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Tv Dinner Culture: Limitations & Alternative

2602 words - 10 pages

The invention of the television (TV) dinner has led to lifestyle changes in American society. Created in 1953 by C.A. Swanson & Sons, frozen suppers allowed mothers to take breaks from cooking and sit down with their families (Pendergast). These meals quickly boomed with popularity and revolutionized the way that Americans viewed food. Today, many families still purchase these meals, but do not realize that they have several limitations. Although TV dinners seem like convenient and inexpensive food choices, in reality, the “TV dinner culture” has serious implications for the environment, health, and agriculture. The problems posed by TV dinners, such as food miles, inadequate nutrition, and untrue costs, alienate people from their food, families, and environment, and would be lessened if Americans purchased foods from farmers’ markets.
It is fine to say that the foods from farmers markets should serve as alternatives to TV dinners. However, what are TV dinners, and why are they unsustainable for health and for the environment? How did the “TV dinner culture” get started? Why are we obsessed with them? For starters, in 1953, excitement grew over these pre-packaged meals because people had never seen anything quite like them before. TV dinners combined home refrigeration and television, two of the decade’s most popular new inventions (Pendergast). These meals were novelties and began to be seen in homes across the United States. In addition, beginning in the 1980s, their popularity reflected changes in population and in the ways that people lived. In a 1983 New York Magazine issue, Bernice Kanner states that “there are more singles… more childless couples, more retirees, and more single-parent households…. average family size is two-thirds what it was in the fifties” (Kanner). On top of these factors, it is also true that there were an increasing number of women joining or already involved in the workforce in the 1980s. What this says is that for a long time, TV dinners were framed as flawless marvels that possessed virtually no downfalls. However, today, it is becoming increasingly clear that frozen dinners cause considerable problems for sustainability.
One characteristic of TV dinners is that they require massive numbers of food miles to be transported to the supermarkets in which they are sold, which results in the release of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. The term “‘food miles,’ describes how far food travels from farm to table. The greater the distance…the greater the effect on nature” (Plate Passport). The food in these meals travels long distances before it is eaten by consumers. When people buy TV dinners, they often do not think about their environmental impacts, and they rarely think about how these impacts could be reduced with farmers’ markets food choices. Authors of the article “And Miles to Go Before I Eat…” shopped for ingredients for a dinner at a supermarket and at a farmer’s market. They then...

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