Bursting the food bubble

Connect the Dots

My last grocery bill totaled about $35, a budget that naturally excludes the likes of King Pin runs.

Intended for two weeks worth of ten-minute dinners, quick orange juice and banana breakfasts, trail mix laced with too much chocolate snacks, and other such indulgent necessities, my grocery list lacks the luster of a well-balanced diet.

It’s just too easy to eat like a neglected carefree five-year-old, chewing those sugarcoated doughy squares like there’s a box of them, when there is. The desire to eat nutritionally void delicacies is a thoughtless impulse when a box of them costs less than a real meal.

But costs less than what exactly? Time, money or both? I ran out the door the other day with a pop-tart in my hand, happily knowing that it was cheaper than buying a sandwich on campus, and that it would give me enough sustenance for class.

Though I held on with the burst of sugar in my bloodstream for the first hour, the sugar crash lulled my attention-span into a restless and dreamy five-year-old’s for the next two. I should’ve grabbed a banana and some milk — or even better, I could have made time to make breakfast instead of dreaming about it.

Although Berkeley is stocked with supermarkets that cater to healthy lifestyles that echo the notorious “Berkeley Bubble,” we are also invited to partake in the reality of cheap and fast food with tight college budgets and distracted daily routines.

While Berkeley’s hill-residing elite and educated blow out its Bubble of organic consumption with hidden farmers markets and standard nauseatingly green fashion, the cash-strapped and credit loaded middle-class scour the streets for a delightfully cheap and delicious meal.

When life hands me lemons … why should I squeeze them myself, when I can buy a bottle of it instead? Even when there are fresh lemons, the powdered and concentrated alternatives seem just as refreshing when you can save time (which is money) without putting in any physical or mental effort.

Similar to the periodic self-induced food comas in my academic haze, consuming a diet that saves time and money leaves one momentarily satisfied, only to want more blubber-churning carbohydrates to feed one’s insatiable hunger.

We are ashamed of wasting commercially good food, but shameless of how we eat it. Although puritanical hypocrites use shame to justify traditionally backwards morals, we should be ashamed of how we eat because the traditional way of home-cooking has almost evolved to the habitual action of pill-popping.

Canned food and frozen vegetables are the only choices people outside the Bubble seem to have. Although a significant amount of people do not have the means to share the same budget and diet of the Bubble’s organic consumers, the average Joe can eat just as well as one of Trader Joe’s working-class “food snobs.”

As the not-so-secret ingredient of many three-star Chinese restaurants, MSG tricks your brain into thinking you’re full when you only need a break from hypnotically chowing down chowmein. Cheaper prices often make us want to buy more of something, even if it ends up in waste, and if we don’t want it.

A Chinese restaurant nearby sells a plate of steamy white rice and sticky orange chicken for a little over three dollars, and some days, they even have coupons for a free soda with the meal. Three dollars goes an efficiently long way when the appetite is immediately satisfied.

But how long did it take the chefs in the back kitchen to make this meal? They made it in batches, hour after hour, waiting for the perfect deep-frying temperature each time. While three bucks gives the freedom to do what your heart desires, your heart could instead avoid an attack.

Would walking to butcher shops and fruit stands help trim the fat around our hearts, instead of driving to and fro supermarkets every other week? When our daily routines are fixed into blocks of time, getting from point A to point B, we only want to spend our money on making our lives easier.

But what is ease if not a lack of consciousness? While my consciousness floats a mile away with every bite of a King Pin donut, it is worth the dollar I spend and the variable number of blocks trespassed to get there. Although eating a King Pin donut is as easy as it is heavenly, its consumption is also just as special.

As new things are gradually taken for granted, the abundance of ice cream cakes and meat pies has pervaded diets in lands of milk and honey, putting consumers into self-induced food comas that heart failure and diabetes seem to follow.

Instead of surrendering to the sugarcoated fate of mindless consumption, refresh your tastebuds, and delay gratification.

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