The Thinking 

The Spiritual Calamity of the Modern Diet

November 16, 2009


In my previous post on Obesity in America, I argued that the poor eating habits of Americans were not just a result of economics or poor nutritional advice or even the decline in home cooking, but of a deep and pervasive spiritual lassitude.

The problem of course is not unique to this country. Britain has seen the same phenomenon, perhaps to an even greater degree, among its native population.  Theodore Dalrymple describes it here:

I tell the doctors that in all my visits to the white households in the area, of which I’ve made hundreds, never—not once—have I seen any evidence of cooking. The nearest to this activity that I have witnessed is the reheating of prepared and packaged food, usually in a microwave. And by the same token, I have never seen any evidence of meals taken in common as a social activity—unless two people eating hamburgers together in the street as they walk along be counted as social.

This is not to say that I haven’t seen people eating at home; on the contrary, they are often eating when I arrive. They eat alone, even if other members of the household are present, and never at table; they slump on a sofa in front of the television. Everyone in the household eats according to his own whim and timetable. Even in so elementary a matter as eating, therefore, there is no self-discipline but rather an imperative obedience to impulse. Needless to say, the opportunity for conversation or sociality that a meal taken together provides is lost. English meals are thus solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

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