It did not even occur to me that people thought frozen yogurt was a “health food” until I spent some time in the USA. There, people line up in droves at frozen yogurt stores to buy a junk food that they’re convinced is good for them. And why is it good for them, in their own minds? Because it’s “yogurt.”
I actually went to the trouble of visiting a line of people at a frozen yogurt store and asking several people there if they could name the ingredients in the frozen yogurt they were buying. Not one of them could. Most just said, “Yogurt.” (Are you detecting a pattern here?)
Upon further investigation, I found that frozen yogurt retailers don’t make it very easy for you to find out what’s actually in their products in the first place. They don’t print ingredients on the products they sell, and even their websites make it virtually impossible to find this information.
After some digging, I was able to find the ingredients of the vanilla yogurt powder that’s used in one of the nation’s most famous frozen yogurt chains. Here’s what’s in it:
Pure Crystalline Fructose, Dextrose, Maltodextrin, Non-fat Milk, Yogurt Powder, Micro-encapsulated Probiotic (Lactobacillus Sporogenes)
Did you catch all that? The first three ingredients are all sugars, followed by processed cow’s milk. Maltodextrin, in particular, has a glycemic index so high that it’s practically poison to diabetics. It’s often derived from genetically-modified corn, by the way.
As you can see from the ingredients list, frozen yogurt is basically just ice cream with some yogurt powder thrown in. It’s ice cream with probiotics.
That doesn’t make it healthy food. It’s still junk food, but with probiotic powder.
The illusion of healthy food
If I throw probiotics on a pizza, it doesn’t turn the pizza into healthy cuisine. If I slap probiotics on a cheeseburger, it doesn’t make it a healthy cheeseburger. So why do so many people believe that mixing in a little probiotic powder with ice cream suddenly makes it a “health food?”
The answer? Because they want to.
Frozen yogurt shops don’t deliver healthy food, but they do deliver the illusion of healthy food. And in America today, where illusion dominates reality, that’s good enough!
People aren’t really interested in what they’re eating, you see. They just want to be convincingly persuaded that whatever they’re swallowing is somehow good for them. That’s sufficient evidence in their minds to go ahead and start chowing down.
It’s much the same with popular religion in the USA today. Few people really believe in God even if they claim to, because if they did, they wouldn’t go out and destroy their God-given bodies with alcohol, cigarettes, booze, drugs and junk food. They don’t really want to authentically believe in God, you see, because that would require a whole different level of personal discipline to act in a way that honored their beliefs (and honored their body as a temple). If you destroy your health with junk food, your actions scream to the universe that you really don’t follow God’s will at all.
What was that part in the Bible about gluttony? I don’t often quote scripture, but it’s relevant here: Proverbs 23:20-21 “Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.”
What people want in America today is junk food, junk news, junk knowledge and junk beliefs. They don’t really believe much of anything except those simple spoon-fed beliefs that happen to coincide with the self-destructive lifestyle they wanted to pursue anyway. Life is an all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-smoke, all-you-can-drink orgy! So let’s call it “reduced-calorie” dessert and get on with it, shall we?
People pick their beliefs, in other words, to try to justify their actions. Any belief that contradicts their short-term desires will be modified, pushed aside or simply overwritten with some other belief that allows them the excuse to pursue immediate satisfaction. The false belief that “frozen yogurt is health food” serves this purpose nicely.
Why would you swallow something if you don’t know what’s in it?
Most people, by the way, don’t even examine what they eat in the first place. They just shovel it down without a thought.
It was the Greek philosopher Socrates who famously said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” My modern version of this quote in the realm of health is, “An unexamined diet is not worth eating.”
And yet people almost never examine what they eat. They chew and swallow blindly, giving less thought to what they put inside their bodies than the clothes they wear outside their bodies.
Actually, they choose their foods from the perspective of entertainment. What taste and texture will be entertaining right now? What will give my taste buds pleasure in this instant, regardless of the lifelong effects of this substance on my body?
What sugars, fats or chemical taste enhancers can I place on my tongue in this instant that will provide some level of sensory experience to my brain and remind me that I’m still alive?
That’s the real essence of it, you see. People are sleepwalking through our world half dead, and what they really seek is just stimulation to remind them that they aren’t dead yet. Almost any stimulation will do: The loud blaring of speakers at a rock concert, the sexual foreplay with a new partner, the rush of an abused prescription drug, the thrill of a horror movie, the sensory engrossment of a violent video game, the stimulant kick of a Coca-Cola… it hardly matters as long as something is being felt through the numbness of emotional trauma that typifies human experience in our modern world.
The numbed-up, dumbed-down metrosexual seeker of experience is actually a biological stimulation machine with a tiny unit of consciousness tacked on top that’s seeking a heavy hit of just about anything to remind himself that he still exists. “I feel, therefore I am,” to bastardize Descartes’ famous utterance.
But what do we really feel when we pursue a life of delusional junk foods and other false stimulation? We only feel further numbed from reality; numbed from our own bodies, numbed to our spirituality and numbed to the consciousness that would give our lives purpose rather than processed probiotic powder.
In pursuing a life of junk consumption, what becomes frozen is not merely our yogurt but our entire experience of life. Frozen yogurt is perhaps the perfect food metaphor for what’s happening in American culture today: The mass consumption of a self-destructive lie that offers a brief moment of satisfaction followed by a lifetime of disease.