November 4, 2014

ELIOT | Garbage In, Garbage Out

Print More


In his song “Eyes Closed,” the voice of our generation, Kanye West, proclaims “I sold my soul to the devil; that’s a crappy deal / Least it came with a few toys like a Happy Meal.” During a 2010 interview with MTV, Kanye described the devil as being anything that isn’t “in his heart.” That is to say if Kanye ever does anything not for Kanye, it means he has given up his soul.

I personally have never sold my soul and really do not have plans on doing so. Kanye, however, finds a silver lining for his spiritual transaction in the form of “a few toys like a Happy Meal.” It is Kanye, so I assume these few toys are mostly leather kilts and modified, steampunk style Lamborghinis, but we should all be impressed with his ability to find the good in the bad. The bad: superstar icon status and the people trying to pitch their ideas for the next robotic teddybear themed t-shirt or maybe suggesting “North” might be a name for his child he later regrets. The good: exotic pets, Kim and probably a lot of velour.

It may seem cheap to open two consecutive columns with hip-hop lyrics, but the wisdom found in the poetry of Kanye West is essentially boundless. We would all benefit from finding the proverbial Happy Meal toys that come from the things that may at first seem bad. For example, McDonald’s.

If you are one of those weirdos who still has all or even some of your gluten-free and CrossFit enthusiast friends, maybe you have heard something along the lines of “garbage in, garbage out” after suggesting a fast food run for lunch or an on-the-road meal. People are quick to dismiss fast food as “greasy,” “disgusting” or “unhealthy.” I think this stigmatizing phenomenon came about as a result of the documentary Super Size Me, the so-called “obesity epidemic” and probably the shock art putting Ronald McDonald in violent situations like slaughtering animals. What goes totally forgotten is the actual value of McDonald’s food and service they provide for the world.

In the United States there is a McDonald’s for every 22,000 people. There are only hospitals for every 44,000 people. Last January, they ran a promotion for two-dollar Big Macs. You can get 20 chicken McNuggets for five dollars. You can get a 55-gallon drum of Sweet Tea for a nickel. Guacamole does not cost extra. Not only does McDonald’s serve more people, it does it for less. It fuels (read: provides paper goods) for the United States Olympic Teams. Larry Bird and Michael Jordan had a legendary Super Bowl dunk contest for a Big Mac. Even Parisians — the most refined people in the world, culinarily speaking — love McDonald’s. The Golden Arches shine in the Parisian night on the Champs-Elysées alongside the Arc de Triomphe and a 150-foot tall ivory statue of underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau.

I understand that there is something to be said about getting regular servings of fruits and vegetables and “knowing what’s in your food,” but, at some point, calories are nothing more than gas in the tank. It costs a lot less to own a durable pick-up truck with 175,000 miles on it than a brand new Ferrari. I know that in a car-health analogy one would tend towards the “nicer” car, but if you put normal gas in a Ferrari, it will have to spend 12 months at a special petroleum rehabilitation center in the Italian countryside. On the other hand, you can run basically anything that combusts through a truck engine, and it will still find a way to keep running. It may be “garbage in, garbage out,” but in my world, everything that comes out goes into the garbage. My free-range, skinless chicken and Big Mac are both garbage on the way out; they also both have protein.

This does not mean you should eat at McDonald’s every day. In fact, that is a terrible idea. The fast food industry however does not deserve the stigma that it gets. If two people get an order of French fries and one eats them and gets a little gassy or tired while the other goes into toxic shock, the latter is the unhealthy one. Of course, I am not here to defend the fast food industry or how they target low-income areas with cheap and unhealthy foods and literally feed the “obesity epidemic.” Fast food, like Kanye selling his soul to the devil, is just one example of a way to find something good in something bad — like a Happy Meal toy.