Recently, I read David H. Freedman’s article, “How Junk Food Can End Obesity”, and it starts with a small anecdote about having the most wholesome smoothie Freedman had ever tasted . He gives examples of the way many journalists and authors have set out to prove the fast-food industry as bad and counterproductive to our health, in particular picking on Michael Pollan for his fierce views on the fast-food industry. It gets him thinking about the fast-food industry and whether or not he can find that balance between cheap fast food and healthy choices for the individual. His journey to find a healthy, cheap, and alternative fast-food took us through a little education on just how fast-food has been demonized with its high fatty contents and ample sugars and salts that get us addicted to unhealthy foods. However, Freedman isn’t looking to point fingers but to offer a reform of sorts that could alter the way we look upon fast-foods in general and to have it be used to our advantage. Freedman’s theory of changing the way we view processed fast-foods offers a glimpse on how we tend to turn our backs on failed results instead of changing the methodology in which it is used for. Freedman argues that if we could harness the power of the fast-food industry and use it to better our choices when it comes to eating in our fast-paced world, then we’d be less susceptible to having our circumstances dictate the size of our stature. If healthier choices were made readily available, then we as humans would opt for the better choice. As a means to the fast-food industry, Freedman sets out to explain what it is that is making us fat and by shedding light on what the “processed” in processed-foods is and what “wholesome” in wholesome-foods really means. This whole sword-fighting between processed foods and the need for a cure for the obesity epidemic is a back-and-forth between corporate legislation and the need for the concerns and respect for public health.
Now, though I do agree with Freeman’s claim that we could use the power of the fast-food industry to combat the very problem it created, I fail to see how Freedman overlooks how malicious the fast-food industry tactics can be at times. Freedman is only trying to use our most widely used method of nourishment and substance to shorten the very bad effects the fast food industry has left on us, as he puts it “[A]cademia could do a much better job of producing and highlighting solid research into less obesogenic, high-mass appeal foods, and could curtail its evidence-light anti-food processing bias, so that the next generation of social and policy entrepreneurs might work to narrow the gap between the poor obese and the well-resourced healthy instead of inadvertently widening it.”. There’s definitely a sense of putting some heat on the fast food industry, they are not completely blameless. Freedman also agreed with Lenard Lesser, of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, who “points out that government and advocacy groups could start singling out particular restaurants and food products for a praise or shaming- a more official “eat this, not that”- rather than sticking to a steady drumbeat of “processed foods must go away.”. I can agree with this point of view because it at least provides the consumer with an informed choice, a choice the individual might not have due to their own hectic lifestyle, this in turn provides them with a means to back check their choice in a speedy and informative manner. There’s no denying that the concern for our health isn’t one we should dismiss with a nonchalant attitude but should be, almost, a daily concern to keep in mind. For as much as Freedman doesn’t think that the processed foods from fast foods shouldn’t be a concern there are videos of the decomposition of fast food that would make you think twice as to what you might be taking a bite. A video on several burgers can be seen on YouTube where they do a time-lapse of the decomposition of these burgers and to most of the viewers their incredulous reaction to how well these burgers stay preserved is very concerning. Food should not last that long. Typical decomposition of foods is within a couple of days (much less the time it needs before you should discard the food due to bacteria and whatnot). It is here that I begin to lean away with Freedman’s less lenient views of the “processed” part of fast food because it is exactly that “processed” part of the fast food that gives these foods their unnatural life span. Not only that but many in the fast food industry employ various tactics to bypass certain regulations and economize, from the use of bugs, wood, plastics (yes, plastics), petroleum-derived preservatives etc.,
the fast food industry uses all it can to give you something that’s cheap and ready to go. All those things are certainly ingredients that no one in their right mind would happily eat on their own and yet they are being used because they technically don’t violate the laws in the manner that you would think. When having to confront the reality of these things one can only hearken back to the “simpler times” when food was picked out from trees and bushes and the meat was locally raised and killed and distributed. There was no real mystery as to where and how the food ended at the dinner table. Of course that isn’t the case for the vast majority but there is a need for the individual to become mindful of what exactly is being put in their mouths. American society has a tendency to shoot first and ask questions later but that can only do so much when the damages are being done in a slow and steady manner. We become sedated to the constant barrages of information that we begin to lose our natural curious tendencies to ask for ourselves and prod at what is being given to us. I propose one more thing to Freedman’s theory and that is to be more aware of the foods and drinks we decide to consume. That simple step to become, if even just slightly, more mindfully aware of what ends up being the sustenance of our bodies then without a doubt we can more effectively curb the obesity epidemic to one that has a lesser hold on our everyday lives.
Freedman, David H. “How Junk Food Can End Obesity” They Say I Say with Readings. Edited by Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstien, Russell Durst. WW Norton & Company New York | London. Page 506-537
Brayer, Melissa “8 Creepy Mystery Ingredients In Fast Food” Mother Nature Network. Narrative Content Group. February 12th, 2012. Web. February 20th, 2017. www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/stories/8-creepy-mystery-ingredients-in-fast-food
BuzzFeedBlue. “How Fast Do Burgers Age?” Online video clip. Youtube. October 15th, 2014. Web. February 20th, 2017
Poisuo, Pauli. “The 6 Most Horrifying Lies The Fast Food Industry Is Feeding You” Cracked. Cracked.com. September 12th, 2011. February 20th. 2017 http://www.cracked.com/article_19433_the-6-most-horrifying-lies-food-industry-feeding-you.html