Responses (interact with the text through analysis, predictions, evaluation, and connections, but don’t just summarize)
1. “On this count, most of the men in the room could rest easy. They had personal trainers, gym memberships, and enough nutritional awareness to avoid diets that were heavy in the foods they manufactured” (11). This just confirms a horrible truth: the food companies are very much aware of the lack of nutritional value in their products, yet they continue to sell them to the less informed public. While Moss says the business men are able to “rest easy” when it comes to their weight, I find it difficult to believe that all the people in the room can “rest easy” morally. Do they realize that they are taking advantage of people who do not know any better than to eat what is placed in front of them at their local grocery stores? How can the middle and lower classes possibly resist the delicacies wrapped so artfully in packaging specifically designed to grab their attention? It’s like taking candy from a baby. Only in this scenario, the food giants are feeding the baby candy. The baby would represent the denizens of America, although I’m sure there are literal babies out there who are being affected by the obesity crisis. I find it upsetting to think that while America is being diagnosed with heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer (just to name a few illnesses caused by a poor diet) the individuals responsible are out with their personal trainers, rewarded for the increase of diseases by receiving an increase in their income.
2. “Even gout, an exceedingly painful and rare form of arthritis once dubbed ‘the rich man’s disease’ for its associations with gluttony now afflicted eight million Americans” (18). I was intrigued by this disease because of its dubbed name. Food was a resource that was not necessarily easy to come by until this past century. To get a lot of food you needed to have a lot of money. That is why gluttony and wealth went hand in hand, meaning you had to be pretty well off to get gout. Now food is not scarce. The typical American has some kind of grocery store or supermarket within a few miles of their home. That, and the addition of fast food, has made obesity a much easier feat then it was back when people actually hunted for their meat. In my freshman year, I took AP human geography. One of the units we spent a lot of time on was food. I learned that in today’s American society the lower classes are actually becoming more overweight than the upper class because of the highly processed fatty foods being made available for extremely low prices. When a pound of apples costs about two dollars and barely fills you up whereas McDonald’s boasts a dollar menu with actual meals, it is easy to see why gout isn’t associated with just the affluent anymore. People will sacrifice their health for the least expensive option.
3. “With limited funds from the government, the center had begun soliciting monies from food companies, keeping them apprised of research that would interest them” (41). What I took from this quote is that the research centers are corrupt. They are basically taking bribes from the food giants to conduct specific studies that will give sugar and other ingredients some positive publicity. This is the food industry trying to keep consumers in the dark about what they are really eating so that they continue to buy. I had assumed food companies went to great lengths to keep the true nature of their ingredients and processes hidden, but I never would have guessed that they could sway a research center. I guess money really does control the world.
4. “The most recent data, from 2006 to 2008, shows that obesity among kids aged six to eleven jumped from 15 to 20 percent” (46). I have an eight-year-old brother who is overweight. It’s easy to look at the statistics for obesity until it affects someone you know—especially a child. You think it would be easy to prevent that from happening. Just make him run outside with his friends more or don’t let him eat so much right? It isn’t that simple. The playdate dynamic has shifted from making forts and riding scooters up and down the street to sitting indoors playing games on various devices. The rise in technology correlates with the rise in obesity. In a society where it is considered normal for elementary school students to own an iPad, it is easy to see how the rates jumped up from 15 to 20 percent in a two year span. How can childhood obesity be controlled? The way I see it, it can’t. The last thing any parent wants to do is strip their child of their innocence by making them conscious of their weight. You can’t simply take away one kid’s Nintendo either because then he is left out of the group. Adults must choose the path for their offspring. Which is the worst option, a physically unfit child or an alienated one?
5. “Its most rabid devotees proudly call themselves Peppers, belong to a club called the 10-2-4—so named for one of the early advertising campaigns, which encouraged people to drink three Dr Peppers a day, at ten, two, and four o’clock—and make pilgrimages to Waco, Texas, where a pharmacist at Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store invented the drink in 1885” (48). After reading this I couldn’t help but draw parallels between Peppers and Muslims. Both groups were built around the worship of one element. For the 10-2-4 this item is Dr Pepper, while Muslims worship their god Allah. Islam and the 10-2-4 also both have a destination where followers are encouraged or required to make a pilgrimage to. Peppers are invited to visit Waco, Texas where their beloved soft drink was first created, and Muslims must complete the Hajj as one of their five pillars of faith. Another similarity between the assemblages is their daily rituals. In the Islamic religion people must pray five times a day (Salat). The Peppers try to enjoy their favorite soda three times a day at specific times of the day. I find it interesting that a fan club made for a carbonated beverage could have anything in common with a religion that has been practiced for over millennia. The power of sugar does not cease to amaze me.
6. “…a mega-brand that epitomized the American culture, but one that was also in grave danger of falling behind: Jell-O pudding” (68). Moss makes a bold statement when he says that Jell-O “epitomized the American culture”. How exactly does Jell-O, one food brand among millions, embody the land of the free? Jell-O has never been anything special to me. It is interesting in structure but overall very artificial. Perhaps that is exactly what Moss is trying to convey about the ways of this country. Americans celebrate the superficial. We worship movie stars, models, and other glamorous aspects of life. While it looks appealing, in reality there is no real substance to it. It is a synthetic snack that still leaves you feeling empty inside.
7. “And when he went to see his boss, the section head of desserts, Clausi was told that the rules have been changed, public fears be dammed” (70). What prompted this sudden shift of opinion on chemical additives? One minute artificial ingredients are bad, and now it is suddenly okay for food to be made of unpronounceable components. Despite the public’s wariness of synthetic concoctions, the food industry decides to barrel ahead anyway. The risk paid off though, that is the depressing part. Instead of fighting against this artificial snack, America embraced it. And if the consumers are consuming, it is no wonder the food companies didn’t stop there. This quote signifies the beginning of the end of natural foods.