Just a few blocks from where I live is an intersection of two main roads at which are clustered several fast food outlets. Their paring lots are normally packed in the morning and around the traditional meal times. The parking lots of most non-chain restaurants only contain a few vehicles, with the exception of two places whose menus are throwbacks to the 1950’s. I really try to support local businesses. I have tried most of them. There is one lovely restaurant on Main Street someone recommended and it is one of only three I would recommend to anyone else myself.
I don’t know anyone who says they hate food. I do know many people who comment or debate on what constitutes food, or who complain about the effects food has on them, like weight gain, allergies, or gastrointestinal distress. Food is important, we need it to survive. However, most people I’ve encountered want their lives to be more than mere survival and they want their food to enhance their lives, not be the bane of it. Just the same food is a double edged sword.
Humans would be better off if they were like cats and had no capacity to taste sweet, for starters. A sweet treat for a special occasion can be life enhancing, we all need small celebrations once in a while. How sweet and how often is the slippery slope we slide down from enhancement to harm. Sugar is addictive. So addictive test rats addicted to IV cocaine when switched to sugar preferred it. Just like the lab rats people are channeled into addiction starting as infants. Baby food is loaded with extra sugar and babies pretty much have to eat what they are given. I seriously doubt the parents of most kids would give them food laced with cocaine. but every day people are putting their children on that slippery slope.
However, it isn’t just the addictive effects of sugar that causes all the harm but it’s excess in a diet already overloaded with fried foods, a staple of fast food outlets. That’s another contributor to the problem. Then there are the nutritionally deficient processed foods. They call them junk foods and for a reason. There is little food value. They have ingredient lists I need my kid brother with a PhD in pharmaceutical chemistry to translate. They are scientifically designed to bypass the bodies normal triggers to cease eating. That “melt in your mouth” action in a lot of foods deceives the brain into thinking you are not getting any substance. It is estimated that 23.5 million Americans are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Compare that to the latest figures from the CDC showing 78.6 million adults are obese. I could rattle on for hours about the costs of all this, economic and social costs, and plain old human unhappiness but the upshot is we are killing ourselves, slowly, surely and unnecessarily.
It doesn’t have to be this way but it requires people to step up and take responsibility for their own welfare. Yes, societal changes are needed. Poverty is a major reason for poor eating. There are food deserts all over the country. Low cost personal changes make a difference, though. It can be as easy as switching from soda to water. Switch to oatmeal from those dreadful boxed breakfast cereals. When my cousin got pregnant and looked at the cost and nutritional content of baby food, she went out and bought a blender. Pureed peaches, chicken and vegetables were just that, plus fresher and less expensive. Opening up to new foods and cuisines can be a big help. I find most American food boring and bland. I eat all kinds of Asian food and real Mexican and Italian food. There is so much more to these cuisines than most Americans are aware of. Consistently I see people eating the same things over and over, week after week, all of them bad.
If we are what we eat, are some of us junk? Or garbage? I don’t think people should ever be considered junk or garbage. Still, if that is what you eat, it will affect you and not in a good way. I love to eat and I love to cook. I don’t always eat perfectly, but I work hard to eat food that tastes great and makes every calorie a nutritious one. I also don’t spend as much as a lot of people I know and get a lot more food for what I spend. I eat very well, trust me. I don’t want anyone to feel deprived and it’s not necessary. We just need to junk the junk food and rediscover all the delicious and healthy things out there to eat.