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.