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We Are What We Eat: The Sacrifice of Our Cultural Values for Convenient Foods

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We Are What We Eat: The Sacrifice of Our Cultural Values for Convenient Foods

Eating food is much more than taking in nutrients for your body to survive. In today's bustling society, we may have lost some of the important social and cultural values of eating. Some people worry too much about what they're eating and how many calories it contains, while others don't have the slightest idea about what they're putting into their mouths. Also, many of us have lost sight of the importance of sitting down to have a family dinner, which not only is healthier for us, but also plays a key role in relationship building and social interaction. As people become increasingly busy, quick and convenient food becomes yet even more intertwined in our diets. We didn't forget how to eat; we just forgot how to eat well.

I can still remember my family's dinner gatherings as a child. It would look rather typical: all four of us at one table, eating a hearty, yet nutritious home-cooked meal prepared usually by both of my talented parents, conversing and laughing together. A scene that today isn't as common. It's the events like these that are inimitable, especially as a child developing important social skills and manners for later on in life. Now that I think about it, I've learned quite a lot from sitting down with my family to eat dinner. Whether it was seeking the answer to every child's basic questions about life, to learning how my mom cooked the particular meal, and quite obviously- the foods my immature palette liked and the ones it didn't. Dinner also played an essential role in me really getting to know my family. It built relationships between everyone at the table, and some of my favorite family conversations and memories occurred there. Now, my parents cook just as much as they did when I was growing up, possibly even more, having four or

five home-cooked meals a week. What has really changed is the way I have been choosing to eat. I'm a busy college student, a part-time worker, and a musician that gigs on the weekends. Often times I find myself eating alone, in a fast food chain or even in my car, getting something quick to eat because I'm in a huge hurry to get somewhere. The modern American's hectic lifestyle along with the startling number of options for convenient fast food is evidently ruining the presence of the family dinner and the quintessential values that come with it. For if there is only one thing Americans truly fear, its inconvenience.

As the everyday lifestyle has evolved in this way, and the diet has changed accordingly, we have experienced an unfortunate yet very real loss of culture and familial heritage. As you may know, the United States is a true "melting pot" of ethnicities, home to people of all walks of life from around the globe. Just as each family has their own cultural ties like languages and ancestry, they also have the types of food specific to their heritage. More and more people are adopting what is called the "Western diet" and the fast-paced lifestyle of today's society, resulting in a direct loss of a chief aspect of their respective cultures--food. With my family being part Irish and living in America, how often do you think we prepare corned beef and cabbage? Once a year, on St. Patrick's Day, of course. It peeves me to know that we are so out of touch with our heritage sometimes, and especially when you can count our fast-food diets to be a determining factor in that. Our cities are becoming clones of each other, and people are buzzing about in what looks like one homogenous landscape. I would definitely argue that folk culture is seemingly dying. Gone are the unique cities that carry

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