Jumping jacks and eating snacks: exercise and nutrition (Part 1)

Response to Sorry Mrs. O, but jumping jacks aren’t enough

For some of us, the existence of the “Let’s Move!” campaign is a political no-brainer: with the First Lady promoting “healthier” living, less attention can be directed at the unhealthy ties between the White House and BigAg. Of course, this point has been made time and time again by many food justice advocates, myself included. However, after some contemplation, I’ve abandoned that particular criticism as, rather than providing an alternative to the campaign, it is simply a re-wording of the same complaints food justice advocates have been making for years.

To be fair, in the article linked above, Grist does provide criticism and an alternative but, much like the “Let’s Move!” campaign itself, its political motivations get in the way of providing a real solution and it, instead, reinforces particular structures that serve to oppress the individuals these efforts are attempting to “help.” That is, “Let’s Move!“‘s re-focus on raising activity levels in children and Grist’s continued war on fast and junk food turn the issue of childhood obesity into an “either/or” issue: it’s either about the food being eaten or it’s about one’s level activity but never both.*

Additionally, both the First Lady and Grist call for telling people what they can/cannot do and complete remove the potential for very important questions to be asked by the very people who they are discussing. Of course, when oppressed groups are given answers, without ever having the opportunity to ask questions, they remain “willingly” submissive as these “answers” become “fact” since they remain unchallenged (unquestioned). And while I don’t see Grist as an “oppressor,” per se, I do believe this article is highly indicative of the problem with the food movement’s discussion of fitness and nutrition: it doesn’t exist.

Let me be clear, and slightly redundant: it is the “job” of the food movement to talk about food and the food system. However, because of this, I remain mystified as to why it rarely, if ever, talks about nutrition. Fitness, altogether, in fact, is barely a blip on the food justice radar. This explains, quite simply, why Grist immediately goes for the anti-fast and junk food angle instead of addressing the real problem with the “Let’s Move!” campaign from a realistic, and not political, standpoint: it doesn’t talk about how exercise and nutrition could, and should, work together to fight obesity. Instead, in both “campaigns,” they remain isolated and independent from one another, putting both the “Let’s Move” campaign and Grist’s criticism of it on the same level, just in different planes.

And why? Because their respective positions more readily fit into their particular political standpoint. And while I most definitely support Grist from on a very base-level, I also support comprehensive education and personal empowerment based on fact, not political agendas regardless of if I agree with them or not.

What Grist, and all individuals concerned with improving the opportunities surrounding fitness and health for oppressed individuals, should be doing is talking about and tackling the problems surrounding the lack of education regarding nutrition and fitness with equal fervor and passion. Yes, the food industry is a terrible capitalistic system more concerned with making a profit than providing sustenance to consumers; yes, the foods that most Americans eat are lacking in nutritional density; yes, the government is largely to blame for this. These are all issues that require the attention and action of countless individuals.

However, the type of attention being given to these issues is one-sided and does little to educate the people who are most greatly affected by it. Because the issues are talked about from a perspective outside the scope of those they affect and, most importantly, they are not being talked about with those individuals. Instead, many of us food activists, myself included, would rather rant about these problems on the internet, to our friends, and in our heads.

So, what are we supposed to do? Well, I’ll give you my take on it in the second part of this article.

*Despite the headline giving the idea that, perhaps, jumping jacks and proper nutrition would be enough.

  1. sarah-ad posted this

My name is Sarah and this is my endless pursuit of living a life without boundaries; of becoming bigger, faster, and stronger than I was yesterday by moving forward, onward, and upward everyday.

Here you will find my training log, thoughts and opinions about strength training/nutrition, and the research, information, and inspiration behind them.



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