Let Them Eat (genetically engineered) Cake

About the food industry, not in a nice way

Archive for the ‘plot line’ Category

Character notes – mother/daughter dynamic

Posted by jeanne on September 29, 2007

daughter has the optimism of youth and pregnancy; mother is full of cynicism and the wisdom of having made mistakes.

daughter has the intolerance of youth and inexperience and complains about everything mother does; mother is well-ingrained in her ways and feels put upon and unappreciated.

daughter has tried the outside world and finds it overrated, wants to come home and let mom take care of her; mother was looking forward to independance and now finds herself at daughter’s beck and call.

daughter criticizes mom’s cooking, cleanliness, dress, way of expressing herself, what she finds funny; mom alternatively feels guilty, responsible, unreasonably expected to change, not loved for who she is.

daughter tries to establish independance by criticism and scorn, ignoring extreme dependance of living at homeĀ  and relying on parents for food, shelter, gas money, razor blades and shampoo, always complaining when parents want her to spend less money. “i can’t use chap razor blades, i’ll cut myself.” but everyone else gets by with the cheap stuff. and $16 a bottle for shampoo? why can’t you use suave? “i’d die if i had to go around using fucking dog shampoo on my head. aren’t i worth more?” you could get a job? “this is so unfair.”

there’s more.

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What’s so funny about mothers and daughters fighting?

Posted by jeanne on September 28, 2007

Funny? What’s the difference between funny and pathetic? Or funny and stupid?

The fact that the daughter thinks she’s right in every argument, and the mother finds to her chagrin that she was just as insufferable when she was that age?

The fact that they’re both saying the same things from a different perspective?

Is the dynamic itself funny, the way the daughter can’t hear anything from the mom without thinking she’s being put down, and how the mom can’t listen to the daughter’s unspoken insecurities and fears?

Is their exasperation with each other funny?

Is it the razor-sharp dialogue?

Is it the situation – they’re both alike except for their attitudes, like looking into a mirror and finding nothing but criticism?

Is it funny like the Battling Bickersons was funny?

Or like Abbot and Costello?

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Beginnings of another idea for a novel

Posted by jeanne on September 23, 2007

A variation of Chick Lit — the Hen story. An empty-nester with a full house.Mom and Pop, finally alone after baby girl Star grows up and leaves home. Pop fiddles in his basement and goes after neighborhood cat-killing dogs in an old-age vigilante fantasy. Mom turns Star’s old room into an office, and starts a blog. She is concerned that she’s developed a dread disease, and explores this on her blog. As a sideline, she’s also studying the non-primate origins of humans, including giants, elves, squirrels and other creatures. They have lots of sex.

Star, out in the world, gets in over her head. Too much sex, drugs, and rock and roll (well, rap and hip-hop), and she comes crawling home under indictment (okay, they have to bail her out). So suddenly the empty nest has a captive teenager, and the house is filled with scenes of resentful, nagging scuffles.

Mom is unhappy, suddenly slapped back into the caregiving game she’s tired of. Star is unhappy, yanked out of her wild, dangerous lifestyle. Pop is concerned, and tries to help the girls cope, which only makes it worse. Star ends up in rehab.

Legally, Star and her boyfriend are charged with several counts of drugs and weapons, and it looks pretty bad for them at first. Both families try to keep them away from each other, but they’re young, idealistic, and in love, and search for a way to be together always. So they get pregnant.

Mom discovers after many medical tests that she has food allergies, which downgrades her concerns from the fatal to the merely intensely annoying. She gets no sympathy from Star, who continues to insist on eating food that Mom can no longer stand.

Slowly Star’s attitude improves. As she gets larger and more pregnant, she changes from the rebellious teenager into a dependant child again, and Mom finds herself waiting on her hand and foot, especially after the restaurant Star was working at fires her for not being able to fit between tables. Under pressure from the courts, she finishes her GED, goes to DUI school, and works to pay all her own fines.

Nothing continues to happen with Star’s legal troubles, and nothing happens to the plan to get married and move in with her boyfriend. Star gets bigger and bigger, and maddenly has none of the pregnancy problems that Mom had. She is blissfully happy being pregnant.

Having looked forward to getitng rid of her nesting youngling, again, Mom and Pop realize that there’s every posibility that Star will remain with them even after th baby. She talks of going to college, and keeps mentioning things like going back to the restaurant job around the corner. After some panic Mom and Pop realize that they don’t really hate the idea of having an extended family. Especially as they get to know the boyfriend and his family and realize that they’ve been blaming Star for the trouble their son got himself into.

This needs some plot structure. Much of the elements are here, but I’m having trouble putting it together.

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Plot thoughts

Posted by jeanne on July 25, 2007

what if? just a slight exaggeration here –

what if mcdonald’s owned all the meat and potato processing plants in america, and what if they exerted control over all the ranchers and all the potato growers in america, and turned them into contractors, forcing them to grow a specific monsanto-owned genetically-modified potato, and a particular cloned cow, and this had the consequence of destroying genetic diversity in these two species? and what if it became against the law to raise beef on grass, and corn feedlots became the only legal way to prepare meat?

what if it became illegal to grow your own food, and there was a roundup of people with gardens, who were prosecuted for growing food without a license, and specifically, for growing seeds that had been patented by a chemical company?

what if there was a new law passed in congress to roll back the labelling requirements in foods? from that point forward, it would not be the public’s business to know what was in their food. also, this would lead to a further regulationn that all foods, processed and fresh, have flavor enhancers, spoilage retardants, anti-microbial additives, and antibiotics and growth hormones in meat and milk.

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Preliminary Plot Structure

Posted by jeanne on June 20, 2007

thing one and thing two work for two different divisions of mega food brands international. thing one works with the division responsible for the vertical integration of the food process; that is, he handles the growing, processing, and marketing of traditional foodstuffs, seed to table. thing two works with the division responsible for research, and she handles new foods, nutraceuticals, nano foods and foodless foods. the two do not know each other, but their divisions are being subtly pitted against each other, because her division wants to eliminate raw ingredients from the food chain, while his division is concerned with keeping the producers of raw ingredients in business.

suzie comes to work for mega food brands as a low level call center operative, woring in the health food division answering customer service calls. she knows nothing about her products but what the computer flashes up on the screen, and she answers all calls strictly from a script.

the two divisions meet. they discover that the efforts of each will put the other out of business, and war ensues. the farm-friendly branch tries to sabotage the effots of the foodless branch, and the foodless branch does the same. all sorts of plots and strategems. it gets personal.

suzie develops allergies to the food served in the cafeteria (really a market-testing lab), and figures out what’s causing the problems, learning about the industry. she and her friends decide it’s an axis of evil, and plot to destroy it. they plan to taint the food supply to call attention to the dangers inherent in the kid of business practices mega food brands engages in. over time, their plot aquires a number of enthusiastic participants, one of whom is an agent provocateur inserted by the government. this agent always suggests the most extreme actions, and finally they settle on releasing e-coli into the food supply.

on the eve of the action, the agent brings in a celebratory meal which is contaminated. the plotters are rendered sick and unconscious, the agent informs on them, the plotters are arrested in their beds. only suzie and a few others not incapacitated are left.

because of the very conditions suzie and her friends were trying to expose, a major food borne illness breaks out around the country, thousands die and millions are made sick. the plotters are accused, and the industry, the media, and politicians call for their heads. suzie fights to save her friends and expose the industry practices that have brought this on, but she gets nowhere.

the government official who headed the round up of suzie’s friends is plagued by a guilty conscience. he knows that they are innocent, and he knows that the industry practices are at fault and must be corrected. but industry pressure and political expediency are forcing him to blame the kids as terrorists and look the other way about industry practices. a very public trial is scheduled and the kids face execution.

then a miracle occurs. a shadowy source (the foodless division of mega food brands) supplies key information to suzie and the lawyers. the government official in charge of setting the kids up has a near brush with death and comes clean about the setup, the food industry tries to blame chinese imports for the outbrea, but suzie has inside documents that prove otherwise.

Mega Food Brands is charged with violations that carry paltry fines, and the public outcry forces congress to enact stricter laws with higher penalties, an end to farm subsidies, and workplace rules that favor a safe working and producing environment. everybody wins but the corporate bottom line. in the battle between the divisions, the foodless division is turning a profit, and the farm people are too much trouble, so one is promoted and the other downsized. the battle between divisions heats up further, and the big questions becomes, on the produce side, how to use contaminated meat and vegetables without poisoning the population, and on the foodless side, how to market foodless food so that consumers prefer it to dangerous real food.

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Plotting points

Posted by jeanne on June 17, 2007

Suzie gets a job in the customer service department at the health foods division of Mega Food Brands International. She answers questions based on a script the computer throws up on the screen. She has a soothing voice, and customers believe her, even tho the scripts sound somewhat false to her. Nobody in her department questions anything.

Suzie has a bunch of friends with radical opinions. She hides her job at Mega Food Brands from them, because they think it’s an evil corporation.

Suzie meets a guy who works in the flavor lab, and discovers that everything boils down to chemicals.

She invites her coworker to dinner, where he goes thru her pantry and the trash of the dinner preparations, and shows her and her friends what they’ve been eating. Suzie’s friends decide that flavors and chemicals are bad.

Suzie develops food allergies and learns to read labels.

A character at Mega Food Brands, high up in the food chain, is working on a way to remove raw ingredients from food, to increase the bottom line, streamline production, and avoid the inconvenience of the challenges in growing and manufacturing. This character is concerned with having a clean label, and hiding the fact that there is no meat or vegetable matter in this new kind of food. It will be marketed in the health food division.

Suzie gets sicker and sicker at work. One of the benefits of working at the global hq of Mega Food Brands is that the employees get a free lunch. The cafeteria is really a laboratory, and they are testing the food on the employees. while suzie finds the food yummy, it makes her ill.

An outbreak of e-coli is traced to one of the big 4? meat manufacturers, and the industry solution is irradiation. A huge outcry ensues nationwide, with a growing back to basics movement demanding cleaning up of industry practices. Mega Food Brands steps in and offers another solution – instafood, artificially processed food. The idea is kept secret from the public, but the meat producers go for it because they can deliver spoiled and diseased meat to the production factory that turns out unrecognizable derivatives, increasing profts to both. Farmers also go for it because they can grow a single crop of genetically modified corn, wehat or soy, and it can be turned into anything.

The meat and agriculture industries further consolidate, driving out the last of the family farmers, creating more contractor farmers, and eliminating all but approved gm seed and genetically engineered animals. Pesticides increasingly taint food.

Suzie’s friends decide to sabotage the process, to call attention to industry malpractice. They debate how to best do this – cause an outbreak of contaminated food – which food, how. So many routes are available, choose any spot in the vertically integrated (seed to table) industry. Food borne illness. A discussion about responsibility and the possibility of killing people.

How to show all the various ways the food supply is being tainted and destroyed.

When a food outbreak occurs, it is blamed on imported chinese food, so we get to see how pesticides, additives and adulterants are used outside of USDA regulations, which are weak enough.

Inside the FDA and USDA, these supposed watchdog branches of the US government are dominated by industry, and serve industry interests rather than the good of the people.

 

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