The entrance to our apartment complex is situated between two fast food restaurants: an Arby’s and a McDonalds. When Kinga and I first came to look at the apartment, we were given directions which included those two restaurants as landmarks. Whenever we give directions, we in turn do the same.
We’ve never really eaten at either restaurant. Kinga has never been a fan of fast food, having grown up in a country more or less devoid of it (at least in the time she was growing up). I ate less than my fair share growing up. I was never crazy about any of those places, but they were convenient and so I did eat there from time to time, though almost never at McDonalds.
About once a month, Kinga and I like to walk the quarter of a mile down the long driveway and get shakes (she, vanilla, I, chocolate) at McDonalds. No burgers, no fries, just shakes. And smalls, at that.
All the same, I feel embarrassed walking in. Looking around the room at the patrons, I want to say, “We’re just here for shakes! We’re not going to eat this filthy, greasy food, just a bit of ice cream mixed with milk!” And it must be much greasier than I remember, for you walk in and smell it — you can almost feel it hanging in the air.
The cliché is that America is fat because of such restaurants, that McDonald’s and Wendy’s play a disproportionate role in the fattening of America. While not a staunch defender of freedom of grease, I used to look at that argument in the past with skepticism. “It’s more a lack of exercise,” I thought. But on seeing the average McDonald’s customer for the first time in years, I’ve come to the conclusion that it must be more the food than the lack of exercise.
Every time — and I mean every single time — Kinga and I have gone for a shake, there is always a family or two sitting in McDonald’s who probably have between them enough weight for one or two additional people. Last night, there was a family to the right of us as we ordered our monthly shakes and a family coming through the drive in, and they were all, parents and children, huge.
The question is, who’s to blame? Fast food is undeniably that — fast, and convenient. I suppose when the majority of what you sell is simply taken out of a freezer and fried, it can’t help but be fast. Don’t these fast food places have any sense of guilt in what they’re feeding people?
An interesting article ran this morning in the IHT about this: “Processed foods? Read this, France says
But food can be fast and healthy. The only place Kinga and I eat at with any regularity is
Subway, and for ten years I’ve always gotten the same thing: a veggie sub and water. But it seems the vast majority of people doesn’t want vegetables, but meat. Fatty, greasy meat.
In the end, though, it’s like cigarettes: smokers and McDonald’s patrons are ultimately responsible for their own decisions. We can argue
that there has been misleading advertising and so on, but let’s be reasonable — something dripping with fat or glistening with grease is so obviously unhealthy that it’s hard to imagine who could be fooled by any kind of advertising spin whatsoever.