Old MacDonald is Dead

If you eat, read this book! It will open your eyes to the realities of our modern, industrialized food culture. It is not so much a diatribe against civilization and animal cruelty as it is a spotlight, for our consideration, on the dark side of the mega-sized food industry (which is controlled and dominated by giant corporations) that dictates so many of our food choices.

Fast Food NationIn so many ways, we have it better now than at any time in history. There is more safe, quality food, available to more people than ever before. That is the good news. The bad news is that among those many choices (just imagine the cereal aisle) there is a tremendous amount of garbage – “food” products that damage you physiologically rather than nourish you. We are inundated with products, advertisements and mixed messages about what is “healthy.”

“A generation ago, three-quarters of the money used to buy food in the United States was spent to prepare meals at home. Today about half of the money used to buy food is spent at restaurants–mainly at fast food restaurants.”

Fast Food Nation provides a series of vignettes, that when put together, paint a clear picture of our food system. Most of us still envision a picturesque, rural setting – a barn, some cows, a tractor and a farmer – as the source of our food. The truth is, most of our “food” is produced in a manner that is little different from how our shoes, clothes, cars and other “stuff” is produced. This essential element of life has become a commodity like any other – subject to the same economic laws – make it cheaper, sell more of it, grow your market, shrink your clients, increase profits, influence decisions through marketing, advertising and emotional manipulation. Think Ronald McDonald, Tony the Tiger or Toucan Sam – gimmicks to make you buy, to confuse and cloud your judgment – to make your decision emotional.

A rule to live by in, to quote Jack Lalanne: “If Man Made It, Don’t Eat It!” Anything produced by a fast food or chain restaurant, nearly everything that comes in a box or a package (think about the center aisles of the supermarket) is processed and manufactured in a factory. Efficient production demands that it be packaged and processed centrally, filled with preservatives to ensure “freshness” then shipped around the country/world.

Read the nutrition information – can you identify more than a few ingredients on the list? My rule is, if it has more than five ingredients, I don’t eat it. If it has something in it that I cannot pronounce – I do not eat it.  Most of the smells, flavors, texture and color in this “food” has nothing to do with the “real” ingredients that are included. The most interesting section of the book was the entire industry that has grown around the additives used to enhance the flavor, smell and texture of these foods.

Eating healthy is not complicated. Mostly it involves not listening to the corporations who process and produce food products. Food products are not food. Food is food. If man made it, don’t eat it!

There are a lot of great resources available on this topic. For further information, check out: Food, Inc., Super Size Me and Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead. These are just a beginning. There is NO one-size-fits-all diet. What works for one may not for another – so anyone making these claims is not being honest. Listen to your body, keep it simple and never stop learning.

Be Strong. Stay Hungry. Walk Tall.