Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Predatory Fast Food

I feel strangely out of my depth in these kinds of conversations. Horror of horrors, I have to rely on the crapulent prism of torrid food neurosis, to give a picture of the food situation in the US. I must say, that's no place to be.

I can't relate to the narrative. I feel there are things missing from it. My experience differs and I'm not American. I know there are food deserts, I just don't feel that's the whole of it. 

No matter what, I always try to understand why people are saying things the way they are, because that can sometimes tell you most of all.

Personally, I never felt the fast food industry should be able to shape children's minds. I was always unsure about things like fast food in children's hospitals and vending machines in schools. I just don't need any wackdoodle theories about mad scientists creating addictifying foods to enslave humankind.

Like drug dealers.

Nor do I recall, anyone asking me, or any other fat people about the spread of fast food. It wasn't up to us. I'm not declaring innocence here. There has never been a point where I've felt other people really wanted to halt this, especially, not in low income areas anyhow.

Slimness has become an identity, a construct and part of that is the presumption that merely by existing, you are doing lots to create your size, like your own personal godette.

This means a lot of slim people are disassociated from the reality of fatness. Which is that it is a spontaneous adaptation of your body that is usually not directed by your conscious mind. The upshot is, your body can blip and slip back and forth with making the sort of effort a lot of fat people don't even see as effort. Trained as we are to discount it.

But if your body enters a decisive shift, "discipline" real or imagined means surprisingly little. Though people might have made some noise about the spread of convenience foods, it nowhere near reflected their obesitee hysterics. And in the main people have been rather receptive to fast food and welcomed its advance, especially if they didn't feel weight was an issue for them.

And frankly, I really wish the current narrative on food, didn't make that seem like some kind of misdemeanour. Most people see something in this food. Everywhere, around the world, it sells. People newly arrived from every culture on the globe get a taste for it, the same as everyone else. In a way, it's become a communal experience. To the extent that being denied it feels like being left out.

There's something universal in its appeal. Why create shame around that?

I'm sure that's some of the reason why people allow their children to go. How many times can a parent say no? I'm not sure if I've heard this or not, but there are influential people in any particular group and if they're sold on it, that often influences others.

There's no doubt that many food industry indulgences fall in with typical senseless profiteering that only counts the cost of  the bottom line, ending up by consuming itself. It's hard to see how not eating the crappier offerings of the food industry isn't the best way of bringing them to heel.

When you go to other countries, you'll find certain processed products taste better. The manufacturers know folks wouldn't buy any old shite. It seems due to the peculiar taste buds of the certain countries which generate a lot of this blaming and hysteria. Both the taste fail and the lack of proportion about these foods are intimately related.

When some companies reduce the laughable amounts of sugar and salt they pad their products with, people rarely seem to notice or bother.

And the idea that fat people are blaming fast food for their fatness? Firstly only those who feel fatness is blameworthy can blame anyone or anything. One can be curious about the interaction between our lives and the size of our bodies outside 'blame'.  Second of all, the overwhelming majority of fat people blame themselves and always have done. And it's about time that was fully acknowledged.

The glib insistence that poor people are fat and it's attendant "not knowing about nutrition" has also obscured things. Recap on the streets of London whenever your out late, it's remarkable how the youths and kids you see are almost always slim if not thin.

Often they're raised in the way all kids used to be, let out all day, except; a) they're out later-to varying degrees. And b) the context has changed. As other children have gone indoors, the mix is different and the streets in general more edgy, a side effect of car ownership. That's now seen as bad parenting of course.

The most widespread plumpness/fatness, doesn't fit the typical class stratas. It's more certain sectors of the more stolid/aspirant working class plus struggling lower middle class people. The kinds of backgrounds people like Jennifer Hudson, Regina Benjamin, Adele and Kate Winslett grew up in.

They seem to be plumper than other working class folks, who sometimes show a different mentality. A more free range one. Yet no one points out that it seems rather successful at producing slimmer kids. Including all the way to actual erm, clashes with authority

If you think I'm making a crude point about criminality and slimness, nah, that would be the 'obesity' crusade's way of doing things. I'm saying aims, ambitions- attitudes may well tell on our bodies, just not in the simplistic ways certain weight ideologues want them to. Our internal and external lives are bound to tell on our metabolic function in some way, we are maintained through our metabolic function. The basics of which are building up and destruction of cells
Middle income people are the most overweight and eat fast food more regularly than anyone else. In contrast,  80 percent of those with low incomes cook at home at least five times a week.
This tally's with my experience and many around me. I was brought up by a mother who cooked mostly from scratch. The weekends were often given over to cooking. She did shift work too. It dishonours her efforts when people including some in FA blather senselessly about poor ole po' folks who don't know nutrition like middle class folks.

Many of whom have proven they can't even define food properly. "Non nutritive food" and "empty calories" being of the more mind numbing examples of this. You don't need to 'know nutrition' to prepare or have balanced diet. Familiarity with things that grow from the earth, land and sea and how to prepare them will do.

I was beginning to wonder recently whether there's a certain amount of time-generationally speaking- where if you lose touch with growing food, the desire to eat it erodes. Certainly one of the best ways to get children to try produce is not by turning that into a dutiful chore, but to teach them to grow and prepare it. Another thing that was taken out of schools.

This is why I still can't raise much enthusiasm for food campaigns. My heart has taken a pounding having watched all of this unfold. Things that were let go because certain children especially were not deemed valuable enough to warrant it. The effects on people's skills were inevitable, that made no difference. So hearing people get all outraged because of weight, makes me feel oddly distanced.

Most of this happened after the 'obesity' noise started.

Even if people could be bothered to give a damn how could they get to the point of action when, it was all about weight and that's down to the individual right? If all these-and more had been been kept- the situation in terms of healthy eating would be so much better. The mental health of children would be too, given the palliative and I believe spiritual development of children running free, having lives that aren't micro managed by adults.

I don't wish to romanticise, there were problems with things like bullying, accidents and dodgy adults. People detested the rather primitive PE that forced them run miles in the cold. That definitely contributed to a deep desire among many parents to spare their children the indignities they'd suffered. So why isn't that mentioned?

Some of that applies in the US, some of it doesn't given the fears about safety and the size and scale of the country.

But culture changes and things could have been improved. Child slimming efforts are no replacement for all this.

In the US, the poverty=fast food has never quite convinced. I cannot completely discount it, because I cannot get enough of a sense of what's going on. There's something missing from the puzzle and I can't work out what that is. A low income mainly puts pressure on variety. Over quite a short period that can make a difference, let alone year after year.

I feel like Black People in the US ate/eat similarly to Black people in other Diasporas. The change seems to have been more recent, like in the last two or three generations especially. And that overlaps with the most chronic soul grinding hunger for many.

It's hard to see how the current attractions of fast food are not somewhat bound up with the collective memory of that. As well as things like the joy of being served. The relief of not having to arrange a meal yourself after a hard days work. Or even, when you have nothing. It can make you feel better able to stay more relaxed if you don't have to worry about meals. Things like this are important.

I wish people were able to speak about things like this if that is part of the mix. I'm not discounting the power of suggestion, through advertising. Especially the bombardment in the US. We are quite often quite suggestible when it comes to food, adults too. But, it would be nice if Black people-fat and slim, were allowed to have a discussion that wasn't an attack on them. To be imperfect without it seeming just incompetence, neglectful or self abusive.

That we recognise we are marked by circumstance, that put paid to the best of intentions. That perhaps this is a learning opportunity for us all. That blood 'obesity' crusade is not conducive to honest exploration of behaviour for anyone and that gets on my nerves.

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