A week or so back there was an intriguing article from BBC news, talking about Junk Food and its affect upon kids lunches and school menus. Within the article, Vincent Marks stated that Junk food is an oxymoron, and that the term has been developed as a blanket statement for one to state their disapproval over a variety of food products.
Instead, Dr. Marks asserts, there are no junk foods, only junk diets. An extreme example of his claim could be stated as thus: one chocolate bar a week is okay, as long as you round it out with fruits, veggies and some exercise. But 21 chocolate bars a week is probably a bad idea, regardless of how you accompany them.
As much as I want to poo-poo his idea, I can’t dismiss how accurate it is.
The problem as I see it, is that there is no one standard to define what junk food should be or should not be. Food is easy to define – an edible series or combinations of sugars, proteins and carbohydrates that provide some measure of nutrients to help sustain life. Frito Corn Chips, Big Macs, Coca-Cola all meet this basic definition, even if only barely in some instances.
In my walks around Seattle and my conversations with people, I have seen folks dismiss Twinkies while biting into a croissant, heard folks advocate for hormone-free milk while downing a glass of wine, and watched people put both organic apples and oreo cookies into their shopping carts.
There’s a bit of dissonance, and some may say hypocrisy, between these activities. And yes, I throw these stones from my huge glass house.
Even as I think about various foodstuffs that I have railed upon, most notably Kraft products and the like, I have to admit that they do provide some measure of short term benefits to people, not excluding cost. This is generally why I try to focus on bad practices of companies, or unknown (or sometimes known) long term affects of products, rather than asserting which product is better than others.
But the question is – are there junk foods out there? If so, what defines it as such? I’m having a difficult time coming up with one clear answer. Do we define food that are unhealthy as Junk Food? If so, then frois gras, bacon and croissants need to be redefined as junk food.
Perhaps there’s a measure of classism involved with the “junk food” definition. Why do Hershey Bars or Burger King French Fries feel as if they’re junk food, but Belgian Chocolates and Pomme Frites don’t?
I don’t think there are any easy answers here. Dr. Marks may be right in that we may need to change our outlook on “junk food”.