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Food and fuel

T

amponians are between a rock and a hard place, or maybe more accurately, between a Big Mac and six-lane road with no sidewalks. Let me explain.

Restaurants, particularly fast food franchises, are ubiquitous. While quite enough has been said, written and filmed about the Supersize me culture of American fast food and the supersize of many American people, let it be said that unless one is willing to pay a lot of money for fine dining, the available options are not too appetizing (pun intended).

If you go into, say, an Applebys or iHop, the menu is optional. Anything you order tastes the same – overly large portions on overly large plates, either deep-fried and or with the hell cooked or boiled or nuked out of it, rendering everything tasteless. This is the rock.

The hard place is the car culture that dominates consumer consciousness. Nobody – literally nobody – walks anywhere. Most of the main arteries don’t even bother putting in sidewalks because the city knows they’re not going to be used. Two days after arriving, I stopped asking people, “Is that within walking distance?”, because it just created confusion, as if I had asked them, “How far is it to the moon?”

Tampa is the perfect climate for talking long walks: mild, sunny, breezy at this time of the year. But the only people walking, apart from myself, are the homeless (and I just know they would drive if they could). I’m thinking, this combination of bad eating and not walking, probably causes a lot of premature deaths.