What’s Poisonous in Your Home?


funny baby girl eating food on kitchen

You might have seen a particular meme swimming around your feed in recent weeks. It depicts a fellow faithfully adhering to a host of what we’ll call 21st Century Health and Living Trends; his meat consumption, though rare, is exclusively free-range, untreated with hormones or antibiotics. His vegetables are certified organic, absent of meddling from the crooked Monsantos of the world. And to boot, his water and oxygen are perfectly free from pollutants. But miracle of miracles, he manages to die by the age of 35 nonetheless. He was Prehistoric Man, ba-dum-bum. The unspoken implication of this meme, of course, would be, “Don’t sweat it. One thing or another will get you eventually; just try to relax and enjoy your nachos, beer, and cigarettes.”

It’s a nice enough sentiment—but it’s crap. The caveman who made it to 34 years without a single crippling Saber-Tooth Tiger bite might have still scuffed his foot on a thistle the next day—and then gangrene, unthinkable today, would have sucked the soul straight from his healthy, exemplary flesh. We can’t look past that crucial distinction: our science and medicine treat the formerly fatal with an ease that’s First World de rigueur. Except why, today, must we struggle for milk untainted by BGH cow pus, for steroid-free chicken thighs, for common breathing air less carcinogenic than cheap, dirt-weed bong rips? Oh, right—it’s that same human science that saved us from said gangrene, and scurvy, polio, and the like. Except then, bastardized by Randite Capitalism and a vampiric commercialism that might as well just string us up like marionettes, we invited our existential threats indoors with us—even inventing new ones when the predators of old had passed. Just ask the good people of Flint, for whom a simple glass of water is tantamount to a bullet in the head—in terms of both mortality and lead content.

So what’s poisonous in your home, you beautiful American consumer? The long answer depends on your own individual circumstances and the degree to which your purchases are informed, obviously. But here’s the short answer, pitifully, for damned near all of us: damned near everything. Everything before your gaze, no matter where it lies, might probably amount to the ailment that kills you. Everything you won your decent job to purchase, to impress friends and family with your savvy and tasteful end user status, to comfort yourself in lone, quiet moments with notions that you’ve made it: yeah, that’s toxic, it’ll kill you. You’d have probably done better scrambling away from that Saber-Tooth.

A young child is wearing a gas mask and watching televison on a couch with smoke and poulltion.

Realistically, there’s no producing a comprehensive list. Just as Thalidomide, complete with its FDA stamp of approval, seemed a Godsend for overwhelmed housewives right up until the point that they delivered nine-armed babies, we can’t yet know the full implications of what we bring into our homes, lounge around on, ingest, inhale. But for the sake of content-production brevity, we’ll begin just as the headline above suggested: your perfectly pleasant scented candles, and how that odiferous lighted flame draws the Reaper your way.

This much begins with a piece that ran on Newsy, January 19th. Love the smell of citrus? You’ll die a premature death, so long as you’re not among the slim, lucky few who’ve got the odor of a real orange grove wafting in through your windows. The chemical substitute—and look around; is it right now on your coffee table?—tends to be a pretty little wax bundle laden with limonene, which Wikipedia describes as “a colorless liquid hydrocarbon classified as a cyclic terpene.” Good stuff, surely, except that its reaction with common ozone produces formaldehyde. Formaldehyde, we know, is the perfect corporeal preservative for those who’ve already died, say, of cancer. But if you haven’t yet: those candles mean you’re going to die of cancer. So memorize this line for when you meet Saint Peter: Maybe mine was an involuntary consumerist suicide, but at least my living room smelled nice.

Newsy followed that up with a similar piece on January 21st regarding the presence of TPHP in nail polish, and how that crap sinks below the fingertips, through the bloodstream, and into the core of the user’s body. Newsy—reporting on a study lead by Duke University—played up the uncertainty of such bodily pollution, noting only that the TPHP chemical additive was merely linked to “reproductive and developmental issues.” Maybe the same way Thalidomide was linked to “a pleasant afternoon watching soaps, and truth be told, neither of you really wanted that baby anyway.”

Moving along to our signature American dietary habits: for the sake of the writer for whom this inflammatory verse wins a paycheck, our “Lost-in-the-Supermarket” capacity to poison ourselves is the most succulent plum here. But as for us humans grabbing whatever this or that at hand in hopes of ingesting the needed nutrition to keep us living—it’s a miracle, frankly, that we made it out alive from the 20th Century (or as historians describe it, “When Sausage McMuffins ruled the day”). That cow pus thing mentioned well above—the bovine pimple-juice industrial farmers strain from the milk in your children’s cereal bowls? That was no joke. According to Marie-Monique Robin’s documentary The World According to Monsanto—which you can watch right now just by clicking here—the very jackoffs whose Agent Orange helped America lose the Vietnam War would later water down that winning formula to fill up Lowe’s shelves with our beloved RoundUp—because dandelions are far more unsightly than your disposable health and life. And in their further quest for amoral profits won by playing the role of an amoral God, Monsanto developed their Bovine Growth Hormone. Lauded by government officials who can’t ever be bothered with damning details, BGH has been praised as an ingenious boon for dairy production—yeah, they blast a ton of milk out, and other less savory things besides. It’s made the terrified eyes of beasts look all the more sad and human as award-winning chemicals hobble their corpi and souls, inviting that overuse of antibiotics which will likely amount to another, blacker plague. And again, no fooling around: Monsanto’s milk production breakthrough makes cows so sickly, they’re equal parts dairy farm and zit. Click the links. Did you drink milk today? Then you likely drank expectorated cow pustule. Pimple juice.

Dairy farm, milking cows

And yeah, this is the same Monsanto that’s lead the charge for GMO/GenMod vegetables brimming, unlabeled, out the bins of your local produce section—just as Old Europe has dependably shamed us once again by all but criminalizing said soulless company’s freakish, unnatural wares. Really—the rest of the industrialized world knows enough to ban it outright, as they would any menace; our land of the free, it turns out, grants us the grand freedom to eat a potato spliced with bacterial DNA summoned from something ten miles deep.

No two ways about it: to be an American means having no choice but to dine on your coming death.

Ah well.

If your nefarious household candles have by now been chucked out, great job. Similarly gleeful tidings to all those conscientious ladies and Goths who’ve now done away with their toxic nail polish. And for all those who’ve taken the food taint angle of this piece to heart—crap, never mind, sorry—it’s hopeless. Like this: there’s not a single Slim-Jim in a single American gas station that’s not going to give you colon cancer. And there’s really no more going to a grocery store and buying an apple with the reasonable expectation that it’s honestly just a goddamned apple—not genetically spliced with something from an H.P. Lovecraft story. Can I please, please at least drink a thimbleful of cow milk without the buttery golden pus of Monsanto’s meddling tossed in?, you might ask. If you’re not farming that specific cow personally, then no. No, sorry; that splash of cream you enjoy in your coffee will have to come from something grosser than a greasy clogged pore on a pig’s back.

So yeah, we’ll have a great laugh at the fictionalized caveman in the meme described above—that guy whose plate overflowed with the steak of saber-tooths, wooly mammoths, and on occasion, wolves. And in doing so, we’ll unconsciously pat our own backs for how far we’ve come. Those ignorant stinkers from 40,000 years ago didn’t have what we have—neither the miraculous opportunity to live very long lives, nor the commercial obligation to tank it all early with delicious, cheese-filled, nitrite-laden hotdogs.

What’s poisonous in your home? Everything. Because we’re not animals. We think grand things, eradicate grand diseases, build for ourselves grand houses—safely well away from the saber-tooth tigers. And from there we dream up plastics in place of real food, and the cultural inundation that makes anything other than a “wholesome real cheese food product substitute” sound distasteful.

What’s poisonous in your home? Everything we decide to buy. Every translation of our wages into a quick, good-time experience that springs from the microwave in no more than one minute. Every sugary thing that begets Type II diabetes, or all those salty, meaty things so tasty, we decide prematurely that colon cancer must be worth it. Everything for which we hunger blindly, you might say.

What’s poisonous in your home? Honestly, with your buying habits—it’s probably you.

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