Saturday, March 17, 2012

Behind the Golden Arches

While driving down the four lane that runs through the center of our city, I got stuck behind 7 cars in the left lane, waiting for one car to turn into the neighborhood McDonald's. Because there is no turning lane, I often see this scenario right around lunch time. I always resist the urge to yell out my window, "don't do it, just don't do it!" But I refrain. Though I am perplexed by those who often say how fast food happens on a whim, yet folks turning left across two lanes of busy traffic have ample time to reconsider.
In the wake of last week's news on the USDA purchasing 7 million (yes, 7 million) pounds of ammonia treated pink slime (fine ground beef trimmings and connective tissue) rejected by top fast food chains to serve in public schools, I have been thinking about the power of facades. Similar to the man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz, there are powerful forces at work to create an image that makes us forget the truth behind the glitz, such as the trademark golden arches. Most newer McDonald's chains now offer free wi-fi, and own some of the slickest advertising of any of them, including commercials of very happy, hip, young adults enjoying their products (I will not call it food because it isn't) to help consumers gloss over what they are actually peddling.
But what would happen if we rolled up to the drive-thru and next to the order options were pictures of cows waist deep in their own manure instead of a well styled juicy looking beef patty adorned with oh so fresh veggies? What if we were asked to look at the physical effects of this kind of eating with large mirrors reflecting our bloating images? Would we still order? Perhaps some would. After all, we have already been exposed to powerful muck raking films such as Food Inc. and Fast Food Nation, why are we still crossing traffic to eat our own demise, neatly served on a warm, nutritionally devoid bun?
What saddens me is even if we choose not to eat fast food as well informed adults, our government has decided to take the reigns and feed the scraps to our children. In reality, this is a common practice, it just so happens a recent article momentarily brought it into the spotlight. The public school system has been forced into bottom-feeder status for ages, from what we pay our teachers to what we serve at lunch time.
Not only does this speak volumes on where our priorities are as a free nation, it is the very essence of what is wrong with our entire agricultural system as we know it. Such filthy meat should not even exist. But we have allowed the wool to remain comfortably settled over our eyes and condone "privacy" fences to border feedlots while our children eat the byproducts. We have allowed monoculture to become the norm, which in my opinion, is a very dangerous thing.
Aside from good advertising, there is a heap of cash spent on flavor technology to create and inject chemicals into dirty food products to make them taste irresistible. Extremely smart and well paid scientists are literally working in shifts to keep you hooked. As far as our bodies are concerned, once that double cheese burger is past our taste receptors, it is closer to flavored plastic than it is to beef. So why involve the animals? Why not just flavor plastic and offer it instead?
We have been trained as a "feel good society" to ignore the facts that are difficult to look at, and to continue on with business as usual. If someone rocks the boat, we are happy to tell them to mind their own business, after all, we are busy and haven't "had our break today."
I will tell you this much, I am angry and appalled (though not surprised) at what our government has chosen to call safe. Once my child is of school going age, she will be brown bagging it if I haven't decided to home school by then. And from here on out, turning lane or not, I will not, under any circumstances, cross over to the other side!


  1. This is a very timely article..I was wanting a soda today, and turned into the parking lot of a local store with McD's in the lot. There were cars turning into the drive thru blocking traffic everywhere. I can not figure out why they were there. The prices have skyrocketed at fast food places in recent days, the food is not at all good for a person (esp kids) and at this store the help is extremly rude and slow. I wanted to yell as I drove on to the grocery, Don't do it! You all deserve better! Of course I didn't but wow it was hard to stay quiet!

  2. Right on!
    We make ALL of our meals from scratch. Every day I'm grateful we are making that decision for our family. We are voting with our dollar for local farms.

  3. This blog speaks for it all, only a lot more people should read it. We feed our children at school with these lunches and expect them to perform. It is a hard one to resolve and the only way I see rebelling is: I take every day my home made bread and kefir and show the kids that that is healthy. Poor souls, they cannot help it.

  4. I just heard this morning that Starbucks got called out for using some horrid beetle juice (seriously!) for a pink dye that they use in the smoothies or strawberry frap things. does that even...wth??