Fixing Fast Food

A fresh viewpoint on food and obesity in the United States by Mark Bittman of the NYTimes: Focusing on claims that fast food is cheaper than buying groceries, Bittman compares food prices via graphics and data. An interesting aspect of the article is that the author focuses on cultural changes in cooking. He argues that the real challenge to people not cooking more is not that families feel too stressed and busy to cook, but the fact that cooking is seen as work, rather than of pleasure. Although I do not completely agree with his challenge to being busy, I do agree that over time behaviors can form if healthy habits change. It may be crucial to challenge the value that food is a reward, so during stressful times, people do not turn to guilty pleasure foods.

Stress is an issue to look at with this article. Are higher income adults less stressed than families of lower SES? When people are stretched too thin, they turn to fast food to give them a quick and easy meal, expelling the least amount of energy. Could the solution be here? The underlying cultural value to change may not be that cooking is better (which most people already agree with) but that cooking is a stressful activity. Change in values start with children, where education can shift beliefs in the next generation. Related to the life course approach, early intervention can challenge behaviors in the future.

Mark Bittman’s arguments about prices and calories are compelling; however people have argued that his approach may seem elitist, in an upper-middle class viewpoint. Do you agree? What about single person households? Food goes stale or rots faster; I cannot eat a head of lettuce fast enough before it goes bad. Frozen fruit and vegetables can be alternative to this. The debates can go back and forth. What are your opinions? Leave some comments below; I would love to hear your thoughts.