Marketing expert Louis Cheskin proclaimed: “For the consumer, the package is the product”.
If that doesn’t dazzle you with the virtuosity of its cynicism, read it again.
Part two of “Avoid Anything That’s Advertised” is: Avoid anything that advertises itself. In other words, anything that comes in a package.
Nowhere on this package will you be told that the flavoring is artificial or that the juice was stored in “million gallon containers for up to a year” (See last week’s posts). Or that the nutrients are no more than vitamin tablets added to the questionable liquid.
Avoid the package. Simplify.
The idea that we, as the world’s richest nation, can have fresh orange juice every day for breakfast is seductive. But most of us can’t. What we have instead is an artificial product, with a few lies added to convince us that we’re getting what we want.
What is the alternative? It’s that we can’t always have these luxuries, but what we can have is more luxurious: An occasional, depending on our geography, glass of fresh juice which will thrill with its flavor and which will in fact be the luxury we were seeking.
Packaging rarely benefits the consumer. The gains are for the manufacturer, packager producer, etc. Branding is nearly impossible without elaborate packaging. In fact, food packages were almost unknown until the 20th Century. Just another ‘improvement’ on the perfection of life itself.
Avoid the package. Seemingly random rules like this promote randomness, and that promotes creativity and discovery. They steer us away from chains and franchises to interesting, new things.
It’s time to start thinking out of the box, and stop eating out of it.
Forget, for the moment, about Carbs, calories, candy, colas, or cauliflower.
Let’s get simple.
Of all of the rules which we might follow about our cuisine and our culture, one stands out:
Avoid anything that’s advertised.
Advertising exists to inform, (facts), and to persuade, (opinions).
All advertising works between these two points. To inform is to provide information. It can be about the updating of a service, or the transfiguration of a product. To persuade is more subtle. It can be to get your business from a competitor or just to get more of your business. Both are prone to abuse, because the truth is not always convenient. (See last week’s post on Orange Juice).
Now, think about your food. What information do you need about it? Are you likely to get that information from the ad?
As for persuasion, what do you need to be persuaded about? What opinions about your food will be valuable to you? Would these be likely to come from its maker?
This is a framework to build on, and it’s important because it will help you shape your diet dramatically and rapidly. Nothing will serve as a more reliable guide than to choose your diet based on its media presence. Even the phrase media presence should help steer you in the right direction. Why does an apple need a media presence, or a steak?
So now the question is: what will you not be eating, and what will you be gaining.
The apple you eat will cost less if its grower doesn’t have to pay for ads. The potato chips made by a local artisan will cost less if they don’t have to pay for pictures of it, and spokespeople to speak for it.
When you buy a box of cereal, 20% of what you pay goes to TV commercials which help sell the stuff, even if you don’t watch them. You pay for TV commercials, not Cheerios. They just collect the money from you and give it to ad agencies and TV stations. So when you buy bulk oatmeal, or granola, or cream of wheat, you’re saying that you know what you want, and you don’t need to see pictures of it or hear opinions about it. You just want to eat it.
Your palate should tell you what to eat, and your stomach should tell you when.