bigger people, smaller packages

I have noticed a trend as I get older (and more cynical), people (kids really) seem to be getting taller and food packaging seems to be getting smaller. I can’t say the two are necessarily related but it does seem odd. About a hundred years ago when I was in grade school (and later in high school) I was not counted as one of the shortest or tallest people in my class, I was average height and all my friends were about the same height. These days I work at the local University and when I wander the halls here, I feel like one of the little people. My view as I walk the halls is one composed mostly of shoulders, the kids (mostly in their teens) towering above me by several inches.

So why are children getting taller? Some would have you believe that it is natural, they would say we eat better more nutritious food so we grow taller. How much nutrition do you suppose is found in a super sized Quarter Pounder meal Deal? I on the other hand have quite a different theory though I do believe it is related still to what the kids are eating. When I was that gangly teenager many ages ago, genetic engineering was the stuff of science fiction books, no one had ever thought of putting growth hormones into the food supply and all food was pretty much organic and natural. Sure we had pesticides, insecticides and a host of other things to help farmers make better crops but today it is a very different story. We genetically engineer all of the crops to grow faster, ripen sooner, grow bigger and yield more produce. Miracle grow is the order of the day if you are growing anything, hence we get 1500 pound pumpkins and strawberries that look like small apples. Similarly with the livestock that is raised for food, we engineer them for faster growth, leaner meat, fatter drumsticks so that we can get them to market sooner and make a bigger profit. The people in charge of the food supply will tell you that all these chemicals, growth hormones, accelerators, enhancers, fatteners has no effect on the human health and physique. So puzzle me this, why were most of the kids in my grade eight class 5 foot and a bit and now most of the first year students at Waterloo are well over 6 foot? You have to wonder.

At the beginning of this little rant I had mentioned packaging getting smaller in addition to children getting taller. I said packaging but really I meant cereal boxes, chip bags and cracker boxes among others. When I was a sprout, the corn flakes boxes were huge, looking more like the “Club Packs” of todays supermarkets. In the supermarket the other day I was looking at a box of raisin bran thinking if it got any thinner the manufacturers would have to stand the flakes on edge to get them in the box. Manufacturers today claim “the contents settle during shipment” but that doesn’t really explain why there are only six chips in my bag of Tortillas. I exaggerate of course but even as a teen I couldn’t sit down and eat a whole family size bag of chips in one sitting, today that same bag seems half the size, barely a snack. However in this case that is a good thing since eating a whole bag of chips has more calories and more fat than a weeks worth of real food. Ah but that’s a rant for another day.

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