. Music is available without having to purchase anything by simply keying in your choice on any PC. Good for us. (Not so good for the artists who can’t sell their CD’s) This ‘on demand’ access to anything we want may have made us happy, but it also made us impatient. We are no longer willing to wait for the release of a new song or show; we just download what we want, when we want it.
And if frozen and prepared food wasn’t fast and easy enough, we then made it available as a drive-through so we barely have to lift a finger (or our rears for that matter) In fact, we can do pretty much anything from our vehicle. Drive-through banking, drive-through pharmacy, drive-through beer stores (yeah, there’s a good idea) and if we do decide not to use a drive-through, we can just order whatever we want online and have it delivered to our home. (Mmmmm, have our muscles atrophied yet?)
At a recent gathering where a few young mothers were chatting, I overheard a couple of them declare adamantly that they would only use cloth diapers on their baby (not yet born, so we’ll see) The invention of the disposable diaper was a Godsend and unless a child has an unusual allergic reaction to the material I can’t imagine why anyone would choose to muck around with cloth diapers. (have you any idea how many diapers a baby goes through in a day?) Why don’t these earth mothers just toss their washer out, then they can take all their laundry down to a nearby river and beat it on a rock. (I’m betting they’ll be on disposables within 12 hours of the kids first poop!) Find something useful to crusade for, like self-cleaning bathrooms, or wine glasses that refill automatically.
I’m all for progress. Technology and ongoing research made some of the more arduous tasks bearable and I will always support the use of disposable diapers, electric stoves, dish washers and air conditioners. I do however, draw the line at the improvements that simply made us sedentary, like drive-throughs. There’s no need.
Lets keep to basics when it comes to family health and wellness. Eat natural foods, even though they take longer to prepare. Get out of the car and go get your groceries, liquor, books, whatever, just move. Allocate your ‘sitting’ time for supper with the family, or story time with the kids, or movie night with friends. We’ve made such great strides to simplify our lives, not to make us lazy. Embrace the inventions that make redundant tasks easier and save the Earthmother heroics (cloth diapers, seriously?) for the things that really matter, like homemade food, fresh air, and quality time with family and friends. Progress is good but I think we need to be a little more discriminating about how and where we apply it.