I know it’s just a small act by one person, and won’t really make a difference in the world. It’s more of a symbolic act, a starting point, and just a personal refusal to spend any more money on a huge fast food corporation that advertises to children and takes advantage of people who don’t know any better. They spend millions of dollars on research and marketing, and they deliberately use psychology, biology, and economics to get people to consume way more of unhealthy foods than they should. Their advertising even targets children. Mcdonald’s is not alone in this; fast food corporations in general are all guilty of this. In my opinion though Mcdonald’s is the worst— probably a personal bias stemming from the fact that they innovated supersizing to overcome people’s instinctive portion control. Michael Pollan wrote about that in his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma. In a more recent book, Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss, it is revealed how junk food companies use science to get us addicted to junk food… and perhaps more importantly, that junk food companies know exactly what they’re doing. I haven’t read the book yet but I really want to, based on this excerpt from NYTimes:
—- —- —-
I first met Moskowitz on a crisp day in the spring of 2010 at the Harvard Club in Midtown Manhattan. As we talked, he made clear that while he has worked on numerous projects aimed at creating more healthful foods and insists the industry could be doing far more to curb obesity, he had no qualms about his own pioneering work on discovering what industry insiders now regularly refer to as “the bliss point” or any of the other systems that helped food companies create the greatest amount of crave. “There’s no moral issue for me,” he said. “I did the best science I could. I was struggling to survive and didn’t have the luxury of being a moral creature. As a researcher, I was ahead of my time.”
Moskowitz’s path to mastering the bliss point began in earnest not at Harvard but a few months after graduation, 16 miles from Cambridge, in the town of Natick, where the U.S. Army hired him to work in its research labs. The military has long been in a peculiar bind when it comes to food: how to get soldiers to eat more rations when they are in the field. They know that over time, soldiers would gradually find their meals-ready-to-eat so boring that they would toss them away, half-eaten, and not get all the calories they needed. But what was causing this M.R.E.-fatigue was a mystery. “So I started asking soldiers how frequently they would like to eat this or that, trying to figure out which products they would find boring,” Moskowitz said. The answers he got were inconsistent. “They liked flavorful foods like turkey tetrazzini, but only at first; they quickly grew tired of them. On the other hand, mundane foods like white bread would never get them too excited, but they could eat lots and lots of it without feeling they’d had enough.”
This contradiction is known as “sensory-specific satiety.” In lay terms, it is the tendency for big, distinct flavors to overwhelm the brain, which responds by depressing your desire to have more. Sensory-specific satiety also became a guiding principle for the processed-food industry. The biggest hits — be they Coca-Cola or Doritos — owe their success to complex formulas that pique the taste buds enough to be alluring but don’t have a distinct, overriding single flavor that tells the brain to stop eating.
Read the whole story: The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food
—- —- —-
My boycott is unnecessary. I can probably still eat Mcdonald’s occasionally and it would be fine… But I don’t need to and I don’t want to. Also, I don’t push my boycott on other people and I don’t get mad at other people if they choose to eat Mcdonald’s. If I’m with people who want to eat at Mcdonald’s, I still go with them and just politely decline to eat. It’s really important to me that I don’t make other people feel uncomfortable about that, so I go to great lengths to let people know that yes, it’s really ok if you eat that burger in front of me. I’m going to continue with my boycott and will probably break it only if I’m very hungry and there are really no other options.
So… I can live without Mcdonald’s. I can probably live without a lot of those other junk foods! I started that boycott as an easy “baby step” so maybe it’s about time to step up and add a second corporation. I’m thinking of Coca-Cola.