Fast Food Nation

        Besides exercising my geopolitically-dependent autonomy (drinking), the highlight of today was finishing Eric Schlosser’s “Fast Food Nation.” This book was totally biased throughout but still an excellent read. Some highlights:
Maybe not quite living up to the “have it your way” slogan, McDonald’s cofounder Ray Kroc said of certain franchisers: “…we cannot trust some people who are nonconformists… we will make conformists out of them in a hurry… The organization cannot trust the individual; the individual must trust the organisation.”
In addition to producing campaign ads for the Republican Party, backing right-wing groups, enrolling organized crime’s help in forcing a union settlement, serving as a friendly witness to McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee, and supporting the Hollywood blacklist, Mickey Mouse maven Walt Disney offered a creepily robotic description of the magic kindom’s production system: “Hundreds of young people were being trained and fitted into a machine for the manufacture of entertainment.”
“…market research has found that children often recognize a brand logo before they can recognize their own name.”
Average = dronelike: “The typical American child now spends about 21 hours a week watching television – roughly one and a half months of TV every year… more time watching television than doing any other activity except sleeping.”
Good, but it could use a little more methyl anthranilate: Strawberry flavor, as in Burger Kind milkshake artificial strawberry flavor, = “amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamyl valerate, cognac essential oil, diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl acetate, ethyl amyl ketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl heptylate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate, ethyl nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerate, heliotropin, hydroxyphenyl-2-butanone (10% solution in alcohol), ?-ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butyrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbonate, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl salicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobutyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, rose, rum ether, ?-undecalactone, vanillin, and solvent.”
I’ve always wondered what the difference between natural and artificial flavors is. Thanks to “Fast Food Nation,” I can now live at peace. FDA’s definition is that natural “must be derived entirely from natural sources – from herbs, spices, fruits, vegetables, beef, chicken, yeast, bark, roots, etc.” Yeah, this is meaningless: “When almond flavor (benzaldehyde) is derived from natural sources, such as peach and apricot pits, it contains traces of hydrogen cyanide, a deadly poison. Benzaldehyde derived through a different process – by mixing oil of clove and the banana flavor, amyl acetate – does not contain any cyanide. Nevertheless, it is legally considered an artificial flavor and sells at a much lower price.”
“The United States now has the highest obesity rate of any industrialized nation in the world. More than half of all American adults and about one-quarter of all American children are now obese or overweight. Those proportions have soared during the last few decades, along with the consumption of fast food… No other nation in history has gotten so fat so fast.
Being poor can be liberating. Helen Steel, who along with fellow Brit and Greenpeace member Dave Morris represented themselves in a court battle with McDonald’s over distribution of a flyer entitled “What’s Wrong with McDonald’s? Everything they don’t want you to know.” and being ordered to pay 60,000 pounds ($95,000) to the golden arches: “McDonald’s don’t deserve a penny and in any event we haven’t got any money.”
In one page, Schlosser sounds really smart to me: “Much like the workings of the market, technology is just one means toward an end, not something to be celebrated for its own sake… There is nothing inexorable about the use of such technology. Its value cannot be judged without considering its purpose and likely effects… The history of the 20th century was dominated by the struggle against totalitarian systems of state power. The 21st will no doubt be marked by a struggle to curtail excessive corporate power.”
        My opinion: read this if you don’t already know that it’s a bad idea to eat at McDonald’s or want some interesting reasons why. That’s all from me, folks. Word to your mother and peace out, yo.

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