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You Deserve a Break Today -- to Hunt a Little Dinner

March 05, 2004|Ethan Gilsdorf

Another study has warned that Americans are getting fatter. Released Monday, the SizeUSA survey, sponsored by clothing companies, universities and, oddly, the Army and Navy, scanned some 10,000 people to size up the situation. In the words of Jim Lovejoy, the director of SizeUSA, "We're definitely getting heavier, and it's primarily in the waist."

Unfortunately, Americans living in the Land of the Eat and the Home of the Grave couldn't be more pleased by their plumpness. It's an alarming trend that has physicians, nutritionists and swimsuit designers tossing in their sleep but apparently is of little concern to those who are actually dipping into their Ben and Jerry's with snow shovels.

But the solution is not, as some would have you believe, that Americans must choose their food more carefully. On the contrary, nothing makes us hungrier than freedom of choice. Think about it.

Scanning the menu at McDonald's, eyes-up-eyes-down, the very bedrock upon which this country was founded -- freedom -- really works up an appetite.

In fact, there's an epidemic of freedom to choose sweeping this country, and most of us just can't handle it. We wander the aisles of Vast-Mart, faced with 27 different brands of nacho-flavored toothpaste. We motor by our strip mall's sprawling majesty, and everywhere we go we are surrounded by snacks.

Food is too available. That, my fellow Americans, is the crux of the matter. If our men and women in Washington are serious about reducing the waists of their constituents, they need to pass legislation banning munchies from convenient locations. They must outlaw talking vending machines and 24-hour doughnut and daiquiri drive-thrus, prohibit those frozen burritos pleading to be microwaved and stop the puerile seduction of Mister Softee.

Eating's just too easy now. We're hungry -- so we get up from the couch and reach into the pantry for a prepackaged, processed snack, rip open the shrink wrap (which burns only about 0.02 calories, max) and, hours or minutes later, pass out in a puddle of special sauce. Neanderthal, perhaps, but hardly a challenge.

Americans should have to work harder to find food. If it turns out we can't ban snack food outright, why not scrap baseball and make hunting and gathering the national pastime?

And there's even more that our hard-working civic leaders can do. Through a little known loophole in the "Every Kid Deserves a Gun Act," funding can be allocated to establish Hunt and Gather Clubs in every community. The idea is simple: Hungry workers would leave their offices, change into their safari khakis and climb into their sport utility vehicles for some serious tracking and shooting. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could raise herds of musk ox, Holsteins, sloths, Libertarians and other slow-moving game and release them into our urban centers.

Raised on violent video games, a whole generation of suburban children would die for the chance to blow the head off a real living creature. Even a fridge full of snapping turtles or anaconda snakes would put a little excitement back into the task of making supper. Just chasing those little appetizers around the apartment would get your blood pumping and burn calories.

And you'd still be hungry for a sensible dessert.


Ethan Gilsdorf is a poet and freelance writer living in Paris.

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