Love is not a "flaky crust"

There is a TV commercial for either dough or cinnamon rolls (I can't remember which) that portrays the problem perfectly.

Woman is shown holding up a tray of steaming-hot, freshly-baked, drizzling-sweet cinnamon buns before her gaspingly grateful husband and children.

Of course all is orderly at this family dinner table. Mom's love, represented by cinnamon rolls, keeps everyone seated and smiling.

In the fantasy world that advertisers create, food is love. More specifically, commercially prepared fast food is a stand-in for the fantasy of the perfect mother - or father.

The real wish of the child, of course, is not for food. Kids, and adults, want attention and nurturance most of all. But since there is no way to commercialize this, we are bombarded with substitute symbols. We are supposed to feel that preparing and eating these foods either means giving love, or being loved by a caring parent.

The culture during holiday season reinforces this. It's all about either shopping or parties or food. And for those who can't afford extravagant things and who aren't invited to fancy parties, "food is it." People take great pride and go to great lengths to make the perfect holiday meal.

But looking around nowadays, one can't help but wonder if the use of food (the exploitation of food) as a substitute for love has gone too far. We are glorifying and overconsuming all the wrong things, and marginalizing the right ones - i.e. no one brings a bag of organic apples to a holiday party.

It's time to rethink our priorities and take back our "food culture" from the advertisers.