Each day I wake up and roll out of bed and begin making choices. Should I brush my teeth right away or will it make my tea taste gross? Am I hungry enough to eat right now, or should I wait until after I have some water, then some tea? Do I want to take the dog for a walk right now or after I have tea and eat something? One of the first things I think about every single day I get out of bed is what I will put in my body. Consumption choices are usually the first thing I think about each morning. One of the last decisions of any consequence I make each evening is what to eat for my last meal and how long before bed I should plan on eating. I cannot get beyond considering what I am going to eat, when, and if I have it in my refrigerator or on my shelves. The fuel needed to stoke my fire is a constant consideration. And shouldn’t it be the same for everyone?

We all make decisions and yet some of us make good ones, while others make bad ones. It isn’t always easy to make a judgment on the choices people make. Who am I to call a decision a bad one? Well, the fact is that certain decisions are of minor consequence and don’t matter all that much – grey or black socks today? But others do matter and they do affect all of us. Why should I care what someone else wants to eat? It seems like that is their choice and should not concern me. However, there is an obesity epidemic spreading throughout America today, cutting across racial and class lines, though affecting high proportions of certain groups, such as the poor, who are also often racial minorities. Their diet choices do affect the rest of us because they require medical attention to treat the resulting ailments caused by their diet choices.

This is not an indictment of the poor, but a calling to reality that all of us must be aware of the food choices we make. What we eat is directly related to our health. What we eat also is directly related to the environment and the health of our planet. What we eat also is even related to war; our agricultural-industrial complex relies mightily on petroleum-based products, and oil is a central consideration, if not the dominant one, of foreign policy. What one chooses to eat affects their body, but clearly it affects all of us as well.

When we rise each morning, we must consider what we are going to put into our bodies. We must consider why we opt for certain foods over others. The problem is that those suffering economic ailments have too many choices, too many problems, and too much stress to make proper decisions. Their judgment is clouded and affected by the world swirling around them. What they choose to eat is simply what is at hand, or what is the cheapest at the moment, or what provides the quickest, most obvious satisfaction. Salty, sweet, and fatty are all biologically-tuned tastes to spike our appetite. But, these same foods are also problematic now for two reasons: we now lead highly sedentary lives and we also have a surfeit of food due to the government’s orchestration of the agriculture sector.

The first choice of the day, and even the last choice of the day, should be about how we choose to live on a daily basis. And one of the most basic choices we make is about what to eat when we are hungry. The more Americans who are able to make informed choices about what they eat and why, the better off all of us will be. But, this choice is not simple for a variety of reasons. Poverty affects the choices people make about eating. The federal government’s farm policies affect the choices people make about eating. Advertisements and the strongest drug in the world, television, affect the choices people make about eating. Even where one lives, whether in a city, in the country, or even a particular state affects the choices they make about eating. Never has such a simple question about what to eat for breakfast been so complex, complicated, and in some cases, bewildering.

The choice is not easy. It seems simple, but it isn’t. However, the sooner we all begin to question the food choices we make, and think about them deeply and rationally, the sooner we will curb the national appetite for foods that are slowly killing us.