Supersize Me

So, I am a bit behind the times. I heard about the movie Super Size Me when it came out and even listened to radio commentary about the documentary at the time. This morning, we watched the movie. Little J wanted to watch the movie about McD’s. We decided it wouldn’t harm anything if he saw it.

Had you shown me this film a year ago, I may have been surprised by some of the information. But now, several months into this journey in food that I have embarked upon with movies, books, tv shows and field trips; I found that the documentary simply supported all of the information I have been gathering elsewhere. It is worth the watch if you think that eating fast food with any regularity is at all ok. My opinion though is that the fast food industry is not responsible for whether or not we eat their unhealthy food. I do not agree with the oppressive marketing tactics, the pervasiveness of the brands or the abundance of locations. But the biggest problem I have with fast food (and other highly processed foods) is that they are truly not safe for human consumption: parts of the animal that were never meant to be eaten, washing meat in ammonia, adding chemicals not found in nature to make the food look, smell and feel like edible stuff. I have a problem with this because most people would not question that something being sold at a restaurant under the name ‘food’ is actually edible. We assume that food is food. We were outraged at the Chinese putting melamine in their food and pet food products but honestly we are not doing any better.

Strangely, in all the thinking that I have been doing about food lately I do not believe that the government should play a huge role in changing what is going on. Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms in the book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, basically says that the changes that need to be made will come about by people making informed choices. I agree. However, there are a handful of places where I believe government intervention is necessary, they are as follows:

1. We should not subsidize cheap crops: we are enabling the large factory farm corporations to control our food supply and enslave the few farmers we have left.

2. Certain food additives (that are not actually food!) should be illegal: chemical washes, ammonia, antibiotics, hormones, pesticides and petroleum fertilizers are a few. Maybe this would stop the factory farms, they just could not work without these additives.

It is strange to me that other industrialized, highly educated, advanced societies that are like the United States in so many other ways, are actually more advanced than us with regard to the two items above. Why is the United States so behind? What is it going to take to change?

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