The culture of poisoning ourselves: when did it start and when is it going to end?
I was born and raised in Italy by my working class parents. My father was a tailor and my mother was a factory worker. Despite spending most of her day at work, my mother always made sure that my brothers, my father and I got a freshly good cooked meal each evening. She could not afford to be exhausted, though she often was, having to work full time and look after three kids at the same time. In those days, the roles between men and women were clearly defined so she was supposed to take care of the entire household and in that, she succeeded brilliantly.
Our evening meals consisted of pasta (obviously), meat or fish or eggs and a salad with plenty of bread. My mother was convinced that to be healthy you have to eat a lot so she made sure our plates were always full. As soon as my parents had enough money, luxuries food items that we saw advertized on TV started appearing on our table. My brothers and I loved Coca Cola and after that I couldn’t remember having had a meal without drinking it. We drank huge glasses of it and definitely had no clue about the consequences for our bodies and teeth. More or less at the same time, snacks known in Italian as merendine and biscotti (cookies) started replacing the left over bread we used to have for breakfast. My family was switching from working class to middle class and the first signs were the sophisticated food which gradually was manifesting on the table. Luckily for me, my family never really got into junk as much as other families because we loved my mother’s food so much that we preferred it to pre-cooked junk.
Since then, many cultural habits have changed, especially because modern mothers are less likely to cook than the previous generations.
The percentage of obese children in Italy and elsewhere has risen dramatically according to a research I did a few years ago (Obesity and Educational Issues ). This means that if on one hand we have managed to improve our lifestyle in terms of economical wealth, on the other hand, our health and lifestyle habits have become poorer. What I mean is that our intake of oxygen, minerals, nutrients and fresh water has been replaced with something absolutely artificial which have been compromising our health and well being in general.
Back in the late seventies, we were too ignorant to understand the deleterious consequences that such bad habits were going to have on our bodies. Everybody was smoking and drinking as well and in my little town, people were selling heroine almost at every corner. It was already a miracle to go through your teenage years without developing any strong addiction to drugs, nobody really paid attention to cigarettes, alcohol and obviously junk food.
Now, a few decades later, thanks to the efforts of our parents and ancestors, many of us are highly educated and the internet has definitely granted free knowledge to all. However, despite our awareness, junk food and drinks are still widely advertised on the media. Most diseases are caused by the assumption of the wrong type of food and drinks (e.g.: diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, allergies), yet such dangerous chemical preparations which have little if not nothing to do with nutrition are widely available worldwide.
I’m aware that there are a bunch of people out there who believe that people are responsible for their own choices and nobody is forcing anyone else to eat and drink junk. However, during my recent visits to Thailand, Nepal, India and now Cambodia, I have noticed how the poorest and most vulnerable people get misled by advertisements. In Nepal, for instance, I saw a mother feeding her toddler biscuits instead of the traditional dal bat. In Thailand, despite the efforts of the majority of the schools offering freshly made healthy meals, there are junk vendors all around each single school and the consequences of such behavior are visible by the rapidly growing number of obese children.
And what about our pets? Do you really think that if the food industry is willing to poison their own fellow humans they are having any sort of mercy for animals?
Why do the most vulnerable have to pay for this?
Is making a profit more important than life itself?
Yet, there are so many alternatives available that it doesn’t really make sense to me.
How could we possibly live in a harmonious society if the spreading of poison has priority over the right to live a healthy life?
If Buddha and Jesus came back today, I’m sure they’d tell those supposedly civilized societies which promote the spreading of poisonous values and food to go fuck themselves!