The Decadence of Organic Candied Lark’s Tongues

Columnist Neil Steinberg just lived through the ultimate publicity and personal nightmare: He got drunk, slapped his wife, and ended up in jail and in rehab. His Chicago Sun-times come-back column promised he’d pull no punches, sober or not. “Some readers expressed concern that sobriety will wreck my acerbic view of life. Fat chance. Having your beloved crutch kicked away before being dragged backward by your heels through hell is not an experience designed to make one giddy at life’s rich pageant.

…I couldn’t read descriptions in Whole Foods of the coddled apples and happy chickens fed only natural grains without thinking of the Romans, and their candied lark’s tongues. Organic food is decadent, even worse than the excesses of the past because it is disguised as virtue. The whole world is eating beans grown in the sludge of old bauxite mines and gnawing meat that has hung on hooks in the market for three days, while we’re paying $10 a pound for maple mustard roasted turkey from birds raised on Mozart.

We’re not paying for the food, really, we’re paying for the packaging, and its implication that our lettuce was grown by pueblos and delivered by ox cart. I stood in gaping wonder at “American Flatbread,” an “all-natural pizza baked in a primitive wood-fired earthen oven.” At first I focused on “earthen” as the marvel. “I tried pizza from metal ovens but it tasted so … technological.”

And we, we are not charmless suburbanites yapping on our cell phones as we roar up to Whole Foods in monstrous vehicles that burn more money in gas each month than most people in the world earn in a year. No, we are gentle, rainforest folk, crouching under the lush green canopies of our self-regard, using our fingers to eat organic groats from wide bowls, groats gently washed with spring water, a bargain at $7.99 a pound.”