Sunday, 15 July 2012

That Sam Judd Article - A Dissection

Does it ever make you cringe when you see someone who is overweight gouging themselves on takeaways?

No, no it doesn't actually. I rarely take any notice of what people I don't know are eating - and if I do it's usually because it looks good and I wonder where they got it or how they made it. If they're someone I know, I'm probably more interested in them. Odd how I have better things to do with my time than hanging round judging random people on the street. (Look at me not focusing on the word 'gouging' because there's so much else to rant about.)

It is not just the health problems that irk me 

Oh, you're concerned. How caring of you.

many environmental problems stem from an unhealthy diet also. 

You know, I'll be expecting some pretty significant evidence for this, and a definition of that 'unhealthy diet'.

Just take a walk in the central city early on a Saturday morning and count how many fast food wrappers you see in the drains.

Oh! So it's about rubbish on the streets!  Well there's a detailed macro analysis of the environmental problems we face.

I believe there is an inextricable link between people who don't look after their own health and those who damage our environment.

That would be... governments and multi national corporations, right? No? Oh, you're talking about individuals? Mysterious fat individuals who drop rubbish, despite the fact you don't appear to have seen this actually happen, only surveyed the streets on a Saturday morning. See, you keep talking about fat people and you talk about there being excess packaging on food you perceive as unhealthy, but you fail to make any actual connection between the two, other than the fact that the two together make you cringe. I'd suggest the problem might be one of your perception. 

Single use convenience food packaging and sugary pre-mixed bourbon and cola drink containers are constantly proving to be the biggest source of rubbish on our streets and beaches. 

Bourbon and cola? Really? Not lime baccardi breezers or vodka fuse? I'm happy you can be this specific. Clearly bourbon's the problem - and if we all switched to other drinks the problem would be solved.

New Zealand has the 7th worst obesity rate in the world.

You do realise that obesity is a meaningless construct, right? Oh...

Can our terrible eating habits be blamed on urbanisation? 

Well, you might want to establish what our eating habits actually are first.

As more people flock to newly developed apartment dwellings in cities, they give up the opportunity to have a garden and teach their kids how to grow food. 

Yeah, where you live is entirely a choice and has nothing whatsoever to do with money, availability, transport, access or anything else.

But Statistics New Zealand figures say that, although the percentage is rapidly rising only around 20,000 of our 4,000,000-odd people lived in apartments in 2006.
Most kiwis want to have their own slice of outdoor space...
So it seems that most of us have the space to grow food, but we are too lazy to do it. It is easier to pile yourself into a car and burn fuel to visit a shop where unhealthy food (likely to be wrapped in single use plastic packaging) awaits our lazy bellies.

Here's the thing. Even when there genuinely is the space - and a lot of residences that aren't apartments don't have it -you may be working long hours. Your landlord may forbid you from modifying the garden. You may not have the startup cash. You may have the startup cash but not be able to take the risk that if you fail you won't have any food to eat. You may be disabled in ways that make this impossible. You may work long hours and have childcare issues and just be plain exhausted. You may have to move between rentals every year and there's never chance to get anything going.
But thanks for making people feel bad for doing what they need to survive, demeaning them and making broad assumptions about their resources. I hope that makes you feel really awesome.
And I still have no fucking idea what this has to do with fat people.

It is healthier, cheaper and better for the environment to eat fresh food that can be grown at home. 

Not... necessarily. Healthy depends on how well it's grown and what your dietry needs are. Cheaper depends on your resources, economies of scale and what it is you need to grow. And better for the environment really depends on the policies of those growing food on a wider scale - perhaps you should talk to them. Nevertheless...

When we are educating school students about using less waste, one of the best examples that we can use is growing it yourself.
And it really isn't that hard to start. If you don't have the space, or wouldn't know the difference between clay and topsoil- there are many community gardens out there, where people can usually learn essential gardening skills and share a space. You can check out this handy guide here.
Some school students are lucky enough to be getting gardening skills already through the Enviroschools network and other fantastic organisations like The Garden to Table Trust, which is working with Waterfront Auckland on an edible garden by the sea on the north wharf.

Aside from another assumption about difficulty levels, there's actually some good stuff in here.  If your aim was to encourage people to grow their own food, you could have provided these resources and some people may well have used them. But instead you've fuelled fat hate and made people feel like crap for their limited resources. I'm sure this has made people (particularly fat people) who would like to grow their own food more (incidentally I'm one of them) but don't find it easy really receptive to your message. Go you!


hazel said...

Personally I am deeply saddened to know that my tits are contributing to global warming; and although I don't think I've ever dropped McDonalds wrappers on the street, it's quite possible I did it while sleep-eating. WHO KNOWS REALLY.

More seriously: it's deeply fucking disappointing that YET AGAIN we have some dude claiming that because he does some shit, everybody else is able to (and therefore should) do the same things. As you say, gardening isn't a realistic food source for lots of people (she says, staring out the window at her herb garden).

(I have thoughts about the connection between "is able to" and "should", but they're long and rambly.)

LudditeJourno said...

Awesome Anthea, you rock, thank you.

Psycho Milt said...

It is healthier, cheaper and better for the environment to eat fresh food that can be grown at home.

A human's main dietary requirements are proteins and fats - good luck supplying yourself with those from a 600 sq m section. Eating fruit and veg from the garden might make you feel a bit superior, but that's really about it.

Also, "healthy" food is food that has nutritional value and won't adversely affect your health (ie, won't make you sick from mould, bacteria etc). Any definition beyond that is a moral one, not a scientific one.

lauredhel said...

I realise there is so much wrong here... but I'm stuck on this: the fact is, high density apartment dwelling close to the employment and entertainment that the dwellers are going to use is the most environmentally friendly dwelling situation there is. But I guess that doesn't rate?

Hugh said...

It upsets me to see anybody gouging themselves. It's hard to imagine somebody doing it with fast food, though. Maybe a very rigid and pointy ice cream cone?

Anonymous said...

I think Sam makes some great points, but he lost me with his opening fact with the tone of his whole article.

If I could be bothered and actually thought he was worth my time responding properly, I would write a retort starting with "does it ever make you cringe when you read an article by an arrogant wannabe journalist and then see his face is equally arrogant & smug (not to mention balding which is kind of gross if we want to go down that kind of road!).