They’re hatin’ it

Read spiked editor Mick Hume in The Times (London), on the junk propaganda of the anti-McDonald's brigade.

Mick Hume

Mick Hume

Topics Politics

This is a bit of random text from Kyle to test the new global option to add a message at the top of every article. This bit is linked somewhere.

I confess that we sometimes allow our young daughters to eat fast food.

After all, it doesn’t seem to have done Wayne ‘Whoppa’ Rooney much harm, does it? These days, however, buying your children the odd McDonald’s Happy Meal is enough to bring the miserabilist tendency out in boils.

Many now seem to agree with the American professor who described McDonald’s advertising as ‘the last socially acceptable form of child abuse’. This week, when McDonald’s UK announced that profits had stagnated, the gleeful response brought to mind the corporation’s advertising slogan ‘We’re lovin’ it’.

Everything that a defensive McDonald’s tries in order to stave off criticism – selling salads, or getting the Vegetarian Society to endorse its Quorn-burgers – only provokes further attacks from critics who can smell blood.

Why do they hate McDonald’s so much? Some of us might not think its food tastes that great, but surely that is a matter of, well, taste. There is no evidence that eating a McDonald’s meal is bad for you, but plenty to suggest that it is being made an easy scapegoat for obesity.

I want to let you in on a scientific secret. There is no such thing as ‘junk food’. Given the news coverage that it attracts, this may sound like saying that there is no war in Iraq. But junk food really is a myth. As Professor Stanley Feldman from the University of London told me: ‘Of course, some foods taste better or are more nutritious. But the idea that some are ‘junk’ – containing nothing of value, or harmful to our health – is nonsense.

‘Whether meat is prime Angus beef or a Big Mac, it is absorbed into the bloodstream as the same variety of amino acids.’

The shocking truth is that a McDonald’s meal is a pretty square one. In the hit documentary, Super Size Me, the film-maker Morgan Spurlock ‘reveals’ the ill effects of eating nothing but McDonald’s for an entire month. To me, that sounds about as startling as the revelation that if you fed bears exclusively on Big Macs, they would still shit in the woods. The notion that this bizarre Blainesque experiment proves that eating burgers is bad for you per se is frankly a load of old Spurlocks.

If people do not want their children to eat fast food, that is their choice, just as it should be their business if they want to take the kids out foxhunting. But the fashion for lecturing other people about the evils of eating McDonald’s is motivated by something else. Partly, I think, it is a brand of anti-Americanism – the infantile belief that McDonald’s golden arches are symbols of global empire, with Big Mac cast in the role of Bond villain.

Closer to home, it looks to me like the last socially acceptable form of snobbery, Many of those who hate McDonald’s seem to believe that this makes them better, more caring people than those whom they blame for raising children as the human equivalent of chicken McNuggets. Listen to the words that everybody from the Department of Health downwards now uses to describe fast food – ‘junk, fatty, unhealthy’ – and it is hard not to hear them as moral judgments passed on those who eat it.

Anti-McDonald’s protesters who have denounced its ‘soulless industrialised product’ unknowingly echo the snobbery of another age. In his fine book The Intellectuals and the Masses, John Carey describes how 20th-century writers from TS Eliot through John Betjeman to George Orwell railed against ‘tinned food’ as a symbol of the industrialised popular culture they despised: ‘Tinned food becomes a mass symbol because it offends what the intellectual designates as nature: it is mechanical and soulless.’

For today’s less eloquent snobs, it seems that the ills of modernity and the soulless masses are encapsulated in a sesame burger bun rather than a tin of pink salmon.

The anti-McDonald’s Left insist that attacking junk food is a ‘class issue’.

How noble of them to stoop to save the ignorant, helpless burger-munching poor from themselves. Has the Left really lowered its horizons so far that changing the world now means trying to prevent hard-up families from feeding their kids for £1.99 a time (toy and indoor playground included)?

this nutritional correctness succeeds in force-feeding us all organic Quorn, let us take a stand for the freedom to eat what we choose. To both fast foodies and veggies, I say: What you eat may not agree with me, but I shall defend to the end your right to eat it.

This article is republished from The Times (London)

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Politics


Want to join the conversation?

Only spiked supporters and patrons, who donate regularly to us, can comment on our articles.

Join today