I Love Food!
It's a Small World After All...
I must admit, I was disappointed with the 'Food' chapter in our book. When I read our assignment, my decision was a no-brainer. I'll read about one of the biggest joys in life--food. Then I read about the dark side of food in our culture. It wasn't the topic for which I had hoped. I wanted to talk about the availability and accessibility of food from so many different cultures. I wanted to read about organic versus inorganic mindsets. I had hoped to discuss the upsurge and popularity of food-based shows and even channels. Even a mention of how many recipes one can find online these days would have been great. When I hear of some strange new food or recipe for the first time, I search it on the web. I look at what is needed and how it is made. The information super highway transports some wild dishes to my table.
Defining the Problem
In some cases, it is not food, but the lack of it that causes problems. “Education (or lack of it), lack of resources and power, debt, trade, militarization, and war, and discrimination are listed as the causes of hunger” (132). In other cases (as in fast food, junk food, processed items) the problem is created by food lacking quality. The need for speed and enjoyable flavor surpasses the need for nourishment and nutrition. The quality of food consumed is diminished by the rushed lives of consumers, and the meal time itself has lost its place in the home. There were plenty of public service messages reminding us that “Not only do regular meals tend to provide a more balanced and nutritious diet, eating together brings families together. When we share a meal, we tend to share our thoughts and feelings” (133).
Locating Its Source
I had always thought that the industrialization of America and improved transportation systems created an environment where food was easy to get, less expensive, and plentiful for those who could afford it. That's what I thought started America's road to obesity. This chapter pointed out some interesting theories. I had never considered Manton's argument: “…she traces the beginnings of twentieth-century eating disorders in the United States to the industrial Revolution and the rise of the food industry. The industrialization of food preparation removed the responsibility of caring and feeding the family from women and put it in the hands of ‘professionals,’ usually men” (133). “According to Manton, women became less confident in themselves and their self-esteem dropped because the traditional role of nurturer was taken away” (133).
As far as Victorian women went, I have seen enough art from that era to know what was considered beautiful then. It is also worth mentioning that pale skin was preferred because tans were obtained by those who had to work outside for their living. That made tan and thin undesirable. Now people are paying to be both. I had never considered the role of women's suffrage in the beautiful body image changeover. “…beautiful women were not thin. During the Victorian Era, women were large and soft but had no political power or economic worth, other than that of their husbands. Inf fact, many considered thinness to be a sign of poverty or illness. The Nineteenth Amendment gave women political power, but it also coincided with the emergence of the Flapper and a thin body image” (134). It is interesting to view industrialization and the Nineteenth Amendment in the context of food/weight issues.
And Another Source
It is interesting to see such a clear example of television's impact on a group of people. I wonder why they went from no television to only one channel. I'd think they'd have a few more options after making the sizable leap from zero to one. On page 134 we are told that television was introduced to Fiji in 1995, but they only had one channel. In 1995 reported eating disorders were at 3%. By 1998, 74% of girls felt they were too fat and 62% admitted dieting within the last month. The television shows that they watched on the one channel need to also be more thoroughly addressed. Zena the Princess Warrior is an odd selection. If they had reruns of Roseanne on, would things have been different?
No Wonder This Doesn't Fit Right!
I know I've already mentioned that I hate shopping. This just gives me another chance to complain about it. When I wonder who designers had in mind when they made certain items, I'll recall this fact: “People magazine published a study in 1996 that gave 5 feet 4 and 142 pounds as the average height and weight of American women, compared to 5 feet 9 and 110 pounds as the average for the typical model” (135). I'm kind of screwed on both ends of that though. I am 5 ft 7. That explains why I get so aggravated when I stumble into the petite section and they have cuter clothes. It also explains why I need a size 40 if I'm going to get something of appropriate length. Okay...so it's not really that bad. I just hate trying on clothes.
Democracy, Free Trade, and Anorexia
It is interesting that the 'Americanization' of the world has this unintended consequence:
“As American culture spreads throughout the world, so do eating disorders. They seem to go hand and hand with increased consumerism and participation of women in the business and political spheres” (138).
It is reminiscent of the Europeans spreading their illnesses to the Native Americans upon their arrival. I'm sure the Europeans thought they were helping at the time, too.
Scary Little Side Note
“Berg sites a British study that reported a drop in iron levels caused a significant drop in IQ scores” (139).