“You are what you eat;” that’s what they say, at least. Yet, I never really took heed to what some consider an ominous warning.
Don’t get me wrong. I have always watched what I have eaten. I’m not a glutton. I do not scarf down gallons and gallons of ice cream, nor do I over indulge in cookies or candies. Nope. I try to eat sensibly, and even though in the course of my lifetime, the food pyramid has been updated seven times, changed entirely in 2005, and then altered to “MyPlate” in 2011, I have tried to be sensible about my choices (Harvard School of Public Health).
Recently, however, I came across something startling that through me for a loop.
It is not uncommon knowledge that fast food isn’t good for you. I know that. You know that. Who doesn’t know that? Assuming we are intelligent human beings who will not eat fast food three times a day for thirty days and throw our bodies so out of whack that a doctor warns us we might die (If you haven’t seen SuperSize me, click the title and watch it, and you will know what I am talking about.), I have always felt like an occasional Burger King Chicken Sandwich or Big Mac is not that big of a deal. Sure, they are chocked full of calories and fat grams, but I am not talking about eating said sandwiches every day. I am talking about occasionally, and that means not even once a month.
Well, I thought it was all right and forgivable up until two weeks ago. Two weeks ago, I walked into my friend’s classroom to ask her a question, and she had a McDonald’s bag on a chair near her desk. The contents were exposed. I looked down and I saw a small soda, a cheeseburger, and a small fry.
“What’s this?” I asked. “Lunch?” I giggled. It was only 8:30 in the morning.
Her eyes widened. I could tell she was excited I asked. “Class,” she said to the room. “Could anyone tell Mrs. Huffer why this is here?”
“You are what you eat,” one boy shouted from the third row.
I felt totally confused. What is going on here. Jen teaches English not health. Why does she have McDonald’s in the room?
“Look at the date on the receipt,” she said to me. I moved closer to the food and picked up the receipt: October 6, 2012.
I did a quick calculation. My mouth dropped open as I spun and looked at my friend. “That can’t be real!” I said incredulously. You should have seen it. It looked virtually perfect. The fries had not shriveled. The bread was intact. The meat patty seemed fine. I did not detect even the faintest odor of decay. I did not detect the faintest sight of mold.
“It’s real. I read an article about fast food a few months ago and decided to do my own experiment.” By this time every single eye in the room was staring at that bag of food. “I have this here to remind these students, ‘You are what you eat.’ Food that does not decompose or rot cannot be good for you.”
I left her room without even asking her what I came to find out. I was flabbergasted. I was disgusted. I was horrified. Not only do I indulge in fast food, but so do my children. When on a road trip or at the mall, when everyone complains they are hungry, the easiest way to satisfy hunger has always been fast food. Oh, it’s every once in a while, I told myself. I justified it.
But what was I justifying?
I came home and told my girls about her experiment and they told me to take a picture. I had every intention to do just that, but wouldn’t you know, Jen threw out the meal because she was going on maternity leave for the rest of the school year. Needless to say, if you Google Image “McDonald’s Meals Do Not Decompose”, dozens of images will appear.
The girls and I Googled it, and they were so horrified, even Lizzie who loves Chicken Nuggets, said she did not want to eat fast food anymore.
As we perused the images, Carson added on, “Even the supposed healthy food has to have chemicals. I mean, in a Happy Meal, you get apple slices in a bag, and they don’t brown. When you cut us an apple, Mom, if we do not eat it, it is brown in less than an hour!”
She’s right. My friend’s tiny experiment was a wake up call. Fast food is officially on the forbidden foods list in our household, and as for the present, no one seems to miss it!