Monday, February 28, 2011

And That's Why They're So Fat!

[trigger warning: fat shaming, food. please enjoy this delightful otter instead.]

The bus I take to work goes by the high school right when all the kids are due, so on a rainy day like today, it can take 10 minutes or more to get 50 feet down the road to drop off the kids. The bus driver was understandably annoyed after the 5th time we sat through the light at the same intersection and started pontificating on how ridiculous it was for parents to give their children a ride to school- in the pouring rain, mind you. With ice and huge piles of snow everywhere.

First of all, before I get to the title of this post, I would like to point out that if you've never tried to walk everywhere in the winter, you should. It will be educational. Half the sidewalks are never shoveled and that snow turns into ice as people walk on it. Businesses like to pile the snow from their parking lots onto the sidewalks. The city becomes an obstacle course of ice and snow and what is a 5 minute walk in the summer can easily take me 15 minutes by the end of winter. I don't blame anyone for not wanting their child to walk to school in that.

So, the bus driver is privileging all over people without cars and decides to add another group to his privilege parade: overweight kids. "These kids never walk anywhere, and that's why they're so fat!"

I watched the two biggest kids on the bus flinch at that. I'm not sure anyone else even noticed the casual fat shaming. Why would you? It's everywhere. And two teenaged kids got to start their day with an emotional beat down.

I noticed something at Walmart that might help the bus driver understand reality a little better. I paid $1.99 for head of iceberg lettuce half the size they normally are, but I could have gotten Hostess snack cakes- a whole box of them- for $1.50.

I paid $1.58 each for fresh broccoli crowns, but I could have gotten an entire box of Honey Buns for $1.00. Hell, for what I paid in fresh broccoli, it would have been cheaper to buy three boxes of Honey Buns.

80% ground beef was a little less than $4 for 1.5 lbs, but a bag of frozen, unbreaded fish fillets was almost $6.50.

Bottled water was, per ounce, 4 times the price of generic soda. (Yes, yes tap water, but you've never had to drink water where I live. It smells like it's filtered over rotting corpses. We have to make our ice with filtered water.)

I'm having a very hard time keeping up with my new diet. Having cut out the fat, keeping up my caloric intake is difficult at those kind of prices. Throughout the entire store, fatty, processed empty calorie crap was cheap and in bulk. Healthy food that actually is food is expensive and comes in small portions. A big bag of Twizzlers is $1.25. That's what one mango cost.

If you're poor, and in the county I live in, a full 25% of families fall below the federal poverty line, and you're raising children, what are you going to do? Buy a tiny amount of healthy food and watch while your children spend their entire childhoods hungry, or buy a full pantry of crap that will keep them full? There's really no good answer, is there?

And that's why they're so fat!

Now, I don't want to hear what your stores where you live charge. Am I talking about where you live? I don't want to hear about "Walmart's not the only store there is", either. I don't have a car, so I beg rides from family to get to the store. Which puts me in about the same spot as the average working parent in terms of time and ability to get places. Despite this, I have checked out every store in the area, and Walmart really is the best deal overall. I can't stop by 5 different stores to take advantage of all the sales every week, and neither can the average working poor parent. If I go to Redner's, their produce is limited and I'm paying an arm and a leg for spices and laundry detergent. Price Chopper has great produce, but their cleaning supplies and fish* are outrageously expensive.

So let's not start a kid's Monday with fat shaming until we've fixed the walking situation, the poverty situation and the food pricing situation. You know, never.

*I am a vegetarian, but I always did eat fish occasionally. Since I've had to cut out eggs and milk, I had to find something to replace the protein. I tell myself that wild fish had nice lives before I ate them, unlike the poor pigs and chickens raised for slaughter. Do not ruin this for me. I need protein.


  1. Aw, that otter wants me to play with it so bad, but I'm so busy today. :(

  2. Okay, and now that I've read the post:


    Firstly, "So, the bus driver is privileging all over people without cars..." Irony?


    Third, I cannot *wait* til the first Fitness Troll shows up and assumes I was serious about my second point there...

  3. I think we're gardening this year, but after calculating the cost of setting up the garden and buying seeds/seedling, water, etc., it will probably cost as much, if not more, to grow our own veggies. Obviously, much of the set up will be a one time charge, but I'm not including the value of my time (mostly because I like gardening), so that would be an added expense as well. And, I, unlike many, have my own small property to put a garden on.

    People who say "grow it yourself!" as a solution to the problem of expense are clueless.

  4. You make a valid point about the cost of fatty snacks vs. the cost of produce. My son loves those Walmart honey buns you mentioned -- which I try not to buy too often. But the bus driver is at least partially correct. Too many kids sit around glued to the computer or gaming console eating snacks and drinking drinks loaded with calories. You can eat a fair amount of junk if you burn it off with activity. But if you spend most of your time sitting it's going to turn to fat unless you have an unusually high metabolism.

  5. If it helps, beans contain a partial protein, and corn makes it a complete protein (thank you, Alton Brown).

    Trophy Wife has health issues, which has made us not-quite-vegetarians. I feel your pain.

  6. i'm not going to "ruin" fish - i'm not a vegitarian [that would imply i LIKE vegitables. i can't think of ANYTHING that's actually FOOD that i like ALL THE TIME. so... i'm weird, and?]

    you said you don't want prices, so i'll just note i'm a bit jealous over your cheap lettuce. comparatively. if i could somehow drive 20 minutes [on empty roads - more like an hour with traffic] i could get veggies at HALF that, in the SAME CHAIN - sometimes, i have my dad buy me grocieries before he comes over, because it'll LITERALLY be half the cost for him, at the store by his house, than for me at the store near my house.


    as for the kids "being inside" - how many parents are OKAY with their kids playing outside, anymore? i know that by the time i was 12, playing outside was NOT allowed, unless one parent was willing to also come outside. and they generally weren't. and we lived in Redding, CA - HARDLY the "crime capital of the world". but they judged it "too risky". and it's worse now. :(


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