McDonald’s is a McMetaphor, for all that is cheap and ticky-tacky, and soullessly franchised, a stand-in for all the mass-produced necessary evils of our age from McJobs to McMansions. It’s a McMeme. The company’s symbolic spokesclown, Ronald McDonald, has resisted a public movement to force him into retirement.
Somewhere in the official mission statement there must be a clause affirming that the corporation will make national news more often than any other industrial source of pseudo-foodstuffs whose recipes don’t bear up well under scrutiny. And, apparently, the old Hollywood saying is true: There is no such thing as bad publicity, meaning that it’s all good. Mickey D’s outfit has received more negative press than Genghis Khan, and yet it thrives.
There is another similarity. Due to certain of his policies as a conquering warlord, about one-half of 1% of the Earth’s men carry the genes of Genghis Khan. That’s one man in 200, worldwide, descended from a single hyperactive individual.
A much larger proportion of the world’s people bear in their bodies the marks of McDonald’s, ranging from massive collections of fat cells to random chemical imbalances triggered by strange chemicals. The difference is, the Mongol chieftain created lots of babies, while, as we see from the picture, Ronald McDonald has babies sacrificed to him. (Just kidding! It’s a joke. No such thing as bad publicity — remember?)
About the strange chemicals — last time, we discussed the ammonia in the hamburger. Technically, no longer in the hamburger, since a certain famous visiting British chef raised the alarm and McDonald’s changed its ways. Still in the chicken nuggets, however. In the fast-food wrappers, other noxious substances are said to lurk. Until they stop lurking and soak into the food, and travel from there to people’s stomachs, livers, etc.
A couple of years ago, this news about perflurooctanoic acid, or PFOA, was published:
Chemicals used to keep grease from leaking through fast food wrappers and microwave popcorn bags are migrating into food, being ingested by people and showing up as contaminants in blood, according to new research at the University of Toronto… Elevated levels of PFOA in blood have been associated with changes in sex hormones and cholesterol, according to the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances. The researchers concluded that due to the long time that PFOA remains in human blood, even low-level PAP exposure could, over time, result in significant exposure to PFOA.
Could these PFOAs have something to do with obesity? Maybe, maybe not. Dr. Pretlow makes a very convincing case for food addiction as the cause of most obesity. On the other hand, it’s a big Perfect Storm out there, with a lot of different things going on, and a lot of contributing factors — from personal to societal.
And maybe even chemical. Hot off the ScienceDaily press is an article titled, “Environmental Pollutant Level During Pregnancy Linked With Grown Daughters Who Are Overweight”:
The levels of the environmental pollutant perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) that mothers had in their blood during pregnancy increased the risk of obesity in their daughters at 20 years of age. The findings come from a recent study of Danish women in which the Norwegian Institute of Public Health participated… An association was also found between PFOA exposure before birth and elevated levels of insulin and leptin, two hormones that are linked to obesity.
Oh, dear. Another argument for why short-term studies on lab animals that really are not very much like humans are not dependable or sufficient. A lot of things are going on with people, the outcomes of which cannot be known for years.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Chemicals in Fast Food Wrappers Show Up in Human Blood,” ENS, 11/08/10
Source: “Environmental Pollutant Level During Pregnancy,” ScienceDaily, 02/21/12
Image of Genghis Khan by Cogdogblog (Alan Levine), used under its Creative Commons license.
Image of Ronald McDonald by Micah Sittig, used under its Creative Commons license.