December 18, 2009

Uphill… in the snow… both ways…

Filed under: Observations — Tags: , , — sbj @ 6:00 pm

When I was a child, if I wanted to watch cartoons, I got up Saturday morning; if I wanted to watch a lot of cartoons, I woke up early Saturday morning.  I remember – gasp!!!- going to bed early on Friday nights just so I could get up in time to catch the super friends at 6:00am.

When someone in my children’s generation wants to watch cartoons, they turn on the television.  If they want to watch a lot of cartoons, they turn on the television.  Not only are there networks that are (virtually) nothing but cartoons; but you don’t even have to turn it on when they broadcast them anymore.  Set up your Tivo properly and you can watch any cartoon anytime you want.

There are children who have never known what it is like to sit down and not have (at least one) episode of The Family Guy, or The Simpsons, or Sponge Bob, etc. ready and waiting for them. (To be fair… this is not much different than me with, say, The Daily Show until I ditched TV altogether a while back).

When I was 5, fast food was a $6 billion industry, in 2000 (when my son turned 5) that number had ballooned to over $110 billion.  In case you are wondering about inflation… the adjusted US GDP went up 4x over that period, the fast food industry 16x… so we’re not talking about inflation here (Source of US GDP number: US Department of Commerce).

Take a look at the cost increase by type of food, over the 15 years leading up to the year 2000 and its $110 billion fast food extravaganza.

The same report that reveals this trend points out that over the same time period consumption of fruits, veggie’s and dairy has dropped significantly while starch, sugars, and fats have remained steady or even increased (the cost of a can of soda has gone up a mere 20%, fats and oils 35%, while the cost of fresh fruits and veggies have shot up 118%. Coincidence? One does have to wonder*).

When I was a boy, I was outside playing something everyday… sports, cowboys and indians (not the best choice in retrospect… but I didn’t know better at the time), hide and seek, or just plain “playing.”  Most kids I know today spend most of their “play” time online or on a gaming consol.

Yes, I am getting to a point here…

I am afraid that our lives have become to much a function of convenience.  Quick, relatively inexpensive food, addictive while inactive entertainment and the like are serving as enablers to the generally acknowledged national problems of sedentary life styles and obesity.

As the year – and indeed the decade – come to an end the time honored tradition of establishing resolutions once again begins anew.  I’ve never really been a big fan of new years resolutions, defiantly stating that I make my resolutions as they are needed, a constant and consistent year ‘round undertaking.

However, this year, because it is the end of the year, or because its just a coincidence that my “process” is dealing with these issues right now, I have made a short list of focus items going forward (based on what I was writing about above).

1. Improve my families dietary habits. Drastically reduce fats, starches, soda etc. and increase consumption of fruits and veggies.
2. Become more active in our activities. Fewer hours in front of a video game or computer, more hours outside playing, walking, exploring, etc.
3. Make more of our own fun. Embracing creativity, instead of enjoying as much pre-packaged fun.

That’s it, that’s all.  Those are the new additions to the Jacobsen family goals.  What do you have brewing, either as a resolution… or in general.  I’d love to hear! (And quite probably be inspired!)

*I am not implying some sort of conspiracy here, simply refering to the fact that anything that is getting the bulk of production and the associated benefits (efficiencies of scale etc.) is going to have better cost controls, etc.

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