Manufactured Reality

Michael Moss' Salt Sugar Fat has been my traveling companion this week as I bounce from cafe to living room and back again.

While the take away is supposed to be the dire state of the American food industry a related, but errant, thought keeps creeping in as I read.

Pretty much anyone who reads this lives in a fully manufactured environment. As I write this, for instance, 1980s hits are pumped out of an artfully concealed speaker at this Burbank cafe. The phone I'm writing this on is one of the pinnacles of humanity's technological and design prowess, and the decisions that led to both the phone and the positioning of the speaker are fairly opaque to most of us. Yet those decisions influence the shape of out lives in ways both crude and subtle.

I know that's not shocking, but we read so much of the world around us as "natural" or "traditional" when in fact someone made a choice at a point along the timeline. Odds are that choice was rife with compromises to earlier entrenched power systems. People fighting for "tradition" for "the way things have always worked."

That's bullshit. What was made can be made better, right up until the laws of physics push back.