So we’re standing at the counter of our local fast-food restaurant and my kids order burgers, fries and Cokes. Supersized.
The cashier pauses, smiles kindly at them, and asks to see some ID.
“I’m sorry, sweeties,” she says. “But there’s a state law prohibiting us from selling junk food to minors. We aren’t even allowed to sell it to your parents if we’re reasonably sure that you little ones will be consuming it.
“Would you care for something from our children’s menu? We’ve got a lovely selection of salads, fresh fruit, grilled meats and nice, icy cold milk. And graham crackers for dessert!” she chirps.
Then I woke up.
I stumbled into the kitchen to start the coffee, then glanced at the school lunch menu before I went to awaken the children. Chicken nuggets, potatoes, roll and a cookie. Was this the day they had to skip recess for standardized testing? I couldn’t remember.
Then I picked up the paper. Our esteemed national health guru, the formerly chubby Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, had declared war on obesity. “We’re just too darned fat,” he declared. He announced a “Healthy Lifestyles” ad campaign focused on physical activity and research, but curiously avoided the junk food industry or its blatant marketing to kids.
I checked online for Secretary Thompson’s healthy eating tips and found a recipe for red beans and rice (approximate cooking time, two hours), and suggestions to eat brown rice instead of white, lean meats, steamed vegetables, unsalted chips and crackers, and egg whites — no yolk.
Ummm, what about cutting out the Big Macs and french fries? Can you order a Super Value Meal without the salt and fat, and with a side of steamed broccoli? If people aren’t willing to sit down for family meals anymore, do you really think they’re going to bother with brown rice?
And I figured the erstwhile tubby Thompson simply forgot to mention that
there soon would be a ban on sodas and other junk food sold in public schools. Then I remembered that our own state Department of Education has refused to do that, opting instead for a pilot program in a handful of schools to learn whether or not selling high-fat, empty-calorie, high-priced, caffeinated food and drink to schoolchildren is a good idea.
So then this movie comes out about a guy who eats nothing but McDonald’s food for a month and gains 25 pounds, sends his cholesterol sky high and turns his liver into fat. McDonald’s dismissed it as a “disservice to anyone looking for factual information and real solutions.”
The 59 million adults and 9 million kids who are obese or overweight, the 20 percent of Americans who eat fast food every single day of their lives, desperately need factual information and real solutions.
Then I tried to wake myself up, but it wasn’t a dream.