Dave Barry

Just say no to Big Moo

(This classic Dave Barry column was originally published July 27, 2003.)

Good news: It's not my fault about the Cheez-Its.

I eat a lot of Cheez-Its. I get them at the supermarket when I'm wandering the aisles, trying to locate the items on a grocery list made by my wife. For guys, this is stressful. This is the Scavenger Hunt from Hell. Say, the list says ``detergent.'' What you want, as a guy, is an aisle with a big sign that says DETERGENT, underneath which are 1,000 identical bottles, all labeled: ``DETERGENT.''

Instead, you have to make choices. Do you want Wisk or Tide? OK, that's easy. Wisk had the ``ring around the collar'' jingle, and you will not buy Wisk until it issues a formal apology to humanity, along with documented proof that everyone involved in producing that jingle has been executed.

So Tide it is. But which Tide? Deep Clean Tide? Clean Breeze Tide? Deep Clean Breeze Tide With Bleach? New Ultra-Deep-Clean Lowfat Country Meadow Potpourri Tide Now Fortified With Lemony Scent Calcium?

The guy brain cannot handle all these consumer choices. The guy brain is designed to deal with deeper philosophical issues, such as: ``What size TV do I need?'' (Answer: ``A bigger one.'' )

So I do what most guys do, which is grab a detergent bottle at random and hope my wife will be happy with it. Which, of course, she is not. She looks at the bottle as if I have brought home a 40-ounce maggot, then offers some picky criticism, such as: ``This is fabric softener.''


But that is not my point. My point is that, while wandering around the supermarket, I eventually get to the Fatal Snacks aisle, and I realize that my wife has forgotten, for the 5,000th consecutive time, to put Cheez-Its on my list. So I buy a box. I always buy a big box, a box that could be used for helicopter storage. My thinking is: ``This should be enough Cheez-Its for several weeks!''

When I regain consciousness, I'm in my driveway. The Cheez-Its box is on the car seat next to me, empty. My belly is grotesquely bloated, and I'm covered with sticky orange grit. Slowly, the horrible truth dawns on me: ``Somebody has stolen my Cheez-Its and surgically implanted a bowling ball in my abdomen.''

No, seriously, I realize that I have consumed the entire box of Cheez-Its. I've done this many times, and for years I believed it was my fault. Fortunately, I live in America, where we are gradually coming to understand that nothing we do is our fault, especially if it is really stupid.

Thus I was excited when I saw some articles about Dr. Neal Barnard, a vegan anti-''Big Food'' crusader who has a book out that claims-get ready- ``cheese is addictive.'' According to a press release, this book shows that cheese ``is loaded with casein, a protein that breaks up during digestion to produce morphine-like opiate compounds called casomorphins.''

That's right: casomorphins! The same substances that give ordinary people amazing powers, including the ability to summon the Zords!

No, wait, I'm thinking of the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. But whatever casomorphins are, they are clearly bad, because if I understand Dr. Barnard correctly-and bear in mind that I am a professional journalist-they are like morphine. As Dr. Barnard puts it: ``Until now, Big Food has tried to defend itself from Big Tobacco-like lawsuits by arguing that unhealthy foods, unlike cigarettes, are not addictive. . . . It's high time we stopped blaming ourselves and recognized there's a physiological reason we feel inexplicably drawn to these foods.''

I am definitely going to stop blaming myself, now that I understand that Big Food, working in concert with the cow community (a.k.a. Big Moo), is deliberately putting morphine in my cheese. I'm assuming that there is some actual cheese in Cheez-Its. But that is a minor point. The important thing is, it's not my fault!

The question is, what do I do now? I could give up cheese, join the vegans and eat nothing but water and free-range soybean curd. But that seems extreme. So I'll just summon up my willpower and accept personal responsibility for filing a huge lawsuit against Big Food.

Big Food, if you're reading this column: Please understand that I am not doing this for money. I'm willing to settle today for a sincere apology, plus a huge cash payment. Also, please send me some more Cheez-Its, OK? This box is almost gone.

(c) 2003, Dave Barry

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