The Wife and I finished our food-oriented flick mini-festival with Super Size Me this evening. Like Food, Inc., I think it’s well worth watching. On the surface it may look like a condemnation of McDonald’s, but if you’re paying attention you’ll find it’s as much a condemnation of the way we eat as it is the companies feeding it to us.
Like he says in the end, if they weren’t making millions, these companies wouldn’t be making this food.
Some people are saying the movie’s crap because eating nothing but that garbage for 30 days will make anybody fat, and nobody really eats like that. Maybe they’ve bought into the “it’s your own damn fault you’re fat” attitude, or they just don’t want to feel bad about their own trips to fast food restaurants. Either way, it’s the wrong attitude. I ate fast food a lot in my four years in retail management over a decade a go, and I packed on eighty pounds in that time.
Every manager did. With long hours and no time to get away for a real lunch shift, we ate whatever was close at hand. Driving in to work, it was whatever drive-through was open. Lunchtime, we’d hit another drive-through or have something delivered. Long commute home? Sometimes that meant another visit to a drive-through. We’d try frozen meals, but those aren’t really any better, and bringing lunches was a pain because you never had time to finish the prep of leftovers and cold sandwiches got old fast.
That’s a big problem the movie doesn’t address: fast food is cheap and convenient.
It’s cheap because of all the crap that’s crammed into it. Consider Taco Bell beef, which is allegedly less than 40% beef. Look at an ingredient list for McDonald’s fries and you’ll see it’s not just potatoes and salt. These companies are like a drug dealer cutting his coke with baking soda. Sure, the fast food people are doing it for flavor and preservation, but the end result is the core ingredient goes further and costs them less.
The convenience is why we keep buying it. These restaurants are everywhere, they’re fast, and you know exactly what they have. And before you say “No, Mike, I go for the taste!” sit back and think about that. Take time, cost and effort out of the equation. Would you rather have a McDonald’s burger or a 100% ground beef patty you just fried up on the grill? It should be a no-brainer.
I can address the cost side. The Wife and I just hit a local grocery store and bought what we needed for suppers for five people the next two nights, plus some extras, for about thirty bucks. Two suppers at any given fast food joint would run us $40-45, easy. People look at a pound of beef and cringe, thinking they can get a Whopper for that, but don’t realize that pound of beef is part of an entire sloppy joe meal for my family and leaves leftovers.
As for convenience, well, I don’t know what to tell you. That’s going to take some strategy and planning. I’ve been making sure I eat breakfast again, but unfortunately I sometimes run to the local Casey’s gas station/convenience store and grab one of their breakfast croissants. They’re not near as good as the scrambled eggs & cheese I make at home when I have time, and they’re probably as bad as any other fast food with their grease and preservatives. My only fix? Get up a little earlier and make that time to cook breakfast before work.
I’m still heavy, but at least my heart’s in good shape (verified by a stress test last year), I don’t have any blood sugar or blood pressure issues, and while I do have to take a small dose of statins, my cholesterol is in check. How? Diet and exercise. I’m far from a perfect eater, but I avoid fast food when I can and I’m in karate classes at least six hours a week. Now that I think about it, it’s probably time to reacquaint myself with The Abs Diet (stupid name, great program) and see if I can’t readjust my eating. Their smoothies are fast and tasty.
You get one life, folks. Do you really want to live it couch-bound and dependent upon a fistful of pills?