Having it My Way

January 18th

I just finished reading Fast Food Nation, a book Eva calls “Train Wreck Literature.” You can’t put it down, but you are so disturbed, you really don’t want to know what you are reading.
In September 2006, I was a carnivore with a taste for all things filet. I loved beef cooked medium rare, hot dogs at ball parks, chicken grilled, baked and broiled. Meat and I were great friends.
Then I read Omnivoreโ€šร„รดs Dilemma and learned a bit about meat manufacturing in the United States and the way workers are treated. And there was that little tidbit about how we’ve completely screwed with nature and begun feeding ruminants (cows) not the grasses they are meant to eat, but corn. And roadkill. Oh, and other dead cows — which only stopped when Mad Cow Disease popped up in response to our desire to have big fat cows.

I don’t really need another soap box, nor do I want to come off as preachy. But I will say this — if you have the chance to read Fast Food Nation (or see the movie, which I found morbidly entertaining), you won’t regret it. We have few things we can feel in control of these days. The environment? Eh. I recycle and pray. Sudan? I’m still writing letters and there are still 3 million people living in refugee camps. The food I eat? Absolutely. Not only am I swearing off meat, I’m giving up my McDonald’s ice cream cone habit too. I cannot support this company. Did I mention there is “shit in the meat?” Yep. And the response when workers get caught in the machinery or when an animal is incorrectly gutted? They irradiate the meat and we end up eating it all.

My review: Five out of Five stars, absoloodle.

Two of my favorite quotes:
“Over the past twenty years, the United States has swung too far in one direction, weakening the regulations that safeguard workers, consumers, and the environment. An economic system promising freedom has too often become a means of denying it, as the narrow dictates of the market gain precedence over more important democratic values.”

Oh — have faith. We do have power to change this.

“Nobody in the United States is forced to buy fast food. the first step toward meaningful change is by far the easiest: stop buying it. The executives who run the fast food industry are not bad men. They are businessmen. They will sell free-range, organic, grass-fed hamburgers if you demand it. They will sell whatever sells at a profit. The usefulness of the market, its effectiveness as a tool, cuts both ways. The real power of the American consumer has not yet been unleashed. The heads of Burger King, KFC, and McDonald’s should feel daunted: they’re outnumbered. There are three of them and almost three hundred million of you. A good boycott, a refusal to buy, can speak much louder than words. Sometimes the most irresistible force is the most mundane.”

The vote is in: veggies win.

Posted in
Journal, Media, Public Health
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19 Responses

  1. Reading this book made me very glad that I know where my meat comes…and that it’s processed nearby at a small, locally-owned locker. The good news is, pastured beef and poultry are making a comeback. The bad thing is, that type of meat is usually pretty expensive and/or harder to find.

    It would be great if everyone would read this book. Then maybe we could unleash “the power of the American consumer.” Another real eye-opener was just how much fast-food our nation eats. I have to admit, I was shocked.

  2. Yeah, I read FFN a few years ago and haven’t looked back. I was quasi-veg before but complete now. I’ll never set foot in a FF joint. Just the smell (engineered, I know) makes me gag.

  3. I haven’t read FFN, but I did see Super Size Me and that was enough to turn me off most fast food. I would say I have ff maybe twice a year and mostly at In & Out Burgers which is a company one can respect for it’s quality and the way it’s workers are shareholders in the company. I think you are right though, the more people make it uncool to eat ff, the more healthy choices they will offer. I see small changes already. It is a big deal that they offer fruit with the happy meal.

  4. ooooh. I’m not a meat eater either…but I’ve just added this to my must reads list. Fascinating.

  5. You know the irony is when you try to actually look for something healthy and still have trouble finding it. Take Trader Joe’s for example. Want a salad for lunch? Take your pick – a whole shelfful of salads! And what does almost every salad have?


    And more cheese.

    And still more cheese.

    Thereby muting all the healthy benefits of eating a salad altogether (not to mention the cheeseless garden salad tastes worse than what you’d get in a middle school cafeteria). Throw in Lactose issues and a healthy place like Robek’s becomes a no-go zone.

    Fast food aside – the other big concern I found is high fructose corn syrup. That stuff is in EVERYTHING. Prego spaghetti sauce? Has it. Heinz ketchup? Has it. The list goes on and on. Things you wouldn’t expect HFCS to be in, it’s in them. Quite an eye opener.

  6. Well said! I generally try to buy products that are seasonal, local, and organic, etc. and am generally aware of why I should be doing these things. But I haven’t read one of these bokos yet, and I know as soon as I do, I will be disgusted and will completely change my eating habits. So far I haven’t taken the plunge to fully investigate it, but I will. Thanks for the reminder! Just today my coworker was telling me that if I make the case to him why McDonald’s is so awful, he will stop going there ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m on a mission to stop him! Being informed is not a bad thing.

  7. I’m TOTALLY going to go buy that book tomorrow!! I’ve been meaning to read it anyway, but you’ve just made me that much more eager. I really really really need to give up fast food. I don’t eat it that often, but I eat it more often now that I’m pregnant again and I’m definitely aware on the effects on my body.. in the immediate sense.. I feel sick in just the few hours after I’ve eaten it.

  8. I like meat, well, not all of it, but I try to eat it as few times as I can (my daughter can survive with pasta, a little fish, fruits and cheese, but hubby is a true carnivore), coz of dietetic issues. Luckily I live in a place where slow-food is still in command, so not so many McDonalds here.

  9. kelli,

    i gave up eating meat 25 years ago…after college i moved into a house with 3 other women, and one of them (a bates college grad) had given up eating red meat. she suggested i read the FFN of that time, called Diet For A Small Planet. old book, still very timely, even today. I stopped eating red meat back then and chicken followed. haven’t missed the red meat at all.

    after i got married and had kids i started eating chicken again, but only because a Whole Foods opened near us and i could buy free-range, organic chicken. my kids have all watched FFN and don’t eat at fast food restaurants, and have become much more nutritionally adept. that doesn’t mean my daughter doesn’t chow down french fries like most teenagers, or that my boys don’t eat potato chips and other junky foods…but they look at the labels and read the ingredients and have at least a cursory knowledge of what they’re eating.

    i eat lots of greens to keep iron levels high, have had no nutritional issues at all. bravo for your new food choices and more power to all to make choices that make changes in an industry that is insidious in its mission to make every american (and european it seems) teetering on the edge or over of obesity.


  10. I am too scared to read it but liked your review! ๐Ÿ™‚ When I come back to visit the States, it takes me several days to adjust to the food. I have to eat home cooked, simple food or I get sick. If I eat certain foods, even in regular restaurants, I can get ill depending on what kind of preservatives are used in the cooking. I can taste the antibiotics in eggs, and no meat tastes normal to me.

    When I moved to Ukraine it took me over two months to adjust to simpler cooked foods without preservatives or additives. I felt like an addict going cold turkey and I craved salt and sugar. I have completely changed my eating habits and will be in big trouble if I move back to the States. I don’t know how it’s possible to eat healthy in our culture.

  11. I have not eaten at McDonald’s since I was a child. My grandfather, a cattleman & dairy operator, once told me that the cows McDonald’s purchases are the bottom of the barrel (mostly cancerous, diseased cows). I remember even as a child being revolted & refusing to eat there. I’m sure it’s the same at most fast food restaurants. Oh, and visiting a meat packing plant turns you off most meat as well! THAT was an experience (not one I’d care to revisit).

  12. I’ve never been a huge FF eater but after watching SUPERSIZE ME I became even less of one. I much prefer well, anything else to fast food. Although I do crave french fries or those horrible breakfast sandwiches we can make both things at home and they’re MUCH better. FAST FOOD NATION is on my reading list and I’m sure will just reinforce how I feel about hyper-processed foods. Blech! I’m on a “hydrogenated-good-riddance” kick right now and it’s difficult but it can be done!!

  13. I guess we’ve been boycotting fast food already. We never eat it. “The Boy” is not a fan at all, which is surprising. How many 6-year olds, don’t eat McDonalds?

  14. I haven’t read the book but have heard about it before. I’m going to see if the library has it. What you’re describing sounds perfectly horrid and it’s time for me to check this out for myself. Thanks for the recommendation.

  15. Yep, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is in everything – even most commercially produced bread. Frustrating as hell (especially if you’re allergic to corn). And by the way, just because something is organic, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have HFCS in it – corn can be organic. (Heinz organic ketchup is currently, however, corn-free. They use real sugar.)

    The frustration for me is that veggies, even organic ones, aren’t much better from an environmental/human justice perspective. Aside from the massive amounts of water used for irrigation (Yuma, AZ grows 90% of the U.S. winter lettuce crop, and it’s in the desert.), the U.S. has some serious agricultural labor issues. These days, I don’t feel particularly good about *anything* I eat. Sad.

  16. We are reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma next month for our book club. It sounds very interesting.

  17. Got to get that book!
    Just went to see the Rachael Ray show & one of her guests was Dr. Timothy Brantley. He said some pretty interesting things about different types of food & eating right. His book is called THE CURE and you should check it out Kelli…I think you’d like it.

    Hope you have a great weekend ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Oops. Forgot the last part of my comment. I think I got caught up in my rant. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m glad you read the book and that you enjoyed (is that the right word?) it. I’m always on the look out for interesting books in a similar vein, so let me know if you hear of anything!

  19. I read the book. I watched the movie. I was grossed out. The french fry thing really got me – how can it NOT have any mold after six months of sitting in a tray? Spooky.