Thursday, July 15, 2010

Something to think about next time you crave "fast food".

From a book I picked up at the library, after watching the documentary "Food, Inc". I highly suggest both the film and the book if you're really interested in the author's realization "that the straightforward question "What should I eat?" could no longer be answered without first addressing two other even more straightforward questions: "What am I eating? And where in the world did it come from?".

(reflections on a McDonald's meal)
"In truth, my cheeseburger's relationship to beef seemed nearly as metaphorical as the nugget's relationship to a chicken. Eating it, I had to remind myself that there was an actual cow involved in this meal - most likely a burned-out old dairy cow (the source of most fast-food beef) but possibly bits and pieces of a steer... Part of the appeal of hamburgers and nuggets is that their boneless abstractions allow us to forget we're eating animals. I'd been on the feedlot in Garden City a few months earlier, yet this experience of cattle was so far removed from that one as to be taking place in a different dimension. No, I could not taste the feed corn or the petroleum or the antibiotics or the hormones - or the feedlot manure. Yet while "A Full Serving of Nutrition Facts" did not enumerate these facts, they too have gone into the making of this hamburger, are part of its natural history. That perhaps is what the industrial food chain does best: obscure the histories of the foods it produces by processing them to such an extent that they appear as pure products of culture rather than nature - things made from plants and animals. Despite the blizzard of information contained in the helpful McDonald's flyer - the thousands of words and numbers specifying ingredients and portion sizes, calories and nutrients - all this food remains perfectly opaque. Where does it come from? It comes from McDonald's.

But that's not so. It comes from refrigerated trucks and from warehouses, from slaughterhouses, from factory farms in towns like Garden City, Kansas, from ranches in Sturgis, South Dakota, from food science laboratories in Oak Brook, Illinois, from flavor companies on the New Jersey Turnpike, from petroleum refineries, from processing plants owned by AGM and Cargill, from grain elevators in towns like Jefferson, and, at the end of that long and tortuous trail, from a field of corn and soybeans farmed by George Naylor in Churdan, Iowa."

Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. New York: Penguin Press, 2006. pp 114-115.

No comments:

Post a Comment