I have long held the belief that meat breeds aggression, that if mankind were vegetarian, World peace would be attained. While I have not held a proper research study, I am a careful observer of the attitudes brought about by consumption. When I was in college I worked as a book shelver (not a librarian) at one of the UT libraries. Apparently it was a requirement in the reference section to be a vegetarian, because they all were, and I have never seen a less aggressive group of people. No one spoke above a whisper, no harsh words were spoken even when someone believed Dewey Decimal to be superior to the wonderful Library of Congress system. Harmony reigned. Knowledge flourished. It was a utopian society. And this was true of every pocket of society I belong to where there was no meat to be found. But last week, my theory was quashed by orientation at the Park Slope Food Coop.
Now when you hear "Park Slope Food Coop," you think organic, holistic, earth-friendly, peaceful, good karma flowing all around, everyone's aura is blue, everyone's qi flowing freely. But so not true. I feel that the Coop in a vacuum, much like socialist society, would be utopia--everyone giving freely to others, everyone provided for, equality and humanity would reign. But as we have learned, no one lives in a vacuum, no matter how we try. As my friend and I sat through Coop orientation, we were shocked again and again at the aggressiveness of the orientation provider. She told the couple with a child that despite the fact they were there for the health of their baby, if he didn't shut up they would have to leave. She told the woman who was there to provide nutritous food to her baby daughter that if her husband, who works long hours to provide for the family, could not come to orientation, their child will simply have to eat the pesticide laden foods found at the local supermarket. She told of how the coop chose to punish people for missing their shifts and how they had to implement extra security measures because people had begun stealing from the Coop.
I'm not sure which came first, the stealing or the agression, but in my head it was the aggression. I picture the first crunchy patrons of the Coop in the 1970s being peaceful, free-loving folks, but then their utopia was shattered by the rules and restrictions of the man. They felt the need to rise up, eating bulk items before they were weighed and silently, defiantly sticking the hemp dishtowels in their bags as a means to show their discontent. Going limp as they were dragged out by police called in to quell their uprising. Well, I am with you, my brothers and sisters. As I join your former Coop, I will get work on the inside. I will overthrow the aggressor. It shall be ours again.