The Cult of Busy: Brought to you by the food industry


Not too many years ago I was a captive in the Cult of Busy. You know the one. It’s where busy is glamourized and worshipped, our work/kids/homes/relationships all pencilled or input in to calendars, and out of our mouths comes the ubiquitous – and what my mother calls sarcastically, the “noble” – excuse, “I’d love to do blah blah blah but I’m just too busy.”

When I was a captive of this cult people would ask, “How are you?” and I’d reply, “Stupid busy”. Co-workers would blithely discuss TV programs and I would proclaim, hand to forehead, “Oh…I’m much too busy to watch TV. It must be nice to have free time.” It was then as it is now: a form of bragging. Busy equals better. We’ve turned into a bunch of Calvinists.

But after escaping the cult, creating distance, and gaining lots of perspective, I realize that the cult metaphor is not far from the truth. Like a cult, it keeps us away from our families and friends; it brainwashes us into believing that the thing that’s actually harming us is good for us; and most subtly but just as importantly, this cult takes all of our money. How’s that, you may ask?

Think about it. Once upon a time, here in Western civilization, women were more or less indentured servants. In a typical family unit of say 1952, the man of the house went to work and the woman stayed home and cooked, cleaned, raised children, ran charities, sat on PTA committees, played bridge, probably dreamed of a sweet escape or of jumping out of her second floor window, and more.

In 1953, a company named C.A. Swanson and Sons invented something called the TV Dinner. It came in a tinfoil tray and was heated up in the oven. Wow! What a lifesaver for that busy mom. All she had to do was pop that platter of pre-cooked, pre-formed deliciousness into the oven and voila! Dinner was served.

For the next 60-plus years, the food industry has preyed on our willingness to believe that we’re too busy to cook. “Healthy” alternatives were added to the lineup. “Buy this Lean Cuisine”, say the marketers, “You, you busy single professional. Why go to all that bother to shop and cook when you can have this wholesomeness in just five minutes?”

It’s not just frozen foods, though. I think I choked the first time I saw pre-mixed tuna salad and crackers snack thingies. Seriously? How friggin’ hard is it to mix tuna and mayo? Sigh. I judge again. But it goes back to how the food industry is perpetuating this cult of busy. You’re much too busy to mix your own tuna. That’ll take you four minutes to do yourself! Think what you can do in four minutes!

I beg you all to escape the cult of busy. Don’t let them brainwash you into believing that you’re too busy to eat whole food. It’s not true! You can google 7-minute meals on the web and before you could get a Hungry Man dinner out of it’s box and into the microwave, you could have real honest-to-goodness food without a year’s worth of sodium. It can be done!


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