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ALL FOOLS' FOOD DAY IS NOT A CAUSE, BUT A BECAUSE...
Because you are what you eat. Because you are what your body does with what you eat. Because one of the fundamental themes of American eating behavior is the difference between what people say they want to eat and what they actually eat. Because we have the best foods available yet gorge on the worst foods. Because our food choices are maladaptive, and the number of calories eaten are controlled by food taste and availability. Because food portion size and control have become a lost art—as in super-size me. Because since the stone age, when surviving famine was a life-and-death concern, there has been no natural threshold for how much sugar and fat we can eat.
Because we eat the emotional ingredients in food before considering its nutritional ingredients. Because a "privileged" food can draw on a memory fondly treasured. Because food "connects us to our past, to other people, to the world, and to ourselves. Food is celebration, identity, conversation, emotion, glory, pleasure, pain, fear, disgust, comfort, and guilt. Food is flavor and savor, art and sight sound and music, texture and design, words and poetry, divine and decadent. Food is love and food is life." Because of today's snack culture, where food intake is not rational but based on feelings and physical sensations. Because life is about fulfillment, and stomachs can't supply what's missing.
Because conviviality, entertainment, truth, and escape are compelling food lures. Because much of American food has become novelty seeking at its core. Because for many, trying new and different foods or experimenting with food is part of living a full life filled with experiences and memories. Because "stunt foods" target a group of millennials, called thrill seekers, who want both flavor and social notoriety. Because festivals of misrule and escape, like Madi Gras' Fat Tuesday, once occurred more regularly throughout the year. Because muses, ancient and modern, think people avoid the truth. Because the history of tricksters' centers on appetite and keeping the stomach full. Not just to fill the belly, but to also avoid being eaten or, in today's context, to not suffer avoidable ill-health or die prematurely.
Because countless studies show how bad we are at assessing the healthfulness and consequences of eating a food. Because of our genetic weaknesses. Because food science enables large food companies to produce unnaturally delicious foods. Because food products are engineered and tested to maximize their allure. Because food and our health intertwine. Because hyperpalatable foods alter both the brain and our behavior. Because unhealthy food contributes to diseases of affluence: cardio, diabetes, and obesity. Because of rising rates of Alzheimer's and depression.
Because one-quarter of the American population care about healthy eating and one-quarter doesn't care at all, which leaves the other half somewhere in the middle, dependent upon food environment cues . Because 42,214 items are available in an average American supermarket. Because the poor and working classes in America resist healthy eating crazes. Because the "halo effect" influences food choice from restaurant menus, and by overweight diners the most.
Because social norms are often defined for us, not by us. Because every FoodZy (America's worst-of-the-worst foods) bite is a lost opportunity to eat healthier. Because people are, nevertheless, sick of hearing what healthy foods they should be eating. Because practically nobody wants Americans to be fat. Because food purveyors, nonetheless, want us to spend a lot on their most profitable foods. Because what seems like a forever term—"comfort food"—was coined on December 25, 1977. Because eating the worst of America's food provides a release from fear-mongering about our health and, for some, paternalism at its worst. Because cigarettes moved from glorification to demonization, FoodZy could, over time, create a similar no smoking-like social avoidance norm.
Because negatives are easier to understand than positives. Because in a process called nutrification, manufacturers remove the good stuff for instance in wheat, when making bread, and then add back the fiber and vitamins, etc. Because of averaging bias: "People make value judgments about foods by balancing opposing goals of health and indulgence, virtue and vice. When eating a healthy and an indulgent food together, we end up averaging the two in our minds." Because food confusion and anxiety rein, we, the cooking animal, cook less and less. Because, and despite the complexity, food is an amazing science from farm to table.
Because our available time is no longer a reflection of the natural world, convenience reigns. Because food serves as a mirror into our mindset for convenience and health, novelty and personalization. Because our default setting is shrouded by activity and information overload, both of which American food also has in abundance. Because food choice isn't an on/off switch, but a dimmer switch. Because more convenient, higher quality food choices are available than ever before. Because, nevertheless, if we eat out, most of us will eat FoodZy. Because minimal assembly is required for overly processed foods, causing the default setting to tilt toward eater convenience. Because fast food is predictable, delicious, easy, fun, cheap, and reliable. Because convenience is reality—it's neither right nor wrong.
Because food is and isn't simple. Because most Americans are mindless eaters, we need to work with human nature, not against it. Because "we're just making this up as we go—what's healthy, what's good, what we define as socially reasonable or not." Because Nestlé is practicing harm reduction in its foods internationally with sugar cut by a third in the first decade of this millennium. Because what we eat in aggregate has a tremendous influence on food choice. Because we're not jesting, All Fools' Food Day is not a cause, but a because America's food culture is too often at odds with our individual health needs, lifestyle desires, and wellbeing aspirations.
Sources: This is a mashup of thoughts from the organizer, B. Ray Helton and includes numerous ideas from a wide range of books and sources.