On the subject of fast food

May 9, 2008

I am thoroughly enjoying Michael Pollan’s book, and a few nights ago read one of the best descriptions of fast food I’ve encountered:

Perhaps the reason you eat this food quickly is because it doesn’t bear savoring. The more you concentrate on how it tastes, the less like anything it tastes. I said before that McDonald’s serves a kind of comfort food, but after a few bites I’m more inclined to think they’re selling something more schematic than that — something more like a signifier of comfort food. So you eat more and eat more quickly, hoping somehow to catch up to the original idea of a cheeseburger or French fry as it retreats over the horizon. And so it goes, bite after bite, until you feel not satisfied exactly, but simply, regrettably, full.*

This quote is exemplary of why I like his writing. He is dealing with a topic that people would rather avoid — why we should think about what we eat (just so you know, the book is not all about fast food; that’s one small part). But he is not preachy, and admits enjoying (to an extent) the very thing he exposes as dysfunctional. I’m almost halfway through the book, and already I’m surprised by who the “good guys” aren’t. I wish I could convince everyone I know to pick it up — it seems to me to be that important a book.

*Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore’s Dilemma, 2006. p. 119.

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