Thursday, December 5, 2013

Does Fast Food Make Us Dumb, Broke, and Depressed?

Update, March 2015: Fast Food for Slow People
 
Fast Food apparently makes us slow--culturally. According to this study, even seeing fast food can trigger impatience and hyperactivity. But it really gets personal when the report indicates that America's favorite fare makes it more difficult for us to listen to high-brow music or appreciate nature photos. I guess Pharrell Williams' Happy song is fine with Happy Meals, but if you're listening to Mozart, just say no when they ask if you want fries with that.


Fast food has been blasted before, but we were too busy getting trans fats out of our donuts to deal with the issue, so we asked our resident curmudgeon, Doc Callahan, to record a few insights.

Fast Food Research, AC/DC, and Hello Kitty

I experienced childhood in both the BM and AM timelines (Before McDonalds and After McDonalds). By the early ‘60s, a Henry’s Hamburger opened in Ames, Iowa, the nearest town that had more than one stoplight. On rare occasions, my parents would stop there, and we could choose from the wide selection of (1) A plain, very dry hamburger  (2) A hamburger with a slice of something they called cheese on it  (3) A hamburger with condiments—mustard, ketchup, a pickle, and chopped onions. We could get five for a dollar, so life was good.

Eventually, those huge curved golden arches started popping up along the main highways, and the fast food generation hit another gear. Fast food became a mania, and we had more choices—and more criticism.

Ever since waitresses on roller skates brought hot dogs and cherry Cokes out to American Graffiti kids in cars, nutritionists and other wet blankets have been bad-mouthing fast food. What’s wrong with a bit of mystery meat and a dose of hot-and-cold running french fry grease? And haven’t the fast food folks offered more variety and healthier options lately? We’ll probably see a McKale burger soon. Anyway, the regular menu has such tempting fare—by the way, those pictures of so-called McRib meat on the web must have been Photoshopped. Nothing that delicious could start out looking, as Stephen Colbert said, “like something cut from a sickly ET.”

OK, I’ll pay attention to nutritionists even if I don’t want to. But the latest research from the University of Toronto about fast food has me ready to change the name of my Canadian Bacon to Freedom Bacon. They claim fast food does “five weird things to our brains” including: 

#1  Making it harder to appreciate beautiful art and music;
#2  Ruining our financial sense;
#3  And giving us a dose of the blues.

You can read the original article and make up your own mind—assuming fast food hasn’t corroded your judgment. As for me, I don’t eat at fast food places much, but this article might spur me to do so. I’ll just cruise to town with AC/DC’s greatest hits cranked up and my Hello Kitty bobble head doll bouncing to the music on the dashboard. I’ll search out dollar menus and supersize options to fit my budget this month. Those researchers are way off the mark if they think a trip like that could give a guy the blues.  Doc Callahan

Check out these two related entries on the CAST blog menu:



Please Deliver Burgers, Sushi, and Sweet Potatoes; Hold the Embalming Fluid


by dan gogerty (photo from usda/ars)

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