The Anthropologist in the Organic Store

The drive on I-90 on the way to the Organic Store is picturesque. That’s the only word that can quantify the margarine yellow and red zebra stripes of the majestic trees and leaves painted across the landscape. You’re an anthropologist, you see. It’s a fancy term you’ve started calling yourself because the word “immigrant” is so tinged with malice and filth you might as well forget calling yourself that word. You’re a female too. You’ve heard enough bad words hurled in your general direction you don’t want another bad word attaching itself to you.

The drive to the Organic Store is always a feast for the optics and the only reason you drive five days a week to this beautiful vista other than to do your work as an anthropologist is to cash a paycheck every two weeks—these days you don’t get a paycheck, you get a number that bumps up your bank account balance every two weeks. You’re old fashioned; you like to hold paper currency in your hand to truly remind you that 40 hours of hard physical and spiritually-exhausting labor is not for naught. But you have no choice in the matter, and as an anthropologist, you’re here for a short period of time. You’re neither here nor there. Just like an immigrant that has become an American citizen—you’re neither here nor there.

Every day when you walk into the Organic Store you’re reminded of all the National Geographic documentaries you’ve watched as a child. The place is always loud, it always amazes you how loud and jarring the insides of this place is. Women and children first it seems like—the screaming children, the overextended mothers gathering food for the tribe. Where are the men? The men are never around, except for the workers hauling pure and whole food. The only men that ever show are always dressed in business attire, with phones attached to their ears and are always asking asinine questions like where’s the gluten free bread when they’re standing in front of the gluten-free bread case.

Children are always upset and screaming. You wonder why the children are always upset and screaming and this goes on for a good hour until you’re ready to shed your Anthropologist persona and give the mother a talking-to. This is where we get our food; you want to tell the screaming children. Show some respect. But the mothers are too busy demanding a list of potential allergens found in their food. The food might be poisoned, they always wonder out loud. Is the food really poisoned? Or are they afraid that all the Mexicans who harvest their food are unsanitary and haven’t washed their hands in days and they think that’s where all the allergens and salmonella are coming from?

Somehow, you never came across such deadly diseases as Salmonella and Celiac disease. Not when you played in the dirt and you were too lazy to wash your hands and you licked your hands just to see how the earth tasted of. Not when you and your college friends back in the exotic country you’re from ate at dilapidated restaurants where you have to swat away flies and the cooks look like they haven’t seen a shower or toothbrush in years. Salmonella, you’ve decided, is a rich man’s disease. Just like Celiac disease and peanut allergies and cancer. You eat all of this poisonous food, except for peanut butter because it was never part of your culinary history and it always reminded you of all the foreigners who brought this nasty concoction with them to your beautiful country. I give you peanut butter; you give us your women (wink, wink). You eat all kinds of food you could possibly want and none of them have nutritional value and yet you are strong as a water buffalo.

Food makes you smart or dumb, you’ve heard. Everyday all these people buy your quinoa and your hormone-free meats and they don’t seem to absorb all the life-giving light expensive organic food is supposed to give its receivers. Their energy and aura fields are intense and jittery, you noted. When you forget for two whole seconds about their sandwich toasting in the Panini press their irritation is so strong it looks like there’s going to be the Battle of the Titans at the Organic Store.

At the Organic Store you get to observe and make astute comments such as “we seem to have quite the population of obscure European immigrants in the surrounding area.” But most of the time people treat you like a human compass—leading people to their artisan bread, Cordillera chocolate and gluten free this and gluten free that. You make a mental note that you’ve never needed this much help in your life.

You walk around the Organic Store calling yourself an Anthropologist and you’re taking an Anthropology class and the best you could do is a B+. A reverse Anthropologist you remind yourself, and in a couple of days you make your way down I-90 once again and drink in the sunset colors of the landscape and you know you have a way out, at least you’re planning to have a way out.

2 Responses

  1. AB

    Great piece. But I do feel a need to point out something – cancer isn’t a rich man’s disease. You only think so because the rich are more likely to survive and live to tell about it, and they often make up the Organic Store’s most vocal customers. 🙂

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