Monday, January 9, 2012

The American Diet...What Happened?

I am fascinated by the history of eating habits in this country.  I have also made it a point to examine my own history.  Why did I become so heavy?  Have I always been this way?  What were the lifestyle habits that determined my weight during my 39 years on this Earth?

The health care crisis in the last several years that comes with rampant weight gain in western civilization didn't just happen by accident. There has to be a reason. 

Take a look at the picture below.  It's a neighborhood grocery store in Dayton, Ohio (my hometown)  in 1957.
Photo courtesy of Dayton History Books Online

This was how it was back then, a neighborhood grocery store.  This was way before the massive grocery stores of our time.  But look in the window.  Fresh fruits.  Vegetables.  Meats.  They probably had plenty of junk food in there as well, but you get the idea. 

What wasn't in that store was row after row of frozen, processed foods.  I am sure there weren't any Hot Pockets at the B&L Market in 1957.  People, by and large, bought foods in their native state, took them home and prepared them. With that as a regimen, it would be very difficult to become morbidly obese. 

Fast-forward several decades and we can see what happened: the vast majority of what is offered in grocery stores today is processed, prepackaged or frozen food.  Now that's not because the store is evil or bad or wrong, they're just giving people what they want. 

Then there is the issue of restaurants.  In 1957, or 1967 and probably still 1977, dining out was considered a "treat."  The quality of the food was generally very high and restaurants were still expensive.  The idea of eating restaurant food or fast food all the time would have been unthinkable 55 years ago. 

That's what happened: people have stopped cooking and eating their own food.  On a very basic level, that's what took place.  It's what happened to me. I used to eat fast food 10 times a week. 

Something to think about.  Often times, the past teaches us about the present.

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