Knicker Knot: Accountants Control Our Food.

Shelf life sucks.

Mernie Buchanan
3 min readMar 23, 2023


Banana Flower by author

I once shopped at a ‘pick your own’ farm near Hana on Maui. We were given grocery baskets and a machete to tour a tropical food forest. The checkout counter was a large stump to hack apart fat sugarcanes to get to the juicy core. Biting into fresh sugarcane was like eating sunshine and sent me over the moon. My brain went a little haywire with joy. I later froze some and had the world’s best popsicles.

Sugar in its rawest form is ripe with delicate flavor and packed with powerful nutrients. Crystalized white sugar, conversely, is not unlike cocaine; a beneficial plant that has been processed into an addictive drug.

I also gleaned a large breadfruit, along with an easy recipe to turn it into coconut pudding using fresh tofu — healthy food as a guilty pleasure bordering on orgasmic. A fresh cut banana flower was exotic and gorgeous but tasted like weird cabbage, so I painted its portrait instead. Unfortunately, I could only afford to shop for groceries in Hana once, but the value of eating fresh and local stayed with me.

I just had to refine how I shop for unrefined food.

Food that rots the fastest is the best food for us. Since farmer’s markets and our own veggie gardens are seasonal, that leaves us with supermarkets for a lot of the year. Your average food conglomerate stocks 39,000 items. Over 70% are ultra processed for shelf life. Clever branding to make these items appealing (and sugar to make them addictive) generate high profits. The sustenance of our lives and health is overwhelmingly dictated by accountants who point out to corporate where every corner can be cut. Then marketing disguises it.

Yes there are as many reasons to be annoyed at the state of the world as there are items in a supermarket, but what I’m about to rant about; what knots my knickers is the food item I use every day. Half and Half. I like coffee. I like it with half and half. Large fridge sections are full of beverage whiteners from corn syrup liquids to nut water to ultra pasteurized creamers (some even call themselves organic). None of it is actual food.

On the very bottom shelf is an empty space where, if I get lucky, the fresh, local pasteurized half and half is sometimes stocked. It is…



Mernie Buchanan

Originally from CA & Las Vegas, I now paint and write in Woodstock NY. All images are my original art & photos. Links to more at