Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Tragic. And not just for the destruction of the wholeness of community and health. As the world gets flatter and smaller, it also gets more monotonous and uglier.
Mediterranean Diet Declines, and Weights Rise - "Small towns like this one in western Crete, considered the birthplace of the famously healthful Mediterranean diet — emphasizing olive oil, fresh produce and fish — are now overflowing with chocolate shops, pizza places, ice cream parlors, soda machines and fast-food joints.

The fact is that the Mediterranean diet, which has been associated with longer life spans and lower rates of heart disease and cancer, is in retreat in its home region. Today it is more likely to be found in the upscale restaurants of London and New York than among the young generation in places like Greece, where two-thirds of children are now overweight and the health effects are mounting, health officials say."


Anonymous said...

"Today it is more likely to be found in the upscale restaurants of London and New York"

thanks to capitalism.

Julie said...

Sooo.....capitalism is bad? As opposed to......?

Michael said...


capitalism is, at best, indifferent. neither good nor bad. just voracious. and what it shits out tends not to be as interesting as what it ate.

Julie said...

I like reading your blog because alot of books,blogs etc. come from the northeast, or up north somwhere, and as you know Florida has different rules. And since I live in Ocala I learn alot from somebody close to my zone. (I actually graduated from Deland High) But I must say your outlook bums me out. As a business owner and a world traveler( I've been to Cuba, Venezuela, Honduras, Mexico, Trinidad, Romania, Austria Hungary,Germany,Candada Nigeria) I know of no better system that gives regular people the ability to become and accomplish things usually reserved for the elite. Feudalism? As long as you're Lord, right?

Michael said...

i think you missed some irony there.

so, just to be clear. i have lived for EXTENSIVE periods in post-communist and communist countries. i am exorbitently well-educated. i know what's what. i wouldn't choose to live under any other system than capitalism. still, i think we need to be aware, and mourn, the costs of the progress that we've made in the past two centuries. what's more, i'm not convinced that capitalism HAS TO result in a crappy world.

if we lied a little less to ourselves about the true costs of our standard of living, we could start undoing some of the harm. and by harm, i mean mostly the wholesale destruction of communities and sense of local wonder.

Julie said...

Thanks for not being mean. I was being a little sarcastic with my last line, but my point was that in all systems somebody's trying to be lord, king, czar or whatever. At least in our system you don't have to put up with that. I would say that I disagree with you that capitalism has resulted in a "crappy world". If there's crap in the world it's a result of people, not systems. Besides, I personaly think our world is great! What's so bad with it?

Anonymous said...

It is in people's nature to seek what is "new" and appealing, these things are not good/bad in themselves, but does tend to happen.

Unfortunately, "junk" or "comfort" food is very appealing and often cheaper than fresh food, (as they have tons of preservatives to keep them on the shelves forever.)

If there is a demand by people in a city for fast food, pizza and ice cream shops, than unless the city sees fit to keep these shops out, they will appear. But the businesses will only stay in business as long as people patron them.

If a person's choices are limited, then they will eat what is available. But if you offer most people the choice between a nice warm piece of chocolate cake for dessert, or a perfectly ripe peach...most people not "on a diet" would choose the cake.... Make it peach cobbler, and you may have some more takers. What would happen if you were presented this choice everyday and you chose the chocolate cake, everyday? You would probably gain weight.

Our choices as to what we eat is our decision. Our lack of will power (or ignorance on good eating habits) doesn't mean that we shouldn't have choices. However it is still sad to hear that another place is succumbing to the junk food diet.

Michael said...

anonymous, i like your comment. one thing that, prima facie, seems great about capitalism is its offering of alternatives, choices, newness. on the surface, what's wrong with choice? in america it seems to me that we often confuse freedom and choice--when people glorify our freedom, what they're really speaking about the opportunity to choose among 26 kinds of deodorant at the grocery store. that's what makes america great! (not everyone means that, but i sense the confusion often.)

economics assumes a rational decionmaking process, and therefore predicts that we'll make the best decision based on our personal sense of value (hedonics). but that presupposes that people have a stable and innate system of preferences. if there's anything that po-mo economics (the book predictably irrational comes to mind) has done is to critique this assumption--our desires are not innate but shaped by cues and hints. we get seduced, not by our own desires, but by pitches and ploys made by others.

your point about "lack of willpower" is the defense many people make--capitalism (of the late bourgeois variety) is GOOD, but people are WEAK. if we just exerted our will, practiced a bit of asceticism, all the problems (fat kids) would just disappear. but that presupposes a stable field of values and valorizations that exists independent of circumstances (those of a religious bent would call it a soul).

i'm not convinced it exists.