Tucked in amongst the vast shelves of dietary supplements, paper goods, and firearm fetish books written by victims of gun violence, Costco still sells food. In the last couple of years, they’ve added more refrigerated space, presumably because of major advances in sausage and dip technology. I made the mistake a while ago of mocking their wide selection of hummus on Facebook, in particular the kind that was $2.99/pound and packaged in little plastic single-serve cups. Little plastic single serve cups topped with plastic seals, packed onto a cardboard tray, and then wrapped in more plastic. Take that, Earth!
Sadly, the environmental movement has long since given up hope in the face of the “we like giant trucks and a/c set at 62″ movement. Even so, this seemed excessively wasteful. And more than that, expensive. For reasons I can’t fathom, Costco carries three varieties of hummus, ranging from $1.99 to $2.99 a pound. I suppose that a certain kind of person feels entitled only to buy only the “good stuff”, even when said stuff is mostly chickpeas and tahini. Those people must’ve gotten lost on the way to Whole Foods, “where people who will believe anything shop(tm)!”
Given that the environmental argument seemed lost, I thought I could make an argument on cost. Surely, you could make hummus at a fraction of the cost that you could buy it at Costco. I decided to do the research. I went to the store and priced out the simplest recipe for hummus that I know, which is:
2 cans of chickpeas
2/3 cup tahini
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
Throw everything in a blender, food processor, or place in rip-stop bag and run over with rear wheel of Lincoln Navigator a few times. While making sure the a/c is on, of course. Also, if you can put a baby harp seal under the other wheel, more’s the better.
After careful research which required both multiplication AND division, I came to this conclusion: the Costco hummus at $1.99/lb is probably cheaper. I say probably, because once I realized that the chickpeas, tahini and garlic alone were going to run $1.39/lb – never mind the $129 blender I make it in – I gave up. Like I said, there was multiplication and division involved. Even with a marginal savings, I will concede to Costco and Big Hummus (really. Sabra is owned in part by Frito-Lay) that buying it by the bucket in the refrigerated aisle is a lot more convenient. This is particularly true if you don’t happen to keep olive oil, lemon juice, and tahini in the house. I do. But only for intimate purposes.
These results left me conflicted and divided, just like the land from which hummus comes. Was all hope lost, like the two-state solution? Could I somehow mount a comeback, like Hezbollah in Lebanon and have a successful jihad against the mighty Israeli Sabra and it’s American-backed force of Costco/Frito-Lay? Maybe I could just act like the whole thing never existed, like the Palestinians, Israel’s nukes, or Benjamin Netanyahu’s bald spot.
Why cook? For something simple like hummus, one can’t even argue that the homemade is that much better for you. Sure, the tubs o’ hummus have preservatives in them, but that just means they won’t get all of those white fuzzy patches on them after sitting in the fridge for a week.
The best argument I could come up with was that cooking was good, even it wasn’t necessarily better for you or cheaper. I was a better person because I cooked for my kids. Yeah, take that parents who spend money on their children! I grind up things in a blender for them! That’s love. I’m teaching them something about self-reliance, hard work, and always making sure that part of the blender lid isn’t in the carafe when you turn it on. And that’s how my kids got to enjoy a delightful applesauce with plastic chips one day last fall. Stupid blender.
Imagine my dismay when I realized that the Costco hummus can indeed counter my self righteous virtue. Though hummus is, again, mostly chickpeas and tahini, the vats carried all sorts of bold-faced text proclaiming that the puree was any number of the following:
That’s a whole lot of freedom. And freedom isn’t free — it costs $1.99/lb. Sure, factually speaking we’re talking about a food that isn’t made from wheat, or animal fat, or crops that are subject to genetic modification, or milk. But if George Bush taught us anything in the War on Terror, freedom outweighs facts every single day. How could my homemade hummus in a ceramic bowl possibly counter freedom served with a side of bullshit?
And then it hit me like a homemade rocket attack for which I prepared a disproportionate response. I made my own food labels. Every time I open the fridge, I can look at my hummus and know that I am doing the right thing. I am both righteous and virtuous. Even better, people who eat the food I’ve made will know of the abundant amounts of righteousness and virtuousity of which I am possessed.
You can download the handy food labels I made yourself. They’re sized to print on standard Avery address labels, and you can put them on virtually anything that might not presently reveal your high moral standing to the world.
In designing these labels, I didn’t want to resort to complicated words and all the reading and knowing stuff that they require. I instead used powerful, powerful symbols of goodness known to all Americans. Big hummus has got gluten free? GMO-free? That’s nothing. I’ve got the combined moral weight of Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Spider-Man, “Sully” Sullenberger, Martin Luther King, Jesus, Mr. Rogers,Anne Frank, Maya Angelou, Yoda, the Dalai Lama, and Gandalf the Grey.
Dip a an organic cholesterol-free pita chip in that and suck it, Costco.