Why We Eat How We Eat
With the acceleration of globalization, today we have more different types of food available to us than we have ever had in our entire history. Supermarkets offer us everything from natural local foods to imports from across the world, and we can cook pretty much anything we want in the comfort of our homes. So why do we choose to eat junk food instead?
In 1950, it was common for families to sit down and eat together. Usually the wife made the meals, and everyone met at an agreed time for dinner. It’s not so easy these days, what with children participating in all sorts of after-school activities, and adults working more flexible work hours that can interfere with the evening meal. Now dinner often involves picking something up on the way home, and the choices aren’t always that healthy.
Women have also taken on a wider role in society in recent decades. Gender roles used to be quite separate and distinct: Dad was the worker, Mom was the mother and housewife. Of course there were exceptions, but mostly people expected that a woman would not work outside the home unless absolutely necessary. Nowadays, women are just as likely to have educations and careers as men are, as well as a full range of hobbies and other interests. If both partners are working, often this can leave the house without an appointed cook. People who work full-time all day don’t often cherish the idea of having to come home and prepare a full meal as well… enter the magical delivery boy! He doesn’t usually bring salads or nutritional meals, but as long as he brings something quickly and all we have to do is pay for it, that’s good enough for us.
Although we have an endless amount of healthy, natural foods available to us, the fast food industry is growing by leaps and bounds. Convenience is a big concern for most people, and with a fast food franchise on just about every corner, it could hardly be more convenient than that. We also think that fast food tastes good, and if we’re rushing to eat something before our next appointment, we just want the tastiest, fastest meal available. The drive-through window is both our best friend and our worst enemy. Busy people often limit themselves to food they can take with them and eat on the go, and although an apple or a homemade sandwich works just as well and is healthier, it takes a bit more preparation and forethought, which we’re not always willing to put in.
Our fast food and junk food culture has resulted in a generation of people who don’t see learning to cook as a priority. A frightening number of adults don’t really know how to make very many things in the kitchen, and some wouldn’t even have adequate tools to do so if they were inclined to learn. For people with children, there are further implications. If the kids don’t see the parents cooking, they don’t learn about cooking either, and they don’t grow up thinking that cooking is important.
Childhood obesity is the end result of the bad habits kids learn from us, and that problem appears to be increasing. Gaming consoles and the Internet are proving more of an attention magnet than playing outdoors, so it’s of utmost importance that kids learn good eating habits from a young age. The kitchen needs to be the first place they think of when they’re hungry, and that kitchen needs to be full of healthy, natural foods that will interest them. Unfortunately this is easier said than done — perhaps it will take a joint effort between parents, advertisers, and major fast food companies before we’re able to have a situation where all of us — the adults as well as the kids — are more inclined to choose quality over convenience.