Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Myth of Convenience

Having been a child in the 50s, my entire life has been defined and informed by the increasingly pervasive culture of the ad-- so much that I know about how the world works (or how America, or my little corner of it works) comes from ads that it's hard to remember to question question question.

When I was a very young child, Congress passed a Truth in Advertising act, so that I grew up with the understanding that deliberately deceptive or false advertising was against the law. And indeed, in the beginning it was. I can actually remember how ads changed after this act was passed, in particular as regarded health claims for unhealthy products, like cigarettes (yes, youngsters, they used to advertise the health benefits of cigarettes).

Unlearning something that you were indoctrinated with as a young child is very difficult. My kids just gape at me when I forget how the act has been eviscerated over the years, and say something naive like, "they're not allowed to say that if it isn't true."

And one of the things that we have been sold is Convenience. Packaged meals are more convenient. Powdered drinks are more convenient. Carry-out is more convenient. Homemade is timeconsuming, messy, and different.

And yet, when you time it out, in fact, carry out or packaged or restaurant meals do not save you any time at all. Prep time is often comparable to prep time for simple meals. Restaurant and carry out meals take an arguably longer time since you have to factor in the drive and the wait.

So next time you reach for the powdered lemonade, or decide that you're too tired to cook, stop. Is it really more convenient?

5-minute lemonade
1 large lemon
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup boiling water
plain or sparkling water

Dissolve the sugar in the hot water. Cut lemon in half, and ream it ( I like a hand-held reamer but any sort will do), this should yield about 1/4 cup of juice. Combine the juice and sugar water. This will now be the syrup. Add to sparkling or plain water to taste. Ice.

Depending on how sweet you like it, this is enough for two large drinks.

Throw in a stick of mint, just for pretty.


  1. Ooh! Ooh! (Raising and waving hand wildly.) I'm dying to know what health benefits they advertised for smoking!

    Plus, my thought on convenience: why does everyone want convenience? Because they're BUSY--but what is busy? We spend a lot of time spinning our wheels, confusing urgent with important. Just my thoughts in how I've chosen to refocus and cut back.

  2. There used to be a series of advertisements featuring athletes who would take a break from training to smoke. I remember the one of the figure skater stopping in a spray of snow to pick up the smoldering cig on the boards for a quick, calming puff.