Monday, July 12, 2010

Book Review -- Cheap

I enjoyed Cheap so much I'm going to read it again. It's dense with information and stories and historical perspectives--a very good book. There are many references to Dan Ariely's work, which I find similarly engaging. Wal-Mart receives plenty of treatment, and Ikea gets a seriously good skewering. Craftsmanship? Who the hell wants that? Not only do we not want to pay for craftsmanship, most people deeply believe they don't deserve it.

There are well-developed discussions of cheap food and its effect on health. The author references a New England Journal of Medicine article that delivers a somber forecast about children these days: members of that generation will likely be the first in history to die younger than their parents.

Oh, and this paragraph has stayed with me. If you're eating right now, stop. It's about pig shit, er, manure lagoons: "I've probably smelled stronger odors in my life, but nothing so insidiously and instantaneously nauseating. It takes my mind a second or two to get through the odor's first coat. The smell at its core has a frightening, uniquely enriched putridity, both deep-sweet and high-sour. I back away from it and walk back to the car but I remain sick--it's a shivery, retchy kind of nausea--for a good five minutes. That's apparently characteristic of industrial pig shit: it keeps making you sick for a good while after you've stopped smelling it."

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