Friday, May 20, 2005

back in the U.S.

I've been in the U.S. for nearly a week now. So far my trip has been pretty mellow. I'm trying to avoid my usual pattern of weight gain on this trip. Although I have indulged a bit (an In-N-Out burger for lunch today, for example), I've also been going to the gym. Last Sunday, my brother and I went to Souplantation for lunch, whose salads and muffins I actually like a lot. Other customers had plates with small mountains of salad. No wonder Americans are fat.

Later that day, I went on a tour of L.A. Harbor with my family. Practically everyone at the San Pedro Ports O' Call was overweight. Lots of women with big hair, heavy eyeliner, and stuffed into tube tops and low-rise capris like plump sausages. They were all noshing on huge platters of shrimp, fish, and buttered bread the size of a halved 2 liter bottle of soda.

"The level of material comfort in this country is numbing," said Paul Bellew, executive director for market and industry analysis at General Motors, in a fascinating series of New York Times articles on class in America. That was incredibly obvious in the trip to L.A. Harbor.

As I make my way around L.A. this week, I am continually reminded of the wealth that people enjoy here. Sections of town I remember as shabby and empty growing up are now filled with strip malls and new housing developments. Streets are paved and tree-lined. Yards are, for the most part, well manicured. Circulars in the Sunday paper advertise outdoor patio furniture sets and decked out gas grills with a 24-burger capacity. There are Starbucks gamut, and fresh gourmet produce and foods readily available.

I guess when you no longer have to worry about food, survival—making sure your kids are fed, clothed, educated, perhaps even just surviving war—you can worry about germs at the gym, and good carbs versus bad carbs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Berta I really enjoy your blogging.

People are quite fat in the US.
Yesterday when I was sitting on the bus, I was counting on every person who walked in...fat, fat, fat, fat, not fat, fat, fat, fat.
Most people have a roll in their abdomen.

In fact, people got fat over a relatively short period of
time--on an evolutionary scale speaking.

I have a secret suspicion that it is the dairy products that make Americans fat.

In Taiwan most people enjoy eating and many enjoy sweets like sugary drinks but the last time I visted which was 10 years ago, very few people were fat. Hardly anyone consume the butter, cream, cheese, milk in the amount that Americans do.

Once I tried to have a dairy free diet in this country and it was nearly impossible. In the morning, the cafeteria had eggs with cheese, yogurt, buttermilk pancakes with a little pad of butter on it. In the afternoon it had cheese in sandwiches, soup, entrees, bagels, and even salads. In the evening, well, all hell breaks loose: manicotti/speghetti, butter on vegetables, enchillada, alfredo, etc, etc. For dessert, more butter, cream, milk, icecream, cheese.

People are not little cows who need to drink milk from mother cows!

Even when people in Taiwan eating lard (minced pork sauce over everything), they are not eating as much calories and saturated fat as they are in the US. I would have a bowl of Taiwanese shaved ice over ice-cream. Two little scoops of Ben and Jerry icecream has like 200 calories.

One of these days I am going to read Influenza, the book about consumerism.