In 2004, Morgan Spurlock‘s documentary film Super Size Me debuted. In it, Spurlock eats McDonald’s food for 30 days straight. This extreme experiment sought to document the adverse health effects of the all-to-common practice of over-eating fast food, using himself as test subject. Indeed, Spurlock gained weight, scared his doctors when his liver went south, felt depressed, lost sexual function and more. But the film also became a sort of watershed moment, shocking general audiences and thereby playing a big role in spurring growth of the food movement. I met Spurlock recently while picking up my weekly farm share (we belong to the same local CSA), and he kindly agreed to talk about the food movement, changes in the fast food industry, and how his McDonald’s binge has affected his long-term health. Read more
In what is the most comprehensive analysis of fast food nutrition and marketing to date, the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity released a study Monday indicting fast food restaurants for aggressive marketing campaigns targeted to youth and other vulnerable groups, and a lack of readily available healthy options on their menus. Read more
On the 21st of September the Franco-Belgian fast-food chain Quick took the plunge, selling a certified organic burger– with Swiss cheese and locally-raised meat– for a cost of 2.50 euros each, 43 percent more than the traditional Quick burger. The burger will be available for eight weeks to measure demand. The company claims that it has worked for a year to procure the quantity of organic meat needed to fulfill the eight weeks of service. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the organic patty and onions are cut square instead of round, differentiating it from the non-organic version. Read more
Tonight in Washington, DC, a provocative ad tying fast food consumption to heart disease produced by the organization Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) will air during The Daily Show and the local news. The spot features a woman crying over a dead man in a morgue, and in his hand is a hamburger. “I was lovin’ it,” appears on the screen, a play on McDonald’s slogan, and the voice over says, “High cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attacks. Tonight, make it vegetarian.”
According to the PCRM, the city has the second-highest death rate in the nation from heart disease, killing 1,500 annually. In addition, DC has more fast food restaurants per square mile than eight other similarly sized cities. The group hopes to leverage these facts to push for a moratorium on the building of new fast food restaurants in DC.
After tonight’s debut, the group hopes to air the ad in cities like Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and Memphis. Take a look: Read more
How is it that a country can put a man on the moon, but can’t seem to feed it’s children school lunches that are safer than those eaten at McDonald’s or Jack in the Box?
In the past 10 years more than 23,000 school children have become sick as a result of hundreds of food poisoning outbreaks in our nation’s lunchrooms. A recent investigation by USA Today found that the meat served in U.S. school cafeterias faces less testing and lower safety standards than the mystery meat in Big Macs and Whopper Juniors.
USA Today reporters discovered that meat served at McDonald’s, Burger King and Costco is tested as much as 10 times more often as the ground beef served in America’s school cafeterias. While fast-food chains take samples on their production lines every 15 minutes, the USDA only tests 8 times a day.
In addition to testing more frequently, fast-food chains also set more stringent limits on so-called indicator bacteria. In the case of generic E. coli, the USDA allows 10 times more bacteria than Jack in the Box!
This fact should be a national embarrassment to all members of Congress, USDA officials and meat industry executives who have allowed our nation’s school lunch programs to become the dumping grounds for cheap commodity products that feed the bottom line of corporate agribusiness. Read more
Fast food is the ultimate American invention — cheap meals for people on the go. But we’ve paid a heavy price for our national addiction — an epidemic of obesity, the destruction of our fragile environment, and the loss of community ties that are maintained by taking the time to prepare and eat food together.
Despite these negatives, the need for quick affordable food is undeniable in today’s world. But why on earth are McDonalds and its competitors our only option? Every single time I get hungry on the road, in an airport, or at a shopping mall I wish someone would open a healthy fast food restaurant… and it turns out the wait is finally over. Amanda’s Feel Good Fresh Food restaurant opened it’s doors for business in Berkeley at the end of July 2008. Read more
Is it possible for a fast food chain, beholden more so to its corporate number crunching than its customers’ waistlines and heart valves, to be socially responsible, or dare I say, sustainable?
My gut is telling me no. Read more
Recently, the American public was issued a challenge by the folks at KFC (formerly “Kentucky Fried Chicken,” but “fried” just didn’t sound healthy). The fast-food joint argues in its latest commercial that you cannot “create a family meal for less than $10.” Their example is the “seven-piece meal deal,” which includes seven pieces of fried chicken, four biscuits, and a side dish — in this case, mashed potatoes with gravy. This is meant to serve a family of four. Read more
The short answer is: ‘no.’ But there is also a longer answer that can provide some texture, depth, and a feeling (possibly illusory) of understanding. Read more