What is Food?

There is a series of yogurt commercials airing right now. It shows women eating lunch. One is lifelessly chewing a carrot or other vilified vegetable, and the other woman, who is very thin, is looking in the refrigerator saying something like, “Should I have black forest cake, key lime pie, or Boston creme pie?” Later we learn that these are flavors of yogurt, which she is then shown eating in a very suggestive way, almost to the point that she is having an orgasm. The narrator then uses words like luscious, divine and scrumptious to describe the product.

I would rather have a spotty peach.
I would rather have a spotty peach.

Low fat and/or sugar free yogurt and other similar foods are a decently nutritious choice, but this commercial sends an ulterior message that misses the point of healthy eating: that food is pleasure.

Food can be pleasurable, but food itself is not sex, is not love, is not happiness. Food is, in fact, fuel and sustenance. I have believed for a long time that one reason our culture has so many obese people in it is that they are, as a group, unhappy, spiritually empty, and fundamentally unsatisfied. Of course they will turn to the easiest fix for these problems, the quivering, damp nipple of gluttony.

Therefore, the solution to obesity is not exercise programs, banning Happy Meals, or replacing sugar with fruit juice, since it is becoming increasingly obvious that those don’t work. The solution is to create a society and a world in which people aren’t so empty. Something has to be full. Will it be the stomach or the spirit?


  1. “Low fat and/or sugar free yogurt and other similar foods are a decently nutritious choice” — I disagree. Certainly they’re better than Cheetos, but not much. Low-fat processed foods, in particular, are made of chemicals, not, you know, actual food. I’ll take a full-fat REAL yogurt over some lab-created monstrosity any day. I do wonder why carrots are so vilified on TV — I know exactly one person who doesn’t like carrots! They ought to show beets or brussels sprouts or something else a *lot* of people dislike.

  2. I disagree. To make yogurt non-fat, you simply make it from skim milk. To make it sugar-free, you just don’t add sugar.

  3. But of course, it’s not about changing the entire world, but about changing our own world. Hopefully your daughter will grow up addicted to apples and sunshine instead of Twinkies and television.

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