In an era where family life is easily disrupted by growing obligations and fast paced, demanding jobs, there is often little time left for working out or making sound nutritional decisions. The day-to-day struggle of a single parent is back crushingly tough and more families are recognizing the importance of both parents going to work in order to survive mortgage payments and telephone bills. Proper eating habits tend to be last priority and easy to ignore. But not only do we have little time to consider what is in our quick on-the-go foods, we are making uneducated guesses as to what can sufficiently sustain our bodies throughout the day. When all we need is to take a look at a label to quickly make a decision, companies are deliberately leaving this bit of information out of the equation. The “right to know” factor has been taken from us by sly corporations who know exactly how to make a buck.
As a student, I feel the draw to fast foods and quick fixes. The sight of chocolate and the thought of a real white chocolate mocha and not that fake, non fat, sugar free powdered thing I force down my throat every morning, created a want inside of me. That want is slightly depressing. But I’ve researched and I’ve made my decisions based on information given to me after gaining a good seventy pounds during pregnancy. I leave the chocolate alone and, as of late, have been running twenty minutes every other day on a tread mill. But my educated decisions were sought after only within tiny windows of time, between homework and sleep and if the internet was the only place that I could get the caloric value of a white chocolate mocha, I’m beginning to think that overworked, tired America may be in more trouble than we think. If McDonalds wants to make the most delicious, fattening, mouth watering burger in the country and sell it for a dollar I say go on ahead. But concealing the real facts about that delicious burger is not only wrong, but subtly deceitful. Some would say it’s blatantly deceitful. No matter how great fast food companies’ french fries are, I want to know what is in my food. I want to know dangers; hazards etc. before I pick it up and put it in my mouth.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I found myself living in a motel for a month as I made the transition between my parents home and moving back to Lacey. The last month of my pregnancy was horrible. I was gaining weight fast. My options for food were limited to Jack in the Box, Seven Eleven, Dominos and an Oriental Grocery store that smelled like rotting fish. If I had known the caloric value of pizza and what those calories would do to my body, I would have probably waddled to the Oriental Grocery store and took a chance on their food. Instead, with little other choice and very little information as to what was in my food, I scooped up the quickest, easiest and most appealing food I could. I gained seventy pounds in the last month of my pregnancy and have kept thirty of it on for four years. Only now, tired of being overweight and tired of feeling unhealthy, have I chosen to make lifestyle changes for the better. Weight shedding from my body and feeling extremely energetic and lively throughout the day, I’ve realized in a very short time that there are things that my parents, who have battled obesity, hadn’t taught me.
I’ve also come to the conclusion that there is something more going on between the fork and the mouth then most companies will tell us. Not only is there a gap in our education system, where children could be learning nutrition and diversity in physical education courses but we’ve let their health plummet as well as our own. Children, who should have a great metabolism, are scarfing down foods that they see their parents eating and therefore, reach unhealthy sizes. Instead of teaching children things that are completely necessary in life, we teach them a strict curriculum of what they believe is the basics with room for nothing else no matter how important. There is no information where we truly need the information. It seems so easy to start teaching children about nutrition in schools and slapping informative labels on the wrapper of a double pounder or sausage sandwich, right?
Well apparently, corporations think it’s too hard and unnecessary. For me, it’s easier to believe that the real reason why people who own these corporations do not inform us of their products nutritional info is because consuming is all they want to teach. “Join the rat race, help me make some money and forget about staying healthy… you must buy buy buy more from me.” Schools teach consumerism in its most basic form. Schools teach us how to work. They throw us in school and teach us to be gone from home for six hours a day so that they can earn money and buy buy buy. So in the eyes of a corporation and Western Society as a whole, is it ever okay to not buy from them based on information that their product has health hazards? Never… or at least that’s what it’s beginning to look like. So while a good portion of Western society shines the shoes of corporations, we are stuck with a life of hard work, and medical bills because we didn’t have the time or the know how to make better decisions. We won’t know what’s going on with us until we become obese and our cholesterol is out of control and by then, it’s too late. A vicious circle of ignorance is brought on by a corporations need to control the market and make the money. And this type of ignorance is NOT bliss. It’s harmful and potentially deadly.
Some would say that people should know how to eat responsibly. Whether or not they become enormous and unhealthy is on them. But it’s funny that someone who has never been taught nutrition throughout school and was skinny most of their lives could gain fifty pounds in a year because they’re getting older, their metabolism slows down and all of a sudden you’re ranting at them that they should have made an informative decision? We’re living in a world where that “information” that people expect is not at all as readily available as the food. I suppose there’s one advantage of a view like this… that to let corporations go about their business without intervention means less government and more freedom. Sure… that’s sounds good to everyone. Do we really need the government coming in and making corporations do the right thing? I’d hate to say it but maybe we do. I can’t stand the thought of government controlling more than their fair share either, but if corporations can’t work ethically and reasonably with consumers, maybe government control is the only option. So there goes that advantage… wish it wasn’t such a short term pipe dream. Maybe my idea, to give freely of nutritional information and to be fair and allow the people to make correct decisions would work better. Perhaps obese teenagers wouldn’t sue fast food joints. Maybe the companies wouldn’t be seen as deceitful if they quit hiding the truth.
I shouldn’t have to ask for the notebook behind the counter underneath all the cobwebs that holds all the info about my food. I shouldn’t have to wait in line to pick up a piece of meat that could range anywhere from 100-2000 calories and not even know whether or not that piece of meat should be my only meal that day. I’m all for privatization, capitalism, business and making money. I’m not for big corporations pointing fingers at the individual and saying “you should have known,” when it’s obvious that no one is really trying to tell them in the first place. Go about your business with some ethics and real values or don’t go about it at all.