On Friday, I drank a $4.00 bottled kombucha drink. I picked up the bottle from my car Monday morning with the intention of throwing it into the dumpster on my way to work, but I saw something that arrested me in mid-throw.
And now I can’t stop reading this bottle. And researching it, and annotating it, and talking about it, sending pictures of it to my friends. At this very second, the bottle is sitting on my bedside table because I used my last waking moments to turn in over again in my hands and my mind. William Zinsser once said of a housewares catalog, “Within this one catalog, which arrives periodically, I find compressed almost everything that baffles me, both in merchandise and terminology, about the society that I allegedly live in.” This kombucha bottle is my housewares catalog.
Annotated Kombucha Bottle
GT’s Enlightened Organic Raw Kombucha:
“GT” stands for George Thomas, the first names of GT Dave. GT Dave, in all his plasticized, air-brushed glory, can singlehandedly claim responsibility for the dawn of kombucha in our vocabulary and our diets. Here’s my favorite GT Dave quote from my favorite GT Dave article:
“I’m not saying I was the Messiah, but…”
Living Food for the Living Body (Registered Trademark)
Health is not an easily accessible science. Trying to use the internet to find out solid information about the various health claims is useless. The detritus that Google produces makes Wikipedia seem reliable. There seem to be zero reliable scientific studies out there that ground all these airy concepts into hard facts. As far as health goes, there is a smudging of the worlds between science and marketing. Scientific terms morph into marketing terms, and unearthing facts in the murkiness is nearly impossible. For the following pseudoscientific/scientific trigger words, I will try to define them, and then I will give you the associated cultural alchemic marketing properties these words are assumed to possess.
- Definition: Enzymes are proteins that help carry out specific chemical reactions. Life requires a lot of chemical reaction, and enzymes are part of the package we inherit by virtue of being made out of organic material.
- Assumed Alchemy: It is believed that by supplementing your diet with digestive enzymes, various stomach related maladies will be corrected.
- Definition: Our bodies are an ecosystem, and probiotics are similar to the live microorganisms that live in the human gut. Some are symbiotic, which help our digestion. Some are commensal, which neither hurt nor help us.
- Assumed Alchemy: It is believed that ingesting supplemental probiotics will also heal nebulous stomach maladies and promote healthy bacteria in your gut.
- Definition: Poly= many, phenol= a class of organic chemical structures formed by attaching a benzine to a hydroxyl group. Polyphenol compounds have a variety of roles in the natural world, including metabolic and toxic roles. My friend and his bioengineering degree call this a “garbage word” when it relates to food.
- Assumed Alchemy: Polyphenols work as micronutrients to detoxify the body.
reawaken, rethink, rekindle, redefine, relive, rebirth, repurpose, reinvent, reclaim, restart
This is the clump of words on my kombucha bottle that keeps me awake at night. The most initially disturbing word is “rebirth.” I’m from Mississippi, and I’ve heard this “to be born again” rhetoric so many times. Unlike the word “enlightenment,” which overtly references the Buddhist belief system, to be reborn is a Christian idea. Proof:
“Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say unto you, unless one is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
So, what do Christian doctrine, the beauty industry, and my kombucha bottle all have in common? Their main sales pitch is predicated upon self-contempt. Salvation is for sinners, and “renewing” the self is for those who hate the old self, in other words, the reality of the self. These words are trigger words, words used to goad people to action. Here, we are seduced into buying. Here we have a subtle, more sophisticated version of fear-mongering where the thing we are taught to fear is the reflection of our own unadulterated faces in the mirror. We need to be repurposed, reclaimed, restarted. These words are crafted to take the fine cracks that form naturally in our dynamic relationships with ourselves, and chip away at them with a promise of becoming something more. And this, I hate.
Words of Enlightenment
“Great relationships start with great friendships. May your ships sail on my friends…”
–Joy Lahela Lam, Massage Therapist & Fitness Trainer, Honolulu, HI
These were the exact words that stopped me from tossing this bottle into the steel dumpster and listening to the gratifying shattering as it hit the bottom. Because of a missing comma and the early hour, my brain was immediately imprinted with the image of ship sailing through a sea of my friends, and my friends writhing in a body of water like in one of those Gustave Dore paintings of Dante’s Inferno. And then, I realized, it was probably meant to say:
“May your ships sail on, my friends.”
Still pretty bad, even with the revision. Some of the worst inspirational jargon I’ve come across, including the considerable amount of time I’ve spent grazing through Hallmark cards.
Got words of your own? Enlighten us @facebook.com/GTSsynergykombucha
*Kombucha is a food product and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant or breast feeding, please consult with your healthcare professional before consuming our products.
MILLENNIUM PRODUCTS, INC. P.O. Box 2352, Beverly Hills, CA 90213
Contact us: Toll-Free (877) 735-8423
We believe good things come from small batches. That’s why we still make our organic raw Kombucha in the same size batches that I used from the very beginning, in my mother’s kitchen. Our batches are small enough to hug. Which we do, because love is our number one ingredient.
Here’s some great satire of this flavor of weirdness, if you can stomach it, by Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared.
I’ve removed the ingredient list, but suffice it to say that “a whole lotta love!!” was one of the key ingredients. Also, spirulina.
Mission in A Bottle: In 1995 I started making organic raw Kombucha based on the belief that it could touch people’s lives. For me, Kombucha represented everything that food should be: raw, unadulterated, and crafted by nature. Today that belief is stronger than ever. That’s why I am honored and humbled to be able to share this gift with you.
-GT Dave, Founder
There’s that word, belief. Kombucha is a faith, not a drink. The mythological roots of this faith begin with GT Dave’s mom, as related in my favorite article about GT Dave. His mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. After drinking many kombucha drinks and radiation and chemotherapy treatments, she recovered. She later used this story to evangelize her product: a drink made out of a self-replicating symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast.
I will leave you with the following opinions I provoked among my amigos about the able to share this gift with you bit.
a thing given willingly to someone without payment; a present.
a natural ability or talent.“hhhhmmm..”
Amigo #2: “Yeah, kombucha isn’t without payment! It’s a 20 bucks a week addiction. Screw you, Dave.”
Amigo #3: “The talent is making you happily pay $3 a bottle.”