Food is available everywhere, all of the time. Decades ago, the few fast food restaurants that were available were only in large cities and closed at night.
In addition to the round-the-clock availability of food, there’s also a daily fix of food shows on television.
In all fairness, cooking channels are usually very entertaining and helpful. For people who cannot afford to buy a gourmet meal or drop a few hundred bucks at a five-star restaurant, it gives people ideas on how to recreate that at home.
But tread with caution because not all shows are created equal. After seeing some of these shows, as well as others not related to food, I’m convinced that eating has become a sport, an American pastime.
In recent years, we’ve taken it a bit further than a smorgasbord of offerings at late-night drive-thru windows and social gatherings.
It used to be that only a select few brave folks would enter competitive eating contests, to spectators’ amazement.
Now, it seems, many Americans have joined the ranks of those “food athletes.” Although on a lesser scale, it’s the same concept: See how much you can eat and how extreme you can get with the culinary creation.
This may entail eating something like a quadruple bypass burger at Heart Attack Grill or a 12-egg omelet at a Seattle café. This type of a eating has been around for a while, but thanks to shows such as “Man vs. Food,” “Drive-ins, Diners and Dives” and “Eat Street,” we’re officially glorifying this phenomenon.
And it’s not just about getting too many calories. Extreme overeating has numerous short-term and long-term effects on health, including a rise in blood pressure, the risk of heart disease and problems with the gall bladder.
If “chefs” are already serving up 12-egg omelets and 20-pound burgers, where will they go next? Will the threat of an early grave thwart this trend?
In the face of an obesity epidemic and rising health care costs, I think we need to find a new sport — one with true winners.