Wednesday, October 13, 2010

NEWSFLASH: Fast Food Not Strictly "Natural"

(Incidentally, I'm in the middle of trying a dietary experiment wherein I'm going vegetarian for the month of October at the moment.)

Via Gizmodo, here's a lady in New York who left a Happy Meal sitting on her table and took a picture of it every day for six months. Spoiler: Nothing Happens. Preservatives, nutritionally-neutral products, etc.

Look, I get the whole thing where companies should be required to post their ingredients, of course. And I get "they shouldn't deceptively market to poor people," and all of that. But the whole broader "Rraaaargh!! McDonalds... BAAADDD!!!" stuff is getting to be one of those things that makes me hate my own culture and "people" (re: whitebread, nominally-liberal, coastal) and vaugely understand why "the rest of the world" resents us so damn much. If you're officially so "comfortable" that just the IDEA of mass-produced "budget" things is repellant to you - I'm sorry, but somebody needs to kick you in the bum. Hard.

Yes, it's surprising that there's enough salt/preservatives/whatever (or so-little legitimate nutrient value) in there that it "keeps" for six months, and it's a big clue that it oughtn't be the STAPLE of your diet. But do y'know what McDonalds would've called this footage 30 years ago? An advertisement. Even disregarding the meat - the fact that the BREAD doesn't seem to have gone moldy would've been some kind of "breakthrough." We'd be air-dropping that shit into the Third World, and the guy who came up with "EverBread" would have some kind of philanthropy award.

Here's an experiment: Get on a plane with some Happy Meals, go to the most war-torn hell-hole imaginable, show them this video and tell them you've got food that "keeps" in open-air for six months. You'll probably be elected Jesus. Then tell them that where you come from, we're so fucking RICH that we've got whole supermarkets DEDICATED just to food that goes bad really quick, because eating is basically pleasure/recreation here and we're into "rustic charm." See how well that goes over ;)


Smashmatt202 said...

I believe Morgan Spurlock did the same thing on an extra feature on the Super Size Me DVD, where he left various fast foods out, and the only ones that didn't get moldy were McDonalds' french fries.

Ben said...

That sounds like a fascinating experiment. Drop huge quantities of any and all fast foods into the third-world, and see how long they're able to sustain themselves with it. It fills them up, but ultimately gives them nothing but empty calories.

I don't eat well because I'm into "rustic charm." I eat well because, if I'm looking for nutrition, I don't want to eat something that bacteria and fungi don't also want to eat.

Gplex said...

The experiment is misleading. Beef jerky wouldn't rot out in the open, either. Is it dangerous? Only if you eat enough to spike your blood pressure from all the salt.

And bread only gets moldy if it's wrapped up. Where do you think croutons and bagel chips come from? Old bread.

@Ben, the number one priority of eating is to consume enough calories to live. Animals and early humans eat what they can, when they can. Nutrition is secondary. I agree with Bob 100% on this one.

Arturo said...

tell me how that new diet's working out for you Bob.

Nafees said...

@gplex , the human body needs both calories and nutrients. Yes you can get by on just getting enough calories, which would be okay for people in the third world, but the nutrient deficiency would come back to bite them in the ass, eg: lack of vitamin c, increased flu vulnerability.
Also agree with Bob about 75%

Graham said...

Wow, Bob. I have to say, until I read this, I was one of those white-bread, nominally liberal, Coastal people. I never thought about it that way. Man, it's weird to step back and think about that.

a.k.a.A.M.V.P said...

I don't doubt the results of this test, but the presentation is a bit sloppy. Any ardent pro-McDonald advocate could look at the changing angles and the rearrangement of fries from shot to shot and say that it was a setup.

And true, these foodstuffs may technically remain consumable during that period (though exposure to airborne bacteria would still steer me clear), it seems obvious that it wouldn't really be worth it. If the video maker had included a McD's soda in there, it would have gone flat in just a few hours; likewise, most fast food significantly decreases in flavor once it's gone cold. Sure you could reheat the burger, but fries are much more difficult to salvage base on my own experiences.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

Don't buy it at all. Bread is still bread no matter how many preservatives are in it and should have gone moldy or at least dried out... same deal with the fries that are pretty much just potato. I'd be surprised if that was sitting out more than an hour.

And regardless of what you think of the food, if that was sitting in sun light shouldn't the red ink on the wrapper have noticeably faded after like a week?

@ Gplex

Croutons are made by baking bread at a low heat (say... 200ish).

tyra menendez said...

I just don't like McDonald's, but I also don't like Subway.

On the other hand, these "Raaagh, organic food, only" people are the ones that genetically modified crops banned, in the third world. You know, like the rice modified with more nutritional value. It's these food fascists that don't seem to understand that there isn't enough food to feed, something like a billion people, on the planet.

Jonathan said...

Yet another reason to not eat at mcD. I much prefer Chic-fil-a or Five Guys.

RestamSalucard said...

I believe Penn Jilette said it best, "Why is anyone fighting food advance? A very small percentage of the world's population is fortunate to have the luxury of turning down food. The rest of the world spends most of its time trying to get any food... We need to spread all the technology all we can, so all people everywhere can deal with the problem of "too much food". We can't start getting picky because we've got enough food- that's just self-centered and racist. Unless you and you[r loved ones] are starving, you need to SHUT!