Thursday, January 10, 2013

Not you too, Wendy's and Taco Bell!

I’m struggling with the whole fast food thing.

After I read Fast Food Nation – Eric Schlosser’s scary but illuminating exposé of our country’s fast food industry – back in 2001, I stayed away from most fast food franchises for years. Exceptions were made to this rule, of course, but generally my consumption of quick but unhealthy food decreased. (My resolve was temporarily strengthened further by watching “Supersize Me,” Morgan Spurlock’s compelling film documenting what happens when he limits his diet to nothing but McDonald’s fare for 30 days.)

In the last few years, however, I've found ways to justify speedy trips through the ol’ drive-thru again. My seven-year-old really loves McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, for example, and sometimes I’m just too exhausted and/or pressed for time to spend 20 seconds pouring an already-made salad out of a plastic bag into a bowl. I convinced myself that paying a mere $10.60 for two delicious Hot-N-Ready pizzas from Little Caesar’s (enough to feed my family of six) was a bargain I just couldn't pass up. And I created a baseless tiered system – Wendy’s and Taco Bell are better than McDonald’s and Burger King, for example – in order to feel better about my weakening resolve.

To make matters worse, I just learned that it’s actually possible to buy five tasty McDouble sandwiches and five equally-tasty McChicken sandwiches from Mickey D’s for just $10. How cool is that?!

I know all about this country’s obesity epidemic. (One-third of Americans are obese and another third are overweight. Guess where I fall on the scale?) I know the fast food industry spends hundreds of millions each year marketing its unhealthy products to impressionable children. I’m aware that low-income folks are especially susceptible to the machinations of this industry because nutritious food costs more than fast food and there are significantly more fast food outlets than there are grocery stores in poor neighborhoods. And of course this culture perpetuates the unfounded notions that fast is better and quantity is preferable to quality.

Did I mention that Anita’s constantly encouraging me to lay off the burgers, fries and crunchy tacos and actually take my gym bag out of the trunk once in a while?

Still, who doesn’t salivate at the sight of a scrumptious Big Mac or crispy Bucket O’ Chicken on the tele? (Never mind that the actual food doesn’t even remotely resemble what’s shown on TV and in photos.)

So I was just about to throw in the towel yesterday, to give in to the relentless lure of fast food once and for all, when I learned that Wendy’s and Taco Bell – yes, the same restaurants that held the coveted “Not as Bad as the Others” spot on my Fast Food Tiers – are both cutting workers’ hours in order to avoid paying for health care as required by He Who Was Soundly Re-elected Fair and Square Last November.

I’d better stock up on bags o’ salad.

Read “McDonald’s Dollar Menu Drives Profits, But at a Cost,” “Pounding Away at America’s Obesity Epidemic,” and “Still a Fast-Food Nation: Eric Schlosser Reflects on 10 Years Later” for more information. (And check out my November 2012 post entitled, “The food sucks anyway” for more on Fast Food’s anti-Obama hysteria.)

Oh, and you MUST watch this official tribute to culinary quickness by the Fast Food Rockers:

Sources: The Daily Beast,, National Public Radio, Crain’s Chicago Business, Food Research and Action Center.

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