Forbidden Fruit Is Created, Not Grown

By | April 16, 2012

My friend Craig’s six-year-old nephew didn’t like carrots and refused to eat them. One day he walked into the kitchen and asked Craig what he was snacking on. “Oh, this is special adult food,” he replied. “You’re too young for it—you’ll have to wait until you grow up to enjoy carrots.”

A while later, Craig was sitting in the living room and caught a glance of his nephew sneaking into the kitchen. Craig heard the fridge open and smiled. From that day on, carrots have been one of his nephew’s favorite foods.

My father did the same thing to me when I was child—only inadvertently—by forbidding me to play with a kid down the block whose family was poor. I just knew he had to be the most fascinating kid in the neighborhood. I used to do something similar with my dog, who hated orange peels. They became irresistible when I created a mock tussle for them—he’d gobble them down.

I see the phenomenon regularly played out in many aspects of life: cultural, economic, religious, even relational. An everyday item or relationship can be given premium value by creating an aura of scarcity around it. Thanks to our scarcity-based culture, we’ve become adept at creating forbidden fruit through advertising, hoarding, taboos, and belief systems.

Whatever distances or restricts us from something creates desire, and desire is far more powerful than need. And more costly: obsessions, addictive behaviors, chronic depression, and insurmountable debt.

If we were living in the natural world as hunter-gatherers, we’d be dwelling in a state of abundance rather than scarcity. When we wanted something, we would forage for it or create it, and any restrictions or limitations would be naturally occurring. Mine is a hybrid life, and I often chuckle at the resulting contradictions, such as $6 a pound organic grass-fed beef versus all the free premium grass-fed roadkill I could ever want. And that fancy bottled water… I don’t think I’ll ever drink my lake dry.

I know, not everyone can live the way I do. Even though there are ways around much artificially created scarcity, most of us will still end up being trapped in our supply-and-demand economy. I treat it as a game, cheating the devil when I can, winning fair-and-square when I’m able, and losing only by appearance. Someone can overvalue or devalue what really matters to me only if I buy into their system. They make it seductive—I need to be constantly vigilant. As long as I live from my heart and surround myself with people of heart, I do fine.


JULIO on May 16, 2012 at 10:40 pm.



George Steel on May 14, 2012 at 10:52 pm.

I’m not sure that people will be trapped in our supply and demand economy. the same physics that let us create our industrial economy and all our modern technology also say that such economies and technologies are quite temporary. According to my best estimates, it probably only has about 10 years remaining, and certainly less than 50. We will all have to escape it when it stops.


Mitchell Roth on May 10, 2012 at 11:24 pm.

Is the lesson to strive to give up desires? Or to “dwell in a state of abundance”?

Or a mixture of both?


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