As Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin famously has stated, "Tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are." His other very famous saying is that, "'Whoever receives friends and does not participate in the preparation of their meal does not deserve to have friends." It is worthwhile mentioning that Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin was not a professional cook. He was a great lawyer and a brilliant politician. However, his two sayings do say a lot about what food means in our lives. And not only food itself, but also we eat and when we eat and whom we eat with. All these things mean a lot for our health and for how good the products are being digested.
However, currently, a lot has changed in our eating habits. Everything has become different in so many ways that are, due to products, available for us to buy, and also due to the availability of so called convenience food. Shortly speaking, people have started to eat in a very unnatural way. Often, unnatural products, such food, which is not well digested and consuming, trigger some very unfortunate circumstances. People are more and more motivated to eat fast-food products and eat them really fast. It causes the extra weight, digestive disorders and heart related diseases. This list is by far from full. But what is it? Are manufacturers of food trying to kill us, the consumers of food? What is wrong with the picture? Why do we eat this sort of food and why we eat it in such a manner? Who is to be blamed? This paper is an attempt to answer all these questions and mainly whether or not these are food manufacturers. They want our death and whether or not they should be in charge of the situation.
In order to find the answers to the questions set, it is very important the literature to be reviewed. There have, probably, been some attempts of resolving the same questions in the past. Since the paper begins with the quotes by Brillat-Savarin, it may be a good idea to turn to his books. He wrote his works about food and eating habits. One of the most significant books written by Brillat-Savarin is The Physiology of Taste. In this work, the author tries to explain why exactly people oftentimes suffer from extra weight while other mammals, being relatively speaking, the close relatives of humans in the evolutionary sphere, hardly ever get overweight. He underlines that carnivorous animals never grow fat. Meanwhile, herbivorous animals do grow fat but they do this at a very old age, when they become inactive. Meanwhile, once potatoes are fed to them, or, for that matter, any sort of flour, or grain, these animals will very quickly become very fat. Meanwhile, people make meals, containing these ingredients, an integral part of their diet. The author underlines that all the animals, consuming farinaceous food, will necessarily grow food; and humans are just another species of such animals. He even calls this a "universal law" (Brillat-Savarin, pp. 208 - 209).
It is worthwhile mentioning, however, that Jean Brillat-Savarin lived in the end of the XVIII and the beginning of XIX century. He died in 1826. And even then, as we can see from his remarks, the problem existed and was quite a serious one. Meanwhile, he was lucky enough not to have known the problems, caused by the modern speed of life. He did not completely know what convenience food would be and how widely to spread it.
One more very widely known book, which should certainly be addressed when researching this problem, is The Fast-food Nation written by Eric Schlosser. His book mainly consists of two parts. The first one is The American Way that discusses how fast-food habits developed in the U.S.A. in the post-world War II period. In the second part, named Meat and Potatoes, the author discusses very serious problems, related to the artificial chemical flavored food products, conditions of beef and chicken industry, as well as the heavy influence, which fast-food culture of the U.S.A. has done upon the whole world. The author even blames Disney and other cartoon makers for the popularization of a fast-food style among children. But are only the manufacturers and advertisers to blame? Responding to that question, Schlosser has remarked that the spread of fast-food restaurants and food delivery services have magically coincided with the few other major changes in the life of American society. Automobiles have become more popular and more available. Many people have got their personal cars. This makes them move less; besides, the work has become more intense.Together with the way to work and return home, it consumes so much time leaving no time to prepare the healthy food, ingredients for which are yet to be found. Which, by the way, is also quite a time-consuming process? However, it has always been so that while one member of the family, most frequently, a husband, is earning money, the wife, i.e. the mother of the family, take care of some problems like this. However, in the second part of the XX century, emancipation processes have become more evident. Women would more and more frequently get jobs not because they needed money to pay their bills, but only in order to have the equal rights with men. As a result, an average family, where both parents are involved into work and social activities, is experiencing the lack of healthy food. There is nobody to prepare food. Even nobody is looking for the ingredients to prepare food. This increases the demand for fast-food solutions. So, are the manufacturers alone to be blamed for the situation? Is it not our desire to live the way that we find to be comfortable and not to care about the circumstances?
Yet another outstanding book, very closely related to the subject of this paper, is The Hundred Year Lie: How Food and Medicine Are Destroying Your Health. It is written by a journalist, Randall Fitzgerald, and was published in 2006. In fact, the book by Fitzgerald covers a very wide range of problems, related to the subject. One of the main ideas is that people, particularly the population of the United States and not only, have a very strong belief that toxicity health issues are mainly related to other people, not to them. Very few people dare to realize that this problem is something that has to do with their lives, with their children’s health. It is not something distant, not the neighbor’s problem which one can sympathize with, feel sorry for but not really worry about. The book discusses the horrors of food additives, chemical additives, which make food look smell and taste better. At the same time, these components inflict our health in such a bad way. The chemicals we consume and with which we feed the animals have already, according to the author of the book, heavily influenced the quality of water. In such a way this has the impact that this is as in the famous song, “it boils with every poison you can think of.” The book offers possible solutions to the problems, both traditional and eastern approaches to resolve the issue. Moreover, the work offers some preventive methods, which may help people to avoid consuming the chemically poisoned food. But what is there to be done with the water?
There is one more very interesting publication related to the topic. This time, this is a short article, written by Michael Snyder, named “Is the Food We Eat Killing Us?” The author starts his article with a very direct and eye-opening question, “Are we digging our own graves with our teeth?”
Is the food that we eat every day slowly killing us? The author recalls that during his childhood and youth he was sure and did not even question it that everything had been sold in large grocery stores being perfectly safe and healthy. He thought that both the state and the large corporations were there to make sure nothing unhealthy and dangerous would ever get on the table of consumers. The author attracts his readers’ attention to the fact that the ingredients of almost every possible food product are sold in the U.S. They contain sugar or a high-fructose corn syrup. The author was absolutely astonished to have found out that the high-fructose corn syrup had been even contained in the majority of sorts of bread sold in the market. Consuming it, however, leads to major cases of extra weight, dental and nutrition problems and so on.
A little knowledge about the way the meat we consume is being grown also would make the majority of people reconsider their eating habits, as the author claims. To make meat cheaper and, thus, more available, manufacturers stuff animals with growth hormones. As a result, animals grow until there is the time for them to die; and this is the moment they reach our tables.
Reading and hearing this sort of stories can really make the person paranoiac. What if the manufacturers of the food we consume on an everyday basis are really willing to kill us? What if they are after our lives? But is this really the right way to set the question? It is not, of course.
Nothing is being kept a secret from us. All the information we read in such articles is readily available to us on the shelves of our stores. If we care to read what is written on the package and not only judge by the looks of the product, we would know much more than articles of this sort are able to inform us about. Things, which are not understood, can be easily searched in the Internet. The majority of us has got smartphones and tablet PCs, so the research can be made right at the store, prior to buying one or another product.
These are the consumers of food being too lazy, or, as they prefer to put it, that they cannot find anything for cooking their meals. These are us, the consumers of food, who require the food to look and smell perfect. With this demand, the consumers leave no other choice to food manufacturers, other than use chemicals and other readily available methods of making the food look good. These are the consumers, who prefer to spend as little time and money on the food as possible. Therefore, they create the ever growing demand for fast-food and convenience food solutions. What is there left to do for manufacturers? They won’t neglect the possibility to earn the money. If one manufacturer fails to provide the goods to satisfy the demand, there will be another one that will not think too much of ethics and other related matters. Such a manufacturer will just provide the consumers with whatever they want to see on their tables.
We hate to do a lot of food shopping. We prefer going to the store once a week at most. So what is there to be expected, as the food, which gets onto the consumers’ tables is full of preservatives. Everybody theoretically knows about the harm of such preservatives. However, what the deal is that people are much more worried about some things like earning money. We have got no time for trifles like choosing the healthy food.
But even if we had only the healthiest food, would it really resolve the problem? This is very unlikely to think so. Due to just one very simple reason: the food we eat, whatever it is, we eat in a hurry. The culture of eating has already been lost. Ancient people used to have such culture. The meal used to be not just a session of consuming food. It was a ritual; a ritual, which has brought to people a great enjoyment and a deep satisfaction. And it was not only about food. People would eat slowly, with pleasure and care chewing the food. They were eating and eating, while leading interesting and enjoyable conversations with their friends. Meals took the large amounts of time; people would eat carefully and drink the necessary amounts of liquid with their food. Nowadays, once we are set to food, we are oftentimes done within few minutes, having swallowed the halfway chewed and cooked food. We drink a cup of instant coffee with lots of sugar in it or a glass of coke or some other drink, and the meal is over. The next meal is scheduled to the moment, when we feel so hungry that almost falling down. The food is found in the shortest possible time period as purchased, unpacked, and eaten in large amounts, without a proper chewing and other formalities. The meal is done.
Can anybody seriously blame the manufacturers of food for the situation under such circumstances? These are the consumers themselves, who create the demand. These are them, who should be responsible for the situation. The consumers have a very good mechanism of influencing the offer. They have their credit cards to vote with. And they have the freedom to vote for the healthy products only. This is what they never do. They prefer to go with something beautiful and nice smelt. And that is what they get. Meanwhile, the manufacturers are on the same boat with consumers. They should rather be seen as the victims of the situation. They will be drinking the same water, which has changed its structure. Thus, this is not to be recognized as such, due to the chemicals, consumed by the modern society and the amount of such chemicals.
The consumers of food should start realizing that these are them, not somebody else, being responsible for what they put into their mouths and what they teach their children to eat. Food manufacturers will only offer them what they ask for, nothing more. And it is their right to refuse. We ourselves are committing a suicide and food manufacturers can hardly save us. This will happen until we ourselves start realizing the situation and express the slightest desire to do something about it.
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