I recently spent some time in America visiting some friends and not contributing to my blogs. I couldn't help but notice several things about the country but one of them is with regard to the food. Everything is big, fat and sweet. Or at least those three adjectives are the criteria for how food (and perhaps other products) are deemed to be successful in the marketplace.
Now, coming from Australia, the first thing to notice is that American portion sizes are enormous. I don't just mean that they are a little larger, but they are simply enormous. I dare say that the standard portion size is close to double the Australian portion size. On the one hand, this represents a certain value for money (note that American prices are also lower than Australian). On the other hand, it indicates that the key attribute for the American consumer is quantity rather than quality. Whoever does market research for American restaurants has determined that a lot of average food is better than an average amount of great food.
The second and third are really variations on a theme: fat and sweet. If a savoury dish doesn't appear to be savoury enough, it gets deep fried to make it more appealing. Likewise, a sweet dish has extra sugar added to ensure that it is sweet enough (a chocolate muffin, with chocolate chips, and sugar crystals sprinkled on top...). Such artificial enhancements do little to add flavour, but do a lot to add to the simulation of flavour. Sugar and oil are the new equivalents of MSG.
This quest for more, and the sensation of more (rather than the actuality of more) speak volumes about the American consumer mentality. Rather than actually getting the good thing that they desire (a tasty and nutrious meal) they are getting an approximation of it as substitute (an unhealthy meal with exaggerated enhancements). They are never really satisfied, except in the senses. The object (meal) looks good and tastes good, but does no good.
This is the trap of sensuous consumerism. The root cause of desire is isolated and commodified in order to extract maximum cash in exchange for minimum production expense. The craving for sweetness that indicates that the body needs the nutrients of (for example) an apple is isolated into raw sugar and then added to something bland and cheaper. The thing that the person needs, in body or soul, is never delivered. It is only the primal trigger in the brain that is temporarily satisfied.