Reinventing Food Culture
Food plays an undeniable and significant part of every culture in the world. Traveling abroad, observing foreign cultural regards towards food, I was left contemplating America’s lack of engagement with food. Without a second thought, food in America is centered on fast, on-the-go, quick, processed foods. The US fast food industry is worth almost $200 billion.
Commercial advertisement engulfs us. The United States is king in the world’s advertising market, spending $197.5 million in advertisements – double that spent in China, the second largest spender on ads. Bombarded by branding, there is seemingly no escape from companies repeated attempts of enticing the public to eat this, drink that, avoid this, and do that. Even children as as young as three years old can recognize brands. How has the commercial food industry come to dictate our perception of food?
Food politics, advertisements, vague governmental dietary guidelines, and a lack of nutritional educational research has stunted our vision of food, generating deep rooted fears: A fear of obesity, a fear of heart disease, a fear of cancer, a fear of diabetes, a fear of fats, a fear of carbs, a fear of calories; ultimately surmounting to a fear of food.
Real, nourishing, good-for-us food is not found in a bag of chips from a gas-station, nor does it come from a box sitting on a shelf for the past several months. Real food is organic in nature and real food doesn’t need advertising. Have you ever seen a commercial for broccoli?
The time has come to bridge the gap and reconnect with nourishing, real foods and the role nutrition plays in society. Please participate in reinventing food culture in America. How can this be achieved?
Start a conversation. Talk about food with your children, family, friends, farmers at the local market.
Vote with your fork. Shopping from local farms supports and strengthens local economies and fosters a sense of community while sending a message to food industry that consumers demand a healthier future.
Grow your own food. Start a garden. Grow herbs on your kitchen counter or patio. Plant a fruit tree in your yard. If space is an issue, locate a local community co-op to participate in growing and learning about fresh grown food.
Question your consumption. Build a habit of reading ingredient labels and familiarize yourself with the contents of what you eat. Questions to ponder: How many ingredients? Am I familiar with all the ingredients? Why are these in my food? What effect(s) do they have on my health?
Educate yourself. With so much misinformation out there, one of the best things we can do for ourselves and our children is to stay up-to-date. Now more than ever, information can be at our fingertips within seconds. Utilize the internet (wisely of course), read books, journal articles, follow those you trust and heed their advice. Don’t be afraid to share your learning experiences with others!
Together, we can change food culture in America. Change starts with simple, but conscious habitual actions which will have a profound rippling effect. May future generations and the future of our planet benefits from today’s mindful habits.