Fast food is actually healthier than you think. This thought has percolated in my head for about two decades of analysis. Do you know why this is so?
- It's more highly regulated. McDonald's is probably a safer bet than most restaurants simply because it has fixed standards of preparation and cannot risk harming its customers.
- It contains standard preservatives — salt, baking soda, sugar and fat. Lots of them.
- It has lower water content. The higher the water content, the greater a chance of bacteria, mould and other forms of spoilage.
There are certainly other kinds of foods that are much healthier than mass-produced fast food. But as I've pointed out about two years ago here
, people should think about food before being alarmist. The human body has a proven ability to deal with many foods, even ones that would kill a cat or dog. In fact, even if a food were deadly to bacteria or other living things does not mean that it would be deadly to humans (major examples: alcohol, coffee, chocolate, honey, celery).
One of the most egregious examples of false reasoning along these lines is the 'food that doesn't spoil' meme. The reasoning seems to be that if food doesn't spoil naturally, it shouldn't be eaten. Madness. Humans don't digest food by spoiling it in their stomachs; humans digest food by mobilising a vast range of otherwise toxic chemicals — acids, bases, enzymes — and applying these in relentless sequence in the chemical factories of the digestive system. It isn't easy to digest food.
Indeed, humans have spent the last few thousand years learning how to prevent food spoilage, so it shouldn't alarm us that Spam™ can last 20 years or more unopened, that modern baked bread (unless one is foolish enough to leave out the calcium propanoate) will last for months or years if kept dry, or that salted food will keep for centuries.
Don't eat fast food (or any kind of food) in huge quantities. Vary your diet, and get yourself a science-based (or at least history-based) education if you want to worry about food.
Labels: Food, Safety, Science