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Essay on TV Dinner Culture: Limitations & Alternative

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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 ...


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...eas Worth Spreading. TED: TED Partner Series, May 2008. Web. 30 Nov. 2011.
Paul, Maya W., Gina Kemp, and Robert Segal. "Organic Foods: Understanding Organic Food Labels, Benefits, and Claims." Helpguide.org: Expert, Ad-free Articles Help Empower You with Knowledge, Support & Hope. Aug. 2011. Web. 05 Dec. 2011.
Pendergast, Sara, and Tom Pendergast, eds. Bowling, Beatniks, and Bellbottoms: Pop Culture of 20th Century America. Vol. 4. Detroit: U•X•L / Thomson Gale, 2002. Print.
Tilman, David, Kenneth G. Cassman, Pamela A. Matson, Rosamond Naylor, and Stephen Polasky. "Agricultural Sustainability and Intensive Production Practices : Article : Nature." Nature 418 (2002). Nature Publishing Group : Science Journals, Jobs, and Information. Web. 31 Nov. 2011.
Xuereb, Marc. "And Miles to Go Before I Eat ... Home-Grown Hurrah." Alternatives Journal 32.3 (2006): 18+. Print.


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