J500 Media and the Environment

Food Fears: The Revolving Door We Can’t get Out of by jmuselmann
January 29, 2010, 4:59 pm
Filed under: J500 Week 2 | Tags: , , ,

The question of what was actually contained within food came to me at an early age. The whirlwind of fearful concern generated among mommies about the caffeine content in Surge, then one of my favorite sodas, had successfully put down the bright green, syrupy soft drink, forever banishing it into a nostalgic martyrdom. At least that’s how I saw it.

It’s newer and more tamed incarnation, Mountain Dew, was what I took up next. In sixth grade, while enjoying a can during lunch (cans of it somehow tasted the best), a mean girl came up to me and said, “You know Mt. Dew lowers your sperm count, right?” I almost spewed. The idea of a sperm count was a new concept to me, and so was the idea that something that I drank could affect it.

Later I heard all sorts of things about Yellow 5, the food dye that was supposedly the culprit behind my heightening insecurity of my own masculinity (as if I need any help with that in middle school). Call me old-fashioned, but the only thing I was raised to be mindful of was fat, and when fat meant you got fat. It was a simple transference.

But with new worrisome terms like trans fats, high-fructose corn syrup, and sugar—used both in food advertising and the media that covers it—a card is taken from the back of the deck: High-caffeinated energy drinks line convenience stores today (with caffeine pills at the register, if you don’t have time to drink it), while sugary coffee drinks seem to be suspiciously targeted toward children more than ever. When I was a barista, my job turned into a daycare when school ended.

Will it take another concerned group (of mommies or otherwise) for a concerted effort against harmful, or simply unwanted, ingredients to be successful? Or was it possible only in ’90s, when the U.S. was not addled in recession, exhausted in war, nor stumped by healthcare reform? Despite increasing food research and coverage in the media, I can’t help but think that substantial government interference is about as realistic a possibility as a Surge resurrection.

—Jacob Muselmann


6 Comments so far
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Interesting post, Jacob. So who do we rely on? Do we wait for mommies or do we have to find ways to appeal to people’s self-interest? Who should be the watchdog/ caretaker?
Simran Sethi

Comment by j500

I think it is often easier for a mommy-like group to succeed because they have a moral, integral role in American society (and maybe all societies) that allows it to command the power and attention to effect change. But I think our new strength should be our diversity that attests to the fact that environmentalism and food policy affects all people and is everyone’s concern. Right now, unfortunately, I think it is seen as a weakness: roguish, miniscule, and marginalized from common sensical concern.

Comment by jmuselmann


I had a teacher in middle school who was addicted to Mt. Dew. He drank several bottles of it each day and decided for the sake of his young kids that he needed to kick the habit. It was the freakiest thing to watch him go through the withdrawals. His body was shaking so bad that he literally couldn’t write on the board!
I have been very lucky because I have very sensitive skin and when I tried pop it burned the inside of my mouth and was really painful. So I’ve never had to worry about drinking too much pop. I am curious though, do you still drink Mt. Dew? Did you have any problems getting off of it? -Kristina B.

Comment by kristinabev

Kristina, I don’t mess with pop too much these days—I can barely even finish one can! It does have abrasive, unnatural qualities to it that I never really want when I’m thirsty. However, if it’s carbonation I’m after, a soda water does the trick, or on special occasions, a root beer.
-Jacob M

Comment by jmuselmann

This is great. I remember making fun of one of my younger brother’s friends because he wasn’t allowed to drink Surge. For anyone to suggest that MY soda was anything short of amazing was an insult to me and my family. I was raised on Diet Coke, because full calorie coke was bad for you and Diet Coke was good for you. It was the same with chips, butter, sour cream and any other food that came with a diet alternative. Full calorie = bad and fat free = good. Then I heard about some study that found a link between a chemical in diet sodas and learning disabilities, which was especially interesting to me as both a Diet Coke loyalist and a person with dyslexia. But did that really change much for me? Nope. Although I drink less soda than before, I still have a hard time staying away from my diet fizzy drinks and diet products in general.
Maybe its an old habits die hard thing, but it’s information like this that makes me keep trying to cut down.

Comment by KaylaReg

Forgot to add my name to this too. Yikes.
Kayla R

Comment by KaylaReg

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