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Where's the beef?

Morgan Spurlock is famous for his documentary Super Size Me, in which he ate nothing but McDonald's food for 30 days to see the effect it would have on his body (hint: not good).

He seems to have recovered physically, but based on a recent interview he gave while in Japan, all that fast food has left him unable to think clearly.

Spurlock first explains how provincial we Yanks are:

When Americans travel, we want everything to be just like home. Starbucks, McDonald's, KFC.
Hmm. Seems to me a big reason why people -- even Americans! -- travel, is to experience something new. When my friends describe their trips to Vietnam, China, Mongolia, or elsewhere, they don't tell me about how they managed to eat at Mickey D's the whole time. And in fact, Spurlock, while American, quickly exempts himself from his own rule:
For me, when I leave America, that's the last thing I want to see.
He's that rare exception, you see -- an American who actually likes experiencing other cultures!

Spurlock then alerts us to the horrific consequences of American-style fast food spreading across the globe:
This way of eating is pushing out indigenous traditional food.
Yeah, Morgan, it's getting so you can hardly find a sushi bar in Tokyo any more. Calm down and have a nice bowl of natto.


Anonymous said...

I believe finding an Mcdonalds on every corner when you are over seas is not always a bad thing usually about the 4th or 5th day of the trip im ready to stop eatting the local resturants "specials" and dive in to a big mac it allows me to recharge my bland american taste buds and let me start another round of trying new things lol

i just wish the service at these resturants in the states was as good as the service at fast food places in other countries


Sharon said...

Spurlock is so reflexively Leftist he doesn't even realize how assinine he sounds. He complains that fast food restaurants are "pushing out foods" and yet every McDonald's I've been to overseas (and I'll admit to not eating local cuisine at every meal) takes into account local preferences and eating habits and adjust their menu accordingly. Spurlock also fails to realize that the places where McDonald's & other fast food eateries go up tend not to be "indigenous" - in other words, they are modern metropolii, not tribal villages!

While fast food joints are ubiquitous in many developed countries, ultimately they are a good thing: people have a choice about food when there is plenty of it to go around. Spurlock may be missing a more authentic atmosphere, but it seems that he is nostalgic for a situation where people got by with little.

GaijinBiker said...

Spurlock is also guilty of cultural condescension.

It's all right for Americans to have access to cheap, quick, reliable fast food, and the economic progress it both represents and makes possible.

But other cultures should remain trapped in a time warp, eating nothing but the time-consuming, inconvenient regional dishes they ate hundreds of years ago, just so Americans can experience an exotic foreign culture when we visit.

fasteddie said...

I agree that he is finding some corporate conspiracy where there is none. Still I've read that in China as more people have disposable income the nutritional value of diet's are getting worse: more processed foods, more fatty rich meat diets. No one is forcing those people to eat that way, so the conspiracy is foolishness. Does progress always have to be evil corporate conspiracy.

In Seattle I've lived on Capital hill, and in the U district. There are tons of inexpensive resturants with great Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, Mongolian type grills, well you get the picture. Fast food joints haven't overwhelmed anything here. It's the opposite, being a gate way for the Pacific Rim Seattle is taking in all this great cuisine. I never had Thai food before moving here. Now it's my favorite. One note Seattle was recently polled to be healthiest city in the States, maybe that's why we don't limit ourselves to traditional fast food too. I haven't had a burger in years, though we are famous for contributing the new Big Mac to the world, it's called a Starbucks' Latte, and it tastes good.


fasteddie said...

"It's all right for Americans to have access to cheap, quick, reliable fast food, and the economic progress it both represents and makes possible" hahahahahahhaahahahahahaahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahaahahahahahah Sorry what does that mean? reliable fast food? HAH! And health problems are that can result from, "the economic progress" It doesn't make sense oh clear-thinking-biker-san. Maybe you ate too much McDonald's as a kid? *smile-smile*

regards. e

GaijinBiker said...

Fast eddie,

I've gotta disagree with you on this one. First, the convenience of "fast food" has freed up Americans (especially women) to work new jobs or longer hours when they used to be shopping for food, cooking food, or eating food at home. You can argue that this is a "bad" thing, but it's undeniable that it's boosted the economy. People in other countries deserve this same shot at progress if they want it (and it seems they do).

Second, whatever bad health impact may follow from eating nothing but McDonald's all month long, McDonalds has served, as they put it, "billions and billions" of people, most of whom seem to be doing OK. Lots of people in the third world would love to bite into a nice Big Mac right now.

GaijinBiker said...

Also, fast eddie, fast food is cheaper than many other meals. Putting the long-term health question to one side for the moment, eating fast food immediately benefits very poor people economically by freeing up more of their limited funds for other uses besides food.

And please don't post long words with no spaces like "hahahaha..." because they mess up the page layout.

fasteddie said...

you are revealing yourself to be anal, page layout? Poor people are served well by shortening their lives, greatly increasing chances of heart diesease, diabetes,obesity? Look I kind of enjoy intelligent debate, and am not interested in being your nemesis. But despite your obvious education, you seem to consistantly exhibit lack of compassion in your posts. Nutritionally deficient food is not even cheaper, or quicker then, healthy alternatives fixed in the microwave at home. Diabetes, heart diesease, obesity, is much more costly in health loss, quality of life, and longevity. Your point doesn't stand up. McD's now has more healthy alternatives in there resturant, but hamburgers, and deep fried chicken are tasty but just about the worst diet you can have.

GaijinBiker said...

Poor people do all sorts of things that shorten their lives because they don't have enough money to afford safer things.

For example:

-- They buy smaller cars with fewer airbags and weaker crash protection.

-- They live in higher-crime neighborhoods where they are more likely to be stabbed or shot.

-- They are less likely to have medical insurance and have lower-quality medical care when they are sick

Why should the situation be any different when it comes to their food? They choose cheaper food, even if it's less healthful for them, because they'd rather have more money left over for other things.

GaijinBiker said...

Compassion and $2.50 will get you a coffee at Starbucks. Arguing that we should ignore basic economics and give everybody what they need is like arguing that we should ignore gravity and float around in mid-air.

And I'll be as anal on my blog as I want. No long nonsense words in the comments, please. They add nothing to your message, and push all the links to the bottom of the page.

fasteddie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
fasteddie said...

didn't say anywhere, anything about arguing about basic economics. Just agreed with science that fast food, hamburgers, fry's and a coke, is a poor diet. What's the point you are making really? Poor people can't afford cheap insurance, where did that come from?

Are you that small man in The Incredibles, the boss with the pencils, you know, he didn't want to pay for legitimate insurance claims?

You are wrong about fast food being cheaper, eating at home can be cheaper and healthier. Eating out, can cost the same and be healthier. I don't care where people eat, don't put words in my mouth. Economics didn't have anything to do with what I was talking about. Mocking your "reliable food" nonsense statement was.

GaijinBiker said...

Fast eddie, you wrote:

"Poor people are served well by shortening their lives, greatly increasing chances of heart diesease, diabetes,obesity?"

This is an economic argument, even if you don't realize it: Namely, in a certain way, poor people ARE served by shortening their lives, because the cost of lengthening their lives would use up money they'd rather have available to spend on other things, like clothing, entertainment, etc.

If poor people could only buy expensive (but, let's assume, healthier) food, they might live longer, but they would enjoy life less. Poor people could buy more expensive food -- no one's stopping them -- but they choose to spend their limited funds on less expensive fast food.

And, while eating at home may cost less in terms of the cost of the actual food itself (although that is debatable), you are overlooking the value of people's time. Time is money, as they say, and fast food is fast. The customer does not have to prepare it, so he has more time left over to spend on other activities that increase his utility by a greater amount. (This is also an argument rooted in economics, as you hopefully understand by now.)

fasteddie said...

yes I understand, and appreciate you replying. buying brown rice and vegetables may not appeal to everyone's palate, but talking about fixed at home, it's cheaper in price then hamburger meat. So a poor family who limited meat purchases because of financial reasons, would save money and also benefit by having better health. Same thing in eating out. Since poor people are less likely to have health insurance adopting a healthy diet would plainly take a strain off who ever ends up paying their health care bills. I think the economics of fast food is just all around bad economics. I've read Fast Food Nation, well excerpts.

I find McDonald's guilty of profiting by selling food that tastes good, is cheap, and is really bad for you. in the court of public opinion this has been the case also. They recently have gone through financial diffculty because of the backlash against fast food.

Hell if Chinese people would prefer hamburgers (the garbage meat) over their own great cuisine, let em. don't think it's a problem though and don't think the theory of cheap fast food is good economics holds up either. There are quickly made dishes at resturants that are healthy. Subways is healthier, and it's still fast food right? I think we drained the content on this one, but I enjoy debating with you.



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