In chapter seven of Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, he educates his readers on the background of the famous fast food industry, McDonald’s. In the beginning of this chapter, he starts off with a casual trip with his family to McDonald’s. Later we realize that this chapter is not about what they are eating, but what ingredients they are actually consuming. Pollan questions the use of ingredients in each of the items on the menu. He reveals that corn is the main contributor to every product. McDonald’s provides a list of nutrition facts that are supposed to make the buyer almost feel “better” about themselves for eating fast food. It is also used as an ultimatum to justify what they are consuming.
Pollan Claim: “For most American children today, it is no longer a treat: One in three of them eat fast food every single day.” (109)
Explanation: To many people, fast food is not considered to be a “real meal,” as Pollan explains in this chapter. Unfortunately, there are a number of children who eat fast food on a daily basis. Fast food is often a go-to meal because of its convenience and price. Fast food is often very cheap and a full meal can be bought for less than $4, not including Starbucks or Panera.
Pollan Claim: “The marketers have a term for what a salad or veggie burger does for a fast-food chain: “denying the denier.” (110)
Explanation: Although many fast food industries want to eliminate these items from their menu, it is used as an ultimatum. These items are known as the “healthier alternatives” when it comes to a fast food meal. As much as a person would rather have a Big Mac, they can ease their urge but be satisfied at the same time.
Pollan Claim: “Like other comfort foods, it supplies (besides nostalgia) a jolt of carbohydrates and fat, which some scientists now believe, relieve stress and bathe the brain in chemicals that make it feel good.” (111)
Explanation: There is something about comfort food that makes us feel better for even just a short amount of time. Although it may be unhealthy for you, it is often a go to choice for comfort. As Pollan explains, children see fast food as a reward almost or even a treat. It is so satisfying to the point that even though the ingredients are possibly harmful to our body’s, we continue to fund these multimillion dollar corporations.
Pollan Claim: “Part of the appeal of hamburgers and nuggets is that their bones abstractions allow us to forget we’re eating animals.” (114)
Explanation: Part of the reason that we can forget that we’re eating animals while eating a chicken nugget is because we’re not actually consuming a piece of 100% white meat chicken. If a piece of meat is presented to us on a plate, we are more likely to think about the animal itself. But because the chicken is concealed far, far within the nugget, it tends to slip our mind. McDonald’s now claims that their chicken nuggets are made with real, 100% white meat, but yet they fail to incorporate the TBHQ that is “sprinkled” in. TBHQ is tertiary butyl hydroquinone that is actually flammable and can kill someone if five grams enter your system.