Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I had Chicken McNuggets at McDonald's for the first time in many, many years a few days ago. The last time I had chicken nuggets there, they were still made out of dark meat. I have to admit, I was hoping to be a little bit more impressed. I was hoping I'd be wowed by them, that I'd be led to wonder why I had forgone them for so long. But it was not to be. My response was more like, "Pretty good. Sort of salty, though." And that was it.

This reminds me of my recent experience with a Big Mac. Like the Chicken McNugget, a few months ago I had it for the first time in many years. My response was a little more positive, giving me the slightest tinge of regret of having waited so long to eat a Big Mac. It was good enough that I figured I would eat it again soon. But how many have I had since then? None.

McFood just doesn't have the same appeal to me anymore. That's a good thing, of course, and convenient too, since it's a lot easier to stop eating because you're no longer interested in it than it is to make yourself stop because you've realized you're getting too fat but your body resists, still craving the endless combinations of fat, salt, and sugar that the industrial food system does such a good job of delivering.

McFood is bad for you, of course. But I don't just mean nutritionally, which has been covered ad infinitum by the news media. McFood is also bad ecologically. Want to save the rain forests or stop global warming? Stop eating so much beef. Seriously. The amount of greenhouse gases released in producing the beef a typical American eats in a year is equivalent to driving 2000 miles. Livestock in general produce more greenhouse gases than transportation does. That hamburger you just ate? That's the same as driving 10 miles.

On the other hand, you got to have some respect for the whole system, the whole idea that you can bring together pieces of food from all parts of the world, turn it into a meal, and make a profit from it. It's not easy, as this satirical game shows. Still, this is one marvel of the modern world that I'd wish we'd do without.

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