woensdag, januari 22, 2003

What Would Jesus Eat?

U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet threw out a widely watched lawsuit that blamed Big Macs, fries and Chicken McNuggets for obesity in children.

The plaintiffs, Jazlyn Bradley, 19, and Ashley Pelman, 14, of New York City, sued McDonald's because they are fat. Perlman submitted an affidavit saying she weighs 170 pounds at 4 feet, 10 inches and has been eating at the chain three to four times a week since she was five. Bradley, 4'6 and weighing in at 270, claims that during a four-year-period she ate twice a day at McDonald's.

Well, not just because they're fat but because, they claim, McDonalds never explicitly TOLD them eating fast food meals every day for many years would make them fat pigs The parents of these children say they never saw posters in the restaurant explaining the nutritional content of the food. Bradley's father went as far as to claim in his affidavit that he "always thought McDonald's was healthy for [his] children."

One can only imagine how confusing it can be. Yes, their People Promise; that they're "not just a hamburger company serving people; but people company serving hamburgers", is misleading. It gives us the idea that serving mass-produced hamburger product is a perfectly benign form of free enterprise. C'mon in kids! We're all happy here, shoving expurgated flesh of questionable origin down our throats, stuffing our orafices with oil-saturated french fry product and other cheap forms of undigestible toxins! That's why they're called Happy Meals!

After all, a company using a clown half-breed as a pied piper mascot leading children to the Land of Obesity and Death isn't about coming clean with the truth. If you read over their Social Responsibility Report, you might actually get the impression that McDonalds cares about the junk food zombies they've created.

One need only look at the fine print found in their nutrition breakdown. I can just see the parent who, in the face of an incessant barrage of smiling children "Happy Land-C'mon, Everybody's Doin' It" McDonalds commercials invoking Brave New World bromides of cheerful eating and lifestyles, tells his kid, "You can't eat at McDonalds because it has the nutritional value of eating your own feces." Kids don't want to hear that. They don't want to know about nutrition or becoming fat pigs or eating unhealthy foods. Not American kids anyway.

The level of deceit in McDonalds' commercials reminds me of that movie Motel Hell, a charming classic about a farmer who is famous in his area for making the best smoked meat ever to tickle the tongue. Only thing is, the smoked meat in question is human flesh and the faithful customers have become cannibals.

This recent suit had claimed that addiction to McDonald's led to obesity. The core of the case was that the company did not provide the necessary information on the health risks associated with its food. This is the first such case against a food company to find its way into a courtroom. But for some time fast food firms have been dreading the moment when their liability for the crisis of obesity is called to account. The suits dovetails into a sharp rise in obesity in America. More than half of US adults were judged overweight by recent research; serious obesity now accounts for 280,000 deaths a year; 11 per cent of children are obese. The low price of junk food means the disease is generally entwined with poverty.

There is a parallel precedent in tobacco litigation where plaintiffs sued because they were "misled" as to, or "unaware" of, the contents of cigarettes and their deleterious health effects. Big American companies have become wary of such cases: the multi-billion dollar settlement by tobacco companies began with a simple writ by a lawyer whose friend died of lung cancer.

But Judge Sweet, despite throwing out the claim, did not let McDonald's off the hook completely. Referring to Chicken McNuggets as a "McFrankenstein creation" of elements not used by home cooks, he said the plaintiffs could refile their case with information backing their claim that diners have no idea what is really in their food or that the products have allegedly become more harmful because of processing.

As someone who has witnessed those idiotically jubilant depictions of the joy of eating McDonalds questionable food product, someone who has looked into the power-drunk eyes of that infanticidical clown and has heard the demogogic theme songs propagandizing the wonder world of junk food, I would say there wasn't much the parents of Jazlyn Bradley and Ashley Pelman could have done to save them from the adiposity of such a tempting and misleading world.

In the end, the parents of those children should follow the same ecumenical logic applied not so long ago to the purchase of automobiles and ask themselves honestly: Would Jesus eat this shit?

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