Michael Pollan – Chapter 7: The Meal


– 1 in 3 Americans eat fast food every single day
– “Denying the denier” – marketing term for what a salad/veggie burger does for a fast food chain
– 19% of American meals are eaten in the car
– Leavening Agents – sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, sodium acid pyrophosphate, calcium lactate
– Chicken Nugget – 38 ingredients, 3 contain corn, dimethylpolysiloxene (carcinogen, flammable, established mutagen, reproductive effector), butylhydroquinone (TBHQ, antioxidant derived from petroleum – “helps preserve freshness”)
– TBHQ – one gram can cause nausea, vomiting, delirium, collapse – five grams can kill


What started out as a cow eating corn in a crowed feedlot, will have an end result of a family picking up dinner through the McDonald’s drive-thru, chowing down big-macs on their way home from a long day. America has gained the reputation of surviving off industrial meals. As Michael Pollan described his experience eating at McDonald’s with his family, it sounded all too familiar. I found it interesting that as he was talking about eating their meal in their convertible, top down, it was ironic that the car would be eating the same thing…corn! He made the point that food like nuggets, for example, cannot be compared to chicken because they have become a food genre of their own. He directed a pamphlet he had picked up which listed the ingredients of a McNugget, a lot of which seemed to be synthetic. Fake chicken is what they should call them!

The process of industrial food is so complex, yet is it worth the trouble. Is putting all of these chemicals in our food really worth the damage it causes, just so it can taste okay and fill our stomachs. After reading several of Pollan’s chapters form his book, I’m wondering if we really know what we’re eating. Apparently not if we’re still consuming McNuggets that are purely synthetic. We’ve come such a long way with food. But have we gone too far? Or maybe we took a wrong turn along the way? What will it take to regroup and find our way back?


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