Caloric Equality

Our finely developed sense of American vanity keeps us obsessed with working out and dieting, with inspirational weight-loss stories and TV game shows in which dramatically shrinking waistlines are seen not as a sign of dwindling well-being but as a heroic conquering of anarchic eating compulsions.

We fortunate ones desperately want to be thin, but only because we have a choice. Visit any “developing country” and you’ll be offered a stark reminder: the majority of folks on this planet don’t have to worry about Jenny Craig and 24 Hour Fitness. They would be thrilled to consume a small fraction of the calories we collectively “throw away” on the Nautilus and Bowflex. They would be delighted to chew on the energy-packed carbs we disdain.

What if all the excess calories stored as belly fat on Americans could somehow be transfered to our hungry brothers and sisters in Africa and Asia and everyplace else where there isn’t enough to eat? Instead of wasting those calories at gymnasiums, jogging tracks, and home treadmills, what if the energy required to lose a pound of flab was expended on useful manual labor, the kind that builds shelters with plumbing and cultivates sustainable growing fields? What if our ridiculous caloric bounty could be shared instead of squandered?

What if we cared less about the fit of our jeans and more about the folks whose far-away labors allow us to wallow in glorious excess?

What if we used all our excess corn for international food aid instead of as fuel for our automobiles?

What if this planet had caloric equality?

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