It’s just you and me here so be honest. Are you overweight? Seriously, I won’t tell.
I am. I am considered obese. There are more of us every day who are. More adults. More children.
And while this issue is often considered a North American issue, there are signs of this becoming somewhat of a global epidemic. Why is that?
There are a number of issues here. Why are we eating so much? Why are we eating crap?
I’m not going to make excuses for myself. Food is my soother. When I get stressed I eat. I take responsibility for my weight. I am the one who puts it in my mouth. I can’t blame anyone else or the world for that. It is my struggle and it is ongoing.
Beyond personal issues though there are some systemic issues that push people towards the garbage they ingest. I don’t think these things are made as clear as they could be.
Much of it has to do with capitalism.
How many hours a day or week do you work? Do you work 40 or less hours a week? Is that more or less than you used to work? Is it more or less than your parent’s generation worked?
Fear rules these days. Fear of terrorism, socialism, tea baggerism, Muslims, Mexicans, aliens, Justin Bieber, God, the left, the right. And the biggest fear these days is for people to lose their jobs.
Expectations at work are used against us. If Ted is willing to work until 9 pm every night, why aren’t you? Don’t you want your job? The workers of the world are being abused by companies. If you have a Blackberry or some other similar device, especially if your employer provides it, you are expected to respond 24 hours a day.
And as the teleworker work force grows, being at home, with computer, cell phone within inches of you at all times, the expectation that you will be available grows. And the real problem in a depressed market especially, is whether or not you are expected to, you often feel you have to in order to keep your job safe.
In order for companies to remain viable and growing, results are expected sooner. Perfection is always the expectation. And if the boss needs it tomorrow, you better have it yesterday. And that project you are doing? The company is living and dying by everything you so. And while there is reality in there, there is also a raft of unreasonable expectations we are all expected to meet. More, sooner, best, always.
This is the free market at its best and worst. Our time is squeezed ever more and the result is family time is less and less. So if you work a 12 hour day, are you going to go home and spend an hour or more making dinner? No chance. Fast food, frozen dinners, whatever gets you through. Kids won’t cook so they feed themselves the same fast crap. Of course they don’t cook because you don’t have time to teach them.
Do you make lunch for your kids? Or do they? No. They eat cafeteria crap (go Jaime Oliver!), go to whatever fast food is nearby or eat pizza pops, or whatever package food they can find.
Time, family time, is being relentlessly squeezed by the requirements of business. We know what’s more important. These days it’s almost impossible to keep family first unless there’s a crisis. And there is a crisis. But few companies see it that way.
A second problem is that as North American companies have outsourced more and more manufacturing overseas, there is little by way of physical labour in the work force. So many of us have desk jobs. So sitting all day and for longer and longer periods each day as demands grow, we rarely get off our keesters and get moving.
Top that off with the fact that pay has not risen at the same rate as costs have and you have the perfect storm for a generation. Both parents working often ridiculous hours and the kids are home without supervision and no skills to feed themselves properly.
The final straw comes with the ever growing gap between have and have-not. The middle class for years has been pushed ever farther down. The stagnant incomes combined with the ever higher costs of living have set us up for failure.
So with both parents working just to get by, where does food fit? If no one has time to make a proper meal, what do we eat? Fast food. It’s cheap, easy and available. It gives parents a few extra precious minutes with their kids and adults without kids a respite from the day. The problem of course is that these foods, frozen meals are mostly garbage. Socked with fat, salt and made with questionable quality, it is the worst thing for you.
In a totally upside-down world, the worst is the least expensive while the quality, healthy foods are the most expensive. Imagine if a Big Mac was $12 and a prepped plate of vegetables with healthy dip was $1.99. Not in the this lifetime.
And yes, we are all responsible. There are certainly ways to alleviate the amount we ingest. Much of the exhaustion and stress make good choices very difficult to digest, despite knowing better.
How do we return to a world where family is first? How do we get back to a time where a single parent income is enough for a house, a car and a nice vacation each year? A place where a parent could make the choice to stay home and raise the kids? A place where a home cooked healthy meal is possible?
I wish I had an answer. The reality is we’d have to blow it all up and start over. I do believe that day will come but it will take generations. A complete and utter revolt against capitalism and a money-driven world is required. And don’t take that as support for the so-called ‘family values’ groups you see. These people are the bane of all. They pretend to support family values but really they are hate groups driven by money and power. And they are some of the biggest abusers of religion. So don’t think I’m advocating for that.
I am all about family. In a world not driven by fear but love. Equality. Respect. For all.
I dream. You can’t stop me. You won’t stop me. Join me!