The Problem with the Food Industry

In the 1950s, advertisements said that 4 out of 5 doctors recommended cigarette smoking. Now due public services announcements reporting the problems of cigarette smoking, this harmful habit is becoming less and less common every day. This cultural shift saved the lives of millions of Americans. If this technique can work with cigarette smoking, it can also work with the obesity epidemic that we are currently experiencing at the moment. More people are overweight than ever before, and it is all due to being constantly surrounded by unhealthy food. In America, the food industry constantly promotes itself on commercials, magazine advertisements, and billboards across the nation. Not to mention there are fast food restaurants everywhere you look. Are there as many health food stores as there are fast food restaurants? The answer is no because the government manipulates what we eat. The food industry is to blame for the obesity epidemic because of the mass advertisement, convenience, and government manipulation.

The food industry capitalizes its products by using mass advertisement. We see constant advertisements for unhealthy food everywhere we go. These advertisements use stand-out colors and usually have some crazy cartoon character, some sexy model, or a buff sports player to catch the public eye. This makes people curious on what product they are advertising and convinces those people that their product is beneficial to them. Then the general public buys these food products or goes to these fast food restaurants helping the food industry make money off of cheap, unhealthy meals. Unfortunately, people in this day and age believe anything that is in on the television whether it is realistic or not. As David Zinczenko states in his essay Don’t Blame the Eater, “Whatever happen to personal responsibility?”(pg 391). Well I can tell what happened to personal responsibility, it went away when Paris Hilton came on the television promoting the latest cheeseburger from Carl’s JR. Unfortunately, in our minds Paris Hilton is a sex symbol so people are more likely to pay attention to the advertisements and buy the product or go to that particular food place. Our minds tend to be attracted to things that look great but are really bad for us. Initially, people don’t know that they are damaging so they consume large portions of their snacks, meals, or drinks without seeing what they really are. Personal responsibility is taken away and replaced by the outcome of weight gain and health problems resulting from the over consumption of unhealthy foods. These advertisements stimulate the mind in the wrong way causing the loss of personal responsibility and overeating to take over.

Unhealthy food options are easy to find and even easier to buy. First off there are currently five times more fast food restaurants than grocery stores in the United States. Most of the fast-food places have drive-thrus which is convenient for our fast-paced lifestyles. No one wants to or seems to have the time to drive to a health food store and physically walk in the store in order to get their food. People usually want their food right away and they want that food to fill them up as quickly as possible which is why food places sell unhealthy snacks, drinks, and meals. They know that healthy food is not as filling and leaves people to still be hungry afterwards. Almost all food locations know this fact so they serve unhealthy food items to satisfy their customers. They do not care if what they are selling is healthy or not, they just want to have business. Manchester, Kentucky is one of the unhealthiest places in America with an obesity as high as 52 percent. One of the reasons for this shocking statistic could be that the residents of Manchester are surrounded by places that sell unhealthy food items. Pam Mathis, a resident of Manchester, Kentucky supported the statement above by mentioning that “the intersection…features a McDonald’s, a Wendy’s, an Arby’s and a Subway and just beyond that, there’s a Burger King, a Long John Silver’s, a Lee Famous Recipe Chicken, a Pizza Hut and a Wal- Mart where everything is sold in supersize helpings”(pg 409). Manchester is one example of the many American towns that are surrounded by fast food. Unfortunately these types of setups are everywhere in the United States and it is just not right. Health food stores could have easily been as accessible as fast food joints if only this point was established earlier. Easy accessibility to unhealthy foods is one of the key causes of this obesity epidemic.

The food industry makes unhealthy food convenient on purpose. It noticeably takes less time and money to create processed junk food then to grow a crop of healthy fruits and vegetables. After the food industry adds various chemicals and GMOS into the food, they put all the processed foods in all different stores, schools, all across the United States. Processed junk food is cheaper than healthy food because junk food is cheaper to make. The food industry knows that people buy the cheapest thing that will satisfy their needs especially in this economy so they make the cheapest foods taste really good and make the body want to eat more of that particular food. Once people start eating too much unhealthy junk foods, it starts to affect their health in a negative way. People then need outside sources to help them maintain their health. This creates business for all exercise facilities like the gym and creates sales for exercise products like sports gear and weights. These unhealthy foods also help the medical field because it increases the sales of medication, gives doctors’ offices, dentists, and hospitals more business and allows the government to install a costly healthcare plan. The food industry wants to make people sick so exercise and medical businesses can excel finding yet another way to have citizens give the government more money. The food industry makes processed food convenient because it is cheaper and give companies business.

The government has its hand in what choices the food industry makes. They realize that we are in currently in an obesity epidemic and as our nation’s leaders, they are trying to figure out a way that we could be healthier in our meal choices. To tackle this issue, the government is focusing on socialism rather than personal responsibility. The government wants us to pay for other people’s health problems. If someone has a heart attack, people have to take money out of their wallets to pay for that person’s medical bills and medication. As Radley Balko states in his essay What You Eat Is Your Business, “If the government is paying for my anti-cholesterol medication, what incentive is there for me to put down the cheeseburger?” (pg ) Clearly, our government should be working on a way to have American gain a sense of responsibility on what they eat and how they exercise. Instead of implementing nutritional practices over and over again, the government should figure out how they can create a cultural shift that will portray unhealthy food as it truly is: harmful to the human body. A cultural shift portraying cigarettes as a harmful habit instead of a relaxing fixation happened and now the number of people smoking cigarettes are decreasing every year. The same cultural shift effect could happen with unhealthy food if the government is willing to attempt to do this. The government’s solution to stop this obesity epidemic is not working and needs to be revised immediately.

Instead of placing the blame on other issues our nation should take action to stop this obesity epidemic. There are many ways that our nation’s leaders can help our country to lead a better lifestyle. One way could be to build more health food store and making them cheaper so more people can buy their products or just making healthy foods cheaper in general. Another way to stop this epidemic is to improve the way we are educated on food and personal responsibility to empower the public. The point is that the food industry needs to tell the truth on these food items and replace the unhealthy items with healthy items and they need to find a way to do it fast or else who knows what our nation will become.

The Reality behind Media Violence

Violence is a common theme seen amongst popular media today. For years, people would see or hear about assailants shooting their victims, read about domestic violence, or pretend to be killing army men while playing a video game, but could those violent instances happen in the real world? The answer is yes. Violence that transpires on these various media outlets also can occur in real life too. Society sees this travesty play out but one particular type of media outlet serves as a predominant factor in the amount of violence our world sees today. Almost all non-fiction media outlets are an important contributor to the amount of violence on this society. This type of media makes our society aware that violence is not just a concept portrayed in fictional stories but a real threat if it is not taken care of properly. Non-fictional media outlets portray real-life violence by showing violence as a normality.

Violence is often portrayed on reality television as a way to entice the viewers to tune in. Even though the genre is reality television, these violent instances are usually scripted by the producers to fabricate each conflict in hopes that the show will become popular. How violence is portrayed in these shows is the wrong way because the public is lead to believe that violence is the answer when all it does is harm the people around them. Television executive Jennifer L. Pozner, argues that reality television is made up of “straight, single gals who are pathetic losers and we’re led to believe that it’s hilarious when they get mocked, dumped, or punched in the face.” (Haggerty 693). It is sad that this quote is an accurate depiction of this generation’s reality television. The fact that television networks like to exploit and make a mockery of people’s personal lives is extremely disturbing and sets a bad example to its viewers. Another concern is the fear that reality television’s young, naïve viewers would want to model the inappropriate behavior presented on these shows because they see that no one is stopping the cast members to exchange in such conduct. From Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi getting punched in the face by an abrasive club-goer on Jersey Shore to Kelly Hyland slapping Abby Lee Miller on Dance Moms, violence on reality television is only getting worse which increases the likeliness of its viewers to use violence as a solution to their problems. Reality television increases the chances of every-day violence by affecting how society perceives the violent actions reality television has to offer.

The news has a major impact on the way Americans view violence because it brings attention to its frequency. Each news station reports the local and national news surrounding them and the top story usually involves violence. Whether it is a shooting near an apartment complex or a mother killing three of her children, violence always consumes every news outlet. At first, the news was bringing awareness to violence, but now our society is suppressed with so much violence that the original message hardly exists anymore. Now, our society sees violence as a common theme and does not see or care about the consequences that violent actions can have. The amount of times violence has appeared on the news is so frequent that the media does not realize “that exposure to media violence causes leads to aggression, desensitization toward violence and lack of sympathy for victims of violence, particularly in children” (Pozoios 2). The news is an anchor in this movement because they are normalizing the concept of violence in our society causing people to be desensitized from the effects that violence is supposed to create. This is especially a concern for the next generation because technology allows access to news anytime and anywhere so no one can escape the amount of violence that is shown on a daily basis. This constant exposure to violence gives them a greater chance of committing violent acts when they get older. The news desensitizes our society to the effects of violence by over-using violence as a way to hooked on the news.

As much as the media subjects society to violence, the media also has the ability to hide violence as well. For years the public has had suspicions that the government was hiding or lying about violent incidents that they have started or have happened to other people. There was one story that was particularly interesting and relatable to this topic. A couple of years ago, CBS correspondent, Lara Logan was sexually assaulted by Muslims while on the job. The mainstream media chose to hide this incident because they were ashamed that someone who worked for a big corporation could have such a vile act done to them. This incident caused CBS to have a four-day “delay” of the information which.. indicates that CBS intended to hide the story… to protect Logan’s identity so this story would never see the light of day” (Replogle 798). CBS’s actions regarding the story showed the world how the media can control what violent material is shown to the public and what is kept a secret. However the media prefers to show more violence then not because “the media.. shapes markets, and they therefore they have created and continue to reinforce the demand for violence” (Potter 23). All media outlets want to create and produce projects that the general public would find eye-catching and human nature determined that violence catches the public’s interest. The demand for violence has had negative effects on our society and if we do not change this now, we will create an oblivious, insensitive society.

Plenty of people have experienced negative effects on media violence but the violence shown on documentaries gives society an insight on how the violence is started. War documentaries give people an inside look on the negative long-term effects that violence creates. The war documentary Atomic Wounds shows the initial effects of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and how this incident still affects them to this day. The documentary gets up close and personal with the victims of the atomic bombing and shows the cost that this viscous act had on its long-suffering casualties. As a society, “we often forget that the victims of Nagasaki and Hiroshima we’re living and breathing humans….We see a statistic. This film ensures that we remember that there is only misery under those numbers” (Faun, par 6). There are also documentaries that contain violence for the purpose of addressing major issues. Child of Rage is a documentary about a women named Beth who suffered from intense sexual abuse when she was a little girl. Beth describes all of the violent things she has done or wants to do which includes killing her brother and abusing her pets. By emphasizing violence in the documentary, the viewers get a detailed look on the consequences of sexual abuse and how the heinous act affect its victims for the rest of their lives. Such high levels of violence can cause someone who thought about sexually abusing a minor or sexually abusing a minor to reconsider his or her actions. Even though documentaries cover a widespread amount of issues, they all have one thing in common: they shine a light on the negative effects of violence and encourage society to stop violence once and for all.

There is no escape from the wrath of violence. It is shown on the television, displayed on social media, and often experienced in real-life situations. The media plays a huge part in the increase of violence because of how it is portrayed on all forms of non-fiction media. Violence being on this type of media is causing people to be immune to its effects because instead of a story, it is portrayed as a reality. The media uses violence to gain popularity and bring awareness to the issue but if it constantly brought up then people will be desensitized to the violence and ignore the situation at hand. Instead of constantly showing violence, all non-fiction media outlets should inform people on the dangers of violence and what mental, physical, and legal consequences violence can bring. It is time that all non-fiction media outlets take a stand against violence.