Share

Opinion: Columnists

Sunday Reflection: What happened to the Freedom Fries on Memorial Day?

|

Internationally, the death of culinary liberty is at hand.

First New York bans big soft drinks, on the theory that precious little separates coke from cocaine. Presented with either the white powder or the brown syrup, New Yorkers are sure to slavishly indulge until death. (Luckily, a judge has stayed Big Gulp's execution.)

Then, in a decision Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte condemned as "too bizarre for words," the nanny state regulators of the European Union decreed that restaurants can no longer serve olive oil in dipping bowls, but only in clearly labeled, non-reusable containers, allegedly to assure hygiene and quality.

As a British member of the European Parliament groused, "rather than tackling a double-dip recession, the commission is worried about double-dipped bread."

But now they have really gone too far. Here in Arkansas, in the great heartland of American fried food, the calorie controllers have attacked that which we hold most dear.

On Memorial Day, the day when we celebrate the sacrifices made by American soldiers to defend our freedom, I took my kids to McDonalds to top off their morning swim (and get them out of my wife's hair), only to hear my nine-year old puzzle over her happy meal, "Daddy, where are all the fries?"

Near her chicken nuggets, nestled beside the plastic-like apple slices -- I mean, who goes to McDonalds for the fruit? -- was an itsy bitsy cardboard French-Fry box filled to the brim with 13 tiny fries. (We counted them.) The sort of repast the fairies might enjoy in Neverland.

Thirteen. An unlucky number and too few fries to fret even the most zealous weight-watcher. For this, my dad fought the Wehrmacht in WWII? What has our nation come to?

Of course, we know what. Just last week, a girl the same age as my daughter lambasted the McDonalds CEO for "tricking kids into eating your food," as if anyone needs to be tricked into eating something as sublime as a McDonalds french fry. I'm sure that was all her talking, with no "encouragement" from grownups.

Just a few years ago, Morgan Spurlock became the toast of Hollywood for directing "Supersize Me." This genius won awards by showing that eating every meal at McDonalds for weeks at a time is not healthy.

Next thing you know, someone will do a documentary scientifically proving that drinking nothing but Starbucks coffee will give you insomnia and heart palpations. Call it "Caffeinate Me."

Can you say duh? If anyone is dumb enough to think that living on fast food (or coffee, or liquor) is good for you, then obesity is the least of their problems. They'll die from lighting matches next to gas pumps long before the killer fries get them.

The real problem isn't McDonalds, but ourselves. As Jefferson wrote, if we expect to be both ignorant and free, then we expect "what never was and never will be."

If millions of Americans are smart enough to graduate high school, yet dumb enough to use McDonalds as their primary food source, then school is too darned easy.

Robert Maranto is the 21st Century Chair in Leadership in the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, and recently co-authored "President Obama and Education Reform."

View article comments Leave a comment