Archive | May, 2016

McDonald’s: Sorry French Fries, Love’s Not Enough

21 May

Caesarian appetite

All roads lead to our gut, esophageal and metaphysical both.

Our stomach is the coliseum of calories, the place where sugar, fat, carbs and protein all do battle but ultimately succumb to those rippling, duty-bound digestive enzymes to give our body & mind all it needs and more, much more.

El Gastro Gestalt is capital city of our conscious and unconscious minds both.

It’s been that way ever since the Allies crushed the Axis and victors re-directed all that industrious, inventive spirit in armament assembly into the peacetime production of food stuffs on a mass scale the world had never before seen.

While opposite economic ideologies (capitalism v communism) became basis for continued conflict in bullets, A-bomb building & bivouacs (Korea, Indochina, Cuba), the war on hunger became the 2d theater of battle, fighting for the freedom to eat, eat more and then eat again.

.......McDonalds.Arch.thm.3.22.6.R.Sinn.wc.TorontoAfter 70 years of bridge building, base construction and salvos of savory & sweet treats fired off by McDonald’s, Nestlé, ADM, Anheuser-Busch, PepsiCo and Yum!, those who write the history of the Hunger War will record that hearts & minds were won over, completely, like the slurp sound found at the bottom of a small shake.

Mission accomplished: The world is addicted to eating.

(Regarding that Axis thing, a small cell was brought back to life in some demonic deed at, of all places, Disney (ESPN), in some joker’s idea to work a motif on, of all things, camera angle. Even the colors have a Third Reichian feel. Gadgetry goofs. Ugh. Walt’s gotta’ be spinning in his grave: ‘I just wanted to make a place for fun (and a little loot to boot)!’ We know, Walt, we know.)

From sun-up to sundown the gobble & guzzle direct much of our day.

A line in a Roger Corman flick, of all mediums, summed up well the power of the emerging super salivary state (X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes (‘63)):

Dr. Xavier (Ray Milland): “Is that what you think (that I’m a fraud)?”
Carnie Mom: “I don’t think, I just eat!”

Or these nuggets from the gold-mine that was The King of Queens:

Carrie: “Doug, you once told me you only play poker because it adds excitement to your eating!” Doug: “Well excuse me for embracing life!”

Carrie: “Look, there’s a special on mahi-mahi, you’d like it, tastes just like steak.” Doug (“Sir-Eats-Alot”): I’ll get excited when there’s fish that tastes like Doritos.”

.......McDonalds.QP.wc.9.19.6.F.Saalfeld.thmSometimes it’s the salty urge that draws us in (moi). Others it’s sweet. Nearly always it’s pre-packaged by something or someone else hundreds of miles away who add in only god or a chemist knows what.

Eating is of course a basic need for life, going back to Adam & Eve, the Leakey sloth or Ancient Aliens experiment #1, depending in which school-of-thought you matriculate.

After out-foxing toothier beasts, then fashioning shelter from the elements, eating has been our #1 worry for 99.99999% of our time on this “spinning world.” But while that effort consumed much of the day’s time, the haul was generally compatible and nurturing to our physical and emotional well-being.

Fibrous fruits & vegetables, nuts & seeds, formerly diet mainstays, grown or gathered near home or bought locally for soon-day consumption are still favorites but for only a comparative handful: 1000 to 1.

Seek and you shall find

‘We are what we eat (Brillat-Savarin).’ In 2016 we’re just a bunch of trans-fatties, filled-to-the-gills with triglycerides, traces of barnyard hormones & antibiotics, quarts of high fructose corn syrup, shakers of salt and enough genetically-modified organisms (GMO (corn)), hot (aldehydes) & hydrogenated oils and gluten (wheat) in a year’s consumption to fill a Honda Civic, sans a CD-player.

.......McDonalds.Tokyo.JPN.wc.9.21.4.thm.A.FucitoUnless a maker clearly states on their product it’s organic or gluten-free (See; USDA labeling standards), you can assume you’re getting the whole toxic treatment.

I’ve singled-out McDonald’s but could just as easily have listed Burger King, Kellogg’s, Olive Garden, Taco Bell, Appleby’s, Frito Lay, Cracker Barrel, Hillshire Brands, General Mills, Smithfield, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Mars or any other major player in production or delivery of processed / prepared food stuffs, confectionaries or beverages. Mickey D’s just happens to be the first, the biggest and most recognized of the drive-in joints, a cultural icon in eatery consumerism. The Oak Brook, Illinois-based restaurant also happens to be my favorite when indulging the desire for a fast fill-up.

Ray Kroc’s burger baby was my first family fast-food experience.

Choices were limited in the 60s but we didn’t complain. Returning from a trip or to give Mom a break, we’d pack the Ford station wagon, all eight of us, Dad took the orders, walked inside (no seating then) and returned with cardboard holders in drinks and eats. No Big Macs, Quarter-Pounders, salads, chicken things, McMuffins, just the basics: Single-patty burger, chocolate or vanilla shakes, Coke and fries in one size so small you could’ve fit it in your shirt pocket.

.....McDonalds.Bangkok.5.9.6.E.Molina.thm.wcAnd in that last fun fact (fries) lay Big Issue #2, after the uh-oh ingredients (See; Above), serving size. We eat too much in 2016 by portioning too big.

Morgan Spurlock’s 2004 documentary Super Size Me put the quantity issue right under our noses, tabbing McDonald’s as the fast-food format-doormat.

It’s not easy guarding the gate to our mouth. Our needs must do battle daily, and nightly, with desires that are shaped by marvelous marketing, tantalizing, permanently impressionable tastes and professional placement of product line in grocery aisle and on highway signage.

Insatiable appetite

Our bodies and brains have no natural inclination towards sugar and carbohydrates. But the palate-pleasers developed by food chemists post-World War 2, indoctrinating us from the time we exit the womb, make our mouths sing for “♫ more, more, mooooore (ATC (‘76)) ♫.” One taste and you’re hooked, or, in the nomenclature, it’s love at first bite.

......McDonalds.brd.wc.thm.Kici.2.4.7.JapanKey players in the fixation: Hydrogenated trans-fats that came onto market in the 1950s, followed by high fructose corn syrup (Clinton Corn Processing and Japan‘s AIST (Takasaki)), first in drinks (70s), now in pretty much in anything that’s processed & packaged.

If you don’t think food is addictive like cigarettes or alcohol, try going off the sweet, savory and wheat-based staples for a week and see how you fare. You’ll be climbing the walls and kicking the family pet if you’re not careful.

We’re not helpless creatures. Will power, lack thereof, plays a role in our oral fixations and face-stuffing routines. But science & psychology play their part.

Food stuffs are packaged with artful, eye-catching flair, labeled in accordance w/USDA but free to finesse (One of the FDA’s sorry-standards: If a food item has trans-fat < 0.4 gram it need not be listed on said label. “Tanks fur nuttin (“Maggie (Caddyshack (‘80)”)!’”). Once the goods hit the grocery or restaurant chain, the strategy-in-placement, whether on shelf & aisle or street location will take command and push a Pavlovian response if you’re hungry or just think so.

......McDonalds.Israel.wc.2.7.7.Ingsoc.thm.AshqelonWriting as one of those dutiful dogs in dining I can say it’s been alot of fun. Many a tasty, convenient and filling meals have passed these lips. I wouldn’t say inexpensive fun but then convenience does exact a price.

But now some of us are making discoveries about the food and beverages we consume, deciding to break the cycle of addiction. It’s not easy. Making a life change never is.

Spurlock & Co. did a public service, for profit, with their documentary, focusing on the most conspicuous health harm associated with a steady diet in processed – prepared food (weight gain), and a subject most easily solicitous of chuckles.

But there are many potential serious health risks associated with a daily diet in prepared-food that are not directly associated with the scale, i.e., obesity.

Ingesting a mere 1 gram of trans fat, easy to do with federal labeling loophole (< 0.4 gram), found in most pre-packaged, processed food items, can take days to process out of the body. That hidden harm can then potentially be the build-up and tipping point for the bad event: Myocardial infarction, i.e., heart attack.

......McDonalds.kiosk.10.28.5.Shizhao.Shanghai.thmAnd don’t expect government to push the food court to find healthier means to feed the world. Understanding that legislators and agency folk work on a quid pro quo basis and are generally captured in 2016 by those they’re entrusted to regulate, the task of getting lots o’ food to the masses, as laden with undesirables as it would seem, has become the only political mandate on the eat-issue.

And it is that same mentality that drove the message behind Soylent Green (Stan Greenberg & Harry Harrison (‘73)): When the sea is farmed-out, the people keep multiplying fruitfully, terra firma loses that precious top soil and pollutants take their toll, you find protein wherever you can. Eek.

♫ Breaking Up Is Hard to Do ♫

Here then are the interlopers in processed food stuffs, those unseemly sorts who were given a key to the place and drove a wedge between health-wise consumers and their former steady (McDonald‘s, etc.), leading the jilted to bid adieu.

......Coke.bubbles.Spiff.wc.thmSugar-based beverages (high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and sucrose (table sugar) – dextrose mixture)

Flavoring soda pop and other heavily sweetened drinks, sugars regular consumption can lead to insulin resistence, glucose intolerance and metabolic syndrome (diabetes). The neuro-degenerative disorder Alzheimer’s disease is now sometimes being referred to as diabetes of the brain.

Gluten-based bread and emulsifiers

Wheat-protein containing a difficult to digest amino acid is in the bread that houses those hamburgers, hot dogs and sandwiches. Like trans-fat, it will turn to add-on weight, i.e., love handles, and celiac disease in more serious cases.

Genetically-modified organisms (GMOs)

The research is ongoing about these engineered foods and the human health risks, short and long-term, are largely unknown which means the safety picture on such altered foods remains blurred. No labeling required in the USA.

Cured or adulterated meats

Taking the form of bacon, sausage, jerky and the like, they are believed to have a possible casual connection to heart disease and some cancers.

......McDonalds.fries.Kici.Japan.10.14.06.thmReheated cooking oils

Burgers are boss at McDonald’s but the fries are its calling card. Best in the biz. The cooking oil can be harmful beyond the unhealthy fats. If reheated enough it will create toxic chemicals called aldehydes that collect in the brain and are being linked to neurodegenerative disorders (dementia / Alzheimer’s) and advanced glycation end-products (free radicals) associated with diabetes. Crazy love.

Chemically treated salad greens, vegetables and wheat – corn products

Unless plant parts are identified as organically grown it’s a strong chance they’ve been prepared with any number of chemicals that rinsing will not entirely wash clean. These man-made molecules kill the pests but do no good inside the body.

Antibiotics and hormones in livestock and feed

The livestock that account for most of the processed meals will often receive growth-hormone and drug treatments to fight illness, some that can add considerable bulk to the beast. Humans don’t need animal pharmacology.

Trans-fats and hydrogenated oils

Safflower and cottonseed oil (omega-6) are some of the bad boys that find their way into most processed foods because they emulsify and make it taste good. But these bad fats (good fats include omega-3 (fish oil) and omega-9s (olive oils) are key contributors to heart disease.

We wouldn’t let “Joe Camel” sell cigarettes to kids, why would we let Kellogg’s, KFC, PepsiCo and Kraft sell them on a possible pathway to increased risk for diabetes, heart disease (inflammation & oxidation) and maybe even some cancers as well (immunity deficiency)? Ask your friendly neighborhood legislator, soon.

......McDonalds.Sydney.Sardaka.11.5.12.wc.thmWhen Russ Westbrook (Mt-Dew), LeBron James, Bryce Harper and Cam Newton (Gatorade) pitch for PepsiCo and their sugar-based drinks, whether HFCS or the sucrose – dextrose mix, is selling the sweet drinks much different than when John Wayne, Joe DiMaggio and dozens of other stars shilled for the tobacco companies throughout a good part of the prior century? Government’s “strange inconsistency” in regulation may be explained in that there is no 2d-hand heart disease and diabetes can sometimes be manageable (ugh). But cancer is cancer, folks, in all of its deadly forms.

The food conglomerates’ have a good defense: ‘We feed the world,’ a planet with its ever-growing population, no longer checked by world war or global plagues. And with a world-wide energy crisis looming as oil reserves continue to dwindle and alternatives not yet a reality, healthiest foods may become a moot point.

Truth be told, because organic and gluten-free choices are not always available in stores & restaurants, because old habits die hard and one must treat themselves to the emulsified flavors that please the palate so well, my wife and I do continue to purchase some processed foods & beverages for home consumption and travel especially, with digestive supplement (Tolerase®) and handy.

Ultimately, responsibility will rest on the shoulders of every person, parent – guardian where children and dependents are concerned (It‘s never too late to start a healthier lifestyle) and their medical professional to better educate themselves on choices in diet and related habits like exercise, cessations (big portions / excess drink / smoking), stress reduction and supplementation.

Go to http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed and read for yourself what experts are publishing about their findings on the food we eat and who we really are.

.....macroecono.lamcasinoroyal.2011.wcSteven Keys
MacroSport
Photo credits: BigMac, 2.4.7, Kici, Japan, wc.cca; McDonalds-Arch, 3.22.6, wc.cca, Toronto, R.Sinn; QuarterPounder, wc.cca, Saalfeld, 8.19.6; McDonald’s-Tokyo, wc.cca, JPN, 9.21.4, A.Fucito; McDonalds-Bangkok, wc.cca, 5.9.6, E.Molina; McDonalds-burger, Kici, 2.4.7, wc.cca, Japan; McDonald’s-Israel, wc.cca, Ingsoc, 2.7.7, Ashqelon; McDonalds-Kiosk, 10.28.5, Shanghai, Shizhao; Coke, bubbles, Spiff, wc; McDonalds-fries, Kici, 10.14.6, Japan; McDonalds-Sydney, Sardaka, wc.cca, 11.5.12; macroecono-lamcasinoroyal, 2011, wc.cca.
Posted: 5.21.16 @ 2:43pm, edit 11:59 EST; Copyright © 2016
The King of Queen quotes: Springfield!-Springfield!

NFL16: Draft Dogs & Ponies, Number Nomens and Write-In Roger Goodell

2 May

Nobody primes the pump like the NFL. Even in their off-season they’re on.

Concussion reports, Redskins wrangle, TMZ video drops (Rice), bad boys running amok (“Johnny Trouble”), grudge-holder grumble (Brees) or having your Face (Brady) suffer blemish of discipline (Deflategate), none of it seems to throw the National Football League off its stride.

The League’s bottom-line, top-line and everything in between grows like their assets swim in a pool of Miracle-Gro®.

Behold, NFL Draft16 (April 28 – 30). And note the capital ‘D.’ A big Deal.

First held in Philadelphia in 1936 as a conception of Bert Bell to level the playing field and keep the League fiscally fit, Eagles selected University of Chicago inaugural Heisman winner Jay Berwanger as the first #1 (Never signed with NFL and only 28 of 81 draftees did (Wikipedia)). In decades that followed, the serious football fan would tune into radio, read the hometown daily and then take in their local TV sportscaster who’d list off the names of the new hopefuls.

When draft-day took to cable in the 1980s on Disney (ESPN) it kicked-off in AM and telecast tailed-off soon thereafter. Most followers had a clue on their team’s roster needs and put their trust in their team’s selection. That trust is, for the most part, still afforded but the presentation has, in the words of former Rams / Cowboys’ executive Gil Brandt, succumbed to a clear “overkill” in shill.

......Goodell.8.30.12.wc.thmb.SSG.T.Wade.USMAToday the Draft is a full-fledged showcase that’s gone primetime on TV, internet and anywhere else sports information gets powerized.

But draft watching is not for every football fan.

Teams must replenish inventory but the valuation of selectees is too amorphous, hazy to vest heavily. But then the whole dog & pony show, from pre- (mock), to DD to post-party analysis seems mired in minutiae, i.e., bores the bejeebers.

One thing I’d like to see in post-draft coverage is that first moxified draftee who negotiates to have his planned digit displayed on his first team jersey, rather than that trite #1. ‘Make me happy, have it ready, Dude.’ If I missed it, kudos.

That upwards of 60% of 1Rs (up it by 5-10% for each next Rd) will have only marginal or zero impact on the NFL operation is a fact not lost on most fans whose curiosity peaks when all’s done and they peruse their own team’s post-draft tally to discover what the Suits & Staffers needed in roster-fill.

Celebrity-watch and fantasy fulfillment will bring in most of the draft viewership. Affirmation by association. Conformity never had it so good.

Even so, nationally unknown Big Men on Campus donning caps & gowns to graduate to their Big Payday (on the cusp, anyway) juxtaposed against the Big Cufflink Roger is harmonious enough but hardly the stuff of “must see TV” for the core element, i.e., fans of ‘tumultuous merriment (sport).’

As long as target-markets in kids, fantasy gamblers and host-City businesses keep cheering the Draft presentation the League can dial-out the static and will keep coming in loud & clear throughout the 50 and beyond (See; London, etc.).

And as the boredom red-lines for those who’d rather watch on-field matriculation than draft day speculation, the event pulls in respectable ratings. Credit NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for much of the show’s success, the whole blooming NFL gestalt, for that matter.

Hoopla and worker-mgmt ménage never resonated with such ♫ harmonious ♫ notes as it does on Draft nite. It’s a win-win for the NFL and getting winner by the year, though, the Nike deal is looking a gobbler (‘These Colors Run’). Goodell carries it off like a pro, better than the 2016 Presidential candidates.

.......NFL.Draft.4.22.10.RCMH.NY.M.O'Leary.thmWavering between maverick and loose-cannon, Mr. Trump exudes arrogance, tapping into voter frustration to further a mission-in-greed while Ms. Clinton cuts many of the same deals with corporations, captured by her own extreme element and jumps any PC Bandwagon rolling by, having made nary a peep about Redskins’ moniker pre-2012 (Nike NFL) in all those years residing in our nation’s capital, DC.

Both leaders could take a lesson in tactic & temper from gridiron Goodell.

Case in point, 2d Circuit’s recent reinstatement of NFL imposed penalty on Tom Brady and his Patriots for their actions in the Deflategate matter, overturning the trial District Court’s prior voidance of the 4-game susp’n and draft pick ding.

If 2d Circuit remains the ruling, Roger wins the legal battle and looks a leader who enforces the law (rules) showing no favorites, even when the offender (Brady) is practically a League logo. If NFL had lost the appeal or Team Brady miraculously gets a reversal (SC), Roger would still win as that result would’ve been good for business yet he’d have given it his best effort: Due diligence.

After ethical grounding, if there’s one character trait a Commissioner, a President, a leader must manifest it is strength, and the wisdom, the heart to exercise it when necessary, regardless of popularity polls. And that’s the lesson.

Though he came under heavy fire during the Rice – Palmer matter, some of it justified for the extremes in penalty imposition, some of it false for its hypocrisy, i.e., his critics variance in reactions to the videos, one wonders with the dearth of top-quality Prez prospects, a void that makes NFL’s sorry signal-caller state seem just so much over-inflated fodder (no pun), whether Goodell may one day throw his own hat into the political ring for the Commander-in-Chief job?

Roger was raised in politics, his father Charles Goodell (1926-87) serving four terms in Congress from the State of New York, leaving that office to fill the vacancy created when Robert Kennedy was assassinated on June 6th, 1968, having been appointed by Governor Nelson Rockefeller to fulfill the term (1971). Like Rocky, Charles was one of the last liberal Republicans in Nixon era and lost his bid to keep the Senate seat when the liberal vote was split in benefit to conservative James Buckley (Wikipedia).

........Goodell.Swann.Craig.Elway.Petraeus.wc.SS.B.Lail.thm.2.1.9The Commissioner is a registered GOP‘er. His stands on abortion, immigration, taxes, economics, jobs & energy, the latter two still suffering the pseudo-silent treatment from the candidates, are unknown to this writer. Whatever position he plays on issues there’s one vote he should count on: DeMaurice Smith (NFLPA).

It’s because of that apparent ability to reach across the aisle to one’s adversary, coupled with the opposite ability to find the strength to sometimes do the necessary but unpopular deed, that Mr. Smith’s support for a theoretical future Goodell candidacy might be reasonably inferred.

No background will fully prepare one for the many difficult duties and mental – physical challenges that the U.S. Presidency presents to its holder day in, day out for at least four years. Too often critical of their performance, when we’re separated from our own self-interests it’s easier to understand the toll that the job takes on the White House occupants (See: Hair-color change).

If any job will provide smidgens of similarity in experience it might be Commissioner of the biggest game in town, the NFL. In peace-time, the major media attention the post and its subject territory (League) receives, and then the often thankless nature of the job where success can be measured by the critics you create, are both states President Obama understands all too well.

To trade-in a $40M a year job to try to become the biggest quarterback on the planet (Chief Executive), a job heavy with headaches and so small pay it’s practically a volunteer position, seems unlikely. But that’s just what might make Roger Goodell well suited to the White House.

Careful what you wish for, Don. Once you’re in this there‘s no walking away.

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: R.Goodell, wc, 2.1.9, Sgt.B.Lail; Goodell, wc, 8.30.12, Sgt.T.Wade, USMA; NFL-Draft, wc.cca, 4.22.10, RCMH-NYC, M.O’Leary; Goodell, 7.10.8, wc, Sgt.B.DelVecchio; Afghan; NFL-symbol, wikiproject.
Posted: 5.2.16 @ 3:11pm, edit 5:47 EST; Copyright © 2016