Sunday, February 15, 2009

Finger-Licking Ambivalence

Any time I endeavor to discuss what is clearly the obvious, and rapid, decline of the Food Network, I come across something like this and it all goes to poop -- in this case, somewhat literally.

The above-linked blog is, essentially, one of the more frightful expositions on repulsive, over-the-top food I've ever seen, whether in person, electronically or on film. It's not particularly for the faint of heart, so if you've got a weak constitution -- or heart disease -- you might want to look away. Then again, considering you're reading these pages, how weak a constitution could you really have?

In either case, I think that the above-linked blog (which has also, conveniently, been added to the blogroll to the right) isn't 100% accurate. True, America is among the most obese nations on the planet. True, many among us believe the "Super-Size" is the only size. True, we consume food that has the nutritional value -- and, consequently, treat our bodies -- like shit.

But the problem isn't only eating crap. My personal experience over the past year or so during which time I've lost a load of weight doesn't begin nor does it end with Wendy's, McDonald's, Burger King or FatBurger. Invariably, what it does begin with is quantity -- whether you're consuming fish three times a week or pizza three times a day, if you're consuming more calories than your body is able to process you're going to get fat. It's a mathematical equation. Put too much of anything -- good or bad -- in your body and you'll expand faster than Jay Leno's chin through a fisheye lens.

Conversely, if you consume less than your body needs, your body will -- eventually -- begin to take fat cells and convert them to energy so you can maintain whatever activity in which you're engaged. So if that means you're eating too little, your body will respond accordingly -- and you'll lose weight.

The stuff of rocket science this is not, y'all.

What that "Why You Are Fat" blog is somewhat deceptive is that there's a clear distinction between "a bit overweight," "heavy" and "need a crane to leave the house." The problem is we in this nation have gone from the first category to the second -- and the third -- relatively quickly. It's mostly linked to fast food's complete takeover of our national cuisine, but it's also linked to ingenuity that delivers fried candy bars, the phenomenon of eating contests -- glamourized most recently by Man vs. Food on the Travel Channel, Krispy Kreme anything and the ever-popular Huge-Breakfast special (for more on this, go here).

I could go on and on or I could, in a dash of erudite irony, mention what brought me to address the Food Network in the first place. But the thing is, I'm not interested in preaching nor am I on some sort of mission to immunize the planet or the nation from obesity. I'm not skinny and I'm only beginning to approach a reasonable weight. Thing is, while those of us who are interested in preparing and enjoying food are now known as "foodies," I think it's dangerous and unhealthy for people to, essentially, not care what they're consuming. There's a difference, however, between reading a nutrition label and understanding it and simply trusting the comic-font labels screaming "0% Trans Fat" and thinking everything's okay with that pile of chocolate-covered graham crackers you're about to buy. It's more than common sense but it doesn't have to be foie gras and caviar, but it shouldn't be fried smores on a stick, either. In other words, the typical -- and long-standing -- dichotomy between health and self-awareness doesn't have to mean you're either slurping wheat grass smoothies or injecting yourself with cholesterol to see if you can induce a heart attack by 4PM. And there lies a similar dichotomy that suggests that the more affluent sector of society eats healthier because quality food costs more. That, however, is bullshit. I haven't been in McDonald's, Wendy's or any other fast food joint in so long that I can't comment on the prices since the country's economic situation hit the toilet, but if memory serves correctly, food prices in Mickey's, Wendy's and the myriad other fast-food establishment were far from inexpensive.

And the choices, if not Happy Meal Central, are plentiful and relatively cheap and fairly simple. Tossing a raw whole chicken into a disposable roasting pan with some lemon wedges, a head of garlic and some salt and pepper shoved inside and around the bird along with some halved yukon gold potatoes and some fresh broccoli, carrots, celery, onions and/or cauliflower for 90 minutes is about $15 including a disposable roasting pan (if you live in pricey cities like NYC, et al). That's something like $4 per serving (factoring in cooking gas), which is cheaper than just about any crap-in-a-bag from any fast food place you can name.

So...with all due respect to the above-linked site, the reason why we're fat is far from a Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe or a Fried Smore on a Stick. It's not just what we eat, it's how much we eat. So the next time you're in the deep South and have a hankering for some country fair competition, skip the hot dog-eating contest and the pie-eating contest. Unless you're unable to leave your house without the help of a crane and a crew of construction workers, you'll likely lose to a guy named after a city.

And definitely avoid the Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe or a Fried Smore on a Stick. Although, I must admit, I sure as shit would like to try them both, just once, before they wheel me into the Liposuction Lab and convert some of me into soap ;-)

In the meantime...happy eating ;-)

No comments: