Essay 1 (Convenience Over Health?)

What to have for breakfast this morning? It is a question that everyone asks himself or herself and the answer varies from person to person; I myself had a Herbalife shake this morning. On the other hand my roommate had a banana and a protein bar, while my mother had a breakfast of eggs and bacon. These examples are fairly healthy, regretfully for most are not options that are taken. There are those that will grab an Egg McMuffin from McDonalds on the way to work because it is cheap and convenient. Unfortunately though there are some that do not eat breakfast either because they do not know how important it is or they simply do not have the money to pay for breakfast. American’s perspective on food and the food they choose to consume has change gradually over the years and has created some negative effects such as unhealthy diets, which has lead to obesity, and overproduction that has lead to waste.As you may have noticed by simply driving down a main street in your hometown, American culture promotes fast food on a large scale. I would guess that there are easily at least four to six fast food establishments on every main street in most towns in the U.S. This creates a huge convenience factor for those that are constantly on the go, which is most of the population. Let’s be real, we are American’s after all. Plus you get more for less. Right? One would be inclined to think so, however in my experience I find that when I visit a fast food restaurant I am paying more for a lesser quality, oversized meal and that I could spend just slightly more for a correctly portioned, quality meal. While I am of this opinion I know that I am one of many. I have found that there are three opinions or situations that people fall under. The first are those like me, who know what goes into a healthy diet and takes the steps to do so. The next includes those that may know what goes into a healthy diet but due to a lack of time or caring continue to frequent fast food restaurants and supermarkets. Lastly is the group that either has a lack of education, I mean when does our education system educate us on this information, or is simply unable to afford anything but the cheap mass produced food. Sadly, regardless of which category one fall into about fourteen percent of the food that is bought goes unused and ends up getting tossed in the dumpster. (McKibben 11) So what has this lead to? Well more than a third of adults and seventeen percent of children in the U.S. are considered obese. (Miller 9) This is an overwhelming amount for the wealthiest country in the world. As observed in “Divided We Eat,” America has a unique culture when it comes to food and eating. Generally we like to place food in two categories, good or bad nutrition or to simply think in terms of daily allowances. For those in other countries, France for example, view eating as a social activity and food as a shared resource. The French, for the most part, are predictable and dine at 12:30 each day. In contrast, surveys were unable to determine a single time of day that Americans sit together and eat. (Miller 11-12) America’s problem with obesity only exacerbates the overproduction of food. Of course this is not the only time in American history that Americans have overindulged. Take alcohol for example, during the first few decades of the 19th century Americans began drinking more and more, to the point that America was face with its first public health problem. Employers were even expected to supply alcohol during the workday. This of course led to Prohibition, and everyone knows how that faired. However, while America’s first ‘binge’ was serious, today’s issue of overproduction has led to many more issues. Where did it all begin though? The time period that shows the beginning of food overproduction was just after the Great Depression. Farmers began over producing in order to increase their income. In reality what they did was deflate the value of their crops. The government did create a bail out plan in response that was part of the New Deal that was both successful and profitable. While the program was not perfect, it could be considered a good alternative to today’s subsidy regime that costs taxpayers 19 billion dollars a year that virtually does nothing to control production. In today’s fast food industry, large food companies have created marketing strategies that promote large or ‘supersized’ portions. These promotions give people the false impression that they are getting more for their money, though that is also a question of quality versus quantity. When it comes to the food that we put into our bodies, do we really want to sacrifice quality? (Pollan) So what is the solution? Those familiar with history know that Prohibition was not the answer. The government was never fully able to stop citizens from producing, selling, and consuming alcohol. Likewise, the government would be unable to restriction our everyday diet. Let’s face it; no one would want to deal with that monstrosity of a headache. We have also seen the government try to solve the problem of overproduction with New Deal policy, though in the long run was proved unsuccessful. On the other hand, the government should begin taking steps to begin correcting these situations. For example, there could be some reform within our education system. This might include something as simple as ensure the meals served in the cafeteria is a wholesome meal, versus a slice of pizza or the low quality cafeteria food our schools are known for. Or it could be a mandatory class for every freshman that educates students not only on what a healthy diet consists of but how to construct a healthy diet depending on the varying situations they may end up in. As for overproduction, the government could institute a policy that gradually reduced the amount of crops produced over a large time period, say fifteen years, to a manageable amount of production, while providing information to producers that while it may look like a gradual decrease in income the value of their product with increase, therefore not effecting their income. These may or may not be valid solutions, however America as a whole needs to wake up and begin working on a lasting solution before its unhealthy lifestyle becomes worse.


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