Dear Denise Morrison, President and CEO of Campbell's Foods:
I am writing to warn you of a change in your consumer base that is bound to have grave repercussions for your company.
A recent Harvard study has revealed that concentrations of the chemical bisphenol-A rise around 1000 percent in people who eat one bowl of canned soup per day. Bisphenol-A is often used in the manufacture of plastics but your company and others who put food in cans apparently use it to make the material that lines those cans. I do not know exactly what this amount of bisphenol-A does in the human body and it appears that scientists do not exactly know, either, but they are making a lot of guesses that don't sound at all good. Apparently the chemical is an endocrine disrupter, which means it messes with one's hormones and has therefore been linked to cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders like learning disabilities, ADHD, and cognitive issues, as well as problems with heart disease, obesity and diabetes, and sexual development.
So far I have not noticed any tumors growing on my children but there is still plenty of time. And while I believe they are geniuses, I hate to think that they might have been just that much more intelligent, talented and well-behaved. It is not difficult to conjecture that, if my children had never ingested any canned foods, by now they might be working as highly paid child actors, like Dakota Fanning or Haley Joel Osment. We're talking about the loss of millions of dollars of family income here.
I have become convinced that canned foods are at the root of the disharmony suffered by many families as a result of the poor performance of the children. I do not know what Amy Chua, author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, fed her children but I now suspect she wouldn't have have had to push them so hard to practise their musical instruments if she had completely avoided serving them canned food. Because they probably wouldn't have had to practise so much. I'm guessing that, by now, her children would be supporting her -- and she wouldn't have had to write that embarrassing book in order to put them through college.
Furthermore, although my current goal is to slow my own children's sexual development for as long as possible, there is a slim chance that, once I am dead, they may wish to begin dating.
The Harvard study I reference above and and others like it have have led me to finally make the decision to stop feeding canned goods to my children. This is the event that is bound to have dangerous financial consequences for your company. Currently, my children eat 13 trillion cans of Campbell's Chunky Chicken Noodle soup per week. This is an estimate, of course, but not a very rough one. Let's just say my children eat a lot of that soup. In fact, they do not eat much else – perhaps a bowl of Kraft dinner now and then, or the odd chicken nugget. (And I ask you, what chicken nugget is not odd? What part of the bird do these uniformly pale lumps come from, exactly? But I realize that this is not your area of expertise as your lumps of chicken are pinkish, blotchy and veiny and are not encased in a tidy bread-crumb coating.)
It may surprise you to know that my two small children, aged two and six years respectively, ingest so much of your product and, in fact, you may be doubly shocked when I inform you that the younger child, my daughter, eats only the carrots. My son, however, will deign to eat the broth and the noodles and the other vegetable-like substances you include -- but not of course the weird chicken, we give that to the cat -- so so you could say that between the two (or three) of them, they lick the platter (bowl) clean. Of course, not literally clean. Nothing has been clean in this house since they were born.
As you can probably tell from the fact that your company has not already gone bankrupt, I have not yet completely stopped feeding the children your soup as I anticipate a few possibly unsurmountable problems as a result of this move. First, I am unsure whether my children will ever eat anything else. As an experiment yesterday, I tried to feed my daughter real carrots, boiled to a soft consistency. Although to me they looked and tasted almost exactly like the carrots in your soup, she refused to eat them, perhaps because they did not have that faint undertaste of plastic to which she has become accustomed. I fully understand, though, that this is not your problem. I am also fairly confident that, as their mother, I can somehow manage to meet their nutritional needs in some other way, perhaps through the use of Flintstones vitamins mixed in with a barley-based pablum in order to create the sensation of fullness.
However, I trust that you will share my concern about the imminent collapse of your company, once I stop my weekly purchases of approximately 13 trillion cans. And I am even more deeply concerned about the effect that the collapse of your rather large company will have on the already fragile global economy, which is why I am ccing the President of the United States, the Head of the European Union, and whoever is in charge of that weird hybrid of communism and capitalism in China. (I'll google it.) Because I plan to implement the radical change of no longer feeding Campbell's Chunky Chicken Noodle soup to my children THIS EVENING AROUND 5pm EST, I fully expect the world markets to tumble dramatically tomorrow morning. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the globe is plunged into a bleak economic (and mental) Depression, one to rival that of 1929, by Friday evening.
I am sorry. I realize that the Christmas season is an unfortunate time of year for bad economic news. But I have to bite the bullet here – the health of my children must come first. During the Great Depression, many people raised their own chickens and grew their own vegetables. I plan to do both. I assure you that I am not looking forward to the extra work, especially since I'll probably have to perform many other tasks I have never done before, like darn socks or even knit them from scratch. And I am determined to figure out how to grow noodles as well, so that I can make my children our own version of a Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup. Although it occurs to me as I am writing this, that while I'm making these changes for the sake of my children's health, I might as well attempt to raise slender chickens instead of chunky ones. At any rate, my version of Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup will not contain any Bisphenol-A.
I just wanted to give you a heads-up.
P.S. You could always start using cans that don't contain any Bisphenol-A and save both of us a lot of trouble. Apparently this company does.
This is baby Danica Camacho, born yesterday, upon whom has been bestowed the symbolic title of the World's 7 Billionth Baby by the UN. She was born in the Philippines, a country that has a high fertility rate and poor access to contraception. To mark this momentous occasion, she was given a cake and a certificate for free shoes. Shoes? Surely they could have mustered up a scholarship or a reality show or at least something a little more dramatic. Unless they are magic shoes.
Here's the latest estimate on how many people have ever lived.
And here you can calculate your numbers: When I was born I was supposedly the 3,590,447,718th person alive on earth at the time and I am the 77,663,903,455th person to have lived since history began.
Registration at our local H1N1 flu vaccine clinic in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia started yesterday at 12:30 pm. They started giving shots at 1:00 pm. We got there at about 12:45 pm. This was the line in front of us. It snakes out of camera range and around the corner. The woman in red was pushing a stroller that held a two-year-old. Luckily, it was sunny and not too terribly cold.
This was the line behind us an hour or two later. We learned that some people had arrived that morning at 6:30 am. (The older couple directly behind us, not pictured here, were the parents of the head of public health for our region.)
This was the line behind us around 5 or 5:30 pm. You can see Luke trying to climb up on the wall there and David in his business suit looking at him. (He'd thought he'd get the shot and go back to work.) You can't see Grandpa pushing Sylvie's stroller, but they were there.
Sylvie had a bottle when we first got there and then again around 3. We fed her standing there in line, which was a bit awkward. We were able to go inside the building and change her diaper in a kind of storage closet. She'd had her own four month vaccinations the day before and so she slept a lot. Luke had eaten his snacks by about 1:30. We sent David and Luke to get Tim Horton's sandwiches and coffee around 4. I had to send David home for another bottle for Sylvie around 6. The people in the line were very patient if someone in a group left and came back. I even saw people hold spots for strangers who were alone.
In the above photo, Luke is standing in a playground -- there are swings and a slide behind me -- and it was packed with kids all day. There was also a soccer field. Luke and David ran around it for at least two hours. Although there were lots of families there with babies and small children, most of them were in good spirits. I think the kids enjoyed the fresh air. Of course, by the time we got inside the clinic -- at 7:10 pm -- it was bedtime for most of them and they were getting extremely cranky by that point. There was lots of crying inside but miraculously, not from our two.
Inside the clinic, the scene looked like something out of a disaster movie. We had to wait to register and then view a film informing us of the pertinent facts about the vaccine. (The video was on repeat the whole day and you could hear the female narrator droning once you got close to the door). Then we had to wait again to get the vaccine. There were about fifteen people giving the shots to family groups behind cardboard screens. Unfortunately, the screens didn't really provide much privacy. I noticed a poor girl, maybe around ten years old, who cried hysterically and flinched violently every time the nurse tried to give her the needle. Her mother tried to hold her down but it looked to me as if they gave up in the end. She had two siblings who did get the needle -- so their seven-hour wait wasn't completely in vain. I spent most of my time trying to distract Luke from watching. He, David, and I had gotten our seasonal flu shots from our family doctor the day before (she didn't have the H1N1) and he had gone to bed crying about having to get another shot the next day. But he did remarkably well -- no tears at all.
After Grandpa, David, Luke and I had all gotten our shots (we adults had gotten them to protect Sylvie, who's only twenty weeks old and so can't be vaccinated), we had to wait fifteen minutes to make sure we didn't have any reactions. We left the building at 8:30 pm. I took Sylvie home and put her to bed, two and a half hours late. David had to take Luke to a store to buy him a Hot Wheels toy I'd promised he could get after the shot, even though it was so late. The child would not hear of waiting until today and frankly, none of us could blame him. He finally got to bed at 10:30, three hours late.
Luke and I have sore arms today. He seems fine. I am exhausted. But happy that we all got the shots.
Many, many children passed the time happily ripping plants out of the planters and "planting" them in the sand on the playground. It became a kind of fad. This is one such "garden" around 6 pm. I guess their parents were too tired to make a fuss about it. Or maybe their eyes were too glazed over to even notice.
I just read this unintentionally hilarious article about how the French are protesting Nicolas Sarkozy's policies by reading his least favourite book, The Princesse de Cleves. (Via Maud on twitter.) At least, it's hilarious to me. As a protest method, I rank it right up there with Paddington Bear's "hard stare."
Imagine the scene: Sarkozy wanders sadly through the streets of Paris. Thousands of haughty, well-dressed people are strolling about or waiting for buses; smoking elegant little cigarettes or drinking coffee or wine at outdoor cafes; they are entwining their fingers, their lips or their legs on park benches. At the same time they are all ostentatiously pretending to read the hated book, while looking out of the corners of their eyes and down their very long noses at their chastened president. Sarkozy begins to weep. He pulls out his cell phone and calls his aide to tell him to suspend the 50 per cent cap on income tax. Carla Bruni appears on a wrought iron balcony overhanging the cobblestone street, clears her throat in an attractive manner, and strumming her guitar, begins to croon a love song.
The world needs more non-violent, passive aggressive protest methods like these. Let's make a list, shall we?
Okay, maybe those last two are less pleasantly passive aggressive and verging more on the side of just plain weird. Add your own ideas in the comments or email me.
We usually listen to CBC talk radio in the car. (Unless, of course, we're listening -- on repeat -- to tracks 1 and 4 from Fleetwood Mac's Rumours cd. If Luke had been alive at the time, he would've been a Bill Clinton supporter on the strength of his theme song alone.) The other day, the newscaster announced that Muammar Gaddafi is now chairman of the African Union. Luke heard the name as Abby Cadabby. As far as he is concerned, Abby Cadabby is the new chairman (chairfairygoddaughter?) of the African Union. I agree that she would've been a much better choice.
Luke, Steph, and Grampa have just finished watching the inauguration.
Luke: I wish I had brown skin.
Steph: Do you? You know, your skin is a very nice colour the way it is.
Luke [smiling bashfully]: Yeah. But I still wish I had brown skin.
That exchange made me feel happy -- I know it's not that unusual for a little kid to wish he was a different colour or that his hair was red and curly or even, say, that he had wings. Although I can remember freaking out a little bit back when I was teaching ESL to immigrant kids in Vancouver and one little Chinese girl -- she must have been in grade five or six -- drew herself as a blue-eyed blonde as part of an autobiography project. At the time I worried she felt she looked "wrong" somehow or that she was rejecting her ethnicity. But when Luke made this passing comment on Tuesday it felt like it meant something, something good. And all I could do was marvel at how it feels like the world really is different now, especially for kids Luke's age. I also realized that, aside from the hosts and characters on children's television shows, the only two famous people Luke recognizes on sight are Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey. Let's hope it's true -- that the world truly is becoming a brand-new place in which your skin colour means nothing more than the pretty shade you happen to come in.