I’m Thinking Arby’s

I got in my car this morning at the cheery hour of 6:09 a.m. (don’t we all just love Chicago traffic?) and immediately pressed my radio preset #3 for Drex in the Morning. R accuses me of listening to the “trash” morning show, but at that hour of the day, there’s not a whole lot my brain can handle. True, the topic is usually something along the lines of “I wish my husband would cheat on me so I could leave him,” and it’s true that this morning Drex gave Mel a life-size cardboard photograph of Michael Buble, but it’s always something entertaining. And this morning, it was something that actually made me think.

They were discussing a new breakfast burrito at Arby’s that has 900 calories, or something disgustingly absurd like that. But the real issue was whether there should be legislation in place to make it illegal to sell and/or buy such detrimental foods. At first, I dismissed the whole argument; how can you police what people can eat? But if food companies are irresponsible enough to produce the fattening foods and if people are irresponsible enough to consume them, what’s to stop the world from becoming obese?

It’s no secret that we’re well on our way: 66 percent of U.S. adults and 17 percent of U.S. children are considered obese. But is it fair to hold fast food chains morally responsible for bad parenting and poor self-control? Shouldn’t it be the parents’ job to educate their children on healthy eating habits? And what about the millions of adults who disregard their doctors’ warnings and make the drive-through part of their everyday routines? I know I’m asking a lot of questions, but I’m still working through this.

One caller on the radio suggested that fast food be illegal for children under the age of 18 – like cigarettes. And although Drex incredulously asked this caller, “You really want Arby’s to card these kids for ordering a cheeseburger?” maybe it’s a legitimate idea.

Fast food causes obesity. Obesity can cause heart attacks. Heart attacks can kill you. (I realize I’m oversimplifying here, but stay with me.) Why shouldn’t we moderate something that has a great potential to kill? There’s a reason you can’t drive, buy a gun or even gamble without satisfying specific requirements – they are dangerous. If our society is too dumb to make healthy food choices, maybe they shouldn’t have that privilege.

I’m not quite sure what the answer is, and in my gut I really want to hold Arby’s and other fast food chains responsible, but that’s just as silly as suing McDonalds for making you fat. I also know that there are some bigger issues at work here, such as how socioeconomic status plays into this and how healthy food is rarely the most cost-effective option. It’s a complex issue and I’d really like to hear what the food blog community thinks. After all, if I had to think this early in the morning, so should you.

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  • http://www.recipe4living.com Sarah

    A 900 calorie breakfast burrito not only sounds disgusting but sounds like a lot of trouble. And we are always questing, why are Americans so obese? Well here you go!

    I highly doubt that anyone in this country will make certain foods illegal for anyone of any age. Granted this type of fast food can kill you in the long run, just like consuming alcohol and smoking cigs but realistically it’s food. The only way to make this type of crap food go away is for everyone just to stop purchasing it and eating it.

    With childhood obesity- as easy as it sounds to blame the parents for teaching their kids to eat healthier is somewhat of a cheap shot for whoever says this. I do believe there are many parents out there that do try their best, but parents can’t stop their children from eating whatever they want at school. Many schools have pop/junk food vending machines that are an easy access to any child, not to mention the cafeteria’s serving pizza or taco day. -Again, schools need to get rid of vending machines ( which I do believe some schools have) and start serving healthier choices of food in the cafeterias.

    And for the people that know they shouldn’t be eating this fattening food, well they are doing it themselves. It is just plan stupid. You know better so why do it? What bothers me even more with this situation is are the people who say almost everyday ” I am going to start eating healthier” but then you see them eating a greasy bacon cheeseburger. What? See you are doing it to yourself.

    I guess what I am trying to say in my opinion is that nothing is going to change unless everyone comes together and decides to be healthy. It is everyone’s own doing and own choice whether they have the WILL POWER to say NO to this garbage. That is what exercise is for and that is why we do have the choice to pick between healthier food choices or fast food. Even children (with the help of grown adults and education) can make the choice.

    Sorry for rambling Max, good topic and hopefully I expressed myself without confusing anyone.

  • http://www.teczcape.blogspot.com tigerfish

    Is IN-And Out considered fast food? I always told my hubby that it’s actually quite healthy to have meat, tomatoes, onions sandwiched btw burger buns. Just skip the fries and soda once in a while. :P

  • http://www.60in3.com 60 in 3

    Unfortunately Tigerfish, that’s just not true. In-N-Out, while not as bad as some of the other fast food places, is certainly not healthy. Skipping the fries and the coke won’t change that. Instead, try skipping the whole meal and only having it on rare occasions.

    Maxine, I’m not sure what to think about this issue. Do we not regulate other stuff? Would you feel differently if it was lead in children’s toys? Is that any worse or better than fat and sugar in children’s cereal? Is the coal mine that over the span of decades kills hundreds of miners due to black lung any less responsible than the McDonald’s that over the decades kills thousands of people due to heart disease?

    My own opinion is that we need to educate people about good and bad foods. We also need to educate them on how to do their own research. At that point, we make companies responsible only for providing information about their products and allow consumers to make their own decisions. If I tell you that fat is bad and if the company tells you their food has fat and you still choose to eat it, well then that’s your choice. I just want people to make informed choices, that’s all.


  • http://aloshaskitchen.blogspot.com melissa

    jim, it’s hardee’s not arby’s. don’t know if you heard them incorrectly or the radio dj had the wrong information. arby’s isn’t THAT bad. hardee’s is disgusting though – they’re also the home of the 1,420 calorie thickburger. *shudder*

    and I agree that fast food companies should be monitored and the government should intervene. fast food is a horrible horrible invention and byproduct of our lightning speed society. it should never have existed in the first place.

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