morose meals and human bites

Former U.S. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, with...

Eleanor Roosevelt Image via Wikipedia

I am pretty certain that McDonald’s is purposely trying to get my goat. They know I have not cared for them for a really long time. It goes way back. Firstly, I never liked that red and yellow color combination. I find it jarring and it reminds me of a bad mix of mustard and ketchup. Then, there was the whole clown thing. As a child, Bozo viscerally upset me. When McDonald’s fashioned Ronald after Bozo it was like a recurring nightmare. I was confronted repeatedly by the image I thought I had successfully avoided by outgrowing children’s programming. I am sensitive that way. On top of this, I think their restaurants smell bad.

I recall in high school coming home after eating at McDonald’s, climbing into my mom’s bed not feeling great, and deciding to become a vegetarian. I can’t swear the two events occurred simultaneously, but I carry a strong association between them.

Then of course, as a whole foods advocate, nutritionist, and mother, there was no way I could find love in my heart for this child-seducing fast-food corporate giant. I did my best to be the David to this Goliath, but the Happy Meal made me lay down my slingshot. By that point, not only were kids enchanted, but the parents were as well, and I felt defeated.

Still, I was shocked recently when driving down a local highway. I came upon a McDonald’s billboard displaying a gargantuan coffee drink, with a Marge Simpson hairdo-sized topping of whip cream styled with a Mark of Zorro chocolate signature. The huge letters said, ” Chocolate Drizzle is a Right, Not a Topping”.

Since they know I don’t watch much television and therefore might miss their commercials–what better way to get in my face than with a billboard. So what if I tell my clients that  McDonald’s will not pay for their medical bills and medications should they develop nutrition-related health problems. Or, that I do use their bathrooms on occasion. This still seems like an overblown, petty and morally bereft response to our personal tiff.

Is this subliminal or just plain out seductive and manipulative advertising? Or is it downright obnoxious? I get that this is just advertising and that companies rely on it to promote their products. I do watch Mad Men–on Netflix. But to be raising chocolate drizzle to the status of a right in a world where many are denied their true ones is indecent. This assumption about simple entitlements overshadows and ignores the sanctity of our real human rights which according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights refers to matters such as life, liberty, security of person, freedom from servitude, torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. They extend to include a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of the individual and their family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care, and necessary social services. Drizzle does not make the list.

Am I being too sensitive again? Should I lighten up? From where I sit, there are more important rights to assure than drizzle. Here are some examples of things I see that may make me a tad jaded. One day last week I had five clients. Cumulatively they weighed 1,576 pounds. Individually they weighed 382, 366, 284, 292 and 252 pounds. The 252 pounds belonged to an 11-year-old boy with early signs of diabetes and other distressing diet-related health problems.

One morning this week I saw three clients right in a row. They ranged in age from 35 to 48 and were on 17 prescriptions between them–mainly for high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, reflux, and pain–lots of pain. I am tempted to list them. They make for an interesting mix of consonants and vowels. Later, I saw a woman who described a recent McDonald’s meal to me which consisted of 1800 calories.

On a daily basis, I speak with people without kitchen tables, homes, jobs, beds, medical insurance, sufficient medical care–and adequate food. I see kids who can’t go out and play in their neighborhoods and who might not graduate high school.

So, don’t go there with me McDonald’s, asserting that chocolate drizzle is a right. You know that drizzle is not a right but a chemical mixture of corn syrup, dextrose, water, sugar, glycerin, hydrogenated coconut oil, cocoa, food starch-modified, nonfat milk, natural and artificial flavors, salt, gellan gum, disodium phosphate, potassium sorbate, soy lecithin, and artificial flavors. And that it sits atop beverages that contain up to 390 calories and 59 grams or 15 teaspoons of sugar. More importantly, you know that the billions you have to spend on advertising can cover up that bad smell especially when money is tight and food comforts.

When the inequities have been evened out, when health care is guaranteed for all, when the growing of healthy food is more supported by our government and made available and affordable, when rights are not confused with privileges and when corporations are held responsible for their actions–then McDonald’s and I can end our feud and sit and have a conversation. Maybe we can meet at my office.

Eleanor Roosevelt, who worked tirelessly to establish the Universal Declaration of Human Rights wrote, “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home–so close and so small that they cannot be soon on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood they live in; the school or college they attend; the factory, farm, or office where they work. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”

Let’s not belittle this beautiful description of what really matters.

Thank you for listening, sharing, following and supporting my writing. Please subscribe in the sidebar to receive notice of new posts. Comments and greetings always welcome.

In health, Elyn


My Plate Haiku

Are we what we eat

Or do we eat what we are

Are they the same thing?  by Julie

4 thoughts on “morose meals and human bites

  1. O my . I am pinned in place, paralyzed by the power and beauty and sadness of this. It hurts my heart. Yes yes yes ! and why why why? Thank you elyn for putting it out there with such cllarity and eloquence. What can we do to stop this runaway train? I think you should send this to wamc as a radio essay.

    Hunger tiptoes in
    From bellys, hearts or minds
    Feed me now she calls


    • eva, thanks so much for this. what a lovely haiku. bringing the element of hunger, both physical and emotional, to the table is essential. it propels eating behaviors perhaps more profoundly than anything else. you expressed that so beautifully.


  2. Once again, you have pointed out the ‘unrecognized obvious’ and you have done it wisely and eloquently, with a drizzle of humor!
    Write on!


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