Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Death By Affluence



I am a BIG fan of mysteries. As a kid I rode my bike down to the library and checked out 70 of the 82 Agatha Christie books and read them by the time I was 15. As an adult, I learned to love TV shows like Castle, NCIS, and even Hawaii 5-0.


Today, I thought, “Huh. What we have here is the mysterious case of “Death by Affluence”.

In the past, only the very affluent had enough money to buy excess food and get fat. Food= wealth. Food meant you have arrived. Over time, the body developed fatty deposits to store fat for long periods of fasting… that period of time where there wouldn’t be enough food to go around, like winter. Those who did not have fat stores stood the risk of dying from malnutrition and only those that got fat during the good times survived the lean times.

I often joke that I carry my “two year supply” with me at all times.

As early as the 13th century, cookbooks discussed the pleasures of food. An abundance of food was considered a sign of affluence and pleasure… Hello. Have you taken a good look at fine art. Those women were voluptuous and it was admired! Now a days, the same women would be considered unhealthy. Go figure.

It appears that our ancestors disliked what they consider “cheaper food” including fruits, veggies, and herbs of the season, preferring rare and foreign things. They preferred the “easy” way out and soon opted for “convenience” foods at the family dinner table. It was a sign of affluence to have strawberries in January and grapes in April. It’s normal to us “Jepson-set” that live in the modern world. Our enchantment with exotic, rare and out-of-season ingredients is simply a by-product of our ability to obtain, transport and preserve food.

Today, there is an abundance of cheap and fattening food and it is no longer a sign of affluence to be overweight. For those of us that are overweight, we are trapped. In fact, in the US today what with agricultural subsidies it is often cheaper processed food that contains the most sugar and fat, resulting in many poor people being particularly overweight.

High incomes and a taste for fast food and sugary drinks pushed many into the obesity club. Low levels of exercise, along with a taste for fast foods laden with carbohydrates, salt, fat and processed sugar is cause for increasing concern about the nation’s health. We are the fast food nation, and our kids love fast foods. We love convenience food. It is still a sign of affluence ...

I need to learn to socialize without making food the centerpiece. Christmas is the perfect of example of socializing with food. How many plates of “goodies” did you get or share? Instead of making food the centerpiece of my relationships I need to find new activities to share. Maybe walking. Maybe a craft. I’ll have to think on that.

Case solved. Our money is killing us with food. Oh to be back in simpler days where we grew what we ate; when we were hunters and gathers. That way, the process of gaining food would be the process of burning the calories.

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