Sunday, October 12, 2003

Everyone's stupid but me
Also, pardon my hiatus.

A dangerous, covert terrorist lurks in our midst. A greasy, scrumptious terrorist. A capitalist terrorist who is poisoning Americans with its life-shortening and money-sucking death substance. That's right, it's the restaurant industry, and it's killing our nation's citizens with fat. Fat! Fattening fat deep-fried in 100% fatty fat. Or not. Who knows. Whatever.

This article is about how the three-fifths of RedWhiteAndBlueicans who are overwieght may have spurred legal action taken against the restaurant industry, who has facilitated rampant fat consumption. One option is to legally mandate that nutrition information be included on restaurant menus.

Every person (over the age of, let's say, thirteen, at which point if you can't cook your own dinner than you're a big loser) has complete control over what he or she eats, and every person has the option of asking for vague-to-specific nutrition information about the food he or she receives from a restaurant, so conceivably every person should know semi-accurately how many calories and fat grams he or she has consumed per meal, thus every person who is overweight has no one to blame but him or herself. Thus I think suing McDonald's or Chili's for America's obesity is frivilous and unfair.

But why not mandate that nutrition information, specific and accurate information, be available for all food no matter where it is being eaten? If people want to eat lard all day, oh for god's sake let them. But if some people ardently do not want to chug lipids for sport (and as a result possibly suffer heart disease, heart attack, diabetes, stroke, snoring, etc.), they should be able to have information assisting them in their pursuit readily available. There's no need to sue the restaurants that have helped this nation devolve into 250,000,000 corpulant turban-fearing cowboys (I guess they're only responsible for the first adjective), but there's also no need to withold information from the consumer.

An argument could be made by those of you who believe in individual self-determination and oppose institutional interferance with consumers' decisions. That argument might go something like this: "If folks are surprised that they're getting a spare tire after years of Big Macs and pepperoni pizzas, then they're big durfs who obviously don't understand how eating and digestion work. Man, are they big durfs." Hey, I agree with you. Especially about the durf thing. If there's one thing I can't stand it's a durf who doesn't understand stuff.

But I also believe that an informed consumer, perhaps even and over-informed consumer, is an ideal in a capitalist economy. Further, a citizen cannot truly be self-determining and free of interferance until he has every fact about what he is consuming at his disposal. Every person has the right to decide what is best for his body, so long as he knows exactly what is going into it.

[This is the part of the post where I reminisce longingly/disgustedly about my years back home in Long Beach.] When I was home for the Summer in the months between my freshman and sophomore years in college, I stayed in my home town of Long Beach for the season and chose to get a job at McDonald's because no one else would hire me for just eight weeks. As you can imagine, the menu at McDonald's hinges upon fat. I would leave that place with beef tallow caked between the treads of my non-scuff shoes. It's all fat. Fat plus more fat. Everyone knows that. Except kids. A five year old should not have to concern himself with calorie-counting when he goes out to eat with his parents. And it would be one thing if his parents took him for fast food once, even twice a month. But when you work full-time at McDonald's in a dense urban area, you come to see that some families eat there twice, thrice, four times a week. The parent are already obease. The children, through no fault of their own, are quickly on their way. They are being introduced very early into our culture of fattening foods. It's a culture where eating animal fats and proteins is encouraged for fear of anemia and/or sissiness, but I'd wager more on the latter. It's a society where convenience takes precedence over health. Most importantly, it's a culture that has developed out of ignorance, and it reproduces itself everyday because consumers aren't demanding to be informed.

If people could see, could read, could process with their own eyes that a medium order of french fries at McDonald's has 22 grams of fat (30% of your RDA of fat), or that a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese has 47 grams of fat (and thus that a #6 on the big picture menu gives them 69 grams total) as they're ordering then they may reconsider their options. Or not. Who cares. Let them eat fat. Just let them know how much.


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