Saturday, October 16, 2010

Immigrant culture vs American culture

Research from the Centers for Disease Control indicate that people in the US with a Latino background live longer than any other ethnic group, despite having lower levels of education and income, and relatively high levels of diabetes and obesity. Why?
A couple of hypotheses come to mind. It may be that just the healthiest subset of Latinos tend to migrate away from home in search of opportunity. It may be that Latinos with a history of unregulated food and drink, poor public health care systems, and poor sanitation, have stronger immune systems - the survivors at least. There is some evidence that our overly sanitized and sterile environment may not be the best environment for our immune systems which have evolved to deal with higher levels of  germs and parasites.
My guess is that Latino culture in general is a much healthier way to live. Latinos tend to have a lifestyle that resembles pre-WWII life in the US. They eat more meals together at home with the whole family. The main meal in Mexico is what we would call lunch, and people take off from work to go home and eat together. The food is fresh from the market, fruits and vegetables all year round. And people live together, many generations in one house because most people are too poor to move out and live separately. Their year is punctuated by many festivals and excuses for big parties. They value family, while modern American culture values things.
I despise American culture as represented by television. TV commercials take up nearly half of broadcast time and many programs are thinly disguised advertisements. Think Glen Beck preaching economic doom and shilling for sleazy gold purveyors. I hate commercials where things are worshiped like precious treasures while family members are ignored.
The best thing about the current Latino immigration may be the culture they bring with them. Let's hope they don't become contaminated with our shallow brand of consumerism instead.

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