November 16th, 2010 – Should We Celebrate National Fast Food Day?

The other day, someone mentioned the old Smack’s chain of fast food restaurants.  I remember many times my parents took me there as a kid, especially the Ward Parkway location.  The only thing that sticks in my memory is ordering a Round-up or Buckaroo burger and fries.  Whatever the name was, it had barbecue sauce on it. 

Humdinger Drive-In (photo credit: flickriver)

I also remember going to Humdinger’s in the 70’s, which is up the street from the church I attend.  We would go there sometimes after choir rehearsal or other church events.  We were tired after singing and hearing the sermon…and we were also HONGRY!  Not HUNGRY but HONGRY.  They had really good burgers and fries too (especially the Taco Burger).  They were made with real meat and topped with fresh tomatoes, lettuce, etc. 

Nowadays, who know what they’ve injected to the meat used for a Big Mac.  And have you ever wondered what meat they use for chicken nuggets these days? 

What part of the chicken do THESE come from?

And currently, McDonald’s is proudly announcing that the McRib is BACK!  Both my father and I have prepared ribs for many years and neither of us remember preparing boneless pork or beef ribs.  Oh, that’s right…the meat used in the McRib has raised sections to simulate rib bones. 

The McRib...without sauce

Punchbowl.com shares that today is National Fast Food Day.  Last Friday was National Pizza Day, which was a cause for celebration for me.  But what is there to celebrate about today?  I guess we could celebrate there are fast food outlets available.  They can be quick when we are in a hurry.  Many moms pick up Happy Meals on the way to soccer or ballet.  People on the go pick up a burger or burrito on the way to the next appointment.  And many of us would be unbearable unless we had our Mochachocolatte from Starbucks on the way to work. 

Healthwise, there are not a lot of good offerings from the fast food world.  Things are getting better but many critics agree that living in a “Fast Food Nation” has contributed to our obesity.  And I know it contributed to my weight gain. 

That changed after I saw the documentary, Super Size Me.  Morgan Spurlock documented his month-long diet of eating every meal at McDonald’s.  At the end of the experiment, he had gained almost 25 pounds, increased his cholesterol level and blood pressure.  He also experienced mood swings, heart palpitations and a decrease in libido.  After seeing that movie, my fast food intake stopped COMPLETELY for a few months.  If that’s what happened to him over an intensified 30 days of eating nothing but fast food, imagine what has happened to a child who eats fast food, once a week, from the age of 3 to 18 years old.

What we can celebrate is that we have freedom of choice.  We can choose not to eat fast food at all.  That’s pretty challenging to do considering our always-on-the-go lifestyle today.  But it also means we can make better choices when we do eat at McDonald’s or Burger King or Taco Bell.  We can have a salad with vinaigrette instead of fries.  We can have water instead of sugary soda. 

When you make choices, make them informed choices. 

  • Read the book, Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. 
  • Or even see the dramatized movie version of the book. 
  • Also, check out the Eat This, Not That series of books. 

    Eat this, not that (aka eat to live or eat to die) (Photo credit: ethicurean.com)

  • And don’t forget the film Super Size Me.

So if you want to, go get your McRib before they go away.  That doesn’t work for me.  I’ll go to Culver’s or Five Guys for fries.  But the lesson for all of us is, like in a lot of food, moderation.  If you live a lifestyle that requires you picking up fast food at least twice a week, focus on healthier choices.  And occasionally go for what tastes good.

Here’s a link to help you make better choices at the drive through box:

http://helpguide.org/life/fast_food_nutrition.htm

Eat wisely and be healthy,

Carlton

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