Why do we falter at the sight of unhealthy fast food?


We have to eat; we like to eat; eating makes us feel good, it is a necessary activity. To ensure genetic survival, the hunger urge must be satisfied everyday. It is also profoundly a social urge. Food is almost always shared and distributed for the expression of altruism. The insistence by family – ‘thoda aur le lo’ — at the table is part of our culture of hospitality, as is the offering of tea and perhaps also a snack to visiting guests and strangers.

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But when it comes to junk street food, benevolency ceases to exist. Be it the famous Cholle Kulche, Momos or Kaladi Kulcha, Jammuities show no mercy to none. We immediately give in without thinking twice. But what we do not see is the underlying process of the preparation of the food item. We fail to discern the imperceptible effects of eating junk food.

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Ancient philosophers have stressed upon ‘asceticism’. In Indian philosophy, the ‘tongue’ is the medium that enables a man to taste. They have emphasised that it is this faculty of taste that ensues a man to meander, fulfill the insatiable urge of it. Mitahara, a concept in Yoga integrates awareness about food, drink, balanced diet and consumption habits and its effect on one’s body and mind.

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The food choice we practice today is diametrically opposite to the ideal. The ‘fast food’ trend has impacted our society immensely. The constructed social media title of -‘foodie’ that is donned like a badge of honour is just another ‘intelligent gimmick’ for consumer encroachment that we fail to realise. A number of food & lifestyle media channels showcase fast food prepared on roadside as the quintessence Indian cuisine to its audience.

The unhygienic methods of food preparation at local food joints, the food quality measured on the hygiene metric, the ingredients that go into making the food item; if duly examined will appal the people. A survey conducted by the Institute of Hotel Management, Catering and Nutrition, Pusa confirmed extremely high volumes of  E. coli bacteria in Delhi Street Food which can cause severe infections. (source)


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Research into food choice, an interdisciplinary subject,  comprises psychological and sociological aspects (phenomena such as vegetarianism), economic issues (for instance how marketing campaigns influence choice) and sensory aspects (study of the organoleptic quality of food). Psychologists also suggest that binge eating is motivated by a desire to escape from self-awareness. The fact that food habits influence our body and mind, and our food choices depend upon external agencies cannot be dismissed as preposterous. An inveterate foodie must try to abstain and include healthier food items (fresh fruits, sprouts) in his diet.

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