22 January 2011

4. Don't Eat This Book

Don't Eat This Book: Fast Food and the Supersizing of America - Morgan Spurlock

This book is written by the guy who did the movie Supersize Me. He also read the book for the audio version. That is what I utilized. The audio book alos contained numerous elaborations, updates and additions by the author.

Needless to say, Mr. Spurlock is anti McDonalds. Actually, I think it is not so much a hatred of McDonalds as it is a dislike for corporate greed at the expense of the wellbeing of it's own customers.

I have no idea what Mr. Spurlock says his political leanings are or how he votes, but I am going to make an assumption after reading this book that he is liberal in many ways. He definately has a disgust for the big food industry and it's Washington DC lobby. Spurlock keeps talking about how the government needs to make more regulations for protecting the people from these entities, but then also says that the FDA and the USDA are useless lackies afraid of the very industry they are monitoring and regulating. He wants more rules, but acknowledges that the rule makers don't give a hoot. It is an interesting poition to be in. To want more of the problem in government without a solution to fixing it is weird.

I do agree with much of what he says concerning the fast food industry, the horrible processed and packaged foods in the grocery stores, the lobbyists in DC, the greed and disregard for health shown by businesses, the stupidity of having junk food in schools...and most of all...the marketing and advertising manipulations executed in many instances to sell more crap.

Spurlock did point out one thing that made me think differently. He was discussing the litigation brought against many companies. Much of that litigation is considered "frivolous" by many people. I would include myself in much of it. One example is the lady who sued McDonald's when she spilled coffee on her lap. She won millions. Is that right? I don't think so, but I did see a different view for supporting such lawsuits. The example he used was the tobacco industry and how for decades there were a million little fights in courts all over the country. Each one opened a door a little further and allowed people to look in on the industry. It took a long time before the tobacco industry admitted their product was bad for people, that they were lying about all kinds of things and that it took all those little lawsuits, as fivolous as they seemed, to make changes in the way the product was regulated, marketed and perceived by the public. That exact same thing could happen with the fast food industry. It could take decades to reveal the truth in a way that actually makes a change in the industry like it did to tobacco. That is not a bad thing.

What else did this book do for me? It reminded me of the things that I felt when reading "Fast Food Nation" by Eric Schlosser or "Slaughterhouse" by Gail Eisnitz. Both fellow muckrakers. One in fast food. One in the meat-packing industry. I ws disgusted and did not want to eat that crap.

Since reading this book I have skipped McDonalds, Subway, Burger King, Sonic, Taco Bell, Firehouse, Moes, and a million other places where I love to eat. I have done my shopping around the outer edges of the supermarket and avoided all the frozen and boxed junk. I have read labels and put many items back on the shelves.

Even when buying stuff for the kids, like apple juice, I read the labels. I was amazed that the store had about 25 different kinds of apple juice. I wanted on that was just apples, or close to it. I found one that was made from pressed apples and only had ascorbic acid (keeps it from turning brown) and lactic something-or-other added. The others were all made from concentrate WITH ADDED INGREDIENTS. I thought that would mean water. Add h2o to apple concentrate. Nope, it was mixed with 10-12 other things that were hard to pronounce every time. Many were not even just apple. They had concentrates from pears and whatever else added also. What the hell is that? All I wanted was some stinking apple juice!

So, I will try and eat better and maybe not be a fat chunk of American laziness who has diabetes and an addiction to nastiness. We will see. At least I will make an attempt. I skipped the McDonalds double cheeseburgers and bag of cheetoes the other night. I ate romaine salad with balsamic vinagrette and sushi instead. I could do that.  :-)

I just learned that Morgan Spurlock graduated from NYU in 1993. I wonder if Mike ever met him.

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