Thursday, October 27, 2011


NEW YORK ( - THE “fact” that junk food is cheaper than real food has become a reflexive part of how we explain why so many Americans are overweight, particularly those with lower incomes.  This is just plain wrong. In fact it isn’t cheaper to eat highly processed food. Moreover, it’s unnecessarily high in calories, and most people in this country - especially the poor - already consume too many calories.  Even meat eaters can feed a family of four to six for about $14 with a roasted chicken, vegetables, a simple salad and milk. Just try feeding that family at McDonalds, or any other restaurant, for that price!  Vegetarian meals, of course, can cost much less.  Unfortunately, cooking is defined as work; fast food is both a pleasure and a crutch.  There are five fast-food restaurants for every supermarket in the United States, and fast-food companies spent an incredible $4.2 billion on marketing in 2009. 

Furthermore, the engineering behind hyperprocessed food makes it virtually addictive.  For decades, the fast-food industry has been placing their products on every street corner, making it socially acceptable to eat anywhere and anytime, and training us to self-stimulation every 15 minutes. Real cultural changes are needed to turn this around. Somehow we must get people to see cooking as part of a normal life, ideally as a joy rather than a burden.  To make changes like this more widespread we need action both cultural and political. The cultural action lies in celebrating real food. Political action would mean forcing the makers of junk’s marketing to pay the true costs of production and recognizing that advertising for fast food is not the exercise of free speech but behavior manipulation of addictive substances.

The American obesity epidemic is often "explained" by saying that junk food is cheaper than a healthy, home-cooked meal.  But despite extensive government subsidies, hyperprocessed food remains more expensive than food cooked at home.  Real cultural changes are needed to turn this around.  We should feed our children in homes and do not program them for fast-produced, eaten-on-the-run, high-calorie, low-nutrition junk and teach them that real food is affordable and available to everyone.  And remember: vegetarian meals are healthier and cost much less. 
Vibrant health, peaceful mind, and satisfying loving relationships are essential for a life of quality. Almost everyone could live healthily for a century if he just followed a life of plain living and high thinking. For many reasons, however, people live unhealthy lives and die prematurely. People poison their digestive tract with meat, alcohol, and various chemicals used in junk-food coloring and preservation. They also poison their bodies with licit and illicit drugs, pain relievers, sleeping pills, etc.  In the past, great authorities selected those foods that best aid health and increase life’s duration, such as milk products, sugar, rice, wheat, fruits and vegetables.  At BACE, the serious students who follow all the principles of spiritual life, get Prasadam, sanctified food that is cooked in a hygienic way by devotees. It is wholesome, nutritious, satisfying and nourishing to body and soul.

Bhaktivedanta Academy for Culture and Education
“Yoga Meditations and Nutrious Diet”

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