The American Diet

A general disclaimer for Steph —

Americans are fat; no time for euphemistic padding. We are obese, swollen with our own importance, gagging on our overflowing economic pursuits, on the chase for a swimming pool, three car garage, country club membership and personal bath for each family member. Americans waddle in credentials and qualifications, weighted down by an economy that increasingly demands education for financial reward, a civilization where learning has become a capitalistic advantage for one’s resume. The New American: bloated with success.

This land of dreams is also the land of extremes, and on the other side, Americans are wasting away. No jobs, no security, no hope, their skeleton frames peer through the bars of poverty and drug abuse, shunning nutrition for quick, cheap meals or the needle. They gaze in envy and awe at their neighbor, but if given the chance, they will adopt the same attitudes towards food and waste.

No wonder we have problems with our diets.

The modern American struggles within a strange love-hate relationship with food. Instead of food as a cultural icon, food must be outwitted, restricted, above all—controlled. Once, counting calories overshadowed all other strategies; then fat—lowfatnofatleanmeatmolypolyfolly-saturated. After fat there was food combining: fruits before meals, starches without meat, sugar with carbohydrate; we have the AB diet, the South Beach Diet, the Atkins Diet, all building towards today’s mechanistic attitude towards food as only fuel, a necessary evil.

Behind our obsession with food, and our ironically growing obesity, lies a fundamental problem in American culture, a problem with the individual and waste. Wasteful attitudes, wasteful habits, inevitable waste for a number of reasons. Certainly America earns its title of “land of plenty”, despite its population of poor. American culture loves to boast of its potentials. Every drink size seems extra large, portions in restaurants overflow, stores advertise “two for one”, and pizza companies make it a policy to bring you double the pies you ordered. There is more in America, even if every person can not access that more—more food, more space, more choice. No wonder the gap between classes is ever widening, as those who have are determined to have more, more, more. The world watches our waste and wonders: when will it ever be enough?

What is never enough is man’s instinctive search for goodness, and that idealism remains fresh and alive in America.  Somewhere, perhaps, the collective soul of America senses the emptiness of its waste. America has the most direct, honest and transparent policy towards many of the evils of society: discrimination against the disabled, the different, or the weak; abuse of animals, environment, or power. America openly, proudly fights these battles (and many others) as it blindly seeks to equalize the emptiness within its ethical domain.

What a colossal waste of possibility!

How can we Americans pretend to do what is good for the whole world when we do not know what is good for our own communities? How can we fight prejudice, stupidity, tyranny, when we fail to notice the superficial posturing of our own arguments? Americans have never understood that the most important things are invisible. Stuffed full with our own drive to boss others, to justify our “rightness” by forcing all to follow our lead, Americans again waste an opportunity to truly share one of the best American qualities, the rights of the individual as a human being.

Truly, I believe American simply lacks perspective. Faced with a swollen world whose borders resemble a distended belly, it is easy for each American to lose sight of the ground. If only every individual, as a collective group, vowed to narrow, reduce, and focus in order to streamline our American lives – then we would truly find the land of dreams.




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