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June 20, 2009

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ScottD

While cigarette companies may have taken actions to make their product more addictive without the consumers knowledge people still new they were unhealthy.

When did MickeyD's ever claim a healthy french fry? I'm told that back in the day you got one size of fries and or Coke. I believe that they are only offering what people want. If no one wanted fast food or a supersize option then the they would go away.

Looking at my street in Milwaukee it appears that homes were already homogenizing in the late 40's but there is some variety and the construction is still solid.

Tim J.

Yeah, it was post-WWII (I believe) that people became so greatly enamored of the assembly line aesthetic.

Maybe it was because our factories played such a huge role in winning the war and becoming an economic superpower that people began to think mass producing everything was a pretty neat idea. Remember Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion House?;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dymaxion_house

Mass production of goods seemed to be the way of the future, but the costs in metaphysical terms were never sufficiently addressed. We gradually created a soul-less, inhuman environment.

"I still hold ... that the suburbs ought to be either glorified by romance and religion or else destroyed by fire from heaven, or even by firebrands from the earth." - GKC

Tim J.

BTW, my wife and I both love the old Craftsman style bungalows, which - one could argue - were mass produced (in a sense). These were sold in kits, at one time, I think. The construction of these houses was still more influenced by the old world and less by Machine Age aesthetics, though.

Adam D

I didn't mean to say I'm a proponent of suing McDonalds or of not holding individuals responsible for their eating habits (nor does the film I reference) but wanted to say that McDonalds does worse than to homogenize their food. The original McDonalds was just that, the WalMart of food. Simple, fast, consistent assembly-line sandwich production. Dumbed-down and simple and reproducable. But the modern McDonalds with its odd processing and introduction of corn and soy and high-fructose corn syrups into all their food has made a menu that is demonstrably toxic. It is only acceptable to the human body in small doses the way alcohol is. Nobody expects that from their food and McDonalds is sure as hell not upfront about how very bad the stuff actually is for people.

Still, this is not to propose government intervention or lawsuits against the company. But I would urge my friends to avoid the stuff like the junk it is. Delicious, yes, but not worth it.

And check out the film, it's really quite entertaining.

Adam D

And, to elaborate a bit more fully, such a criticism against McDonalds has nothing to do with "rich" foods. When you eat a lot of rich foods and don't exercise you get fat and high cholesterol. But some people do still eat lots of rich food with relative impunity (the French). But when Morgan Spurlock ate only McD's for every meal for 30 days he didn't just gain weight and feel ill, he began literally to pickle his liver. The effect on his liver, trying to process the unnatural junk that McD's calls food, was the same as when a person goes on a week long alcohol bender.

Food should not be able to pickle your liver.

Tim J.

True, dat!

I'm sorry I have only the vaguest sense of what the movie is about, so I missed the finer point you were making about the strange contents of Mickey D's chow.

This is why I have started taking real cream and raw sugar in my coffee. I just don't grock the concept of making coffee "creamer" out of the same basic materials from which we make plastic or paint. Who's idea was THAT?

Tim J.

I also didn't mean to imply that you were personally in favor of suing McDonald's... that was rhetorical.

Foxfier

There's some question on if the liver problems the SSM guy had were because of a pre-existing problem, as similar results didn't come about from a study that tried to re-create the effect.

I do know that folks trying to enforce "eating healthy" nearly killed my dad-- he's a rancher. They told my mom to stop using salt or he'd get sick, so she did... heat stroke is REALLY nasty, and we're blessed it happened while he was just in the field by the boss' place, rather than 40 miles from the nearest phone on a cattle drive. (Their solution was hilarious-- they wanted to give him salt pills to take....)

Foxfier

Aw, it ate my HTML....
http://gut.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/57/5/649

Short version:
Objective: To study the effect of fast-food-based hyper-alimentation on liver enzymes and hepatic triglyceride content (HTGC).

Result (of an admittedly smallish sample):
All except two subjects in the intervention group had HTGC lower than 5.6% at the end of the study period, thus not fulfilling current criteria for hepatic steatosis.

Beervana

Fries bad. There is no minimum daily requirement for refined sugar. don't drink soda.


Beer on the other hand...A beer hacker drinks his way to the truth: Beervana.

Lacy

It'll probably be October before we actually get to Memphis to enjoy deep fried burgers...and barbecue...and more barbecue...but Beale St. is still calling my name.

ScottD

Another mass produced house is the Lustron House. All enameled steel. Wiki has a nice entry.

People called cigarettes "coffin nails" and eventually fast food was referred to as junk food. It seems that eventually folks figure it out and then ignore the health problems.

Berin Greenbear

The problem is deeper than McDonald's and Wal-Mart. Go on a drive by Interstate and you find the same restaurants at every exit. In The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (awful movie, but watch it anyway), this is one of the running gags. Chain restaurants have pushed out smaller, privately owned establishments in a lot of places. This is sad because it's one less marker to tell you that you are in someplace different than you were before.

All that said, there is nothing wrong with taking the pre-fab culture and turning it to your own uses. I consider it something of an artistic challenge.

Adam D

That's surely good news that Spurlock's results weren't easily reproducible. But I'd wager they still are. The test you cite doesn't go nearly as far, it looks to me, saying it studies the effects of people eating at least two fast food meals a day. Does this mean they eat burger fries and coke? Do they get to have water and skip the fires?

Spurlock concludes his film adressing the criticism that, of course, nobody is going to repeat his little adventure by reiterating that there is a sizeable population that eats fast food every day and, while the results on their bodies is not pickled livers, it surely isn't good, especially after years of such.

Another good, perhaps more rigorous critic, of the dangers of fast food diets is Micheal Pollan, author of the omnivore's dilemma. His basic final word of advice boils down to simply, "cook your own food and you'll be fine."

I can live by that advice!

And I agree with the Berin above, too. We need a culture that encourages independent, small business above big conglomerates. And this really is a subject for government involvement, as its policies (tax codes and such) already amount to intervention, which generally favors the big conglomerates. The government should shift its favoritism, not because it'd be better for the gdp (I dunno one way or the other) but just cuz it'd be better for the people.

Foxfier

Adam D-
they gained 10 to 15% of their body weight. I don't think that a lack of calories was a problem.

"It's still bad" is not some kind of a counter to "claims could not be recreated in a controlled setting, possibly the guy had an existing problem," any more than the many, many 100 year old smokers is accepted proof that cigs are just fine for you.

Berin G.-
Part of why chains do so well is that they're a known quality. I can go into a Denny's and order a grand slam, and I know pretty much what I will get for my money. Ditto for a McD's. I go into the Branding Iron in Twisp, and from day to day it's not clear what it will get me-- different cooks do as they feel. When the smaller places are good enough to get a local following, and positioned to exploit that following, they thrive.
Obviously, exits on the freeway are *not* going to have as high a local, loyal popuation as they will folks who are tired, hungry, and just want some food without having to worry about it. (Reminds me of an old joke... Cowboys aren't a vanishing breed, we're just hard to see from the road.)

Adam D

I hear you Foxfier. It may be correct that Spurlock had a pre-existing condition that brought about such results, sure. But to have a test where subjects can get in one whole healthy meal a day makes, imo (which should count for little -- I'm an artist, not a doctor) a big difference in bringing in vitamins and a chance for the body to flush toxins out. Frankly, I don't think I want to see Spurlock's test exactly duplicated. We have enough data to steer me and my family away from any more than once-a-year kind of patronage of fast foods.

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