Monday, February 15, 2010

Gas Station Rant

After an extremely long car trip from Indiana to New Orleans and back, (talk about cramped legs!), my travel companions and I obviously had to stop numerous times at some of the finest gas stations the South has to offer.

Gas stations are peculiar places. Open 24 hours a day, at first they all seem different. The fancy ones cater to truckers, and contain spiffy knick-knacks such as pleather jackets and dragon dashboard sculptures. Some hold endless racks of hot-dog cylinders, slowly cooking the questionable-looking franks for undisclosed periods of time.

But after almost 26 hours of driving in one weekend, these gas stations began to blur together. The products and snacks found in the deserted aisles are identical. Hostess products dominate the endcaps; prime real-estate to catch the eyes of hungry drivers. Many products, (usually sweet confections and plastic wrapped baked goods), are labeled as allusions to the comfort of home and childhood, perhaps as a way to bring back the long lost memories of simpler times. But there is something strange and incredibly disingenuous to these products. My own grandma never packaged her cookies like Grandma's Vanilla Sandwich Creme Cookies does, and who is Little Debbie and why does she want to sell me her Honey Buns?

Food in gas stations is presented to Americans as more of a commodity than actual food, and it is just about as far removed from nature as possible. I recognize that when we visit gas stations we are often in a hurry, and not quite sure where we are, but is that excuse to completely sever our ties with our food's roots? If anything, gas stations have the possibility to feature local products from the region, in order to make each establishment something of a cultural site rather than a junk-food hell.

The endless rows of chemical-laden products do nothing to help our eating habits, and they are counterproductive to the healthy-eating practices, (for both our bodies and the Earth), that so many are trying to spread. For this reason, while the crazy food products are entertaining in their outlandishness, I suggest that you stock up on your own snacks before your next car trip.

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