This is the second part of the essay ‘Food as energizer for the public domain’. Last week I dealt with the changes we’ve gone through during the 20th century. This week more about the effects these changes have caused.

Food now seems to be available everywhere. Each place where people have to wait or spent some time has a shop where food is sold: train stations, fuel stations, canteens, etc. People can eat whenever and whatever they want which has positive as well as negatives effects.

The shortage of food developed countries suffer from a hundred years ago has now changed into an excess of it which has caused many negative side effects: In 1996 we were first confronted with Kreutzfeldt-Jakob, the 21st century started with a growing number of (young) obesity patients and in 2007 there were many negative discussions about the weight and looks of catwalk models. Luckily there is also some good news to tell.

There are groups in society which have the possibility to have more attention for the quality instead of the quantity of their meals and the products available seem to be more diverse*

Food related problems are still mostly for the less wealthy people in our society. This is something which has not changed during the last century. Just the kind of problems is different now. These are not related to the quantity of the food those people receive, but the quality it has. In many cases the unhealthy option is cheaper than the healthy one. Education levels, income and (social) environment also influence the chance to become overweighed.

To decrease the number of obese one has to make people from more vulnerable groups aware of the influence of their situation on the way they eat. They should be convinced to eat healthier by making them aware of their habits. It should be made easier for everyone to resist the temptation of buying and eating unhealthy food. In public places more healthy food should be offered and maybe prices should become more favorable for these products.

The growing number of obese people has not been caused by the amount of food one has but also by the type of food offered. One does not only eat three meals a day but also has many opportunities to buy a snack between these meals. Usually these snacks contain a lot of calories which a normal person working in an office doesn’t need at all. Next week I’ll discuss some possible solutions which can be used in shaping public places.

Click here to part III - Fast food meets slow eaters

(*foodinthestreets: While translating this text I realize this is something which could be discussed: There might seem to be a bigger diversity of products because trade has expanded. At the same time the bio-diversity has decreased.)