Saturday, July 25, 2009

"Eatertainment"

Dining Out
Beryl Cook
1985

I read an article recently by Elizabeth Kolbert in The New Yorker magazine, that amused and shocked me, all at the same time. In a survey done by a CDC researcher in the early 1990s, 33.3 per cent of North American adults are overweight. In the space of a decade since the 1980s, folks had gained more than a billion pounds. "If this was about tuberculosis, it would be called an epidemic", one researcher wrote. Since that time, people have continued gaining weight, and sadly, the proportion of overweight children and teenagers has more than tripled.

In the past 20 years, the cost of food has decreased. Fats and oils, in particular, are very inexpensive, as are soft drinks. Soft drinks have now become the number one food consumed in North America. Food companies have learned how to re-engineer foods to make them addictive to consumers. Fat, sugar and salt, in particular, have been blended in highly caloric combinations in the quest for "eatertainment" for the consumer.

A food scientist for Frito-Lay relates how the company is seeking to create “a lot of fun in your mouth” with products like Nacho Cheese Doritos, which meld “three different cheese notes” with lots of salt and oil. Another product-development expert talks about how she is trying to “unlock the code of craveability,” and a third about the effort to “cram as much hedonics as you can in one dish.” ... The New Yorker

About 40 years ago, the owner of a chain of movie theatres in the Midwest discovered that increasing the size of popcorn servings to jumbo-sized also increased sales. In addition, this increased the sales of soda pop. Ten years later, the same man was on the board of directors of McDonald's. He used the same philosophy there to increase the size of a bag of french fries and servings of soft drinks. A researcher from Cornell University discovered that people will eat everything that is put in front of them. They don't know when to stop. So when they have a large bag of popcorn, french fries, or serving of soda pop, they will consume the whole thing. "Give them a lot and they will eat a lot." Before the jumbo-sized french fries were introduced at McDonald's a regular-sized serving of fries was 200 calories. Now, the larger "regular-sized" serving of fries contains 500 calories. A small soda was 150 calories, now the larger "small" soda is 300 calories. Similarly, before the 1980s, a regular-sized bagel was 140 calories. Today a "regular-sized" bagel is 300 calories. In the past two decades, newer editions of cookbooks such as "The Joy of Cooking" have increased their single portion sizes in their recipes.

Food has become big business, and the more people eat and become addicted to fat, salt and sugar, the more profits are earned by corporations in the food business. According to the article in The New Yorker magazine, the extra pounds carried by Americans add ninety billion (yes billion!) dollars a year to the country's medical spending. "Obesity is inescapably confirming itself as one of the biggest drains on national health-care budgets." This is not just in North America, but globally. U.S. food corporations invest fifty-five billion dollars a year in food-processing and distribution facilities throughout the world. There is now a McDonald's on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. That is criminal.

For anyone who struggles with weight issues, and I think that is almost everyone at some point in their lives, this information is extremely interesting. The article doesn't mention the lack of nutritional value in these fast food items, but that's a given. Now, put down that Burger King Quad Stacker with four beef patties, four pieces of bacon, and four slices of cheese (for only $4.99) and that large bag of fries and jumbo soda pop, and step away from the table.

23 comments:

DUTA said...

Food companies are poisoning us, drug companies are killing us. But there is hope. More and more people get out of their ignorance and chose to live a more natural and healthy life which doesn't have to rely on the Health Care System.

PurestGreen said...

Like most people I am very suceptible to this kind of terrible food. I hate that companies are working so hard to manipulate people. How can those people sleep at night? And do they eat the food they "push" on others?

TheChicGeek said...

We need to stop eating so much processed food, sit down and enjoy good, healthy meals. Savor them rather than shoving them in and running out the door!
It is heartbreaking to me to have a McDonald's on the Champs-Elysees...and Disneyland Paris too!

When my daughter was living in Paris she told me that the French McDonalds is actually a different menu than in America and the food is better too!
Great post, Jo!
Have a Happy Healthy Day!

Pouty Lips said...

There is no incentive on the part of big business in the US to keep people healthy.

Leah Fry said...

I should probably not even get started on this topic, as it's a hot button issue for me.

One result of that whole thing is the resizing of clothing sizes. Size 8 is the new 10, which is the new 12, and so on. God forbid someone should feel bad about having to buy a bigger size, or heed the warning that just maybe they should watch what they eat and get off the couch.

SparkleFarkle said...

"Soft drinks have now become the number one food consumed in North America." Wow, I never thought of it that way. What group in the Food Pyramid are soft drinks listed under, I'm wondering. Probably some place at the top. In its own category (“Syrupy Tooth Enamel Looters,” perhaps. LOL!) Coca cola seems pointy to me. Yeah, probably located at the tip of the Pyramid.

Seriously, I'm appalled at how portion sizes have GROWN by leaps and bounds. (They were pretty BIG to start with, in America, at least, don’t you think?) Due to the state of the economy, many food distributers are subtly (so they think) selling smaller versions of their products for the same price as the temporarily(?)defunct bigger sizes. Sure, it can be considered a gyp, but if you make the lesser amount last as long as if it was the original product allotment, you're actually shaving calories! God, I'm a genius, or what?! I’m thinking “or what.” LOL! Where do I get this stuff from? Maybe if I used the light bulbs that are NOT coming on above my head, around the house, I could some how help the energy crisis, too! LOL!

The Bug said...

So I'm reading this while eating Moose Tracks ice cream & contemplating a second bowl. Maybe I'll just put the bowl in the sink & take a walk instead!

susie said...

Eat off the dollar menus, and you'll get less. It's just as satisfying as the larger meals, and you can usually get a burger, side salad or chili and a small drink for about $3.
Cheaper than the meals too.

Or better yet--eat at home. It's cheaper and better.

Nancy said...

I think it's the treachery that bothers me. At a time when we are fighting for healthcare, we have corporations scheming to figure out how to keep us sick. There is something really wrong with that on a very basic level.

Country Girl said...

Good Lord.
On The Today Show this morning, they had a nutritionist who was comparing foods and I saw a chocolate peanut butter milkshake that's offered at Coldstone that has 2,400 calories in it.
This has to stop! It's criminal.

Alissa said...

I'll admit, I have my weaknesses, but I know I tend to eat healthier than most people. It is not only fast food, but just about all restaurant food. My parents like to eat out, and when I go with them. I tend to just get an appetizer and have a salad for a meal, because otherwise the servings are just way too much. I don't like throwing food away, so I always try to finish, but I hate that feeling of having stuffed myself with food.

Mariana Soffer said...

Very interesting post.
First I would like to tell you that each time I go to the states, specially to florida, I see the size of the people and get amazed. I was there a week ago, and I went shpping from some clothes, I went to buy jeans at banana republic, you know what my size is, 0 petit. IT is amazing, and in Buenos Aires I am a kind or regular sized girl, just a little skiny but not much.
One thing I am wondering is why they do this with foot (obviously for mony) and not with cigaretts, because they could let people smoke inside and I bet the smoking will raise, and it is just as bad.
Bye jo

KathyB. said...

You know, I have a Labrador Retriever who will eat all food placed in front of her, or anywhere near here, and she will also consume anything edible she can get her teeth into...and she will literally eat herself sick! Sounds like the stats and reports you just wrote about.At least I can control her food intake, government regulations will never control human appetites...maybe the pocketbook will, but I doubt it.

Have you ever seen the programs and news reports of those thousand pound people, I have always wondered how people who cannot get up, walk outside their door, or perform any normal physical activity get the food that makes them so huge.Must have enablers...someone is bringing them the food. I think cracking down on food consumption would be like cracking down on drug buying and use...ain't gonna happen, they will always get their food!

And if there are people making food so tempting, easy to get, and super fattening and unhealthy, well , all the more desire for it!( like drugs and cigarettes)

Ruby Isabella said...

I'm not a Labrador but I too eat everything that is put infront. My people are not too different. The answer;

Put fruit and vegetables in front of yourself!!!!!!

Meggie said...

It makes me wretch to think about those foods, being foisted on unsusptecting fools.

pranksygang said...

These junks food are like drugs.. we become addicts the moment we start to taste them.... and it become hard to get out!!

Russell said...

I was at a restaurant recently and was shocked to see a man eating green peas with his knife! I mean, the lack of manners!!

It bothered me SO much I dropped a handful of mashed potatoes!!

Take care!

Leah Fry said...

Russell, you get the glory of being the first to have made me LOL today.

Deb said...

Where does it end? A 5,000 calorie meal? When I was a teenager, I never went to a fast food restaurant until dating my husband to be. What does that mean? I dunno..
Ironically, today I started a diet...I have to chuckle about this post.

Brenda said...

It is a racket. I still get shocked when I go to the grocery store and see that cherry tomatoes cost nearly $4 for a small package, and one lemon is at least 50 cents. Fresh fruits and vegetables are very expensive. I can see why people on fixed incomes have to eat at fast food places that sell so cheap. It is sad that companies care more about the money than about our health.

CTVicky said...

Just wanted to say I love Beryl Cook. She lived where I was brought up!

I think her paintings are amazing. Thank you for posting that picture.

Kimberly said...

Who can't resist fast food? It is conveinent and for the most part pretty affordable. Two birds with one stone...

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