Review of Judith Warner’s Paper, "Junking with Junk Food’ and the Importance of Transforming the Diet of Americans


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Judith Warner’s article “Junking with Junk Food,” in the New York Times symbolizes the prevalent tension among the U.S. government institutions and its constituents today: the public funded advocation for the common good while dealing with the unwise resistance of the people. In Warner’s article, the tension involves the U.S. government’s recent campaign to transition from the domination of “junk food” to the promising “healthy” food that snippets each section of the food pyramid in the U.S. food industry. The challenges, including public controversy, that the federal government face daunts their goals to achieve an almost balanced-diet America: Does the Michelle Obama healthy food campaign unintentionally refrain our freedoms and rights? Is it an insult to all Americans’ self-controls and motivations to make themselves better? With so much contention on the U.S. government to change the way we eat-the social eating norms that we have contended with for generations, will the U.S. government inevitably fail, allowing us to continue to hoard our youth with high sugar, fat, and sodium food?

Throughout the article, Warner expressed that she understood the power that the polarizing figures against the healthy food initiatives have in failing the entire idea of developing balanced and fulfilling diets amongst the American public. Citing from high-profiled political figures such as Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck to the main conscious makers to American youth, parents either indoctrinating against the agenda or simply participate in school meetings claiming that public schools reiterate fast food lunches, Wagner conveys the sense that the American mentality of personal freedom prevents not only uber-conservatives, but everyday people, like parents, from understanding the whole concept of restricting what Americans eat. Wagner’s then statement that “Teaching Americans, and children in particular, healthier eating habits seemed so commonsensical a venture, so wholesome and safe,” almost mocks Americans as having the incapability to radically change their eating habits. If teaching Americans about good eating habits is an ultimate positive, then why should there adversaries against the idea? Wagner suggests that if Americans are already stubborn towards their well-being, then change cannot occur.

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But Warner also insists that the challenge of implementing a mainstream transformation of Americans food habits also stands against human biological processes-that taste buds will dislike food that they do not have a habit of eating. Therefore, people who do not eat vegetables and fruit on a daily basis will most likely not foster the habit of doing so anytime soon.

In all fairness, Warner demonstrates a pessimistic view by forecasting that Americans will dutifully fail revolutionizing the country’s food industry with relevant points, but the American healthy initiative is still in its beginning stages and possible solutions have not been forcibly implemented or even known by the public. There still remains questions-and actions- that need to answered before critics like Warner deny such nutritious food programs the possibility of achievement. What programs will the government enforce to narrow the gap between the prices of whole and processed foods? What role will U.S. health officials, particularly in rural and low-income areas, do to educate the public? How will local community ventures incorporate affordable healthy lifestyles in the areas including starting accessible farmer markets and market gardens, driving cheaper fresh produce in local supermarkets, and providing free or low-cost public transportation for families to local, but healthy supermarkets? Such issues still need to be addressed and to predict the failures of some nutritious health programs that are starting to address these issues one-on-one is not exactly fair.

Judith Warner’s recognition of the challenges that the federal government has in promoting healthy eating and lifestyle in American society demonstrates a rather cynical pessimism towards the possible achievements that the programs can achieve. Understanding the American popular mentality towards junk food, the motivation that Americans are willing to keep their food traditions, and the human biological processes to desire to eat according to their habits, Warner places a rather animosity towards these programs, doubting government and societal power to change the U.S. food industry. Though the article “Junking with Junk Food,” personifies a dim forecast for any revolutionary change to the U.S. food industry, Americans should not believe that their and other’s nutritional consciousnesses and progressions could not have an impact on the American society. Many questions and needed actions to improve the U.S. food industry and eating still have yet been fully addressed.

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