Powdered Milk of Paradise
by David Francis
I am not ashamed to admit that I have always been a spend-cautious fellow. It is a great sadness to me that this fine skill which I have developed over the years typically becomes a source of resentment from less frugal people. Well, maybe its not resentment. It might be simple disgust. Either reaction seems entirely unjustified to me. But don't feel too ashamed if you find yourself also guilty of one of these reactions. History has always been harsh with my kind. People have tended to compensate for their economical shortcomings by portraying thrifty Prince Johns as these evil rulers, and devil-may-care spenders like Robin Hood as wonderful heroes. The supposedly great italian poet, Dante, places my fellow money-wise peers in the lower planes of hell for no more reason, as near as I can tell, than trying merely to save a buck.
I don't know exactly what causes people to judge my lifestyle so harshly when it hardly even relates to theirs. Consider my devotion to powdered milk. I have yet to understand how my drinking powdered milk affects anyone else, but the fact that I do nevertheless instills powerful emotions among my friends and family.
"You drink that stuff?" they say with mixed irritation and disbelief. "What is wrong with you? Don't you notice the difference between it and the real thing?"
Of course I notice the difference. I also notice the difference between cubic zirconium and the Hope diamond. But to me, the most notable difference between the two is that one can buy several tons of cubic zirconium for the price of the Hope diamond (only a couple of carrots).
Many would no doubt say I am missing the entire intrisic beauty of diamonds. I would answer that really they are missing the intrinsic beauty of cubic zirconium. And since my form of beauty comes in units of tons, I can afford to be off by a carrot or two. The same goes with powdered milk. My anual milk bill comes to about $15. On the other hand, if you drink a gallon of milk a week, you will be spending about $120 by the end of the year. Its easy to see how these great savings might instill some serious jealousy. Its almost as though I am being handed a second tax return every year just because I enjoy this alternate form of milk.
"Why can't we enjoy powdered milk like David?" I hear you saying. "It's just not fair!"
I'm really sorry! I wish I could help you cultivate this taste. Sadly, I have tried to teach others to enjoy this beverage with no sucess. But, as with most cases of intolerance, I think education is the key to bringing about healing and understanding. I think I can teach you one or two other grocery shopping tips which may help lead you to my money-cautious sense of being which so many people distrust.
You are bound to feel some reservations at first. I understand that. Already visions of my suppers--me hunched over a bag of flour with a glass of water nearby--may be filling your inexperienced minds. Calm yourselves. I am not going to delve into the wonderful properties of flour and water today. Today I will cover only the rudimentary methods of my shopping--methods which you may perhaps begin to immitate!
The first rule of shopping is to cleanse your mind of all previous notions you have about name brand products. Many people feel it is okay to have a devotion to a certain product brand. They think such thoughts as: "I am paying a bit more for this brand, but at least I know it is a quality product." Absolute nonsense. People with this kind of logic may also assume that name brand hot dogs are made of only the best cow intestines and rat-carcuses, while the generic hot dogs have only any old intestines and rodent for ingredients. Really, I think once we have established that we are dealing in intestines and rats, the only thing that should affect our decision-making is the lowest price.
The typical Western economist will tell you that you SHOULD feel an attatchment to certain producers, and that your respect for their quality will allow them to excell and over-all up-grade the quality of food production. Academic rubbish. Let me remind you that these same economists believe there is no such thing as a free lunch. Obviously they have not seen me walk into a fast food restuarant, squirt 15 mini-packages of ketchup and mustard down my throat, and then walk away patting my stomach with satisfaction.
In fact, when you pay the extra cash to get a name brand product, you are doing the oppisite of supporting quality--you are funding advertisement. You should find satisfaction in knowing that buying a product with a name like "ITSGOOD!" keeps money from trickling down to an advertising consultant who writes songs for televsion commercials. The sooner such people are forced into other lines of work, the better. I have never purchased a product and liked it so well that I felt a song should be written about it. Such commercials always remind me of Christian Rock music. The more they try to make it sound like the real thing, the more ridiculous it sounds.
At least beer commercials seem to understand what I like. I can't help but appreciate their straightforward advertising: "Here are beautiful scantily clad women jumping around and smiling at you. Here is our beer. If you see a connection--great! If not, hey, we are still showing you beautiful women, scantily clad." I respect that bit of advertising enough, that if they offered beer in powdered form, I would probably drink it regularly.
My second tip would be to be aware of producers trying to trick you into buying the exact same product under another name. From the afore-mentioned subject of purchasing hot dogs, it is a short jump to the purchasing of toilet paper. Anyone who needs to buy a certain brand of toilet paper, probably also buys the same product again only packaged under the name of facial tissues. Seriously now, the only difference between toilet paper and facial tissues is that when you pull a facial tissue out of the box, another one magically springs up in its place. I don't claim to know how that happens. I only note that it doesn't enhance the nose blowing experience beyond the capicity of toilet paper.
Is there really a difference in spagetti and macaroni beyond the obvious geometrical one? I don't think so. Buy which ever is cheapest. Butter and shortening? Maybe a slight one, but nothing you can't adapt to after mastering powdered milk, I assure you. My favorite is baking soda and baking powder. They're exactly the same thing except that baking powder costs twice as much and comes in a round box. Don't believe the technical arguemnts and recipes. I have substituted freely with baking soda and never regretted it. Actually, there is really no reason to buy baking soda either. I've discovered that people willingly GIVE me a box of baking soda everytime they clean their refrigerator. Just ask around.
So there is my simple advice to get you all started. Not only should it save you money, you will start feeling better about yourself. You will no longer allow yourself to be deluded by the advertisers and old wive's tales of food consumption. I can't make any promises, but perhaps someday, you can even learn to drink that fabled milk of paradise.