YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
October 11, 2010 14 Comments
Earlier this year we spent a couple of weeks in Canada for some family skiing. We had one of our daughters, her husband and 2 grand-daughters from Australia with us at Sun Peaks Ski resort. The mountain is great and skiing conditions were near perfect. The only problem with Sun Peaks is that there is absolutely no night life and the restaurants are terrible. As a result you tend to spend most evenings in your rented accommodation self catering and watching TV. The TV shows are a mix of Canadian and US programmes and are the general fare of re-runs or reality shows where people bleed emotionally in front of millions of viewers.
What I found most interesting however is the blend of TV advertising.
There is no question in my mind that TV advertising is a window to the National soul.
In France, where we live, a vast majority of the TV ads are about food. Not a surprise based on this being a national obsession.
In Australia it should be no real surprise that a lot of the TV ads are for beer. The ads for “XXXX” beer are considered national treasures and art forms.
I have always believed that one of the major differences between the US and Australia was that the Americans invented drive-in banks, and the Australians invented drive-in liquor stores.
In North America, a vast majority of the ads seem to be for either fast food or below the waist medications, presumably the first one being one of the major causes of the need for the second.
I sat in front of the TV one morning waiting for my family to get ready so we could head out for another day’s skiing, and watched consecutive ads for different products to help with bladder leakage, which were squeezed between numerous ads alternating solutions for both constipation and diarrhea, as well as ads for hamburgers, Pizza and French Fries. It was a continuous procession of put it in one end and we will help you move it out the other. I wondered whether I was the only one who could see this connection.
I do understand that there is an ageing population here in the USA and Canada, as there are also numerous ads for Alzheimer’s medication and retirement homes, but I am getting the impression that the locals could be a lot better off if they understood that the French have given the world more than just fries.
At least in France, bowel habits seem to have attracted very little need for TV attention despite the equivalent ageing population.
Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote in 1826 “Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es”. (Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are), and he hadn’t even heard of fast foods.