Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mc Donald's Salads

Yesterday I turned on Facebook and was confronted with about 12 people announcing they had joined a group called:

"Going to Mc Donalds for a salad is like going to a whore for a hug"

This kinda got under my skin a little bit so I made some posts of my own:

Going to McDonalds for a Salad is like getting a fairly nutritious and filling salad from what might be the most convenient and accessible place if you live in the inner city. There are NO grocery stores in Camden NJ.

Going to McDonalds for a Salad might be the only way to get a decent meal when the rest of your family is eating crap.

Going to McDonalds for a salad might be upsetting to ethnocentric yuppies who think that everyone must overpay for food at artisian farmers markets.

Getting a salad from McDonalds is like telling one of the worlds largest and most accessible franchises that you would like them to carry more nutritious food.

So what the hell does any of this have to do with magic? Nothing unless you think that widening perspective has to do with magic. When I hear a bunch of white, well-off, suburbanites mocking the salads at McDonalds my mind instantly goes to the family who are always dragging him to McDonalds because it is one of the few places they can afford to treat their family of four or five to a meal out and let the kids have a good time. I think of people who live in areas of Philadelphia where the produce at even the name brand stores is so rotten that I would much rather get it at a McDonalds.

It would be nice is everyone could eat at Chez Panisse every day of their lives and have organic locally produced food. Unfortunately this world is not like that. The problem is rather than work to make that kind of food less expensive and more available, food elites like Alice Waters and Michael Pollen and their hoards of foodies are working to make other foods more expensive. What do they say to people who are struggling with food bills already? Alice Waters suggestion is to "Make a sacrifice on the cell phone or the third pair of Nike shoes."

Now, for the last two months I have been cooking almost all of my food at home. I have been buying organic and as much as I can have been buying local. I can afford to do it. But I am certainly not going to mock the person who wants to get a grilled chicken salad at the most convenient and possibly best place for them to do so. There is nothing wrong with the salad other than the chicken having a little too much sodium. The rest of it is all natural down to the Newman's Own dressing.

Its all about perspective folks.


Morgan Drake Eckstein said...

There is a MacDonalds right next to the college campus I go to. Being a poor college student means that often MacDonalds is the only place I have money and time to go to. And yes, occasionally I will eat one of their salads. There is also a Burger King near the campus, and occasionally I will eat one of their salads also. Both are better than eating stuff out of the vending machines.

Jason Miller, said...


Frater A.I.T. said...

Here, here!

And Madame Waters needs to STFU. Skip their third pair of Nikes? Perhaps they should just pawn their gold teeth, or sell their rims as well....Goodness.

I appreciate what she's trying to accomplish with the healthier and organically grown foods, but she's definitely not seeing clear if a comment like that can slip out of her mouth.

Poor familys aren't picking McDonalds instead of Whole Foods because they prefer the cuisine, but because that's what they can afford. Nice post!

lubiddu said...

Excellent post! About the only thing that makes me more stabby on the subject of food than the "let the peasants eat organic food they can't access/can't afford" argument is the mention of how cheap food is a problem, that Europeans spend approximately 18% of their income on food, and thus food prices in the U.S. need to be raised so that "people will make better choices." Fortunately, I've only run into that argument via magazine articles and the internet---it would take every fiber of my being not to completely lose my temper if someone had the nerve to bring that shit up in person.

Talk about the perfect being the enemy of the good. "How dare McDonald's serve salads!" Bah. You know, I'd like to see the reverse of "Super-size Me", where an affluent yuppie has to move to the inner city and feed him- or herself on what's left after the rent and utilities are paid. Without a plot for a garden. Without a car to access actual grocery stores that have non-rotten food, or prices lower than $1.25 for one banana (at the gas station/convenience store). Since it seems certain people aren't willing to listen to those of us who have had that experience, maybe they would be willing to listen to one of their own.

Also, I wish they's just shut up already about the farmer's markets. Prior to foodie-ism, the prices were cheap at the farmer's market. Now, there are boutique prices to go with the fresh food, because it's the "in" thing. I don't blame the farmers for making a buck---just irritated with those who pretend that one can "save money" by going there. You won't save money; you'll get fresher, in-season food that lasts longer on your counter or in the fridge. At a price that is significantly higher than what you'd spend at the grocery store. That price difference is insignificant to someone who is employed and making a decent living, but for someone with literally no disposable income, no money that isn't already earmarked for necessities (including the cell phone; Waters does realize that land lines are more expensive than cell phones, right?)---that price is just one more mountain to climb in an already hard life.

Jow said...

I remember when farmers markets were shunned by the more well off because the food was "all dirty".

The reason to shop there was that the farmers get a much bigger cut than they would if they would selling to the grocery stores (which mostly got their produce from out of state/country), and gave them a place to unload their less than perfect specimens that were still totally edible, just not pretty. Aside from the cheaper price for the consumer, of course.

Mayhaps we should worry about raising food prices AFTER everyone can get fed.

That is a lot of classist, racist, privileged bullshit. Maybe the peasants can eat cake next, no?

I'm glad you posted that reply on facebook, Jason. A lot of those folks probably just didn't know. Good job dude.

Gordon said...

As a card-carrying foodie elitist I completely agree with you.

I have pretty much reorganised my life around food elitism as a personal choice... It takes work, time and money; all of which I have enough of at the moment in my child-free home.

But it's just a silly hobby. I'm teaching myself to cook. It's not like it's a way of life that can apply to all -or even most- people.

Penelope Trunk -as a former New York elitist, herself- has some fascinating observations on the merits of McDonald's for families in this post. It's definitely worth a read.

Besides, the salads are not actually all that bad. I had one at the airport a month ago. They surely beat crushed hamburgers and lukewarm fries any day.

Miss Sugar said...

I would like to give this post a standing O.

Thank you for posting this, I have similar food views. It is *very* hard to eat healthily on little money. I am *incredibly* grateful for the farmer's market by us for being a "real" farmer's market with imperfect fruits and veggies but seasonal and local and affordable (less expensive than local grocery stores). It's part of my personal mantra that at least no matter how little money we have, we'll have access to fresh fruit and vegetables and brown rice.

C-Style said...

I, for one, like McDonald's salads! Let's face it, with all of the E-Coli scares from bagged lettuce in the grocery stores, you can more or less count on McD's to have quality control. In all the decades (yep, decades) I've bought McD's, I have never gotten a bad meal or taken ill from any of their food! As a lifestyle writer, I take chefs and their menus at face value. Just because you're hyped doesn't mean you'll get my vote as being superior in any way to a fast food chain. For instance, I stayed in West Beverly in the 90's and had dinner where Prince kept a penthouse. When the waiter brought me romaine lettuce, I sent it back for iceberg, instead. McDonald's is okay by me!

Al said...

I'm sorry but I disagree with you. I have a McDonald's at the end of my block. While I can't comment about their salads (having refused to eat there for most of three years now), what they serve, in general, isn't food unless you consider eating things that fuel obesity and the epidemic of diabetes to be food.

I worked at a McDonald's when I was younger and am intimately familiar with the content and practices of what they serve. Sugar coated and preservative treated "fries" fried in oil, for example, are about as far from something anyone should eat as possible. Taking your kids to that is akin to child abuse, as far as I'm concerned.
It's all heavily processed, sugar filled, fake food made with fat. It pushes the taste buttons that we have evolved to so it tastes good to most people but it is a poison that will kill you in the long run. Given the size of the people I see rolling in and out of McDonald's on my block, I really doubt that it is helping them at all.

You're painting an artificial extreme if you think the choices are organic food from a farmer's market or McDonald's. That's a straw man. Maybe you should sing the praised of the local small restaurant or cafe that serves wholesome food instead of McDonald's which serves us food the same way the dealer down the street sells crack (without a care for the customer as long as they keep coming back for their fix).

Patrick said...

Brilliant post. And I'm a food snob myself.

@Al: Hey, man, despite the fact that their fish sandwiches are salty crack to me, I loathe McD's as much as the next liberal. But you can hardly sneer at salads at McD's with the same breath that you criticize unhealthy food options.

Although it's worth pointing out that the salads, if eaten with the full portion of dressing and all the toppings, are actually a rather staggering amount of fat calories themselves. But at least you don't *have* to drain the whole package of dressing onto the food.