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Friday, May 05, 2006

Fast Food Horror

Jeff was kind enough to send me this link about what I would call the hidden dangers of fast food. He suggests that we read all of it – I agree. A few excerpts with my comments follow:

"Children are important because they not only represent a significant percentage of our customers," a Burger King spokesman said, "but they also have an incredible influence on what fast food restaurant their parents will choose."

Not in my house, they don’t. My husband and I are the parents. Our kids get what we decide they get, and that includes the realms of food and toys.

We don’t have to give into our kids, really. We don’t get a lot of fast food because it’s (a) not healthy, (b) expensive and (c) usually more time consuming than staying home to make a nutritious sandwich. We do, on quite rare occasions, go to a fast food store when we are out, Lola’s blood sugar is running low, there are no lines and we can buy healthy options off the menu. That’s less than once a month. (And my husband just called after reading the article and said “We’re never going to a fast food restaurant again!” So maybe it will be never from now on.)

The average American child now spends about 25 hours a week watching television. That adds up to more than 1.5 months, non-stop, of TV every year.

My kids spend MUCH less time than that – I would say maybe 2-3 hours a week watching public TV (no commercials) and another 2-3 hours a week watching videos (also no commercials).

The commercials are designed to pique a child’s desire. The fewer commercials they watch, the better.

During the course of a year, the typical American child watches more than 40,000 TV commercials. About 20,000 of those ads are for junk food: soft drinks, sweets, breakfast cereals and fast food.

All the more reason to NOT let kids watch television with commercials!

"The key to attracting kids," one marketing publication says, "is toys, toys, toys."…Children's meals often come with different versions of the same toy so that kids will nag their parents to keep going back to the restaurant to get a complete set.

Again, not in my house! I hate those little toys. A couple of our local fast-food chains no longer give toys, but ice cream or points to ear a prize like a t-shirt. That’s where we go, if we go.

On the bottom of these toys you often find the phrase "Made in China". Too often the lives of the workers who make Happy Meal toys are anything but happy.

More evidence we should all boycott fast food restaurants!

McDonald's now tries to ensure that children aren't employed to make its toys. But the company hasn't done much to increase the wages of the workers at Chinese toy factories. Low wages are one of the things that keep Happy Meal toys so cheap.

In fact, low wages are at the heart of the whole enterprise…

…Between 1968 and 1990, the years in which the fast food chains grew at the quickest rate, the real value of the minimum wage fell by almost half.


This disdain for employees really is evil, and I don’t use the word lightly. I am proud to say I have not eaten at McDonalds for many years, and I don’t plan on ever eating there again.

…if you wanted to make a strawberry milkshake at home, here's all you'd need: ice, cream, strawberries, sugar and a touch of vanilla.

Now take a look at the ingredients you might find in a fast-food strawberry milkshake: milkfat and nonfat milk, sugar, sweet whey, high-fructose corn syrup, guar gum, monoglycerides and diglycerides, cellulose gum, sodium phosphate, carrageenan, citric acid, E129 and artificial strawberry flavour.

And what does that "artificial strawberry flavour" contain?

Just these few yummy chemicals: 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 butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl heptylate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate, ethyl nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerate, heliotropin, hydroxyphrenyl- 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.


If that doesn’t scare you off a fast-food milkshake – or fast food in general -- nothing will.

Parents, please, please, PLEASE look out for your kids. Skip the fast food. Eat at home. It’s cheaper, it’s healthier, it tastes better and you can teach your kids to help.

--Sparki

4 Comments:

  • you're good at "making" me feel guilty, sparki (i hope it's obvious that i don't mean that as a complaint, rather the opposite.) our younger boy had his first mcdonald's hamburger (first mcdonald's anything that i can recall) on an overnight trip where we ended up driving around looking for dinner at 10 p.m. and on the same trip i let the 4-year-old have a made-in-China $6.99 stuffed animal (something i am usually very, very good about not giving in on -- made in China non-necessities on the order of toys) from a rest stop mart because he was wearying of the trip and i was wearying of that. sigh! those compromises aren't part of my ideals at all. i'm really disorganized and tell myself under pressure, "well, everyone [not quite] thinks i'm a fanatic for caring too much about avoiding these things in the first place!" and give in.

    By Anonymous ro, at 9:24 PM  

  • Honestly, RO, in such a situation where the kids were hungry and there was nothing else open, I would have done the exact same thing. I did admit in my post that when we're out and about and the kids are hungry, we get fast food. But we tend toward the local operations where we know there won't be cheap toys, especially the one that uses REAL ice cream in the free kids' treats.

    I don't think there is anything wrong with a compromise like buying a toy for a child who is having a rough go on a long trip. I have tried and tried to eliminate all chinese-made goods from our purchases and frankly, I just can't do it. Zooey was doing a science fair project a few weeks ago, and he needed both LED lights and a meter to prove that his homemade battery was working. Well, try as I might, I couldn't find either one made anywhere other than China.

    I don't like being in such a situation, but it was something for his education, and I had a choice of saying either, "Sorry, kid, you can't learn to make a battery like you want to" or buying $15 worth of stuff made in China.

    Likewise, Zooey outgrew his church shoes right before Easter, and I had already been hunting up thrift shops and consignment stores for a couple months in preparation for it -- I could NOT find a decent pair of shoes in his size in ANY color, ANY style! So, we ended up buying a new pair of shoes, and once again, our only option was "Made in China."

    It's difficult to WANT to stand by our principles and to be faced with so many dead ends that it can't be done properly 100% of the time. But we at least need to try. I know people who feed their kids fast food 3-4 times a week. I've read about people who feed their kids fast food daily. It doesn't have to be that way. Most of us can do better. All of us need to at least try, even though we won't be able to avoid fast food or Chinese-made goods entirely.

    By Blogger Sparki, at 8:33 AM  

  • Sometimes we've probably let the 4yo have fast food that often -- it got to the point that *I* was making up for missed meals with fast food and we were all off schedule and it was like, fine, just get the nuggets instead of waiting to make him a real meal. I mean, we almost always skip the fries and go for the fruit cup at Chick-Fil-A, and eschew the caramel dip for the apple things that you can get in lieu of fries at McDonald's (what do they need caramel for with the "healthy" side dish! Are there kids who even reject plain fruit at this age? Scary. Though I guess there are some who may just happen to dislike apples.) But lately we've been cutting down on both fast food for me and when we do get it for me, on give-ins when he's not in need of food faster than we can get it anywhere else. I guess I just felt new resolve to minimize that kind of thing after reading your exhortation. You're good at that :)

    My habits and my ideals just aren't enough in sync yet. 4yo has been offered soda one time when he was 2 or 3 and we were in the car in a bad neighborhood and he seemed genuinely thirsty. He wouldn't drink it! I have indulged in soda too much myself in recent months, but he always seemed to ID Coke as a mommy thing of no interest to him. The other day he said he wanted some Coke! Not even knowing what it tastes like, AFAIK. Well, he didn't get any and hasn't asked again, but I need to be a better example. On the other hand, since my ideals are put more into practice with my kids than with myself, he also asks for *juice* as a treat, because we prefer that he drinks water. So he might get an ounce or two of juice several days a week, or a 4 ounce glass every week or 2, and a firm "but that's it." Still as he gets older, he may notice and protest more. Even being honest and admitting I wasn't taking good care of myself would not be a good example -- what message does it convey to say, "I want you to be healthy, but I don't put in as much effort when I'm the one feeling 'deprived'?"

    By Anonymous ro, at 10:50 AM  

  • By 'that often' I meant 3-4 days a week btw and not every single day btw!

    By Anonymous ro, at 10:51 AM  

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