Well….it has been another year for “Little Mac” to hang around and another birthday for my grandson.    It seemed like just yesterday I was sitting at a fast food restaurant with his mom and a then almost 4 years old eating the traditional “happy meal“. But only after a few bites, he decided he did not want it and moved on to the play yard outside. I scooped it up and put it into a paper bag, hamburger, and french fries together, and put in on a shelf in my closet as I was told this meal would not decay and I wanted to check this out for myself.

That was October 12, 1997.  I recently took a picture of this burger and fries. It actually looks a lot like it did so many years ago (going on 21 to be exact)!  It still looks pretty much the same now as it did then.  You would expect mold?  Or perhaps bugs would have wanted it?  None of that…..just stale bread, half-eaten burger meat, and greasy fries…..and apparently a lot of chemicals.  I began to wonder about the nutrition of this meal.

McDonald’s is the world’s largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants, serving around 68 million customers daily in 119 countries across 36,538 outlets.  The founder, Ray Kroc, opened the first McDonalds April 15th, 1955 in Des Plaines, IL  Who knew what the impact at that time would be on America’s obesity issues.  According to Mike Jacobson, posting on MomsRising.org, “Yes, thanks to McDonald’s, one can eat out quite cheaply.  And it’s hard to be dismissive of that achievement in a time of high unemployment and high-income disparity.  But that low price obscures the financial toll exacted on Americans by McDonald’s and McDonald’s imitators in terms of the costs associated with treating obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions.  So in that way, McDonald’s has been taxing us for the past half-century-plus.”Heart disease and stroke cost the nation an estimated $316.6 billion in health care costs and lost productivity in 2011.  And it continues to rise.

Today, more than 2 in 3 adults are considered overweight or obese. More than one-third of children ages 6 to 19 are also considered overweight or obese. The growth of fast food in America seems to coincide with the growth of obesity in the United States. The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) reports that the number of fast food restaurants in America has doubled since 1970. The number of obese Americans has also doubled.

Jamie Oliver, a British chef,  at one time featured on ABC network television,  revealed a few years ago exactly what ingredients were being served in the foods in the LA public school cafeterias.  Jamie, determined to take on the high statistics of obesity, heart disease and diabetes in this country, where our nation’s children are the first generation not expected to live as long as their parents, shocked parents on this first episode with a description of “pink slime”…..a homogenized mix of the runoff from the meat packing industry, stuff normally used for pet food, processed with ammonia (a toxic household cleaner) to rid the substance of E.Coli and salmonella. Up to 15% of this substance can then be added back into the ground meat, creating quite a cost savings.  At that time over 5.5 million pounds of this was used in schools.   The publicity about this by Jamie Oliver led to McDonald’s banning of “pink slime” in their burgers.

In a recent report, however,  it was stated that “pink slime” is making a return as beef prices are skyrocketing.  So how can you know if you’re eating this additive? Simply look for the term “finely textured beef” or just “textured beef.” That’s the popular name for pink slime today, according to meat packer Cargill.

A study by the Translational Genomics Research Institute discovered that after taking samples of meat and poultry around the country, they found that 47 percent had evidence of Staphylococcus aureus contamination. More than half of the bacteria they found were resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics, according to the study, published online in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.  This study was the first of its kind to examine the presence of staph bacteria, including MRSA, a strain of staph that is resistant to most commonly used antibiotics.  And, of course, we all know that the source of the resistant bacteria are the animals, given antibiotics to counter unsanitary living conditions and increase the production of meat.

Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Food Rules,  states, “The industrial food chain, in its quest to produce vast quantities of cheap animal protein, has changed the diet of most of our food animals from plants to seeds, because animals grow faster and produce more milk and eggs on a high-energy diet of grain.  But some of our food animals, such as cows and sheep, are ruminants that evolved to eat grass; if they eat too many seeds, they become sick, which is why grain-fed cattle have to be given antibiotics.”

 This, of course, is all “food for thought.”  As a parent and grandparent, my gut feelings would be to avoid the fast food, school lunch, processed food route and opt for wild, not farm-raised  fish and grass-fed hormone-free beef, free-range chickens (for those not vegan or vegetarian), whole grains, lots and lots of wholesome veggies, and pure, safe  supplements without pesticides and contaminants.

I would love to hear your suggestions as well on this important topic.    For more information,  go here for access to a free webinar to see what Dr. David  Colby has to say about what to look for in a supplement. He has a doctorate in pharmacy and PHD in chemistry and author of over 25 scientific peer-reviewed papers.

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