Fast Food Nation

Yesterday when I was with my girl in one of the Ontario early years center singing, one of the songs has lyrics like this:

Pizza hut, pizza hut,
Kentucky Fried Chicken,
and McDonalds.

Swiss Chalet, Swiss Chalet*
Red Lobster,
and Dairy Queen.

*a Canada fast food chain specialized in selling white meat.

The audiences averaged about 2 years old. My girl doesn’t even pronounce McDonalds.

I’m pretty sure that this place is Ontario government sponsored, has no affiliation with any of the aforementioned fast food chains, and has all the good intention to entertain kids while educate them. Nonetheless, someone wrote this song to “teach” our kids that when they’re hungry or thirsty, these are the places to go.

After the songs the snack time came. What parents or care givers pack for their dear little ones is 90% pre-packaged, industry-prepared foods. The cookies, the juice, the cheese, all came from big factory with ingredients labels that no one would be able to pronounce, let alone understand.

Incidentally, same thing happens when the day care center requires parents pack a lunch for outdoor trips. 90% of the foods are chips, cookies, energy bars, and juices. The other 10% is banana and non-peeled fruits. My girl got a real cheese sandwich with hard-boiled eggs, tofu and blueberry/strawberry, prepared by her mom in cute little boxes.

We sure look like aliens in this strange world.

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The ABC Face

If you’re like me growing up in Asia, you probably notice that American Born Chinese(ABC) kids have different face. They may have the same Chinese parents, speak perfectly fluent Mandarin and love Chinese food, but their face are different from the kids growing up in Asia.

You can tell very quickly when you see the face, especially when they travel in Asia with their parents . You may have wondered just like me: what was that in their face and what was the difference.

Is it the food? Could it be the American born drink way more milk and eat tons of cheese and that’s the reason? Or is it the extra care their parents take, such as the sunblock, the car window sunscreen or the anti-UV hats? Maybe it’s the skin, exposed in the fresher air and from drinking better water?

It may very well be all of them, but I suspect there are other things.

Today when I see my girl Anita in Yorkdale Mall running happily, it suddenly strikes me that there are more than physical things. I see the face more innocent (or ignorant), and more willing and daring.

That’s the so-called ABC face, raising under lower pressure, using up more resources, and competing with way less crowds. The mall emptier, the park bigger, the physical exercises more rigorous and the face generally are happier.

I understand that later on they are going to face the ethnic confusion. They may even get discrimination depend on where they are(*). But they sure are more relaxed and that, often means a better childhood and more creativity.

(*) My thinking is that they may feel discriminated in some parts of North America, especially eastern and southern USA, or further away from big cities. They may feel at home in Canada, especially Toronto. They may even feel that they are superior when they travel or work in Asia. None of them are good though.