Category Archives: Uncategorized

Hungry Nation?

 
The Burgers are better at Hungry Jacks - Picture courtesy of Hungry Jacks.

"The Burgers are better at Hungry Jack's" - Picture courtesy of Hungry Jack's.

In nearly every neighbourhood you’ll find at least one of the big fast-food chains.  In mine we have Hungry Jack’s, KFC, McDonald’s and Subway.  Four, that’s not far off the ten or so sit-down restaurants we have.  And three of those fast-food restaurants have a drive-through option.  We are fast becoming a nation that wants everything right here, right now.  It’s bye-bye half an hour breakfasts, and hello to the 5 minute, drive round the back of Macca’s and grab that Egg and Bacon McMuffin breakfast.  And not to mention the obsession we all have with wanting the best of everything, the newest upgrade, the biggest…

Hungry Jacks Burgers. Picture courtesy of Hungry Jacks Facebook Page

Last week Australia saw the release of the Quad Stack Burger at Hungry Jack’s.  This gob-smacking burger has four beef patties, two rashers of bacon, and four slices of cheese, wedged in between the white, starch and carb loaded bun.  And don’t forget the sides that come with that; fries and coke, and oh if you pay an extra 50c you can upgrade too.

According to Stephen Downes at Crikey, the Quad Stack Burger gained close to 1200 mentions in the Australian media last week, as recorded by Media Monitors. 

It seems that not only have Hungry Jack’s gained a lot of free advertising out of the burger, but they have also convinced people that would not normally eat at their restaurant, into trying out the burger.

 “Much of the coverage suggests that many media outlets have felt somewhat conflicted.  On the one hand, they wanted to tap into the “outrage” and “disgust”…  But many media were also eager to send their own reporters out to try to tame the beast.”

Although Downes refused to try the “quadruple bypass burger” preferring not to risk “heart disease, or lock jaw” many journalists have done so.  And that begs the question, how many other people in Australia or America (when the burger was released there two years ago) have been persuaded to do so?

Hungry Jack’s have even found a new way to tap into the younger generation: through social networking site, Facebook.  The network boasts around 100 million users and is the “most trafficked social media site in the world” (comScore).  Hungry Jack’s Facebook site has 8,330 fans and even has suggestions from fans such as:

 
Gerard wrote at 8:32pm on September 2nd, 2008
Where’s the breakfast stacker? 2 sausages, double bacon, 2 slices of cheese, 2 eggs, and hashbrowns all in a bun!!

Once again issues like obesity and nutrition are getting pushed out of sight, but one thing is for sure – I will be keeping my partner away from his favourite restaurant, Hungry Jack’s, when he comes to visit on the weekend.

Advertisements

Nutrient-Free Breakfast Anyone?

Breakfast Cereal Take-Over.  Picture courtesy of abc news

Breakfast Cereal Take-Over. Picture courtesy of abc news

From an early age we are taught that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and constantly bombarded with advertisements of kids performing better with a bowl of Weet-Bix under their belt. Even now my mum still regularly cites the ‘eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen, and dinner like a pauper’ routine.

Take a look at the layout of most supermarkets and you’ll notice the breakfast cereal aisle comes about a third of the way in (not as prominent as ‘confectionary’ but better than boring neccessities like toilet paper and soap) and takes up one whole side. Gone are the days when there was just oats and one or two other cereals. Now there is everything from Fruit Loops, to Cocoa Pops, to Nutri-Grain, to Weeties.

Anastacia Marx de Salcedo labels the breakfast cereal as the ‘characteristic carb’ of America, in comparison to China’s rice and Egypt’s bread. In her article, The breakfast liberation front, which featured in US online publication, Salon, Marx de Salcedo states,

“For almost half a century, the American public has been happily chowing down out of boxes, cans, pouches and bags… Cold cereal is our lodestar, our old faithful, our most quintessential food.”

Despite the claims, not all breakfast cereals are nutritional, with many having a very high sugar content. And as obesity is still on the rise in many Western countries, the problem in America may have something to do with the fact that “ready-to-eat cereal… is the No. 3 supermarket top-seller, ringing up about $9 billion in annual sales.” And with the ever increasing advertising targeting children, these sales of sugar-rich cereals aren’t likely to fall.

Next time you find yourself a third of the way in, surrounded by brightly coloured boxes of cereal claiming to be nutrient-rich, take a moment and think about what your actually eating.

A Nutritous Breakfast?  PIcture Courtesy of BBC News

A Nutritious Breakfast? PIcture Courtesy of BBC News

Here’s one to try at home:

“Test-drive this cuddly recipe, home bakers: Take oat flour, corn starch, sugar, salt, vitamin E, trisodium phosphate (also used to prep wood for painting), calcium carbonate and that old food-industry standby “Natural Flavors” (not!). Mix with water to form a slurry (a sticky paste)and ram into a narrow chamber with a long, twisted screw, until it shoots out an O-shaped orifice at the other end. Slice into toroids(that’s doughnut shapes to you), load into puffer and explode under 200 psi. Voilà! Cheerios!” – Anastacia Marx de Salcedo, Salon.com.

Eat Local, Live Local

Jen Maiser, Jessica Prentice, Sage Van Wing, and DeDe Sampson

Founders of 'Locavore': Jen Maiser, Jessica Prentice, Sage Van Wing, and DeDe Sampson. Courtesy of Locavores.com

“Not only are most people missing out on the age-old pleasures of eating real, fresh foods grown and prepared in the context of community, but as a species we are burning fossil fuels at rapidly increasing rates, and releasing ever more carbon gases into the atmosphere… Strong local food systems are essential for environmental sustainability, food security, social equity, and the economic vitality of thriving communities.”

Jessica Prentice, founder of the term ‘locavore’, OUPblog.

As the public becomes more and more concerned with the effects of global warming, people are finding news ways to do their bit for the planet.  From buying rain water tanks to making the switch to solar energy, there are many ways to help.  Ethical eating is one such way, and the new term is Locavore, named 2007 Word of the Year by the New Oxford American Dictionary.

Locavore, meaning someone who only eats food produced or grown within a 100-mile radius, was introduced in 2005 by four women in San Francisco.  Since then the ‘eat-local’ food movement has spread through America, and even reached the shores of Australia.  Others such as The One Hundred Mile Diet spring from Canada and some Britain supermarkets even label food miles on their products.  Food miles are the distance a product has been transported to reach a buyer – less food miles = less CO2 emissions from transportation.  Shopping at local food markets and stalls are a good way to be sure your food comes from close by.

In a recent article published by US online magazine, Mother Jones, Barbara Kingsolver discusses the politics behind the decisions people make in the supermarket, that she learnt as her family tried eating local for one year.

Kingsolver details her hardships at growing and storing her own produce from the family veggie garden and then goes on to compare the problems encountered by the actual farmers in her region.

“Supermarkets only accept properly packaged, coded, and labeled produce that conforms to certain standards of color, size, and shape… [But] it takes as much work to grow a crooked vegetable as a straight one, and the nutritional properties are identical.”

These standards cause many edible but not aesthetically pleasing vegetables to be rejected and place increasing strain on struggling farmers. 

“Poverty and hunger are not abstractions in our part of the world; throwing away mountains of good food makes no sense. “

Perhaps the biggest strain on our farmers is when we choose to buy produce that has come from overseas, instead of the locally grown alternatives.  And this is where eating local comes in.  By supporting local produce we ensure our farmers a more promising future and help reduce the effects of global warming through food miles. 

So next time your at the supermarket spare a thought for the planet and the Aussie farmers who grew the $2.99kg oranges instead of the cheaper, imported ones in your trolley.

Fat or Fit Camp?

Teen Fit Camp Contestants. Picture Courtesy of Granada Productions

 

It seems that not only is there an increased health risk associated with obesity, but there is also an increased revenue stream.  From dieting books, DVDs and CDs, there is also pills, programs and food supplements.  But now the focus in on ‘fat camps’ to reduce the bulge in children.

Last year the documentary series, Teen Fit Camp, aired in Australia on Channel Ten and followed six overweight Aussie teenagers to a fitness camp in the US.  Initially the documentary was titled Teen Fat Camp but the marketing team made the change to the more sensitive Teen Fit Camp Ratings were poor and it quickly plummeted from prime-time TV to a Sunday afternoon slot.

Although the show was attempting to promote weight loss and raise awareness about obesity in children, it was slammed for exploitation.

Recently UK based online magazine, Sp!ked, published an article on the increasing number of ‘fat camps’ opening in Britain.  The article titled, The state-sanctioned bullying of fat kids, suggested that the government was lending a hand in isolating overweight children and helping make them feel ashamed.

“This week, officialdom’s war against fat children was stepped up a mark. The government revealed that, starting in the next school term, parents will be sent ‘fat reports’ on their children.”

The authors, Patrick Basham and John Luik, cannot understand why the British government is promoting fat camps when they are hardly succeeding in their parent country, America.

“Why is business so bad in America, the world leader in fat children and obsessive parenting? Because the dirty little secret of fat camps is that they do not work.”  

Despite this fact, the first fat camp for overweight children under five – Too Fat to Toddle, was opened in Britain last year.

Although there are no ‘fat camp’ listings in the Yellow Pages yet, it’s only a matter of time before we see them dipping into Australian pockets.  Ryan Craig, the president of the Wellspring Camp the Teen Fit Camp kids were sent to, told The Sydney Morning Herald that he hopes the show will “raise enough awareness about his camps that it can extend to Australia” as it did in Britain.

Should Fast-Food be Restricted to the Rich?

 
Rich Fast-Food?  Picture courtesy of mcdonalds.com
Rich Fast-Food? Picture courtesy of mcdonalds.com

In this fast-paced world we live in, more and more people have less spare time on their hands. So rather than getting home at 7.30pm, searching the cupboards and fridge for the last $100 we spent on ingredients to chop and prepare, we opt for the 5 minute detour to the closest McDonald’s for our dinner. “Just tonight”, we say. But what happens to those of us, who not only don’t have the time, but don’t have the money to prepare a healthy, nutrient-rich meal every night?

In the U.S a recent ban on the construction of fast-food restaurants has been approved by the Los Angeles City Council. The one-year moratorium restricts new fast-food restaurants from being built in a low income area, and is hoping to combat the higher levels of obesity in this vicinity.

William Saletan published an article, Food Apartheid: Banning fast food in poor neighborhoods, in Slate Magazine, an online U.S publication, arguing against the decision.

“We’re not talking anymore about preaching diet and exercise, disclosing calorie counts, or restricting sodas in schools. We’re talking about banning the sale of food to adults. Treating French fries like cigarettes or liquor.”

Saletan argues that the ‘poor’ people are being treated like children; vulnerable, dependent and helpless, with the council dictating where and what they can eat.

Fast-food can be healthy too.  Picture courtesy of Subway.com

Fast-food can be healthy too. Picture courtesy of Subway.com

While I’m all for healthier take-away options, restricting certain restaurants to certain income brackets may not be the best way about it.  The recent wave of healthier menu options in most fast-food restaurants and increasing awareness about proper eating habits have so far been the best stepping stones, and cater for long term effects, not just short term restrictions.

Yes, for most of us a Big Mac is a far easier option than sweating it out in the kitchen, but a chicken salad or 6″ Sub ain’t bad either.

The Great Obesity Debate

Healthy eating and exercise are most important when it comes to weight loss

Healthy eating and exercise are most important when it comes to weight loss

 

On Thursday, 31 July 2008, On Line Opinion posted an article titled Fat People Eat too Much… written by Joseph Proietto and Jeffrey Zajac.  It deals with the increasing prevalence of obesity and the contributing factors and proposed solutions to the disease. 

The two Melbourne University professors make a number of valid arguments towards the great obesity debate, 

“Virtually all information in the media on obesity slants blame somewhere…Assigning blame leads nowhere except to reaction or over-reaction by those blamed.”

This idea results in the notion that one person or group of people, such as parents or the government, are not wholly responsible for the bulging Australian waistline, but merely that obesity is an issue that needs to be collectively addressed and not shifted from party to party.

Proietto and Zajac also link the increase in obesity with the increase in more readily available high calorie food in Western countries.  The writers use the phrase “free access to unlimited quantities of high calorie food”, but it could be argued that although unhealthy food is in most cases cheaper than the healthier alternatives, it is by no means ‘free’ with the ever-rising cost of supermarket prices.  However, as ‘Pelican’ points out in the comment section of the article, obesity can be a result of people choosing cheaper, more calorie rich food due to their socio-economic status.

The article also generated a few more comments from readers.  ‘Ozideas’ commented on the absence of depression as a contributing factor to obesity and ‘Arthur N’ dismissed the “assertion of the article that fat people are fat simply because they eat to much”.  

While these two opinions are a fair and just criticism of the article, the fourth comment by ‘Shadow Minister’ picks up on the ‘tablet’ solution discussed in the article, but instead discusses surgery as a cure.  This, along with diets that restrict or focus on certain food groups may work in the short term, but do nothing to educate people for long term results. 

What we need to learn is that all food groups can be eaten, although some more than others, and that we need to balance what we put in, with what we put out through exercising.

To anyone and everyone…

Hi to all you bloggers out there, hope your day is going well. 

Let me introduce myself and this blog.

My name is Ash and this is my first attempt at a blog – excluding those social networking sites of the past.  I’m in my third year at university and this blog is actually a requirement of the journalism course I am studying.  Naturally I was a little scared when the term ‘politics’ was used in conjunction with ‘blog content’ but since then I have learnt that politics is not just the comings and goings of parliament.

So this blog will be focused on the social and political concerns of that wonderful and terrible substance we call food.  This topic was born out of my decision to get off the couch and finally join the gym, opposite my arch enemy – Blockbuster.  Well that and the fact I just finished off the remainder of the chocolate chips I was planning to make cookies out of. 

It seems everyone I know has a love/hate relationship with food and is trying to do something about it.  So I thought I would help get their legs moving and comment on some of the online media articles out there about food and its consequences…