FICTION, FACTS & STEREOTYPES
FICTION OR FACTS
Introduction & Stereotypes
Talking about the United States of America, most of people think about a lot of different stereotypes. One of them is, for example, the massive food industry and its enormous impact on the society. We asked ourselves if the stereotypes based on this subject are true. To be sure of what we are writing about, we looked up different kinds of stereotypes about American eating habits. In order to find out the truth about these prejudices, we created a questionnaire. Furthermore, we did a lot of research on this topic. On the next four pages, we are going to present our results.
Firstly, we are going to present all the stereotypes we found the most relevant. Take a moment to think about the ones you find important – do you think they will match ours?
- … only eat fast food.
- … eat too much and too fast.
- … only eat in restaurants, diners or on the go.
- …only eat unhealthy food.
- …only eat from plastic dishes.
- …eat too much meat.
- …always take their left-over food home in doggy-bags.
- …produce bad sweets.
- …are obese.
- …eat a lot of chemically and genetically modified food.
This is the questionnaire we created to find out more about American eating habits and to prove some of the stereotypes listed above.
Hello and Guten Tag!
We are German exchange students from Bochum-Wattenscheid. We are doing a project based on American stereotypes and our group deals with American eating habits. That’s why we’ve got some questions for you. We are thankful for every participation!
- How old are you?
- 0-12 • 13-30 • 31-50 • 51 OR OLDER
- What is your gender?
- MALE • FEMALE • OTHER
- Do you eat fast food?
- YES • NO
- How often do you eat fast food?
- EVERY DAY • ONCE OR TWICE A WEEK
- ONCE OR TWICE A MONTH •NEVER
- Do you cook your own food or does someone else cook for you?
- I COOK MY OWN FOOD • SOMEONE ELSE COOKS FOR ME
- I ONLY EAT FAST FOOD
- Where do you get your food?
- SUPERMARKET •FAST FOOD RESTAURANT •TAKEAWAY
- How do you get your food?
- I DRIVE A CAR • I WALK • I RIDE MY BICYCLE
- Do you care about your diet?
- YES • NO
- Do you eat meat?
- YES • NO • OCCASIONALLY
As you can see, there are a lot of stereotypes about Americans in Germany, especially about their eating habits. In the following analysis we will give you an answer based on our questionnaire and on our own experiences in the US – are the stereotypes facts or just fiction?
Firstly, we handed out the anonymous questionnaire to 42 Americans and let them participate. After utilizing our survey we could already tell that most of the people eat fast food. That was not a surprise for us at all, because we already knew that Americans like greasy and fried food, which is based on a popular stereotype. Germans oftentimes imagine obese Americans only eating unhealthy food, but this is not the case.
Most of them do not even go without fast food because the majority of the people we asked have it once or twice a week. What also did not shock us, was the fact that there were more people eating fast food every day than rather than go without fast food.
Most Americans eat fast food once or twice a week or even every day – there are clearly less people who eat fast food only once or twice a month or never. This shows that there is at least some truth to the stereotype that Americans only eat fast food, but it is not as extreme as a lot of Germans think it is.
From this behaviour of the Americans we can conclude that they do not eat self-made food. But our survey shows that a lot of participants cook their own meals or someone else cooks for them. We asked around why it is like this and most of the people pointed out how they did not have enough time to cook for themselves and how the parents are too busy with their work to cook for their children. In addition, self-made food is more expensive than a whole a meal at a fast -food restaurant, while healthy food like vegetables or fruits are already worth a little asset. Furthermore, the food in the supermarkets is a lot more expensive than in Germany. Nevertheless some host families cooked for our evening meal almost every day.
Another question in the questionnaire was how the Americans get their fast food. Almost everyone who participated drives with a car to get their fast food. Only a few people actually walk to a diner or restaurant. In addition, in Florida there is hardly any kind of public transportation and the distances are huge, because everything is spread over a large area. America is twenty-seven times bigger than Germany, so this explains the differences between the streets. Therefore it is understandable that the Americans do not have any other option to get their food. However, they could use their bike. In three weeks we did not see anyone riding a bike, which leads to another stereotype towards Americans: They are all overweight because they don’t care about their diet. What could also lead to the assumption that they do not do any sports.
Most of the people answered with „Yes“ when we asked if they care about their diet, which is questionable, because almost all of the fast food restaurants just offer unhealthy food. There are fast food places where you can get yourself a salad, but even then – it does not have to be healthy. We asked ourselves if that is really true that the people care about it or not. Maybe they think it would be healthy? Probably they do not even know what kind of ingredients are in their food.
We also compared the fast food chains in America and in Germany. We have 8 different kind of fast food chains in Wattenscheid (73,000 people, 52,34 qkm) while in Bartow there are 16 (18,000 people, 9.216 qkm). As you can see there’s a really huge difference.
In addition, almost every food in the US is genetically modified in some kind of way. However, every affected product is marked which is different in Germany, because genetic modification is not common at all.
From our questionnaire and experiences in Florida we can say that stereotypes about American eating habits are all mostly true, whether they are about their sport activities or their eating habits. From our experience and our research we learned a lot of things. In many countries the stereotypes are completely different and we are surprised to listen to the truth, but in America it is mostly true. The information we get from the movies and all the TV shows are very similar. However, eating habits in the US are heavily influenced by Hispanic culture, too, because there are many foreign citizens and a lot of immigration.
We, ourselves, do not like that. We are used to get healthy food and to eat fast food in just certain situations. We feel bad eating unhealthy stuff and the expensive vegetables which do not allow us to eat a lot of them. In addition, the life in the US can be really stressful, so fast food may seem like a simple, cheap and especially fast solution for that problem.
Written by: Zoe Lampart, Nevruz Karakus, Lukas Wolff, Lukas Romahn