Values of American Society
The values of American society are influenced by an individual’s perspective of himself and the world around him. Values are based on what is beneficial and 0acceptable to society. Jessica Mitford and Michael Pollan explore different values that can be particularly controversial to a vast majority of individuals. In “The Story of Service,” Mitford explores the procedure that occurs after a person dies. In “The Meal: Fast Food,” Pollan reveals the mystery behind the fast food industry. Mitford and Pollan make note that the first glance at a big picture can be deceptive. The less we know, the less vulnerable we are to incompetent circumstances.
Mitford and Pollan analyze two very different topics in which are crucial to American society. Although their content did not correlate with each other, their intentions remained the same. Mitford carefully approached a matter that is not often talked about. When a person dies, the subject becomes sensitive with the fear of crossing certain boundaries. Aside from cremation, the mechanism of preparing a body for a funeral remains the same. The corpse is presented in a coffin in front of a gathering of people to commemorate their loved one. One by one, each individual gives their condolences to the family of the deceased. Death is not a foreign matter, but the general public is sheltered from what occurs behind the curtain. The undertaker, who is better known as the mortician, conducts the entire procedure. As Mitford describes, the undertaker acts as a surgeon. He precisely decapitates the body in the areas in which will enable it to be positioned properly into the casket. This can come off as disrespectful and misleading, which is why it is not openly advertised.
On the other hand, Pollan tackles a worldwide phenomenon that has profited not only the fast food industries, but their contributors as well. Fast food has been a go-to for Americans but little to do we know, our health could potentially be at risk. Although it is known that these corporations are selling unhealthy alternatives to food, a superiority of Americas add to cause by ranking up their proceeds. Pollan reported that, “TBHQ, an antioxidant derived from petroleum that is either sprayed directly on the nugget or the inside of the box it come in to “help preserve freshness.”” (113) Although it ensures the freshness of the product, it is still critical to ones health. For obvious reasons, major companies choose to omit TBHQ in their nutritional facts so that way profit is not lost. Pollan also mentions that, “Ingesting five grams of TBHQ can kill,” (114) which is something that should be advertised, or taken out of the formula entirely. Unfortunately, there are select amount of people who do not value their well being. Pollan notes that, “One in three American children eat fast food every day.” (109) In this case, food is valued in the wrong way. Fast food is cheaply made and inexpensive but there are other alternatives to living on a tight budget.
It is apparent that the process by which a person is laid to rest eternally is a value all Americans share. The tradition and consideration towards the deceased contributes to the “code of death” which is evident. A point that should be made clear is the decision to participate in something that doesn’t appear to be abnormal because it has been a custom for so long. After reading Mitford’s explanation of the embalming process it almost seems absurd. Thousands of dollars are spent at the funeral director’s cost. Besides the money put into the ceremony itself and the burial, a mortician is paid to do more than just that. Mitford emphasized the technique of sewing ones mouth together in order to have a “more pleasant expression.” (46) In order to accomplish this, the mortician must put “a needle directed upward between the upper lip and gum and brought out through the left nostril.” (46) In every way, shape, and form, this process seems unimaginable and odd to think about. In technical terms, the funds go straight towards the butchering and buffering of the corpse. Mitford indicated that, “Positioning the hands is a matter of importance, and the special rubber positioning blocks may be used. The hands should be cupped slightly for a more lifelike, relaxed appearance.” (49) A corpse is everything but lifelike, almost as if the body is carved out of clay. It is an unrealistic representation of the person and is only crucial because it is a social norm. When conjoining Mitford and Pollan’s theories, it is easy to interpret that both topics are prepared and presented in a way that isn’t evident to the naked eye. We tend to look the other way when it comes to situations that make us feel uncomfortable and uneasy. Both authors were able to take two questionable issues and take matters into their own hands.
The McCode that was deliberated in class became the code of conduct for the fast food industry. It went through the specific guidelines of the Dos, Don’ts, and Be Carefuls in order to run a successful business. One of the Dos suggested in the McCode was, “Primarily rely on cheap and available resources.” The cheaper the product equals the cheaper the quality. Instead of getting an immense amount of lousy products, pay the difference upfront for the better product. The money used on the better product will be beneficial in the long run because more people will be willing to spend money on something worth eating. A Don’t that was to be advised consisted of, “Do not advertise long term health effects.” Buyers of the company should not be at risk and should be made aware of all ingredients, more specifically the chemicals, they are ingesting. Not only is it a safety hazard, but it also increases the risk of company being sued due to complications. If companies are going to use certain ingredients that have a long term health effect, their products should be labeled properly as a backup. A Be Careful recommended, “Keeping the “easy and on the go” perspective.” This can go about two ways but for most people it is very beneficial. America is a very fast pace country and seems to be always moving. The “on the go” perspective is a custom for many individuals and is convenient to everyone. Customers have the option to dine in or take it to go in a hurry, hence the term “fast food.”