Junk Food Regulation, It’s What’s For Dinner

Junk Food Regulation, It’s What’s For Dinner

There needs to be regulations on the distribution, sale, advertising, and overall consumption of junk food by children. Besides the fact that children are the greatest long-term investment any country has, junk food is not only unbeneficial in every concern relating to health possible, it is also causing health problems in children (and adults) at near epidemic levels. To do nothing in the realm of curbing the consumption of these foods would not be irresponsible, it is also short-sided and dangerous. There primary points that this paper will specifically target when reviewing this topic are: one, what are junk foods and what about them makes them bad, two, current trends and consumption of junk foods today, and the third point will be to look at what are some practical things that can be done to curb the consumption of junk foods.

Before we begin, it is worth noting that there is historical precedence for the government taking action against an industry that sells goods that are consumed, and for the sake of this paper, we will look at what the government did in its battle against the Tobacco Industry. Although there has been much research devoted to the topic that consuming junk foods and the ensuing results of obesity are akin to the effects that smoking has on the body, with that point aside, the government did take action against the Tobacco Industry. Although there have been advocates against smoking since at least the 1930’s, the anti-smoking message really began to hit its stride in the late 1980’s and the 1990’s. There are a myriad of factors that contributed to this lobby’s message growth, but among other reasons was the simple fact that scientists, doctors, and researches all came to the same conclusion that smoking is bad (Early, 2010). Now, it took a while for the public to catch on to what the researchers were saying, but once there began to be a generally accepted consensus of the hazards to health that smoking has, it changed the entire nature of the debate. One of the factors that helped to sway public opinion and perception on this matter was that the government (Local, State and Federal) came out very strong against smoking. The end results of governmental actions is that smoking has become an act that is shunned by most people. The point of the previous illustration are these: smoking is bad for people, the government took action in the form of showing smoking in a bad light, raising taxes on smoking, and coming out with a very strong anti-smoking campaign, and the result today is that there are less smokers, and even though we live in a free society and no one lost their constitutional rights, the government was able to attack a problem, and the public health is better for it (Schroeder, 2008). This kind of strategy needs to be employed against the scourge of American and Westerners societies, that being obesity and the host of issues that come with being obese.

The term “junk food” is axiomatic in its meaning, it is junk in the form of food. Now, junk food can take on several different forms, and the term itself does include liquids, i.e. soda and other drinks that contain a high sugar content (this last point can be contested in the form of juices). With that being said, a working list of junk foods includes: fast food, candy, potato chips, low grade frozen foods, sweets, pastries and other foods similar to these. For the sake of this paper, we will focus on the foods that contain no dietary purpose for their existence other than they taste good: meaning candy, potato chips and soda. On a side note, the Fast Food Industry is a contributor to the unhealthy state of children, but on the same token, there are foods sold at fast food restaurants that do in fact contain nutrients that people need to live, so we will shy away from discussing them in great detail. Junk foods are then considered foods that contain no nutritional benefits from consumption; furthermore, a high junk food diet will only lead to poor health because junk foods are bad for people (Newnham, 2009). According to Schreier “Junk foods […] burgers, pizzas, potato wafers and fries” (Schreier, 2011).The previous mentioned statement, along with other points already raised, will be the working definition of junk foods that is used in this paper.

Now that we have discussed what exactly junk foods are, we will now move onto why they are bad for diets. As it can be gathered, junk food is not good for people, and the primary reason is because it causes poor healthy. According to Newnham, junk food can look good, and it can even taste good, but that does not mean that they are actually good for people, furthermore, the junk foods that actually taste the best are the foods that are most likely to be bad for your health (Newnham, 2009). As it can be seen, junk food is bad and is unbeneficial to good health in people, and the most prevalent form of bad health that it causes is in the form of obesity. According to Datar, the percentage of children who were obese rose from 7% in 1980, to over 18% in 2012 (Datar, 2012). Obesity has become such an issue that some organizations have declared it to be a bigger health issue than smoking. The reasons why junk foods are bad for people are simple: they contain high levels of sugar and salt, which are both addictive in nature, and they replace the consumption of healthy foods (Newnham, 2009). Before addressing the other two points that were raised, when a person eats, their body wants to tell them that they are full, but what happens when a person eats junk food is that their body is telling them that they should not eat anymore, even though what they just ate is completely unnatural to their bodies, and as a result, a person may eat an entire bag of potato chips and feel full afterwards, but their body has in no way actually consumed foods that will help it to be sustained (Newnham, 2012). In addition to the fact that junk food consumption is not only harmful to good health, there has research conducted that directly links eating junk food to obesity (Datar, 2012). According to Waddingham, children who have greater exposure to junk foods while at school are more likely to develop obesity and other health diseases, compared to children who attend schools with a lesser number of vending machines (Waddingham, 2015). To address a pervious point raised, besides the fact that junk foods oftentimes contain chemicals and other substances that are harmful to people, the core of all junk foods revolve around high concentrated levels of sugar and salt (Schreier, 2011). Due to the fact that junk foods, which contain two very addictive components, sugar and salt, and factor in that they cost less to produce and distribute than healthy foods, it then comes as no surprise that children are eating more junk food, which are bad for them. Essentially then, a person who consumes junk food is eating something that is addictive, bad for them, and it causes them to shy away from a healthy diet.

Current trends in junk food consumption are hard to know with all certainty, due to the fact that there are a high number of variables including: who consumes junk foods, where in the country they are, and other socioeconomic factors. With that being said, there has been a recent push in the past ten years in the promotion of eating healthier. As it has already been mentioned, the number of children who are what can be considered at obese-levels hit a high in the year 2012. One of the primary factors that have contributed to this stabilization in the statistics would be that the government is making very small advancements in the vilification of junk food producers. Although the government, State and Federal, have come out with information in favor of healthy eating, there has been no real substantial effort to reduce the total number of children who consume junk foods. With all of this being taken into account, junk food heavy diets are still very popular in America, and in fact, the people who consume junk foods the most are seen to be individuals whose families are more in need economically, meaning that they are poor (Datar, 2012). Now, whereas in the past, families in America had little information regarding the negative impacts that junk foods have on themselves and their children, the issue today does not revolve around the notion of lack of information (although this can be a factor), the issue today primarily revolves around the fact that people are consistently choosing to eat junk food over healthy foods like fruits and easy to carry vegetables. There are a variety of reasons for why a person might choose to eat junk food including the facts that: they are cheap, and they taste good. Their taste of course is artificially created that way so they will make people addicted to them.

This naturally leads into the next point; that being the practical regulations that the FDA and State Governments can enact to curb the consumption of junk foods. For one, junk foods can be targeted for higher sales tax rates. Junk foods, as it stands today, has a competitive advantage over healthy foods, in that, they are cheaper, and they taste better; and although junk foods cannot be made to taste worse, their other advantage, cost, can be gotten rid of. A higher tax on junk foods would bring greater polarity in their cost to those of healthier foods. For those who believe that such an action is illegal, need we look at what the government did in its fight against the Tobacco Industry? The government decided in its fight against the consumption of cigarettes that they needed to be the target of higher sales tax rates. If the FDA, ATF, and State Governments were able to raise the cost of cigarettes, then it should not be that great of a stretch to raise the cost of junk foods. Another solution that the FDA can enact to curb the consumption of junk foods would be to come out against in the sense of producing propaganda that portrays eating junk foods as a bad thing. As part of the fight against smoking, several different organizations, with the backing of government money, have produced commercials, radio ads, and created websites dedicated to the sole purpose of portraying smoking as harmful to peoples’ health. A similar campaign can be created that seeks to inform people that junk food will in fact contribute to poor health, and that there is a greater likelihood that they will develop obesity if they consume junk foods. A third action that the FDA could do in association with the FCC and Cable Providers would be to limit the number of commercials that broadcast to children that promote junk foods, in the same way that the promotion of smoking is non-existent. Another action that the FDA can do in conjunction with other Federal Agencies is prohibit K-12th schools that receive Federal Aid from purchasing junk foods with the aid that is given to them, and K-12 schools that receive Federal Aid should be prohibited from having junk food vending machines on campus. With this kind of rule, persons under the age of 18 will have to rely on purchasing junk food when their parents are around.

In conclusion, the government needs to regulate the consumption of junk foods, especially when it comes to children’s consumption of them. Junk food consumption is bad for diets, it causes people (in particular children) to become obese, and the only thing that is going to stop the spread of childhood obesity is a crackdown by the government on junk foods.



Datar, A. (2012). Junk food in schools and childhood obesity. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 31(2), 312-337.

Early, D. (2010). Smoking is bad for your colon. Gastrointest Endosc, 71(7), 1241-1243.

Newnham, D. (2009). Junk food can look good but taste bad, david newnham has discovered. Nursing Standard, 24(15-17), 24.

Schreier, P. (2011). Harmful effects of junk foods – but what about canteen and restaurant food? Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 55(1), 5-6.

Schroeder, S. (2008). Stranded in the periphery – the increasing marginalization of smokers. New England Journal of Medicine, 358(21), 2284-2286.

Waddingham, S. (2015). Most of them are junk food but we did put fruit on there and we have water: What children can tell us about the food choices they make. Health Education, 115(2), 126-140.

6 St. Patrick’s Day Foods The Irish Eat

6 St. Patrick’s Day Foods The Irish Eat

Saint Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, which may have you getting ready to prepare an Irish feast to celebrate the occasion. Maybe you’ll cook up some corned beef and cabbage, some shamrock shaped sugar cookies, or even an Irish stew. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you may even grab a shamrock shake from Mickey Ds. But in all seriousness, the St. Patties day foods we eat here in America are American-Irish traditions. Most Irish people in Ireland just eat regular Irish food on Paddies Day (as it’s called in Ireland), so let’s take a look at some of the foods that you might eat if you ever visited the country on this holiday. Click on any of the links for recipes on each of them.

1. The Irish Fry

6 St. Patrick’s Day Foods that Irish People Actually Eat

Irish Fry

A traditional fried Irish breakfast is a whopping feast of a meal, jam packed with tons of delicious greasy meats. They usually include some combination rashers (bacon slices), black pudding (blood sausage), fried tomatoes and eggs. It’s pretty similar to an English breakfast.

2. Soda Bread

6 St. Patrick’s Day Foods that Irish People Actually Eat

Soda Bread

Soda bread is something you may have never heard of, but it is a staple in Irish cuisine. What makes the bread different and gives its unique texture, is the use of baking soda in place of traditional yeast. Making soda bread takes a lot less time than making traditional bread, as you don’t have to wait around for the yeast to rise the dough. Soda breads are one of the key foods in Ireland, and you can find it anywhere in the country. If you want to make some traditional soda bread for yourself, all you need is flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk! Of course you can always spice it up a bit if you want.

3. Apple Tart

6 St. Patrick’s Day Foods that Irish People Actually Eat

Apple Tart

In the United States, apple pie is one of the most traditional deserts. You can find apple pie at just about any special event or holiday. The same is the case for Apple Tart in Ireland. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t enjoy the delicious treat. Similar in appearance, apple tart is usually baked on a plate and made from homemade pastries. The best apple tarts are made with local apples, and usually by your mother.

4. Sunday Roast

6 St. Patrick’s Day Foods that Irish People Actually Eat

Sunday Roast

Roasts are a little more popular in Ireland than they are here in America. If you’ve ever had a Sunday roast, you know how hungry everyone in the house gets when the savory scent of sizzling meat permeates every hall and bedroom. There’s nothing ever quite as good as your mother’s cooking, and if she’s cooking up a hulking slab of meat, you just can’t go wrong.

5. Crisp Sandwich (The Hangover Cure)

6 St. Patrick’s Day Foods that Irish People Actually Eat

Crisp Sandwich

Okay, so while this one isn’t as traditional as the others, it’s still a pretty popular choice in Ireland for getting rid of that hangover after a long night of Paddies Day celebration. The sandwich seems pretty weird, but legend has it that this peculiar sandwich really does the trick. Basically, it’s a bunch of potato chips sandwiched between two slices of heavily buttered bread. Just smash the ingredients together and eat. Easy to make, full of grease, and tasty (maybe?), the crisp sandwich is both effective and delicious. 

6. Shepherd’s Pie

6 St. Patrick’s Day Foods that Irish People Actually Eat

Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s Pie is a dish that you may have heard of, if not tried for yourself. It can usually be found in Irish pubs and the like. In the earliest cooking books, Shepherd’s Pie was listed as a recipe for using leftover meat of basically any kind. All you had to do was combine the meat with a couple of other vegetables, slather a chunky layer of mashed potatoes on top, bake it and you’re done! Nowadays it’s a dish that’s enjoyed by people all over the world –  Ireland in particular.

So the next time that you’re thinking about throwing a Paddies Day celebration, instead of making that same tired old corned beef and cabbage, why not change it up with a more traditional selection of dishes? With a Guinness in hand and a slice of Apple Tart in their bellies, your guests will feel like they’ve been transported right into the heart of Ireland.

Are We Consuming Too Much Media?

Are We Consuming Too Much Media?

Americans are consuming more media than ever before. We’re spending more than 10 hours per day on average consuming various forms of digital media, which makes keeping up with new tweets, memes and shows a full-time job. We’re binge watching Netflix and our YouTube subscriptions, watching content on our social media feeds, and communicating with friends throughout the day. None of these things are inherently bad, but we’re spending more time consuming them than ever before. This level of media consumption was never possible before the last 15 years, so it begs the question, “Are we consuming too much media?”

To understand how much more media we’re watching now than in previous years, let’s take a look at some statistics over the last decade or so. Back in 2007 only 22% of internet users over the age of 16 had social media profiles. That number increased to more than 72% in 2014 and is continuing to grow. In 2005 it was estimated that people spent an average of 10 hours online per week. Now people spend well over 27 hours each week on the internet. Although TV has become a less prevalent form of entertainment, it’s been replaced with on demand services such as Netflix and Hulu. Netflix reported that between its members, 42.5 billion hours of programming was streamed in 2015 alone.

“You haven’t seen Stranger Things?” (Oh my goodness you neeeeed to watch it). If you haven’t seen the 2016 Netflix Original or weren’t one of the first people to watch the show, chances are you’ve had a friend tell you something along those lines. Nowadays we’re watching media partly for the enjoyment of it, and partly due to the social pressure. There are so many shows that are constantly being released that “everyone is watching”, that we feel a pressure to stay informed. Additionally, Netflix shows are released a season at a time, which encourages binge watching. However with dozens of new shows coming out each year with hundreds of hours of content, it’s impossible to keep up with everything.

Having a lifetime of entertainment at our fingertips has allowed us to enjoy different kinds of media that we would have never discovered without the internet. It’s also what compels us to let Netflix autoplay the next episode when it’s already 2 AM. All this sedentary media consumption is having health consequences.  Studies show that children who watch lots of TV are more likely to be obese than children who don’t. This is partly because the act of watching TV takes virtually no physical effort. It’s also due to the number of high calorie food advertisements on TV today. Sitting for long periods keeps children from playing and exercising and encourages poor eating habits.

Consuming media and spending lots of time online isn’t all bad. The internet has allowed people from all over the world to connect in a real way. It’s allowed people to gain outside perspectives and has shown people what life is like for others in different parts of the world. It keeps people informed of what’s going on and lets anyone learn about anything. It lets people entertain themselves in new and unique ways, and that’s good. However, it is a two-sided coin. Despite the benefits of digital media, too much of it can be physically bad for you, with obesity being the biggest posed risk. If people spend just one hour exercising out of the ten spent consuming digital media, than they would be able to counteract a lot of the negative physical side effects.

If just a bit of exercise can counteract the effects of all this digital media consumption, is all the fuss just a form of juvenoia? The term was coined by David Finkelhor in 2011, and is an exaggerated fear about the things that influence “kids these days”. It is a concern that because of phones, the internet, and other modern technologies, the world isn’t as fit for children as it used to be in the good old days.

Juvenoia is something that has been around for ages. In 1871, the Sunday Magazine published an article with a quote that sounds eerily similar to something you may read today about texting. “Now we fire off a multitude of rapid and short notes, instead of sitting down and having a good talk over a real sheet of paper.” The Journal of Education published a similar paper in 1907, that sounds similar to how many people talk about phones. “At a modern family gathering, silent around the fire, each individual has his head buried in his favorite magazine.” Despite the sentiments expressed in the Sunday Magazine and the Journal of Education, writing notes and reading magazines still became commonplace. The feelings we have all been felt before (albeit in a different way). This begs the ultimate question, “should we fight to make things the way they used to be, or embrace the direction things are headed?”

Different Ways To Form Pizza Dough

Different Ways To Form Pizza Dough

If you’ve ever been to a restaurant that offers pizza, you’ve probably seen a cook hand-tossing some pizza dough. It’s an amazing spectacle, but did you know that pizza dough isn’t hand-tossed just for show? Tossing pizza dough by hand actually changes the way that the crust turns out. In fact, there are several different ways that pizzerias choose to form their pizza dough, and each way creates a unique characteristic for the crust.

Some restaurants use machines to press their pizza dough into the shape they want it to be. These machines come in two types: hot-pressed and cold-pressed. You’d be surprised by the difference that each machine has on the crust, and let’s just say that it’s quite remarkable! A hot-presser uses a press with a heated head (and sometimes a heated base as well). The dough is then heated to around 300º to 400º F, and the press applies 800 to 1,200 PSI of force to the dough. So what effect does this have? The heat applied to the dough creates a sort of dry skin around the dough, which helps keep its form and gives the crust a very crisp and coarse texture. The heat and pressure push out gas bubbles in the dough, resulting in a thin crust. If you’re a fan of thin, crispy crust, then hot-pressed is for you!

Some people prefer their pizza crust differently, like a focaccia crust. This type of crust is very thick and pleasantly soft. A cold-press is a great way to make this kind of crust. Just like the hot-press, the cold-press applies a considerable amount of pressure to the crust, but the head and base of the press are cold. This type of press keeps the dough soft because it does not force gas bubbles out of the dough. Cold-pressing pizza dough makes it impossible to have a raised edge; instead, a cold-press gives the crust a flat, uniform look to it. Fans of thick, soft pizza crusts will love this type of press!

Last, but not least, is hand-tossed pizza dough. Hand-tossing pizza dough definitely makes for a good show, but it also gives the crust a unique look and taste. Spinning the dough while tossing it gives the dough its round shape and being tossed in the air gives the dough a sort of dry skin, which makes the crust crispy. Hand-tossing pizza dough is the gentlest method of forming the dough, since no pressure is applied onto the dough itself. This means that the dough will still have gas bubbles in it, which makes the crust fluffy. So by hand-tossing pizza dough, the crust will have a crispy outside and a soft, fluffy inside. Another way that hand-tossed pizza dough is different from machine-pressed dough is that it isn’t uniform, similar to the focaccia crust.

Preparing the dough is an important part of making a pizza. It’s the base for everything, and it gives pizza some of our favorite characteristics!

Citizen Digital

Citizen Digital

I realized something the other day (that most people have inevitably realized at some point), and that was that I spend far more time interacting with friends through digital means than I do in person. The phenomenon/feeling of spending more time existing as a digital self is not a new concept. On the contrary, people spending too much time on social media in lieu of true human interaction is one of the hottest topics right now concerning the millennial generation, and the social media-using population in general. However, the feeling I had the other day was different.

Myself, like many others, are part of a group that keeps in contact with people close to us on a near daily basis through Messenger, Snapchat, Instagram, Reddit, WhatsApp, Overwatch, and basically any other means of digital interaction. However, many of these people I only see once a week, some once a month, and others once every few months. Our primary interactions are online. This is where things get interesting. Over the last two decades, and especially over the last decade, your “digital self” has gained more reputability. What I mean by that is that in the current age we’re in, your interactions online are treated with the same weight as actions you do in person.

In the 90s, the largest form of social media that the Internet had was forums. The thing with forums was that throughout all of your interactions you remained essentially anonymous. The culture being developed around this new public sphere had its roots in anonymity. It was this sense of anonymity that led to a lot of the earliest Internet scams, and the beginning of cyberbullying. However, as the Internet developed and we witnessed the inception of social media, humans were given access to a new way to represent themselves online; a way that showed their “true” selves. People were casting off the anonymity in exchange for a chance to say, “Here I am. This is me,” and with this, we saw the culture of the public start to shift.

As time went on and people began to spend more time in the online realm; maintaining the reputation of your digital self-became more and more important. Suddenly, your real name was behind the things you posted, and people would know what kind of ideas you associated yourself with. And before any of us knew it, having a digital self, became not only the social norm, but also mandatory in a lot of cases. Nowadays, we log into all of our Internet accounts through our public Facebook and Google+ profiles. Most of our Internet interactions are done publicly. The strange thing about this new public sphere however, is that it is permanent. The Internet is separate than anything else humans have ever experienced, because while it is always changing and adapting with time, the vast majority of content that finds its way to the Internet… is there for good. For this reason, people treat their public personas with a great deal of care, and maintain themselves online as they would in real life.

So what does that make us? When our interactions with friends are spent mostly through comments, tags, mentions, retweets, and snaps– what does it make us when we see each other face-to-face? In fact, digital communication as a medium instead of face-to-face communication is becoming the standard norm in many ways. Take phone calls for example. Over the last 10 years, people have used their phones for actual phone calls less and less. Texting rules the world. People are trading the intimate and personal, for the pragmatic and digital.

My question is… could humans be heading in a direction where we only exist as living symbols of the sources of ideas presented in the digital dimension?

Why Not McDonald’s?

Why Not McDonald’s?

We’ve all had some sort of one-on-one with another person at a coffee shop– because for some reason, coffee shops seem to be the go to place for casual meetups in our culture. Whether you’re meeting up with a business associate, or just getting to know someone, coffee shops somehow seem to be the place to go for these kinds of social interactions. However, it does beg the question, “Why are coffee shops the norm for meetups?” and “What makes places like McDonald’s so much different?” Half the time when you meetup with a person at a coffee shop, you’ll buy a drink simply out of obligation! But McDonald’s has coffee too! So what is it about coffee shops then? It’s obviously not just the coffee.

Let’s get into the 5 reasons why one-on-ones would be way weirder at a McDonald’s than a Starbucks:

1. Coffee Shops Are A Designated Meetup Place

While this sounds like a cop-out, it’s actually true. The very fact that coffee shops are considered a meetup place in our culture is why having a one-on-one elsewhere feels strange to us. This is probably the strongest reason for this trend in our society. It feeds into itself too, as people only choose to go to coffee shops for their meetings (outside of their offices). Coffee shops are little places where all of the people inside are basically expected to be working or talking to someone, and being surrounded by people being productive helps you and the person you’re with be more productive. The environment has become the standard. Not to mention that caffeine makes people more talkative, so conversations can flow more easily.

2. Some People Have Strong Feelings Towards Fast Food

Even though fast food is incredibly popular in the U.S., a lot of people have a strong aversion to eating it. You could order a coffee at McDonald’s, but it would just be weird if you were chowing down on a McDouble while your associate was quietly drinking a subpar McCafe with more hazelnut flavoring than actual coffee. Going to a coffee shop seems to be a far safer bet, as coffee is both vegan, and enjoyed by many.

3. Coffee Shops Are More Professional

While there are a lot of modern McDonalds’ that are pleasing aesthetically, it’s still McDonald’s. There’s going to be families there, noisy children in the play area, and other distractions that diminish the professionalism of the environment. However, because people in coffee shops are often working, it creates a work oriented environment. Coffee is associated with productivity in our culture. People drink coffee so that they can get things done, and so what you end up with in a coffee shop is an environment full of people trying to be focused and productive. This makes it feel almost like a public work space. When you bring an associate to a coffee shop, the environment is already tailored towards your productivity, and it keeps you both on the same page. Having a one-on-one at a coffee shop makes you and the person you’re with feel professional, and you both contribute to the professional environment by simply being there.

4. Eating Is Somewhat Personal

For some reason, eating is kind of a personal thing. People eat out in public all of the time, but it can feel strange eating with another person if you don’t know them that well. Having to worry about whether or not you have food on your face, or whether you’re eating too loudly, is something that worries a lot of people. Not only that, but people usually engage in more casual and personal conversation over a meal, compared to the conversations that would be had over coffee. Conversations over coffee usually tend to be work related, and personal details don’t need to come out.

5. Starbucks Always Has Wi-Fi

You’d be hard pressed to find someone who regularly goes to McDonald’s to whip out their laptop and work. Not that you can’t, it’s just that most of the time… fast food joints don’t have Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is like the quintessential commodity of the current age. The first thing that you do when you’re at a new place is get the Wi-Fi password, if you don’t have data on your phone or laptop. The thing is because you always need or want Internet on hand, choosing a coffee shop as a place to meetup ensures that you’ll always have it!