Day 36: Why the Fries Taste Good

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, Taco Town Spoof, McLibel, Real Food

Welcome to Day 36!

Today’s file is from Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, “Why the Fries Taste Good.” Schlosser does a stellar job at showing how one important food product – the potato french fry – was a major player in the fast food industry we know today, whose extreme overuse by the public has contributed to many of the health ills we are experiencing in the U.S.

My favorite selection from this chapter concerns the flavorists who have invented artificial flavorings such as:

typical artificial strawberry flavor – ingredients

A typical artificial strawberry flavor, like the kind found in a Bur­ger King strawberry milk shake, contains the following ingredients: 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 acetate, ethyl amylketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl heptylate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglyci­date, ethyl nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerate, heliotropin,hydroxyphenyl-2-butanone (10 percent solution in alcohol), (X­ionone, 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, Y­undecalactone, vanillin, and solvent.

Yuck. We can do better with simple, abundant strawberries, no?

What this book really is is an exposé on how far industrialized agribusiness has gone to reduce agriculture to an industrial, corporate, large-scale enterprise. Next to books like The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture by Wendell Berry and The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation is truly one of the best pieces of work available on the fascinating and yet perilous condition of western food production.

So, while you and I may take on the fast food industry by not supporting it (and shopping at FARMER’S MARKETS when possible), some people have taken the fast food giants to court.

McLibel: The Documentary

Two activists take on McDonald’s in the longest trial in English history.

McLibel is the inside story of how a single father and a part-time bar worker took on the McDonald’s Corporation. Filmed over three years, the documentary follows Helen Steel and Dave Morris as they are transformed from anonymous campaigners against the fast food giant into unlikely global heroes. Struggling to defend themselves in the longest trial in English history, the pair face infiltration by spies, secret meetings with corporate executives, 40,000 pages of background reading and a visit from Ronald McDonald.

Using interviews with witnesses and reconstructions of key moments in court, McLibel examines the main issues of the trial – nutrition, animals, advertising, employment, the environment – and the implications for freedom of speech.


On a real-foods note, we are asked many times about how we eat greens. One of the reasons that we have a strong blender like the Vita-Mix is to make soups in it. We make great creamy soups with sesame tahini, avocado, red bell pepper, onion, tomato, kelp, olives, spinach, parsley, romaine, radish, yellow squash, cucumber… we blend these up in a matter of minutes and eat more minerals for lunch than many Americans get in a month.

Our immune systems are, therefore, receiving the best, as are our heart, liver, kidneys, and digestive health… We will be providing you plenty of resources for live foods preparation during this program–enough for you to be a chef! Stay tuned for The Four Means to Get Your Greens on Day 83!

Please enjoy the humorous and serious videos at right that illustrate the ridiculous nature of our Fast Food Nation!

And keep giving your body the best juice ever!

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Today’s Downloads

Online Articles

The Chain Never Stops by Eric Schlosser in Mother Jones

Kenny Dobbins was hired by the Monfort Beef Company in 1979. He was 24 years old, and 6 foot 5, and had no fear of the hard work in a slaughterhouse. He seemed invincible. Over the next two decades he suffered injuries working for Monfort that would have crippled or killed lesser men. . .

 Q&A with Eric Schlosser on PBS

In this interview excerpt, Eric Schlosser, award-winning journalist and author of the book “Fast Food Nation,” discusses the state of the American food system.

To read the full interview, check out the book Food, Inc. ed. by Karl Weber

 McLibel: British Activists Sued for Distributing McDonald’s Flyers Win Court Case

Two activists sued by McDonalds in Britain won their case against the British government, in a case that could change UK libel law forever. The European Court of Human Rights said the UK legal system breached the right to a fair trial and freedom of expression. Activists David Morris and Helen Steel were sued by McDonalds in 1990 for handing out leaflets called “What”s Wrong with McDonald’s”, accusing the company of paying low wages, cruelty to animals used in its products and dozens of other malpractices.

McDonald’s won and was awarded £40,000 in libel damages. But the so-called “McLibel Two” refused to pay at the end of a trial. Yesterday, they won their claim that the libel trial was unfair–in the longest civil or criminal action in English legal history.

Great Books

Media, Films, & Documentaries

[Film/DVD] Fast Food Nation with Greg Kinnear

If you’re still eating that fast-food burger after watching Super Size Me, you might not feel too hungry after watching Fast Food Nation, a fictionalized feature based on Eric Schlosser’s bestselling nonfiction expose. Director Richard Linklater, who cowrote the screenplay with Schlosser, guides a topnotch ensemble cast through a peek behind the veil of how that Big Mac is born. Much of the film focuses on the illegal immigrants who work in the loosely regulated meat-packing industry, and actors including the luminous Catalina Sandino Moreno (Maria Full of Grace), who plays a desperate but outraged laborer. Greg Kinnear also delivers a spot-on performance as a fast-food chain marketing manager, trying frantically to discover the source of stomach-turning contamination in the company’s meat. Stories are woven in unexpected ways, and cameos by the likes of Kris Kristofferson, Patricia Arquette, and especially Bruce Willis keep the narrative fresh. The film has a point of view, but thanks to Linklater’s deft touch, is never didactic. As Willis’s character slyly says, “Most people don’t like to be told what’s best for them.” Agreed, yet Fast Food Nation likely will help the viewer be more conscious of what’s on the end of that fork.

[Documentary] King Corn

King Corn examines America’s health woes through the multifaceted lens of one humble grain. Director Aaron Woolf and co-writers Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis offer irrefutable proof that the US is virtually drowning in the stuff. Corn meal, corn starch, hydrologized corn protein, and high fructose corn syrup fuel a multitude of products, from soft drinks to hamburgers. The starchy vegetable grows with ease and government subsidies insure over-abundant production. Woolf documents the 11-month effort of college friends Cheney and Ellis, who trace their ancestry to the same small Iowa town, to raise their own crop. After finding a farmer willing to lend them an acre, they meet with agronomists, historians, and other experts before plowing, seeding, and spraying. Prior to harvesting, the easygoing Yale grads travel to Colorado to compare the grass-fed cattle of yore with today’s corn-fed counterparts; then to New York to explore the links between corn syrup, obesity, and diabetes. With assistance from author Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma), a whimsical score, and stop-motion animation–farm toys and corn kernels–Woolf and associates bring biochemistry to vivid life. On a micro level, this genial eye-opener celebrates friends and farmers; on a macro level, King Corn bemoans the subsidies and genetic modifications that have turned a formerly protein-filled product into the fatty “yellow dent no. 2.” Bonus features include a music video, photo gallery, and “The Lost Basement Lectures,” an amusingly fake instructional movie about the aims of agriculture.

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