View from the fray

Watch that fat ass

A pollster called my home last week, looking for individuals just my age to talk about fast food eating habits.

“How many times have you eaten at a fast food burger restaurant in the past four weeks?” he began.

“Hmm, none, not one,” I replied. “Fast food restaurants spray Spic ‘n’ Span on your double cheeseburgers.”

(I actually spent a half-hour on the phone recently listening to the disturbing tale of a woman who said this happened to her at a local fast food place in Sparks.)

“Oh, I’m sorry,” the pollster said. “You can’t take this poll.”

“Shucks,” I said. “I was looking forward to it.”

I’ve eaten two fast food burgers since March. I took my 11-year-old to Carl’s Jr. after signing him up to play in the Sierra Youth Football League. And I tried a BK Veggie in early April. Not bad, but I’d rather go to Rose’s for a sandwich or Bangkok Cuisine for chicken yellow curry or Pinocchio’s for lasagna. If I wanted a hamburger, I’d get one at Juicy’s or the Little Nugget Diner. These places really don’t cost much more than Jack in the Box—and the food is yummier.

These days, we’ve been hearing that folks from the successful tobacco-is-killing-us lawsuits—the settlement from which the state of Nevada created its Millennium Scholarship—are thinking about going after McDonald’s and Wendy’s. Fast food joints create misleading advertisements, according to law professor John Banzhaf of George Washington University, and the companies fail to warn the public about the health dangers of their products. The number of obese children has tripled in the past 20 years, and 61 percent of adults are overweight or obese. Banzhaf says it’s partly the fault of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

My favorite article on this ran recently at headlined, “Can We Sue Our Own Fat Asses Off?” In it, writer Megan McArdle argues that suing McD’s would be an economic disaster.

“The increased liability risk to all companies would almost certainly mean rising insurance premiums and interest rates, lowered profit margins and stifled innovation for fear of litigation,” McArdle writes. “Not to mention the cost to our sense of justice. If you can’t be held responsible for what you put in your mouth, what are you responsible for?”

I’m not sure why anyone would choose fast food over real food (unless Happy Meal collectible toys are involved). Besides the Spic ‘n’ Span story, one of my English 102 students this semester wrote a disturbing essay that provided a glimpse inside the fast food industry: “When you are at a restaurant, the server has control of what you are going to be ingesting. … On occasion, when I got a real jerk of a customer, I would screw with his order—whether it was licking the hash browns, spitting in his soda or, my favorite, dropping his meat on the nice, filthy, unswept floor, then placing it neatly onto his hamburger bun.

"People think that those are just things that people joke about doing, but they aren’t. They happen. I wasn’t the only one."