Sunday, October 15, 2006

Slumming The Golden Arches

I love this article because it's all about eating at McDonald's when you are in a foreign country because at least it is familiar. And how this phenomena (Globalization anyone) is mostly due to the fact that McDonald's are everywhere now so even non-American travelers stop in McDonald's when they want some comfort. I totally did this recently when I was in Geneva. I was traveling in this beautiful city on the northern side of Lake Geneva called Lausanne, spending my day walking through the ancient medieval streets, exploring the cities cathedral and I was frickin' hungry. And it was 5pm so of course nothing was open for dinner. So I settled for a $20 Big Mac that wasn't that good but at least I knew exactly what I was getting and it was open at 5pm.

Here's the link to the article on Yahoo News. But I will give you a little taste to wet your appetite.

This month marks the beginning of student-travel season in Europe, which means that — at any given moment — continental McDonald's restaurants will be filled with scores of American undergraduates. Quiz these young travelers, and they'll give you a wide range of reasons for seeking out McDonald's — the clean restrooms, the air conditioning, the fact that it's the only place open during festivals or siesta. A few oddballs will even claim they are there for the food.

European onlookers will tell you (with a slight sneer) that these peripatetic Yanks are simply seeking the dull, familiar comforts American culture. And this explanation might be devastatingly conclusive were it not for the fact that European McDonald's also happen to be crammed this time of year with travelers from Japan, Brazil, Israel, New Zealand, Argentina, Korea, Canada, India, Taiwan, Australia, Mexico, South Africa, and — yes — neighboring European countries.

Beware Of Baby Spinach

Well I haven't posted in a while (well okay 4 months) and the real reason is that I've essential stopped cooking dinner in my household which if anyone knows me that is totally my dream come true. I have a second roomate (do people count their boyfriends as roomates? mine is because he annoys me just like a roomate haha just kidding) that does the cooking at night during the week. And seriously he doesn't ever have to leave. No, seriously.

But this New York Times article about the recent E Coli scare was really interesting because it talked about the dangers of a centralized food economy. The author's all about the local food movement as a National Security Effort. I can see a Republican's head spinning right now.

But there’s nothing sentimental about local food — indeed, the reasons to support local food economies could not be any more hardheaded or pragmatic. Our highly centralized food economy is a dangerously precarious system, vulnerable to accidental — and deliberate — contamination. This is something the government understands better than most of us eaters. When Tommy Thompson retired from the Department of Health and Human Services in 2004, he said something chilling at his farewell news conference: “For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply, because it is so easy to do.” The reason it is so easy to do was laid out in a 2003 G.A.O. report to Congress on bioterrorism. “The high concentration of our livestock industry and the centralized nature of our food-processing industry” make them “vulnerable to terrorist attack.” Today 80 percent of America’s beef is slaughtered by four companies, 75 percent of the precut salads are processed by two and 30 percent of the milk by just one company. Keeping local food economies healthy — and at the moment they are thriving — is a matter not of sentiment but of critical importance to the national security and the public health, as well as to reducing our dependence on foreign sources of energy.
Here's a link to the rest of the article. It was written by Michael Pollan who's book The Omnivore's Dilema is in the save for later section of my shopping cart. It keeps getting pushed to the side for a new science fiction book I really really really want to read (hey I'm just being honest about the fact that non-fiction still feels like homework or brushing your teeth you know it's good for you but still).