I like summer. It stays light really late. We grill on the patio for dinner several times per week. Everything is lush and green and blooming, and everyone has a relaxed vibe. It's like even though most of us are working full-time just like the rest of the year, we still have somewhat of a summer break attitude. Plus it's the time for beach vacations, hikes in the mountains, and BBQ parties.
But it seems like it's also always summertime when I hear about something that really grosses me out--eating contests. Pie-eating and hot dog-eating seem to be the two most prevalent kinds. Maybe it's because these things often happen at county fairs, which tend to be a summertime event? Or maybe it's because of that relaxed, "hey, we're on vacation!" summer attitude I was describing. Either way, eating contests seem to happen in the summer. And I think they're gross.
I partly think they're gross because the physical act of stuffing as much food as possible down your throat in the shortest possible amount of time seems inherently icky. I have never observed an eating contest, and I have no desire to change that, but from what I hear from people who have seen them, it's gag-inducing to watch. And I'm not surprised. It sounds sickening, and not just for the participants.
But that's not actually what bothers me about eating contests, really. I mean, lots of people do things that I find boring or unappealing, so I don't partake, they do, and we all move on with our lives, you know? But I guess what bothers me most is the wastefulness involved.
Let me be clear: I'm not a member of the clean plate club. I'll never tell Callum that he has to finish his dinner because children in Ethiopia are starving. Him being more full than he wants to be, or choking down something he's not interested in, won't change the plight of starving children anywhere. To me, they're separate things.
But I draw the line between someone not finishing the food on their plate, food which presumably was a reasonable portion to begin with, and people making a game out of wasting food on a massive scale. Eating more than 60 hot dogs within 10 minutes? That's excessive. It's not healthy. It's not nutritious. It's not even an enjoyable indulgence. It's a miserable, gross, vomit-inducing experience done only for bragging rights. And I think it's horrifying.
I know we waste food on a massive scale in a million other ways. And those bother me too. Food supply issues are fascinating and complex, and I know very little about them, really. But something about eating contests in particular really highlights this issue for me. Leaving aside the fact that competitive eating can actually be dangerous for participants, I guess it's the way it's a pure media spectacle. It almost feels like mockery--that we have such an abundance of food that people can jam 62 hot dogs down their throat for sport--while other people, right in this country and all around the world, don't even have one hot dog, or anything else, to eat for dinner. And we're showing that off for news outlets to share with the entire country as though this were just a silly, harmless little tradition.
It just feels disrespectful. And I don't think it's harmless at all.
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