Saturday, January 10, 2009

Cliopatra, Changes, and McDonalds is Evil.

Hello everyone! I'm typing away again like a really cool blogger type person at a Panera Bread here off of 43 and Silver Spring in Glendale, WI. I was just thinking about McDonalds. But let me backtrack.

I got a comment (yesterday?) from Cliopatra, who helped me realize that "Meringue" was probably "merengue", as in the style of dance. I went over and visited her blog, and saw an entry called "Ch-ch-ch-Changes." She talked about things that she changed in her life that will make her 2009 better. At the end of the blog entry, she asks the question: What have you done to make your 2009 better so far?

I answered: I am going to attempt to NEVER eat at McDonalds again.

And then I realized... what? Did I really resolve that? Yes.

But if that's true, why am I resolving that? And also of equal importance, why haven't I blogged about it?

So I'm going to.

(Thanks, Clio :) )

So, McDonalds is evil. I know, I know, you guys are saying, "Jenn, you are in love with Big Macs, and McDonalds fries are your favorite." -- Well I can say that I've replaced my love for Mcdonalds fries with Chic Fil A fries (Come on, they're WAY better.) -- I also have realized a few things about McDonalds that make me never want to eat there again. Sometimes knowledge makes you change your ways (Just like I'll never shop at Wal*Mart again, but that's another story)--- so I'll share with you guys why exactly I'm swearing off my beloved Big Mac for good.

I suppose the seed was planted when I watched "Supersize Me" for the first time. I watched it (I think) with my friend Matt when it first came out on DVD. Though I hadn't eaten any fast food that day, I felt DISGUSTING after watching it. Now, Dan thinks that the documentary is ridiculous because it took a guy (Morgan Spurlock) who ate mostly vegan foods and put him in the position to eat nothing but McDonalds for 30 days. Yes, that's true, but if you think about how a human being should eat (being healthy, eating whole grains, sprouted foods, fruits and vegetables and lean meats) - the truth of BAD foods really shines through. And yes, though Morgan Spurlock's girlfriend (now wife) cooked vegan foods, he himself was not vegan, and did eat meats.

I digress.

I saw the documentary another one or two times in the few years thereafter, and each time felt so gross for eating fast food so often (several times a week) that I didn't go to a drive thru for a good week or so after seeing it. But, with my on again, off again Atkins dieting, nothing could really beat the cheapness of a few dollar burgers from Wendy's, Burger King, or McDonalds.

A few weeks ago I was hanging out with my friends Wes and Jesse in Denver, and Jesse told us he'd never seen Supersize Me. We put it on immediately. I watched it with new eyes, so to speak. I was just starting out with my healthier lifestyle, and the prospect of eating those foods really made me feel sick. I hadn't had McDonalds for a few weeks at that point; I wasn't knee deep into gluten free vegan wellness or anything (nor am I right now...) -- but I still watched and thought to myself, "Why would I do that to myself?"

I thought back to a few weeks prior when I was YouTube-ing McDonalds. I don't know why I was doing that, but for some reason it happened. I saw a short video done by Morgan Spurlock (this was not in the documentary) - about the shelf life of McDonalds foods. He took a bunch of jars and put various McDonalds foods in each jar. Big Mac in one jar, Fillet-O-Fish in another, Quarter Pounder in another, fries in another. He then took a "real" burger from a place down the street in one jar, and "real" potato-cut fries from the same place in another jar. His goal was to leave them out, and see how they decomposed. The "real" food from the restaurant decomposed very quickly... the fries and burger were green in a matter of two days or so. The McDonalds burgers decomposed much slower... and the most disgusting thing was that 6 weeks in, the fries looked exactly the same. Gross! It got me to thinking about when I would find a random fry that had fallen out of the bag on the floor of my car - and who knows how long that lone fry had been there, but it looked just like a regular ol' fry.

When thinking about how food breaks down, it's the bacteria in the air and around us that decomposes the food. So, healthier food will break down faster. Just like if you buy organic fruits and veggies, the food will go bad faster because it's free of preservatives and chemicals. The bad food... isn't even wanted by bacteria. So then I think about the bacteria in my digestive system. Just like healthy food will be digested easier and quicker... the bad food will be harder to digest in my system. What would those McDonalds fries do to my stomach?

Aside from all the more "obvious" food issues... there are also moral issues I take into question with McDonalds and how they operate. I won't even go into the blatant advertising done directly to children, or how long they went without offering clear and concise nutritional information to consumers, or how it took Morgan Spurlock's documentary to get them to change their ways (stop offering the "supersize" option, put healthier foods on the menu, etc) -- but something even worse.

The same night Jesse, Wes and I watched "Supersize Me", we also found a streaming video from Netflix called "McLibel." It was a documentary about these two roommates in London (I think) - who were handing out fliers to people on the street about McDonalds practices. McDonalds found out, and sued them for Libel. The whole process was terrible (I'm so glad I live in America) - but aside from the corporate representatives of McDonalds being extremely rude and awful to these people, the documentary also revealed a few things about McDonalds and how they operate.

To recap all of it would result in an even longer blog post, so I'll refrain from going into their effects on the environment, health issues, treatment of employees and all of that. Instead I will tell you about the thing that made me sickest to my stomach.

Baby bird killers. Yes. The chicken suppliers for McDonalds are filthy, disgusting bastards. They showed footage of the chicken farm (if you could call it that) - in which thousands of baby chickens were on a conveyor belt. The chicks are measured by hand, and any chicks that are found to be "unacceptable" (be it weight, neck to body ratio, etc) are "disposed of." -- They're squashed into this tiny feeder belt that goes to a scalding tank. The chicks are "disposed of." The three of us looked at each other with horror in thinking we had heard incorrectly. The chicks are "electrically stunned" - and experts have called into serious question the effectiveness of this "stunning" as a great deal of the chickens are left alive or conscious when they're put into the tanks.

Additionally, the beef suppliers have been called into serious question regarding the treatment of the cows. I've seen a few documentaries on this issue (not related to Mcdonalds) and it makes me cry. The animals are unable to move, crippled, sick, diseased, and kept in the most disgusting, terrible environments. (Chickens and Cows.)

So. With this, I don't want to eat at McDonalds anymore. Ever. But what makes me only narrow this down to "McDonalds is evil!"? -- Because the same beef they use is likely the same beef I can buy at the supermarket. I really want to expand my thinking on this subject to include all the foods that I eat. To buy more organically, to purchase foods from local growers and farmers. To buy free-range meats and eggs.

I know that I could never be vegan. I like tofu, but not that much. And I'm sure if I tried to make my own, it would be disgusting. I still crave meat sometimes when my body needs protein and I couldn't be satisfied with only eating peanut butter or seeds. But, I need to seriously re-think what my money goes to. I can't possibly support an organization that doesn't care about the treatment of animals. Though supermarkets and restaurants aren't directly torturing these animals... they play a big part in keeping those slaughterhouses open for business.



Unknown said...

Good for you! We still eat at McD's on occasion, but I'd really like to quit. It's gross. Good Times uses Coleman Natural Beef, but unfortunately Mikaela can't eat there because they have a "may contain peanuts" allergen statement. For home use we've been purchasing organic, local chicken and beef through wholesale co-ops. I really recommend Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I just got another similar book by Jane Goodall. I'll let you know how it is.

Nic said...

The Quarter Pounder w/out cheese is about 420 cal. It kicks my cravings for burgers (better that the 750 cal double cheeseburger ::drools::). However, while ordering I have to stare jealously at a picture of Shakira's abs to keep from ordering a large frie.

Bella said...

Very interesting. This post makes me want to quit eating McD's, too. I don't know if I will cut it out 100%, but I will definitely think twice the next time I go (I don't go very often anyway, even though there is one down the street).


Cheryl said...

I used to eat McDonalds ALL.THE.TIME. I thought nothing of having a McGriddle meal for breakfast, a double cheeseburger meal for lunch, and then a "sensible" dinner. LOL. I kinda stopped eating Mickey D's when I moved down to SWFL to get married - Naples does not have a lot of them here. Plus, my cute lil hubby abhors fast food. So now, when I do indulge (about twice a year) I get so sick from it. Doesn't stop me from just wanting the cheeseburger every now and then, though. I did watch Supersize Me (well part of it) and was disgusted. So for the most part we eat mostly grilled meats and fresh veggies these days. And this concludes my blog on your blog.

Cheryl said...

Oh and BELLA? FYI - I tried with 3 different browsers to comment on your site and was unable to do so. You might want to check your settings!

Anonymous said...

I might have said this before, but watching Supersize Me made me more hungry for a Big Mac than I'd ever been in my life. I'm with Dan, though. The movie wouldn't have been nearly so dramatic if Spurlock had used for his experiment the average person who eats fast food a few times each week to begin with.

That said, now that I live 30 minutes from the nearest McDonald's, I eat it very seldom now. The last time we decided to "splurge" and get Big Macs, they didn't taste nearly as good as I used to think they did. It's kind of nice to start getting rid of that crap from your system.

One last thought -- I agree with you on the egregiousness of the mistreatment of animals raised by the meat industry. The baby-chick-scalding-water story makes me sick to my stomach. My mind immediately went to one thought, though. I don't want to post it here because it would be borderline blogjacking and has nothing to do with your subject matter. I'll probably blog about it over on my own spot, though.

Michelle said...

I loved Supersize me, and have watched it multiple times!

I just wanted to add, although this is an old post, that being vegan doesn't mean that you only get protein from tofu or peanuts or seeds. I was vegan for two years and am still a vegetarian that almost never has dairy products(they just don't taste good anymore!).

I rarely eat tofu because I don't like it that much. I get most of my protein from beans and they are much healthier than a meat source because they have vitamins and fiber without the carcinagins (sp?).

Anyways, I am really enjoying your blog, sorry for my little rant!

Dani said...

Just found this post now- The "why I dont eat mcdonalds" tag caught my eye :) This is exactly how I felt after watching Food Inc. Its horrible how the animals are treated and like you said its not just the animals that mcdonalds uses. Its the whole way our food is being produced now on these factory farms. So sad! If you havent seen it yet I would highlyyy recomend Food Inc. Its not a vegitarian/vegan movie its a 'find out where your food is comming from and 'vote' with every meal' kind of movie. It had the same effect on me that supersize me had on you. Let me know if you have seen it or get a chance to see it! Im a sucker for a good documentary :)

Anonymous said...

Another reason to not eat Mc Donalds; it is no secret that the meat they use isn't exactly the highest quality. I saw a YouTube vid, not sure who it was from biut in fact they get beef from South America and it isn't steer meat, it is old dairy cows. Now dairy cow meat tastes terrible due to the stress put on them frmo being in a state of perpertual pregnacy and all the fatty flavorings beef is supposed to have is rung out of them from making so much milk. So they combine this old, dry, hormone laced meat with steer fat to make it taste better. Gross.

Miss K said...

You should check out Earthlings, it is narrated by Joaquin Phoenix. You can watch it on for free. Changed my life.

Geeta said...

I never read this post before, but you discussed the entire issue in a really good way. Although I've been a vegetarian my entire life, I realize it's not something everyone can (or is willing to) aim for, so my appreciation then goes to those who aim for meat that comes from animals who are treated with dignity, local, organic, cage-free etc... basically as far from a slaughterhouse as you can get and all of the things you discussed as trying for... so kudos to that and I hope you've been able to keep it up!

Bella said...

it's funny how the desire for the taste and calories of fat, sugar and carbohydrates can override all of those horrible things and you find yourself in the Mc Ds drive thru getting that good ol Big Mac. Biology is a funny thing.

Anonymous said...

the funny thing about those places is once you don't eat them for a few months, and you eat there once, it makes your body feel so awful. and the fact that you dealt with all that awfulness on a regular basis before is sad but empowering and motivating.

Unknown said...

I can't actually remember the last time I had a mcdonalds. I do love a good pub lunch, like a mixed grill, so I could never go veggie or vegan.
I don't actually like going to places like McDonalds since my parents started keeping chickens. We have them in much bigger enclosures then is suggested. But the legal requirements for animal cruelty is ridiculously small and it's done purely for companies like Mcdonalds to get away with it. I do enjoy seeing chickens just running around the garden happy as larry.

Love you blog :)