If you’ve ever gone on a country drive you might have noticed cows grazing in the fields. If you’ve seen how some of them seem to be hanging their heads in shame you are not imagining it. They’ve had a shock, poor things. They believed their destiny was to provide pleasure to Chianti drinking aficionados of Spaghetti Bolognese or Steak Diane to upmarket consumers. It’s obviously been a shock to discover that they have been marked out for McDonald’s restaurants.
There have been rumours, but no cow knows for sure what happens between paddock and plate; or what alchemy was used to turn a perfectly good cow into a Junior Burger. The Colonel has his secret herbs and spices and Macca’s has the special sauce, cheese, pickles and onions on a sesame seed bun. But they’ll tell you frankly that if it wasn’t for the sauce and the pickles they wouldn’t recognise a Big Mac if it bit them on the sesame seed bun.
It’s an indisputable fact that the McDonalds restaurants are a blight on the international health horizon. (Ronald McDonald House is their only saving grace.) If I had to block my arteries I’d prefer to do it with a tasty hamburger with the lot and a serve of chips bought from the nearest fish and chips shop. That’s chips shop, not fries shop. McDonald’s fries, or as Roddy McDowell in the movie Time after Time calls them, pomfrets, resemble limp shoe laces five minutes after they’re out of the fryer. The only redeeming feature as far as the cows are concerned is that children love Maccas burgers, the fries and the playground.
But it seems to be the job of experts, the Do-Gooders and the Well-Meaners who are raising other people’s children to raise objections. Like the Scarlett Pimpernel, they’re here, there and everywhere, poking their noses in where they are not wanted. The Do-Gooders and a local council have recently conspired between them to ban junk food from a nearby play park. I doubt it can be policed but it surely defeats the purpose of children using the park and having fun through exercise. Being experts they feel it unnecessary to consult parents before lobbying for change. Had they done so, they would have found that most people feed their children well, so don’t see anything wrong with the occasional treat or with giving themselves a break from the daily drudge.
There are children stuck in a hospital bed with nothing better to look forward to except for pain or discomfort, or even boredom. They hate being prodded and poked and loath hospital food. They would love a chance to leave their bed and their troubles behind and let the outside world in for a minute or two. The experts don’t’ consult them either.
They did their best ten years ago to ban McDonald’s from a Children’s Hospital. Now that McDonald’s is tendering for a space at a new Children’s Hospital the experts are stepping down from their towers once more to give the medics and parents the benefit of their wisdom. A leading health expert, (Professor Ron Moodie) says that the inclusion of a McDonalds at the new Children’s Hospital would create a misleading ‘health halo’ around the fast food chain. A ‘health halo is academic speak for a tick of approval from the health industry. If he’d given it some thought he’d realise that no one in their right mind, parents or medics, believes that a McDonald’s restaurant in a hospital means supporting junk food. I’d be happier if the experts campaigned against hospital food.
As I said, the experts are everywhere and they’re getting their own way because parents feel that singly they are helpless to do more than complain. Perhaps it’s time that parents took back control and the initiative and formed an anti-expert, anti do-gooder coalition.