J500 Media and the Environment


Deconstructing blissful ignorance by Lauren Cunningham
January 29, 2010, 3:45 pm
Filed under: Food + Health, J500 Week 2

I’ve recently become addicted to Mad Men. The show, set in the 1960s, depicts the lives of people in the advertising industry in New York City, including the family life of the main characters, which as a modern day viewer can show some past flaws that now seem ridiculous.

I can’t help but chuckle when I see pregnant characters on the show reach for a cocktail or smoke a cigarette in nearly every scene. Obviously, we, as a society, know now that alcohol and tobacco can have serious, harmful side effects for pregnant women, but in that time period, they were oblivious to those. Imagine their reactions when studies came out proving the awful side effects their actions.

Well, after reading reactions to Twinkie, Deconstructed, I experienced what I imagine was the same type of revelation that those characters in Mad Men would have had. Of course, the degree of revelation would probably be different, but the same kind of realization after ignorance occurred with me.

I’d like to give myself some credit and say that even before reading about Twinkie, Deconstructed I figured that Twinkies weren’t healthy and definitely weren’t natural — in the way they look and taste — and therefore, probably weren’t made with natural ingredients. But like most other consumers, I was ignorant to all of the harmful ingredients in Twinkies and more importantly, where those ingredients come from. If more consumers knew about the off-shore food additives that appear in most foods they eat, I think they would be more inclined to eat natural, local-grown foods.

It’s amazing to me that even in 2010, we still don’t know everything about the food we eat, but we’ve learned all about the negative components of things as alcohol or cigarettes that aren’t consumed everyday. The Twinkie was made in 1930, and I don’t know if the same ingredients were in that version compared to today’s version, but I’m sure there were some overlapping ingredients.

As the popular saying goes, ignorance is bliss, but what happens when that ignorance evolves into problems that have major consequences? If people are happier being oblivious to what they’re eating, than knowing about unnatural substances, then those same people should realize the eventual health issues they might encounter.

Consumers should realize that they might have to pay more for healthier, natural foods and that to find those kind of foods might require some education. Reading about Twinkie, Deconstructed can be a start to realizing that ignorance toward what we’re putting in our bodies isn’t so blissful.

— Lauren Cunningham

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5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I share your sentiment about not realizing just how many harmful ingredients are in a Twinkie. I like your point about how people should make an effort to learn about the foods they are consuming. What are some ways to encourage people to learn more about the foods they eat?

-Micole A.

Comment by micolea

Excellent comment, Micole. Lauren, if you think we should do things differently, please shed some light on how we can make that change.
Simran Sethi

Comment by j500

First of all, thanks for taking the time to read my post. To begin, I think that restaurants and packagers of food need to be held more responsible for what they print on menus or labels. Recently, the American Dietetic Association found that some restaurants and food packages have been misrepresenting how many calories are in its foods. Read more here.

Also, another way people can be held accountable for what they eat is to start asking questions. If there’s something unrecognizable on a label, start searching around and find out what it is, where it comes from and what it means.

— Lauren Cunningham

Comment by Lauren Cunningham

Those are some very good points in your response Lauren. I agree that people need to start being more accountable for what they eat.

Also, I read that article about how some restaurants are misrepresenting how many calories are in their foods. That’s astonishing! I never thought of doubting the information, but now I know that it is a possibility. That article strongly supports your argument of ignorance is bliss. If people don’t know about that information, how can they avoid it.
Thank you for posting that article. I found it very interesting and important to read.

Comment by jackiemcc

Lauren,

I loved how you compared mistakes made by generations past to those currently being made in the present. However, I do think it is a little bit different when it comes to food which is something that everyone must have all of the time. People don’t have to smoke or drink, but we must eat food (yes, I do realize that most of what we consider to be food isn’t actually {at least according to Michael Pollan} food). And because the food problems we are having now involve so much of our food system and also tie into health and environmental problems, I think it is much more complicated than things past. I am curious what you think will have to happen before things begin to change? How bad do you think they will have to get before enough people take notice? -Kristina B.

Comment by kristinabev




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