The fact that America has a weight problem is painfully obvious - massive waist lines and Golden Arches seem to dot every street corner. The dual culprits responsible for this growing health crisis also seem obvious: poor diet and sedentary lifestyle. The primary solution often posited by academics, nutritionists and health officials is to essentially regulate the junk food industry much like the cigarette companies i.e., warning labels, increased sales taxes and stronger marketing restrictions. Unfortunately, this is only a band-aide solution meant to cover much deeper social forces that influence our dietary habits. When it comes to Americans widening girth, beguiling ads and convenient drive-thrus are simply corollary indicators of problems far more profound.
Americans started eating their way towards unprecedented weight gain during the late 1970s and early 1980s. During this time two other big social changes were underway: the mass influx of women into the workforce and the deterioration of the nuclear family i.e., higher divorce rates, more out of wedlock births. Is there a direct correlation between these social factors and what we eat? Perhaps. Stress, loss of leisure time, unsatisfying jobs, unstable jobs, increased work hours and more meals eaten "on the go" all characterize today's fast paced economy. Parents are away from their children much more, as a result families are eating together less. A growing body of sociological research shows that children who eat with their families less do poorer in school, have weaker vocabularies and are more likely to struggle with obesity.
By partaking in the DIY challenge we are bucking the above trends. We are slowing down our hectic lives by reconnecting with our food - both in terms of how it's made and where it comes from. We are also learning that making our own meals gives us the perfect opportunity to spend more time with the people we love. Cooking, sharing and enjoying food are some of the most fundamentally important activities a family can do to strengthen social bonds.
One of my favorite TV shows is Mad Men. The show highlights many of the era's disconcerting flaws: sexism, racism, homophobia. But take a look at how Betty Draper, the main character's wife, prepares dinner for her family. (Betty's all about the DIY.) Look at the portions. Observe that they all eat at a table without the TV blaring. Last season Betty and Don separated, foreshadowing the end of an era - for better and for worse.
This Friday the 7th of October we will begin offering a 7am class. We are going to start with Monday Wednesday and Friday mornings and can't wait to see those of you who want and extra hour of sleep, want to get it out of the way a little sooner or just want a smaller class size.