Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Ronald McDonald Is Laughing At You

Meat Puppets--"Damn Thing" (mp3)

He should be crying. He really should. After all, he's lost his latest chum, Pink Slime, supposedly and supposedly for good. Things should be really sad in McDonaldland, but I'm pretty certain that Ronald is still happy, still drawing rainbows in the air, still enjoying taking children and adults on trips to that magical place.

British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's recent expose of McDonald's use of massive quantities of ammonia to detoxify their "ground beef" made from multi-national scraps and beef waste has caused the fast food giant to back off from this practice. McDonald's says that this turn of events has nothing to do with Oliver's expose, but we're not stupid enough to believe that, are we?

So why is Ronald laughing? Well, a couple of things. Maybe a bunch of things. First, the use of ammonia to kill all of the bacteria in beef and chicken parts is something that the FDA does not require food producers to include in their labeling. McDonald's could use the ammonia to scrub their floors and then assume the chemical mix still had enough potency left to kill anything living and use that cloudy, grey mix to wash their beef. And they wouldn't have to tell you. Even if they said that they had stopped doing it, but didn't.

Second, McDonald's is the industry leader, and where they leadeth, others are following, so if McDonald's had been doing it, you can bet a bunch of others are doing the same thing and are still getting away with it, with no spotlight shining on them. Did you ever taste a ground beef patty from a fast food place with nothing else on it? What did it taste like? I'll tell you--it tastes like dead meat, nothing more. No taste. I'll bet McDonald's is getting a good chuckle out of that and out of all of the other practices that they are engaged in that Jamie Oliver didn't expose.

But mostly, Ronald is laughing at you because he thinks you're fucking stupid. No, not thinks. Knows. He knows that you're a fucking idiot. He knows that deep down you don't really care what you eat. You're an American, aren't you? He knows the millions of ways you find to trick your brain into eating food that Oliver says is not fit for a dog. You're in a hurry. You've always done it. You like the way it tastes. You don't know any better (or didn't). You want to save money. You want to stretch a meal. You've such a jones for ground beef that you think that if you buy it ground in a grocery store and cook it yourself that you're practicing safer and healthier habits than if you took your family to McDonald's (did you read the third paragraph?). Or that you heard something vague about the ground beef so you wisely get the chicken instead.

You're an American, right? Where it's cool to make fun of the French because they can't win wars (which ones have we won in the last 50 years?)? Well, the French have McDonald's, too, which they call "McDo's." But guess what? Their McDonald's serve cafe au lait and freshly-made baguettes. The ground beef in a McDonald's hamburger in France comes from single-source, grass-fed beef.

Pretty funny, eh? McDonald's meets the food standards of the country its stores are located in. For France, it's grass-fed beef, which is what cows are supposed to eat. For us, it's ammonia-drenched dog food. What France demands vs. what we will accept. There's more than one kind of war, mate.

And who's coming to the rescue? Not us. We're not saving ourselves. It's the British who are so repulsed by what they see happening here that one of them takes on a behomoth, multi-national corporation that completely has its way with our Food and Drug Administration. One of them uses his celebrity chef status to get on a bit of a soapbox for a food crisis that isn't even happening in his own country.

Meanwhile, we just shrug our shoulders. I show the Jamie Oliver video to my students; they aren't outraged. They're unmoved. They say things like "I like my ground beef, I don't care what's in it." After all, they're Americans. They'll eat it in open defiance just to show that they can do whatever they want to and damn the consequences.

And it goes way beyond unmoved. Already, after a decade or more of one food crisis after another, we have accepted the dangers in our food supply as a part of life that we can't do anything about. Some are even thinking, 'A decade of food crises? What is he talking about?'

So, yeah, I think Ronald is having a good chuckle, because he knows that he can absorb the loss of any little battle, the brief attention of any little do-gooder food crusader who writes a book or makes a movie or airs a foreign television show, and still do pretty much whatever he wants to. Fry his fries in beef tallow for years and sell those fries to unsuspecting vegetarians? Yeah, he can do that. Shape fatty pork pieces into the shape of a rack of ribs, drown it in bbq sauce, and put it on a bun? Yeah, we'll buy that. Because he knows that, ultimately, he's an American company and we're an American people and, more than anything, we will find comfort in his American brand and celebrate the iconic shit food he's served us for 60 years like it's a symbol of American pride. And he's more than happy to use that against us.


troutking said...

This is a pleasant way to start the day. I was only off the vegetarian train for a week and now I have to climb back on. Thanks.

Bob said...

Oh, I don't know. Pick the meat you want want and watch them grind it and you should be fine.

Sara C said...

I know I'm going away from your original point (which I agree with 100%, thank you!), but perhaps most disturbing to me is the fact that you can show your students that video (or I could show your students footage of mountains bring blown up), and they won't care. Granted, some of that is just male adolescent posturing. And some of what we show them will make a difference down the road. But, even as oldladyish as this makes me sound, I'm freaked out by how apathetic "kids these days" are. What in the hell happens to a society where its young people don't care about anything?

Sara C said...

Oh, and if you need me, I'll be packing for my upcoming move to France.

Anonymous said...

I'm of the same mind. Mainly for the kid. I don't buy chain grocery store ground meat. You don't know where the meat comes from. USA? Mexico? Brazil? And, it's not ground on site. I have a corner market that grinds their meat on site. A little more expensive, but who cares. With regards to McDonalds.......The kid won't eat it. Says it's disgusting. Maybe he's on to something.