A dramatization of Fast Food Nation, the NYT bestseller expose of the inside sluice gate of the expedited meal industry, is due out this fall and the trailer looks pretty tasty.
My first fast food memory is a Mc Donald’s memory. My parents were worried because I was only eating my French my fries. Not due to any finickiness mind you, just at this stage I preferred to eat my food in stages: all the steak, then all the green beans, then all the potatoes. At this moment, I happened to be in the French fry stage. My parents told me I couldn’t eat any more fries until I ate more of my hamburger…
Tender juicy words piled high on hot sentences topped with a popkenyseed roll, after the jump…
One time, my parents commanded me to chew each piece twenty times before swallowing. For years after that, I was an abnormally slow eater, often abandoned to my fate as everyone was long done with dinner, slowly chewing away. I didn’t end up being a vegetarian either. I still loves me some good steak, I have a deep-seated pepperoni fetish and a predilection for cured salami. However, after seeing Supersize Me, my common sense doubts about Mc Donald’s food have solidified. I just know how crappy I feel after eating a hamburger there, it’s better to starve than eat one of their hamburgers except in a pinch or a moment of weakness, has been my overriding opinion. But maybe once every year I walk by a Mc Donald’s at the right and time and the smell hits me just right or I’m driving on a road trip, there’s nothing else that offers drive through because we’ve got to go-go-go and I’ll get a Mc Donald’s. I’ll end up regretting it but for about 4 minutes until the condensed, hydrogenated floating grease particles lose some of their irradiated heat, I’m in hamburger heaven. Then the regret seeps in, as it always does after satisfying a vice.
The most compelling argument against fast food I found not in its unhealthiness, which is widely known, but its treatment of workers, as detailed in Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation. He paints Upton Sinclair-esque picture of a real life hamburger hell. Illiterate and badly injured workers tricked and intimidated out of their health insurance by their foremen. Atrocious working conditions reducing Mexican Jurgis Rudkus type to a penniless cripple after repeated on-the-job injuries, used up in every fell position until tossed out like a rusty cog. On-the-job sexual harassment and rape of female workers. It’s a rank portrait that will leave a bad taste in my mouth, in the unlikely event that I should ever eat at McDonald’s ever again.
If we compare a typical McDonald’s meal to a healthier meal, we find some startling conclusions. A southwestern chicken salad with seltzer water will run you about 123 calories, 3g of fat, 15g of protein, 9g of carbohydrates, 36mg of cholesterol and 337 mg of sodium. A Quarter-pounder with cheese, medium French fries and medium coke from McDonald’s will run you 1080 calories, 41g fat, 95 mg cholesterol, 1390 mg sodium, 148 mg carbohydrates. The difference is clear. Fast food is extremely unhealthy.
My grandfather was a cattle buyer. He’d look out at a herd of cattle and determine the fair price he’d pay at auction. He developed a reputation in the industry for being one of the rare men who say what they do and do what they say. The steaks he and my dad grilled are some of the finest in the land; nothing fancy, just its own
salubrious juices and maybe some extra pepper. Because there’s still nothing quite like the satisfying chomp of a good meal, we’re hardwired for food and to seek the mitigation of physical labor unless necessary. The bombardment of high fat marketing and low physical activity marketing results in a populace engorged on fat, brain drained and unable to get about get up the mustard to do anything about it. And we are the victim, unless we take action.
Mc Donald’s unveiled a new campaign for Ronald recently, an active lifestyle menu themed, “It’s what I eat and what I do.” The new ad shows the clown encouraging kids to get off the couch, eat well and participate in various activities such as biking, snowboarding and playing soccer. Later, this fall, the company will sponsor a series of
shows in various US cities which Ronald will enlist audience members to help his friend, “Arnie,” adopt a more active lifestyle. Most can see this for what it is, a public relations counter-attack, a window dressing designed to promote a more McCuddly feeling towards the company than to really change their core business practices.