Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind

What terrorism?


I make the walk to a local supermarket two or three times every week. If I’m in good health, the return journey takes slightly less than an hour. If I have a migraine, the same journey can take an hour and a half or more, depending on what symptoms a particular attack displays. (Occasionally it results in me getting lost, but that’s a story for another day.)

One day last week, I was traipsing up and down the aisles trying to remember why I was there, when a young lady stopped me. I don’t know whether she chose me because I was the only other person in the aisle, or whether it was because I had wandered past her on several occasions without trolley or basket, and she assumed I was a staff member.

No matter. Stopped me she did. From her accent I assume she was either American or Canadian. She wanted to know where she could find the infant formula as it couldn’t be found in the baby isle where she thought it should be. I told her it’s not kept on the shelves, and she would need to ask for it when she went through the checkout. From her reaction, it was clear she doubted my honesty, so I felt the need to explain why baby and infant formula was not available off the shelf.

In hindsight, I was in the prodrome stage of a migraine, during which time my family have noticed I sometimes become “hyper” and tend to info dump (probably an Aspergers trait coming to the fore). On this particular occasion I went into considerable detail regarding the fact that due to a terrorism threat, all baby and infant formula products have been withdrawn from supermarket shelves, and are kept away from public access and are constantly monitored by CCTV to ensure the products are not tampered with.

I had got to the point where I was explaining that the police had yet to make an arrest, and were at the stage of investigating every known animal rights proponent, and not just activists, when she hurriedly thanked me and left.

I have no idea whether the young lady purchased any formula or not, but I wonder what affect I had in reinforcing or damaging our “clean green” reputation. Did my explanation convey the image that Aotearoa New Zealand was a dangerous place for infants, or did it give her assurance that NZ takes food safety seriously and that there was no risk to her child? I wish I knew.

I’ve been thinking about how the current state of affairs has affected Kiwis. Although I don’t frequent circles where feeding babies is likely to be a popular topic for conversation, I’ve seen little conversation on the topic since the first few weeks when the threat was made public.

Is this complacency, or confidence in the safety of our food chain, or a thumbing of our collective noses to terrorism? Hopefully it’s the latter two, and not complacency. However, knowing the kiwi “she’ll be right” mentality, I wonder how much thought we have put into why a product is hidden from public view. Retailers have reported no downturn in sales.

Further reading:

Annual NZ breastfeeding statistics
1080 usage in New Zealand
D-day for 1080 threat to infant formula
Evaluating the use of 1080: Predators, poisons and silent forests

Author: Barry

A post war baby boomer from Aotearoa New Zealand who has lived with migraines for as long as I can remember and discovered I am autistic at the age of sixty. I blog because in real life I'm somewhat backwards about coming forward with my opinions.

2 thoughts on “What terrorism?

  1. i applaud your regular walk to the grocery store. Health and environment concerns are all served by your actions.It’s a win-win. Now onto y our 1080 story. The fact that the government was deliberately dropping poison on land known to be inhabited without any investigation of the consequences should be criminal. You see that is one of the problems with a democracy – the majority isn’t always right. So if a community here chose democratically to kill every black person who came inside the town limits – then a pure democracy would say that that would be legal. It is this weakness of a democracy that we address with a codified Constitution. What you described Barry would be a constitutional matter as it is obvious the gov’t was acting with majority support. It was pretty telling that when the demonstrator placed the same poison in public view , the majority was now incensed and yet that is precisely what they were doing to him. If he was charged, then so too the gov;t should have been charged for the exact same actions.

    As far as the threat is concerned – it tweaks my interest that the form of 1080 used was not one available to the public.that’s a good place to start and reduces the chances that it was one of the demonstrators who did it. I do think that it is the proper action to remove the formula from public access. Public safety comes before any optics that may or may not affect visitors’ or public opinion. We’ve had a number of terrorist threats here – although none that threatened food supply.- and we treat every one of them as if it is real, we’d be foolish not to. So NZ’s action in removing formula is consistent with terrorist threat handling in all countries. As far as the sales volume is concerned- the formula is a necessity, so sales will not change. By that same token it is not possible to drive formula sales because families will always stick with the same product usually bought at the same store. Hence it is seldom, if ever, put on sale or advertised – no need. The big key to sales and profitability is to get the formula used in maternity wards. Few if any Mothers will change the formula once a child is started on it. In addition if the child ever has to go into the hospital then it is an advantage to have him/her already used to the formula the hospital uses. It is a fascinating business – my Dad sold it for years. Sales levels stayed exactly the same- can for can- day by day, regardless of merchandising, display, price, container, etc. It is a serious exception to the marketing world. The really funny thing about formula sales is that it is so consistent regardless of conditions that if it goes down you know that a child has been weaned or moved away and if it increases you know that a new baby is in the neighborhood – either newly born or moved in.

    Anyway, great post Barry. Very thought provoking. Thank You

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