This week, I want to know about the Morgans’ diet. By living with Bane’s parents for three months, I have been able to observe their eating behavior, which is very different from my own.
They eat out in a restaurant once or twice a day. They always order rather unhealthy meals like pancakes, ham with eggs, and baked beans, burgers, sandwiches, or mac-and-cheese, and drinks like iced tea or coke. But they never finish their ordered food and throw about half of it away. Either they don’t even take it home, or they do, but leave it in the fridge until it starts to mold*. I was puzzled to see that whenever they ate at home, they didn’t cook but only reheated take-away food from fast food drive-throughs and added a small pack of chips to it. Then, they ate in front of their TVs on so-called TV tables. At home they usually eat from paper plates even though the real plates are in the same cupboard. But they find it more convenient to throw the dirty plates away instead of cleaning them. They rarely go grocery shopping, and when they do, cashiers* use one plastic bag for every three items. (In many stores there is an extra employee just to pack up your groceries into plastic bags.) So, you end up leaving the store with a shopping cart full of plastic bags.
The interesting thing is that Bane’s parents have a beautiful garden where they grow zucchinis, beans, cucumbers, and strawberries. They eat them occasionally, but most of it is given to neighbors or thrown away, because it is left in the fridge for too long. So, after these experiences, I am really curious to learn more about eating behaviors and choices in other American families.
Just as last week, I've included audio snippets from some parts of the interview.
Lea: What does your family’s diet look like? What do you eat, usually?
Julia (12): All across the board, pretty much. We’ll have really healthy nights and then we…
Carla (14): Yeah, we’ll have a night, where we’ll have chicken salads, but then we’ll have fatty hamburgers, pasta, and stuff like that.
»Yeah, we'll have a night, where we'll have chicken salads but then we'll have fatty hamburgers, pasta, and stuff like that.«
Sophie (41): Convenience*. We could be healthier, but we are not …
Bane (42): I’m impressed with the kids’ knowledge of dietary* things. Our kids will know if it’s a smart thing to eat or not. Doesn’t mean that they are not going to eat it. Fair enough, they will. We try to sit down as a family at least once or twice a week. And those meals will be completely balanced. Usually, with a white meat and then vegetables. We are eating out somewhere two or three times a week.
Sophie: Depending upon what season we are in. During the throes* of baseball season, we eat out two or three times a week, because the game starts at six and we’re coming from here.
Bane: We are part of a farm share which we really like.1 April through November, we go to a farm, once a week, every other week, every other Monday, and we pick stuff there. That’s all locally grown. The really neat thing about that is: the kids love it. They’ll be like: “Oh man, farm shared carrots!” And they’ll crush them. And the fruit that comes off of there; that day it’s gone. But we shop almost exclusively at Giant Eagle*. And we do it for ease. But also, Giant Eagle prides itself on being local purchasers* of produce* when they can. So, we try to do that when we can. We’ve tried, in the past, things like buying a side of beef, but for a family it just didn’t work for us.
Sophie: Nothing was in the right proportion for us. You would have four steaks and two pounds of ground meat*. I can’t do anything with that. I need six steaks and I need three pounds of ground meat in order to make a meal for us.
Lea: What about fast food?
Carla: No! That makes us sick. I mean, unless we have to eat fast food, we won’t eat it. We normally cook, if we can. We don’t eat a lot of junk food but not that healthy either. Something in the middle, probably. My lunch is always healthy, when I pack for school. And for breakfast, I have an apple.
Julia: I feel like that’s the same for me, too.
Bane: The kids really don’t like the fast food. So, we’ll be going to a sandwich place.
Sophie: You know, Subway, Panera, those kinds of things. Or order pizza, and they just eat it in the car.
Bane: Because they just don’t like fast food. And if one kid wants to go to a Wendy’s, the other one’s like: “Ugh!” They just don’t like it. So, that’s a good thing but there is still processed food*.
Bane’s aunt Mary (65) gave me another completely different perspective on the topic by explaining her eating and shopping habits in a single household.
I find as a single person household (with my two parents eating with me 2-3 times a week) that it is much, much easier to eat healthy. I have my own insulated shopping bags, shop at farmers' markets, and about 10 years ago, I made a huge effort to eliminate wasting food. If I eat out at a restaurant, it is always to socialize, not to just buy food or a meal. I am not on any specialized diet, but I love vegetables and fruit, avoid starchy* foods and breads, and make homemade green smoothies for any snack and for one meal a day. The main snack that I indulge in buying and eating would be pretzels.”
1 Read the lexicon entry on community supported agriculture for further information.
mold: a fine soft green, grey or black substance like fur that grows on old food or on objects that are left in warm wet air
cashier: an employee in a store who handles monetary transactions
convenience: designed for quick and easy preparation or use
dietary: relating to food and drinks regularly consumed
throes of: a hard struggle
Giant Eagle: an American supermarket chain
to purchase: to buy
produce: agricultural products and especially fresh fruits and vegetables
ground meat: meat that has been finely chopped with a knife or a meat grinder
processed food: a food item that has had a series of mechanical or chemical operations performed in it to change or preserve it
starch: a white odorless tasteless granular or powdery complex carbohydrate (C6H10O5)x that is the chief storage form of carbohydrate in plants
Statistics on U.S. Eating Behavior https://www.statista.com/topics/1558/eating-behavior/
Just Eat It: a Discussion of Food Waste and Our Environment https://www.teachaboutus.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=1288
Think Outside the Bag: Paper or Plastic? https://www.teachaboutus.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=531
Podcast on Veganism and Climate Change https://podcasts.apple.com/de/podcast/deliciously-ella/id1428704212?i=1000421394505
Podcast on Food Waste and Climate Change https://podcasts.apple.com/de/podcast/deliciously-ella/id1428704212?i=1000419942276
- What aspects do you consider when buying food? (Convenience, price, taste, health …) Do you also think about sustainability?
- Bane and Sophie mention that his kids don’t like fast food: “So, we’ll be going to a sandwich place. You know, Subway, Panera, those kinds of things. Or order pizza, and they just eat it in the car.” What is their understanding of “fast food”? Do you agree? What would you consider “fast food” and why?
- Are their any CSR projects near your hometown? Do a web-research.
Meet the Morgans How one American family is going green
In Going Green, you come across different cases of sustainable lifestyles on both sides of the Atlantic. And in times of globalization—easy mobility between nations, expanding trade relations, communication through social media in real-time—we're led to believe that we already know exactly what life in another country looks like. But is that really so? Luckily, Lea Meimerstorf was able to visit and interview a family of six from western Pennsylvania during the past few weeks and she got an interesting glimpse into their daily life. The Morgans welcome us into their home and along their daily routines. Over the next couple of weeks, we are going to explore what steps this American family takes—or doesn't take—to go green, including the areas of housing, transportation, food, shopping, and more. What do you do to go green? And how do your family's efforts compare to those of the Morgans? Stay tuned and find out in this mini-series.The views and opinions expressed in these interviews are not necessarily reflective of Teach About U.S.'s mission.