Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Fast Food Nation

Last weekend I saw a film that completely blew me away in terms of impact. In a mere 100 minutes, this film packed a powerful punch. That film is none other than "Fast Food Nation." For a simple film about our fast food industry, it covers a lot of ground...from how food is processed and marketed; how flavor is artificially added to enhance product; how marketing execs overlook other unhealthy ingredients; how illegal immigrants fill jobs no American wants; how underpaid they are; how unsafe the job is and the lack of legal protection these workers have; how underpaying the restaurant employees leads to petty things like spitting in the food, poor customer service, and even the high robbery rate perpetuated by former employees; how some liberal groups only talk about changing things without actually doing anything; how unpatriotic the USA PATRIOT Act is; how dumb cows really are; and the most stunning visual yet: what really goes on in a meat packing plant...including the moment when cows are slaughtered.

The impression I had after watching this was "cow concentration camp." That's exactly how it looks. The cows live tightly packed in and fed some processed food with God knows what ingredients, and then they are slaughtered...according to some statistics, 400 per hour! This is the price of our consumption! The other thing that most fascinated me is that it is a bilingual film in which the narrative switches back and forth between English and Spanish. I believe that is the future of our films and society. It's really beautiful in that regard and I'm glad more and more films are using original language with subtitles rather than like in the old days of film where they just have foreigners speak to each other with bad accents to indicate when they are speaking a foreign language.

I've curbed my own carnivorous diet somewhat from what I was eating a decade ago. Of course, I haven't eaten at McDonald's much since 1997 when there was that meat scare and talk of Mad Cow Disease or Hoof and Mouth Disease coming to the U.S. Occasionally, though, I'd crave a Quarter Pounder and indulge...up through last year. When I saw "Supersize Me" in January, I decided once and for all not to eat at McDonald's again, not only because the hamburgers are not good for you...but because I don't want them to get a penny of my money. I'd love to see them go out of business someday. There are healthier options, and Subway is my choice for fast food these days.

Though eating a steak or any kind of beef is a rare treat for me, I doubt I could ever go full on vegetarian because I still love chicken and fish. And since I have fished in the past with my grandfather, if I had to, I could definitely fish for my food, cook it and eat it. With any other animal, I'd have a hard time killing and eating it. Though cows are probably the dumbest animals on the planet, there was something disturbing as I watched the scene in "Fast Food Nation" when the cow is stunned into unconsciousness, struck up a meat hook and sliced for the blood to drain. With it's huge eye, I could tell that it was shocked and knew what was about to happen. Like I said earlier..."cow concentration camp." Food is only processed that way to keep up the insatiable demand consumers have for meat products. It's just gets harder and harder to justify that being the right option, spiritually or environmentally. So, I will probably even eat beef products even less often than I currently do. A few years back, I started eating soy burgers and didn't think it tasted that far off the mark, so that's one option whenever I crave a burger.

Other than the cow! End the concentration camp we subject our cows to. Gosh, now I'm sounding like an ad for Chick-Fil-A! Maybe if they make a sequel to "Fast Food Nation", they can focus on the poultry industry. Though chicken would be the hardest meat for me to give up. Anyhow...if you haven't seen "Fast Food Nation"...I highly recommend it. But don't watch it if you're eating a hamburger. You may possibly not want to touch one again. Moo!


Anonymous said...

Have you read the book? The author is considered a modern day Upton Sinclair. It is very good. By the way, I am Rachel. Sean Langden sent me your blog. I am moving to the Portland area in three days and he mentioned you attended Tuality.

Sean Langdon said...

Hey Rachel! It's Lyle who attends Tuality not Nick!

Sansego said...

Yeah, I'm a heathen. I don't attend church...beyond the YAPS group. I've been to the Portland congregation a few times, but they are not a friendly group. Unless you're married with children. They don't know what to do with single people!

Haven't read the book, but I want to now. In fact, after I saw the film, I thought to myself, "I wish fast food restaurants would offer a soy burger!" And to my surprise, I happened to come across a Burgerville restaurant and up on the menu was a Gardenburger...made of vegetables/soy beans! So, a wish fulfilled. Awesome.

Anonymous said...

I have been in touch with Brad and we are looking to get a YA ministry started with more services and activities geared towards our age group out of the normal setting. It would be awesome if you were interested in helping! I leave for Portland early tomorrow morning. ARe you going to the next YAP event? If you want you can message me on myspace at and I will give you my email so we can get in touch when I get out there. Take care!