Thursday, September 9, 2010

Packaging the fast food, a long time to get over this one

I had dinner at McDonald's the other day.  I was traveling with my parents and my 2 year old and my parents wanted to stop by McDonalds.  I gave a few reasons why I didn't want to go, but in the end, it didn't really hold up, so we went there.

I have a lot of thoughts on it.

First thing that struck me is that I have been seeing a lot of advertisement recently about this new concept of healthy fast food.  I think it is great that you can buy healthier foods at McDonalds.  I would much rather feed my son a few sliced apples than french fries.

However, they seem to be playing this "green" thing a bit too much.

For example, you can buy their apple and walnut salad.  It is sliced apples, grapes, walnuts and some yogurt.  But it is packaged in as much plastic as food.  So, yes, the food is healthier than fries, but the packaging might be even worse!  Producing that much waste to eat an apple, something that comes with it's own natural packaging is disgusting.  The fruit was finely chopped.  That takes energy.  I would like to see a breakdown of how much oil was used to create and ship this "green" meal.  Not to mention the pesticides that are used on the fruit and then the time needed to clean it off.

My parents wanted to get my son his first Happy Meal.  I was actually OK with that.  I mean, it's vacation.  I was thinking I would rather have him eating chicken than red meat, but then I remembered reading in MIchael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemna" that the percentage of actual food product in the chicken was significantly lower than the actual food in the hamburger.  Things like butane (BUTANE!) were added to the chicken and I didn't want him eating that.  So he got a little hamburger.  He hated it and asked for brocolli.  Mwahahaa.  (I, on the other hand hate brocolli so I don't know where the green-love comes from there).

I had a fruit and yogurt cup because I do not eat green salads from restaurants.  I know I sound a bit like a picky princess with that but greens should not be brown and they should not be white.  Greens should be firm and well, green. 

The yogurt and fruit was sickeningly sweet and came with a packaged bit of granola. 

I just felt sick not about our own choice to eat McDonalds because really once or twice a year doesn't hurt anyone and sometimes it's fun to do new and different things on vacation.  But the overwhelming dread was about the long lines of people eating there.  And the overflowing trashcans.  And perpetuating non-food production so that we can eat sliced apples.  That just seems so backwards.

It makes me think that if we only go occasionally to stores like this we really should just get the least packaged stuff available.  Or, just run into the grocery store and buy an apple.

Some books I like on this subject have been:

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals  Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (P.S.)  Coming Home to Eat: The Pleasures and Politics of Local Food

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