On buffets

Is the ubiquitous all-you-can-eat buffet a symbol for the demise of modern civilization? Buffets are as popular as ever in our society, and they show no sign of slowing down, disappearing, or changing. You have been there: you pay one price for your plate and drink, and you can eat until you either pass out from a diabetic coma, your stomach ruptures, or you throw up. Chinese buffets are the most fun, but I find all buffets to be both sinister and creepy as we serve ourselves out of aluminum bins. Buffets seem like a good idea, but they seldom, if ever, are. For most people the idea of the buffet, unlimited food for just one price, seems like a real good deal, but the buffet is just a sign of the times: in a land of plenty where many poor people go hungry, those who have ten dollars in their pocket can pig out to their heart’s content, eating until their stomachs protrude and good taste and manners have left by a rear door. Obesity is a serious problem in our country, and buffets do nothing but feed the problem. Having experienced several buffets I must say that the buffet actually works against a person’s self-interest. The actual amount of food that any person should eat in any given sitting should not really exceed the volume of one closed fist or one cup, eight ounces. Overeating then becomes a national pastime, and the results are ugly and unhealthy. Success has made us fat and sassy, and we all overeat all the time. Our waistlines show it. Now when I go to a buffet, I pick my favorite food and get one portion. I will later add a few fruits and vegetables to accompany whatever protein I might be eating that day. I eat that food and stop. There is nothing cost-effective about me going to a buffet because I don’t take seconds, don’t stuff myself, don’t exercise my gluttony ghost. I’m no saint, but lately I come to realize that a balanced diet combined with portion control is a blueprint for a healthier lifestyle even if I don’t get to eat a lot of sweets and desserts. Just because we have the food does not mean we should eat it. Stuffing ourselves to the point of blindness is, in the long term, unhealthy and detrimental. The buffet is symbolic of the paradox that industrial and agricultural success has brought to our nation and cultural. We have more than we can ever, or should ever, eat. As our waistlines expand, instead of thinking about why that is happening, we just buy bigger clothing, baggy shirts and stretchy waistbands. We lack self-control in the face of delicious luxurious food, and we are willing to sacrifice our collective health. Temptation lies at the heart of the buffet, and buffet owners know that the only thing we cannot collectively resist is temptation itself, ergo, buffets proliferate and are successful, and type-two diabetes becomes a bigger and bigger problem. There is nothing ethically wrong with the buffet, but it does bring out the worst in people who consume too much food, too much sugar, too much starch, too much fat. Buffets are everything in excess, and too much of a good thing, as they say, is a very bad thing even if we are trying to get the most for our dollar. Here the dollar is just as traitorous as Judas or Brutus.