We have become a nation of consumption without responsibility.
After all, think for a minute about the proliferation of All-You-Can-Eat-Everything Bars.
For one fee simple, you can force yourself to eat more in one sitting than you would ordinarily eat in an entire day -- in the name of economy.
It's a great deal like our national debt.
We now have all-you-can-eat smorgasbords of crab legs, barbecued everything, breakfast items and, of course, salads.
Now there's food for thought.
A salad BAR.
''Yes, I'm eating light tonight. I'm having a salad.''
The last salad bar that I saw featured these choice items:
Sunflower seeds, croutons, bacon bits, raisins, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, green peppers, red peppers, mushrooms, fluffy white Chinese noodles, regular Chinese noodles, bean sprouts, cauliflower, celery, black olives, green olives, onions, potato salad, cole slaw, pasta salad, marinated veggies, melons, pineapple, cottage cheese, apple butter, fruit salad and a variety of breads and saltines.
Third World countries could belly up to this salad bar and there would STILL be some left over.
It is time that we faced facts.
The only benefit of these gang-bang buffets is to the restaurant. A server doesn't have to serve. A cook doesn't have to cook.
And of course, the tables turn over faster, so more consumers can consume more food in any given day or night.
The benefit to us is that we get to gorge ourselves in a thrifty sort of way. How many times have you heard someone say ''It's all you can eat for ONLY $---''?
Have you ever watched people as they move through these buffets of life? Everyone comments that ''the plates are too small'' (precisely the point); and that ''there's so much to choose from'' (we buy wholesale).
There was a kinder, gentler time when we were an eat-everything-on-your-plate society. But now we've become an eat-everything-you-see society.
The pilgrims came together at a common table and feasted for sustenance and fellowship. Now we feast together ''to get our money's worth.''
Linda L. S. Schulte, who herewith swears off such conspicuous displays of consumption, practices partial abstinence as a free-lance writer in Laurel. Perhaps she'll never work for a gourmet magazine.