Spurlock, the man behind the hit documentary Super Size Me, again savages the fast-food industry.
If you saw the film, you know that Spurlock undertook an experiment: eating only McDonald’s food for one month. Here, he translates his critique from film to book, and the result is, if possible, even more disturbing than the film. America is fatter than ever, and unhealthier than ever, and a good chunk of the blame lies with the fast-food industry. The statistics Spurlock marshals are stomach-turning: Americans spend $124 billion a year on fast food, and over the years, portions have increased. In 2001, 21 percent of Americans were clinically obese, up from 12 percent in 1991. This even affects airlines—our extra weight makes planes heavier, which increases fuel costs. If those stats don’t make you think twice next time you’re heading to the Golden Arches, Spurlock’s dissection of fat, sugar and, um, the fecal matter that often makes its way into beef will. We meet Matt Malmgren, who has a collection of McDonald’s burgers dating back to 1991—they sit on his bookshelves, indestructible. (Even his “dogs lose interest after the first couple of days.”) In fact, is fast food even food? Spurlock’s muckraking leads one to conclude that it’s not. Perhaps the most harrowing sections here are those about children—concerning the rise in obesity and decline in exercise in juvenile populations, the attendant health problems, and the despicable complicity of public school cafeterias and vending machines in fattening up our kids. Ultimately, Spurlock questions not only the fast-food industry but consumerism in general and a society whose people have time neither to shop for food nor to cook. Spurlock delivers all of this in his trademark take-no-prisoners style and with a humor that saves him from sounding pious or self-satisfied.
A powerful work of reporting and punditry.