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Food, Why Must You Be So Frustrating?

November 21, 2009

Ok.  I’m frustrated.

With what you ask?  Three things: the girl behind me in the theater, my breakfast, and Taco Bell.  They may not seem to have anything in common, but they do.  Let me explain…

Last night I went to a free showing of the documentary, Food Inc., at the University of Kansas.  It was a wonderful event hosted by KU’s environmental student organization, the Environs.

For those of you who haven’t heard of Food Inc. yet, the film is about our nation’s food industry and how it contributes to the many health, environment, and social issues we currently face.


Here’s the trailer:

The event drew a wide variety of people–some who were genuinely interested in learning more about our food system, some who came to accompany a friend, and some who came for the free popcorn.  It was exciting seeing so many people there, whatever their reason for coming.

So it is at this time I would like to take a moment, before expressing my frustrations, to thank all those who went to see Food Inc. and brought a friend. In bringing someone who might not have gone on their own, you are opening their mind to new thoughts and new ideas.  It is through these simple human interactions that ideas are shared, actions are enacted, and changes are made.  So thank you, girl with roommate or guy with friend.  You have made a difference today.

And on to my frustrations:

1. Girl who sat behind me in the theater during Food Inc.

We’re in the middle of the movie, Michael Pollan is explaining the proliferation of corn in our food system, and I’m debating whether I have a bigger crush on Michael Pollan or Gerald Butler…when I look behind me.  This girl has cracked open a diet coke and was drinking it with a great amount of pleasure.  Really?  The film has just explained how soda is essentially liquid corn, a product of government subsidies, and a contributor to obesity…and you’re gulping the stuff down without a second thought.

How does that happen?  How do you not connect what the film is saying with what you are doing?  Psychologists refer to this type of disconnect as cognitive dissonance theory. The theory goes that when a person is experiencing two contradictory ideas or actions, they will try to reduce the conflict by changing their attitude, belief, or behavior.

Therefore, when the girl opened her diet coke, she may have changed her attitudes in a variety of ways in order to justify her actions.  She may have told herself that her one diet coke wouldn’t make a difference, or that she had no other options to quench her thirst.  Which brings me to my second frustration…

2. My breakfast

First off, I’d like to say that I love breakfast.  It is quite possibly my favorite meal of the day, which is wonderful because it is also the most important meal of the day.

The morning after I attended the Food Inc. showing was like every other morning: I woke up day dreaming about what to eat for breakfast.  As I looked through my pantry however, rather than seeing bread, cereal, and soy milk, all I could see was HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUPPROCESSED FOODSGENETICALLY MODIFIED SOYBEANS.  And here’s where I find myself in the same shoes as the girl who sat behind me: don’t eat breakfast and go to school hungry (or) eat breakfast and ignore the contents.

I ate breakfast.  With still quite a bit of internal conflict mind you.

3. Taco Bell

Taco Bell is good for one thing only: 3 am post-partying munchies.  However, Austin’s craving for cheap Ameri-Mexican food took us through the Taco Bell drive-thru after school.

My mind screamed, “No!  Remember what you saw in Food Inc.” My stomach simply saw the Cheesy Gordita Crunch and growled…

You would think that after watching a documentary like Food Inc. I would be quick in changing my ways.  After all, the movie’s message made sense to me and I felt encouraged in eating more sustainably.  Why then, despite my attitude toward food, was my behavior reluctant to follow suit?  It seems that while beliefs and mindsets are easy to change, actions are must more difficult to alter.

How then, do we inspire both change in mind and action?

When have you felt conflicted between one action and its more environmentally friendly counterpart?  What did you do in that situation?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 23, 2009 3:57 pm

    “Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no
    remedy for the worst of them all — the apathy of human beings.” -Helen

    • janiec52 permalink
      November 26, 2009 1:43 pm

      Sometimes it can be hard to care, especially when so many people don’t. But I think that compassion-whether it be for animals, our earth, or other people-is what makes us who we are. If anything, it is the closest thing to a purpose to life. Not caring is an easy, lazy way out.

  2. Lora permalink
    November 24, 2009 12:43 pm

    I just ran accross this video. Seems to fit in to the discussion about cognative dissonance theory. We tend to forget that many of the animcals served at fast food restaurants, and in chain grocery stores, are treated like this (the film is distrubing)….

    I eat meat, but I eat as much local meat as possible so I know what I’m getting, or at least organic and free-range. I eat less meat in order to be able to afford this. I supplement the non-meat protein in my diet with things like legumes, nuts, high-protein grains, etc. (not soy however). Luke and I have also joined a CSA, which luckily enough, is only a handful of dollars more pre week. Not sure what your options for CSA’s are where you live, but you might want to look in to it. It might be more affordable than you think.

    • janiec52 permalink
      November 26, 2009 1:55 pm

      Thanks for the video! I also try to eat a lot less meat. Growing up in a family with two vegetarians, I have become more accustomed to having vegetables rather than meat in my meal. For people like Austin however, it is the opposite. While his dedication to meat is hard to shake, we have both become much more aware of our food and the amount of meat we consume. In the past few months, his intake of meat has decreased significantly.

      We’ve also discussed joining a CSA. While it may be too late in the year to do this, we will definitely consider it for the next season. We both want to incorporate more fresh produce into our diet, but oftentimes we skimp out on buying vegetables at the grocery store. If we commit beforehand to a CSA subscription and receive weekly supplies of produce, perhaps we will find it much easier to eat locally. Thanks for the reminder!

  3. July 19, 2010 4:05 am

    Processed foods has long term side effects to our health yet we can’t still say NO, this is the sad news :((

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