Eating Contests: stuffed with ignorance, not hot dogs.

A professional eating contest is a competition to see who can consume the most amount of food in a certain time period.

Now why would this playful American carnival sport be a problem? There are winners who get money, often for fundraisers, people get a good laugh and it’s just apart of American culture. It’s all friendly competition. Besides, there’s plenty of food...or is there?

 

There are 795 million people starving in the world right now.

In the U.S. almost 16 million.

Here in Sonoma County, 70,000, and there are probably more now given the recent tragedy of the fires.

 

Eating competitions make a sport of unnecessary overeating in the faces of those who are starving. They perpetuate a culture of excess and ignorance to other’s hardships.

Here in the West and especially the United States, we are famous for everything being bigger and better. Big houses. Big cars. Big portions, which has been followed by Big people in epidemic numbers. We feel like we have the right to these Big, and usually unnecessary things because we are able to have them at all; that because we can, we should.

Here we see “the Western mentality,” the idea of entitlement due to availability without regard to its availability or cost elsewhere. This concept is the root of why even the most impoverished in the United States will never know a rationed grocery store, no grocery store or walking on dirt for miles to the nearest not-clean water well. This concept is why consumerism has spun wildly out of control and lead to people being trampled to death on Black Friday. We just want more and more and more just because we know we can and because we have been conditioned to believe that we are entitled to it. We feel this way because we are just watching the show and have enjoyed it so much that we are willing to buy the ticket over and over again with no regard to what is going on back stage.

Here in the West, people are unphased by what is not happening directly to them, which granted, is human nature. Of course we are always seeking to improve past our primitive human natures and use our reason to make a better community. To do this we must look past our plates and think of others. In the West where we have so much, something I know you’re more than aware of, comes at a great cost to other communities in the world. But with the power to have things and the ability to waste, does that mean that we should?

It is natural and easy to disregard those who are suffering right under our noses when we are distracted with the fun and seemingly harmlessness practice of things like an eating contest. Since you’re not the one hungry, why bother reading into it?

Here is why an eating contest should strike you as wrong.

I won’t even start with “one day it could be you” because although it very well maybe someday, we are a global community and caring about others is generally regarded as an aspect of being human. Other people matter. Who you are when nobody's watching matters because everything you do speaks for the condition of the world around you.

Let me split it up a little. How do we even know anyone is hurt by a simple eating contest? We know they are because they are regardless of the eating contest. The contest just means that the audience and participants are more concerned with a competition than a person’s basic human need to be nourished. An eating contest is like pouring water into a cup that is already full when there is an empty cup right next to it.

The behavior that is perpetuated by an eating contest is one that tells people:

1. You may waste thoughtlessly what others are in desperate need of.

2. You are entitled to do so due to your upbringing and citizenship in the West.

3. No one will stop you from doing what you are entitled to.

4. It is okay to be distracted from things that matter and people that suffer.

5. It is okay not to look into things beyond the surface appeal.

These five things keep up a system of greed and suffering that the average person claims to be against, but if we do not look behind the curtain of everyday activities and behaviors, the very things that push this system, it will never change. When I see an eating contest, I see starving people. I see the women, children and men who just lost their homes here in Sonoma County who are relying on their community to see beyond their own immediate needs. I do not participate in and actively discourage practices such as eating contests that mocks the suffering of others and perpetuates a behavior of ignorance. More things than we realize distract us.

 

1. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

2. United States Department of Agriculture

3. Hunger in Sonoma County a daily reality for thousands, The Press Democrat

 

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