PART III : VEGAS BABY VEGAS

August 2, 2011 § 1 Comment

When one decides to abstain from processed food, the reasons for our country’s obesity epidemic become abundantly clear.

A disclaimer: I decided to, uh, postpone our juice cleanse last night. One and three-quarter days I lasted.

What caused me to end it, to break my fast? I could dress myself up here in many different colours of righteous justification, but ultimately, looking back, it was a matter of will. Without a pressing need to continue, I gave in to my hunger.

But the illuminating part came later, after I had finished gorging myself on a foot-long veggie pattie, lettuce and tomato on whole wheat, married nicely to a regular coke, courtesy of my friends at Subway. It was, after all, late at night and my options were limited. But in the interests of complete disclosure and ethical reporting, there were plenty of options in my fridge as well.

So why did I venture out into the dank, wooded Burbank night? Why did I seek satiety in a Subway sandwich, when I could have easily filled my stomach at home?

Because, hungry as I was, I wasn’t satisfying appetite merely for food. That, in fact, was the smaller part of it. The essence of this experience is that I was satisfying my need to purchase food. And not just any food. Food obtained from a shiny, fluorescent place with soda fountains and sandwiches with catchy names. A place where I could watch someone else make my meal.

No wonder people find it so hard to lose or even maintain their weight in our society. We drive past, walk through and experience mini Las Vegases of food, everywhere we go. Fast food, fast coffee. On seemingly every corner, on billboards above every street, in every commercial we take in images of gleaming, delicious fare, seductively coaxing us to empty our pockets and stuff our gullets. We can be happy for twenty minutes, or ten, or even five depending on how fast we eat or drink. Sure, that happiness fades, but that’s why there’ll be a thousand other chances to make another purchase down the road. Flashing lights, enormous posters: from sandwiches to lattes to burgers to fried chicken to chinese take out to frozen yoghurt. Vegas, baby, Vegas.

How can the ordinary citizen, not educated or conditioned to resist, possibly detach from the undulating neon which washes over them on a daily basis? Based on current obesity statistics, they can’t. Or won’t. Or are not even aware that they’re being manipulated.

I don’t feel bad about quitting the cleanse. Well, maybe a little. What embarrasses me is the manner in which I quit.

I’ve always thought that there should be extremely restrictive regulations in place related to how casinos can advertise and operate. No flashing lights, no colourful names, no hotels attached. The machines can’t make any sounds. The croupiers can’t dress up and they must be called money-collectors. The sign outside has to show the casino’s daily profits and the odds of someone walking out with more than they had when they went in. The walls must be lined with photos and descriptions of people whose lives have been ruined by gambling. No drinking- no sodas. Just fetid water, brought on plastic trays, the kind on which hospital patients receive their daily pills. The casino’s mission statement must be in all their advertising and it must be honest, something like, “we are in the business of making money. Our games are extremely profitable for us. They are designed to ensure that you will lose most of the time. Come to our casino.”

Armed with that information and nothing else, I wonder how long it would take for gambling to become a non-issue for most people. If only it were that way with food as well. Then it wouldn’t be so hard for chumps like me to do a 5-day juice cleanse.

Don’t give up on me. Two steps forward, one step back. I went to the West Hollywood farmers market today. And just to show you that the bastards haven’t won, Parts 4 and 5 of this series will still be going to press.

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