Sunday 24 February 2008

The American Dream Meal

Help, someone just ate my American Dream. It got consumed - just like that. One minute I was standing there just checking out the display and the next minute there was a stampede. Consumers were everywhere taking numbers, forming lines, and shuffling around like they were in the colour guard at Arlington National Cemetery. The American Dream meal I am referring too is ice cream. Yes, I got to hand it to these guys; they sure make some good ice cream. But then not all of them would know that. Because in the new American Dream more is less, or less is more, or less is less, or chocolate chop cookie dough is more, or, hang on, I am so confused. Where was I? Oh yes, why wouldn’t all of them know that. Well, they are too busy avoiding the good stuff in an effort to save a gram here and a point there.

Visit America, you will witness a nation of consumers like never before. I never thought that consumption had anything to do with organic substances. I used to think that "consumers" referred only to cars, televisions, stereos, clothes, computers, etc. Well, when it comes to consumption food is it. The quality-quantity struggle is so evident in this industry sector. The American people appear to be consuming more and more food. Not only are the portions from another planet, but everything is labeled with big stickers highlighting the fat content, kilojoule intake, calories, carbs, etc. Forget dieticians, you need to be a mathematician to eat right in the United States. Everyone is adding and subtracting and calculating. Talk about the numbers. This is quantity in a cookie dough of a nutshell.

The American way is all about convenience, and fast food drives this point home in a big way. People are seen to be rushing around everywhere with something in their hands, something edible, something low on fat. You see, the less the fat the more you can eat. This is a 100%, no-doubt-about-it, trade-off between quality and quantity. It seems people would rather eat lots and lots of low fat, no taste, zero substance, non-existent texture, basically, nothingness type food in an effort to eat more and more. In short, people are eating so many more times a day. If this trend carries on like this we are going to be eating every hour on the hour. And on the converse side, the food we eat is going to become more and more like cardboard. Why not have a few quality meals a day instead of eating a dozen times from the time you awake until the time you go back to sleep. Don’t the words breakfast, lunch and dinner mean anything any more? Perhaps the problem is not obvious. Maybe in this era of high-pressure and technological bombardment we simply don’t have the time or the patience to sit down and have a family oriented meal?

In these times of fast food and slow digestion it appears that more is less. Or is it that less is more. I am getting more and more confused. I would rather eat a great supper of substance than a whole bunch of slimmer’s snacks. And here is the real kicker. If everyone is so weight conscience, then why is that 1 in every 3 people in the US is overweight. I figure that if you eat 300 kilos of rice cakes you are going to weight 300 kilos more, even if they have zero fat content. You can't cheat nature.

If the three basic meals become commoditized then I really am frightened to imagine what will be next. There are somethings in life that we cannot let slip. Sitting down for dinner with friends is one of the most soulful and simple forms of human contact. This is qualitative relationship building in its purest form. If we replace this with fast food we are going to destroy the moral fabric of society or what’s left of it.

This Western culture of fast food and instant gratification is all about quantitative living. If a simple human pleasure like eating, and a more important social activity like bonding, becomes a numbers game then I think the only winners are going to our new friend, "globalization".

Posted by Ronnie Apteker