Acting like a couple of refugees with a cash handout our initiation to the American way of life included a supermarket sweep – a dash and grab of food-type items of questionable nutritive value. So much choice. I loved the American grocery store experience and tried to linger over every box, can and bag of flavor enhanced matter. Jimmy hated it, but he hates shopping full stop. We were more used to small European mom and pop stores – sparsely stocked dusty shelves with cans labeled in French or Spanish. If we couldn’t pick it up or point at it, we went without. Shopping trips were short.
While I waited in line at the checkout I picked up a magazine as an impulse buy, a middle of the road ladies’ glossy mag, leisure reading of a journalistic standing halfway between say Vogue and The Weekly World News, The World’s Only Reliable Newspaper. The later headlines “Countdown to Apocalypse! The Anti-Christ is Already Living Among Us” or “Your Doctor Could be an Alien” or “Super Depression Coming – Millions will Starve as Economy Collapses” or my favorite headline “Aliens Mutated my Tofu”.
Back at home with my magazine after reading the first few pages I began to notice a trend. Counting up through the first 30 pages, there were 13 advertisements for drugs or medical interventions. There were cures for everything from asthma to bipolar disorder to epilepsy, but most commonly the drugs were to suppress the symptoms of excess. C’mon guys, don’t you think that if you didn’t have that fourth helping of pie you wouldn’t need to be taking medication for acid reflux? Come away from that buffet and you won’t need those fat burning capsules. A little moderation is called for and pushing your cart round the grocery store and loading your bags into the car does not count as exercise.
The American dependence on drugs was shocking. In a study in 2007 (when I was still feeling shocked about it) over 50% of Americans, adults and children, were on prescription drugs for chronic conditions which for many could be controlled by lifestyle changes.
But worst of all, I read every advert, put several life changing drugs on my shopping list and made a note of the 1-800 number for my free 30-day supply of the non-inject topical alternative to Botox for deep wrinkle relaxing.