I spent part of our ice storm weekend reading “Don’t Eat This Book- Fast Food and the Supersizing of America” by Morgan Spurlock. Mr. Spurlock was the producer, director and star of the movie, Super Size Me, that documented his 30-day McDonald’s diet. The book discusses the movie, fast food in general, McDonald’s specifically, diets, and school lunchrooms. It is entertaining, motivating, and downright frightening.
Mr. Spurlock found that his month of gluttony not only affected his health, but his attitude. He talks about exhibiting many of the same behaviors of addicts who crave cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs. And he went through withdrawal symptoms when he returned to healthy eating. Makes for some interesting reading, but what really grabbed my attention were his remarks about “cradle to grave” marketing. I had already read about this concept in James McNeal’s book, "Kids as Customers".
Most toddlers in this country already associate the big arches with food and fun. They love the “Happy Meals”, the playground, and of course Ronald. School children can practically recite the McDonald’s menu for you. This ensures that children will continue to eat their favorite food from cradle to grave. But as Spurlock warns, if we keep training our children to eat sugar and salt laden fatty food, the grave may come sooner than we’d like. And Spurlock doesn’t single out McDonald’s. Cereal companies and other manufacturers also understand the buying power and influence of children. And most of the products marketed to children contain far more fat and sugar than growing bodies need. Some shocking statistics in this section that should really alarm parents.
I questioned some of Spurlock’s statements, but he has plenty of references to research. So far I haven’t found him to be wrong about anything. Reading this book may be just the beginning if you are interested in food, children, or dieting. I urge you to look for it at your local library.
And while we are on the subject of food I want to mention a magazine sample I received in the mail yesterday. It’s called Cuisine at home and I’m really enjoying it. It’s published without advertising, by August Home Publishing. Some of the topics covered in this issue include salt (different types), Santoku knives, and basic cooking techniques such as how to melt chocolate. Recipes include parmesan crusted chicken, chicken piccata, and crispy crusted red snapper. Mr. Spurlock makes the point in his book that with the widespread use of frozen food most people don’t cook meals anymore, they just “assemble” them. That’s basically what I do! But maybe with a magazine like this I could actually COOK something.