Tuesday, February 10, 2009

This is (partly) why you're fat

So, yes, genetics and ethnicity play a role.

And, yes, sedentary life style due to evolving technology and poorly designed urban areas that keep people inside plays a role.

And, Endocrine disruptors in some foods that may alter fats in the body can play a role.

There are many other theories.

But could we please call a spade a spade and admit that we have a SERIOUS problem. I know this is "touchy" topic for some, and that some people may get "offended," but the health of the nation is at stake and we are facing not a problem, but an EPIDEMIC. The Center for Disease Control has obesity in its top 10 (although last on its homepage) and if you haven't seen the frightening animated map of the nation, changing from light blues (<10%>30%) in 2007, you should take a gander. Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee are leading the pack with 32%, 30.3% and 30.1% respectively.

But what else is playing a role? FOOD! And not just food, but the kinds of food and the amount of food. You gain weight by eating more calories then you expel, seems like common knowledge. You would think.

So the actual reason for this post is: I just left my first class at MIT called Food Systems and the Environment where we were discussing the history of our food system and how we got to where we are today. And what is more obvious than ever, is that our system, as much as we feel comfortable in it, IT IS NOT WORKING. There is more food then ever before being produced and much of the problem lies in the distribution of that food and the knowledge transfer that is not occurring for one reason or another, to millions of people. So while most of the impoverished world is living on less then a dollar a day, we have websites popping up that infuriate me, and thus the reason for my post.

So here is the coup de grĂ¢ce:

Brought to you by: This is Why You're Fat which receiv
ed 1,520,464 hits since it was released on Monday and was sent to my by my friend Emily. This site collects photos of exhibitionist food endeavors. While many find this really humorous, I would argue that it is definitely a societal problem to act this way, while much of the world is going hungry. Call me the party pooper if you want, but I doubt many of these people have ever experienced actual hunger. So here are my "favorites"

Turbaconucken - A chicken inside a duck inside a turkey, all wrapped in bacon. (via nycfoodguy)

Giant Breakfast Burrito - A seven pound breakfast burrito stuffed with potatoes, eggs, onions, and ham bits, lots of cheese on top and smothered in red chile. (via dogsarefunyes)

The Meat Ship- Made from bacon, sausages, pastry, franks and pork mince. (via supersizedmeals)

Brick Of Cheese (via laist)

The fact of the matter is we have made this "okay," "cool" and even "funny." I would argue that this is not okay, global warming is not cool and hunger is not funny. And if you think the way we consume food in this country doesn't have a rippling effect through the world, then we are failing to educate people on the severity of the issues we face as the resources run out. I challenge people to change the cultural "norm" and challenge the "status quo."

"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. " ~Author unknown, commonly misattributed to Charles Darwin


Julie Mac said...

I saw "This is why you're fat" before I read your blog post, and I have to admit, I thought it was pretty hysterical. ("Turbaconucken"!? hahaha.) I totally agree that it's a bad thing that the site exists in the first place, because it's a symptom of our overindulgent and unhealthy culture. It's embarrassing that Americans think up these concoctions, and it's a slap in the face to the rest of the world. However, I think it's ok that people find the site to be humorous. Hopefully most people think it's funny because they recognize the absurdity of the foods, and understand how unhealthy they are. I, for one, would never touch anything pictured on the site - yuck!

If these foods were more common, I would be more upset. But I am much more concerned about the everyday eating patterns of the majority Americans than about the small number of people who eat novelty foods at a fair or party. Most Americans include factory farmed meat in their diets 2-3 times a day and think nothing of it. To the casual diner, a CAFO pork chop with a side of imported mashed potatoes and a bag of pesticide-laden, irradiated spinach seems like a pretty innocuous meal, but multiplied over a lifetime and a large population it will have terrible consequences for the planet and public health. I have more of a problem with systemic ignorance and wastefulness than with occasional over-the-top indulgence.

To me, the issue is not that we think "This is why you're fat" is a funny web site. The issue is that most people have no clue that industrial agriculture is actually a "Turbaconucken" in sheep's clothing. Or something like that. ;)

Ashley said...


Thanks for your poignant response. I think your are spot on and it is the daily consumption patterns and utter ignorance to the issues that are the ultimate detriment to the plant, our health and in my opinion, human existence. I once ask a kid during a nutrition lesson where hamburgers come from and he responded, "the grocery store." It is this very removed aspect of the industrialized food system that scares me the most. The blinders are on, and like my brother recently commented, "If eating a filet mignon is wrong...I don't wanna be right!" (actual a joke on the movie Coming to America, because my brother is cool like that)

Ashley said...

Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.
-- Albert Einstein

Asta said...

I think that "This is Why You're Fat" is similar to the "What White People Like" blog phenomenon. It went viral in about 24 hrs because it's funny but there is a grain of truth in it. (All good humor has a grain of truth mixed in somewhere.) It's that grain of truth in "This is Why You're Fat" that I find so disturbing. People look at this ridiculous food, and feel justified by their twice a week big-mac, large fries, and keg of soda indulgence because, let's be honest, it's not as bad as the "Meat Ship."