by Ben Ulansey
Morgan Spurlock, in his humorous but soberingly dour documentary, “Super Size Me,” disinters the true nature of the infamous golden arches and all the disingenuity and insidious malpractices for which they stand. Using himself as the test dummy, he endeavors to find the extent to which a diet comprised solely of McDonalds meals could deteriorate one’s health in merely one month’s time.
Doubtful of his ability to prove any deleterious affects stemming from fast food consumption, let alone so quickly, he proceeded with his experiment anyway. McDonalds, being more recognizable to some, if not most, people than our own presidents, has an unjustifiably huge role in the lives of Americans, one which Spurlock sought to rectify.
Spurlock’s unanticipatedly risky venture served to find fault with the “too big to fail” corporation in order to publicize their malevolent practices and cripple this formidable public enemy. Fast food is so prevalent in America, largely because we have allowed it to be.
We have elected to positions of power those who would jeopardize the health of the citizens they represent in order to reap financial benefit. We as a society are all but completely responsible for the inescapable sphere of influence the fast food industry exerts over its consumers. That said, consumers do hold their fair share of responsibility. Acting so blissfully unaware of the toxins one ingests takes a fair deal of effort, given that almost every week we learn about some new carcinogen lurking in our diet soda or some menacing ‘pink slime’ that magically morphs into the burgers we know and recognize.
It’s no wonder that so many succumb to the allure of fast food, even when aware of its disquieting effects. An alarmingly huge portion of each burger we consume is laced with additives, both harmful and addictive. A mere seven items on the entire McDonald’s menu, expansive as it might seem, are without sugar. That there is such a pathetically small number of items which go sugar-free is almost as repulsive as the company’s business tactics.
McDonalds has routinely employed overtly manipulative politics to appeal to a younger generation — incorporating playgrounds into each venue and manufacturing “Happy Meals” equipped with all the delightfully grotesque chemical additives that keep the kids contented. More overt still are the ads they plaster up on city billboards and broadcast onto our TV screens.
Having an unfathomable amount of money at their disposal and an apparent lack of empathy, what’s stopping the CEOs of the fast food industry from imposing their ads upon average Joe? A lack of morals can go a long way, both in ensuring the continued distribution of these absurdly unhealthy food products, and in preventing legal action from being taken against them.
Just so long as the CEOs, lobbyists, and politicians maintain their steady flow of cash, they have next to no reason to stop or even reduce these practices. As a result, the responsibility becomes our own. Knowing what we know, or what we could easily know with a quick Google search, we’ve been given more than enough information to be forever dissuaded from eating fast food. Even if we as individuals stop eating, the industry will still thrive.
However, if we endeavor to elect politicians who will represent our best interests rather than our worst fears, the future of the food industry could prove brighter. If a McDonald’s diet could turn the healthy, lively Morgan Spurlock into a lethargic laze in medically critical condition in a matter of 30 days, there’s no debate to be had over the unhealthiness of such a diet. McDonald’s products, in fact, are hopelessly indifferent to good health.
While I myself have never been the biggest fast food aficionado, the movie certainly reaffirmed my pre-existing beliefs about the venomous industry, even opening my eyes to some facts more disturbing than I had ever feared.
The fast food industry has systematically deceived the public by purporting to be the antithesis of what it is, toxifying its ingredients for financial gain, and bears some responsibility for the obesification of our nation. The industry’s reckless disregard for the health of its customers, the wages of its employees and the credibility of its own management will continue to define and separate the industry from those purveyors who are actually providing healthy food.
Ben Ulansey, 19, was born in Chestnut Hill but grew up in Elkins Park. He just graduated from Cheltenham High School and plans to major in writing or psychology at Bloomsburg University, starting next month. He is also interested in music, “jazz through hip-hop.”