Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump recently opened up to CNN about his taste for fast food. During CNN’s Republican presidential “town hall,” where he spoke with Anderson Cooper and voters from South Carolina, Trump went so far as to call McDonald’s “great stuff.”
Trump lauded McDonald’s menu items, specifying to Cooper his love for the Big Mac, Quarter Pounder with Cheese, and Filet-O-Fish. Along with the taste, Trump explained that he likes the “cleanliness” and the corporate assurance of quality from large franchise chains such as McDonald’s. He explained:
“One bad hamburger, you can destroy McDonald’s. One bad hamburger and you take Wendy’s and all these other places and they’re out of business. I like cleanliness, and I think you’re better off going there than maybe some place that you have no idea where the food is coming from.”
Really, Mr. Trump? While it makes sense that chains such as McDonald’s have a corporate imperative not to poison customers, we all know that many McDonald’s franchises are anything but clean. When we can’t see our food being prepared, there is a high risk of mishandling and lack of sanitation. And while it may be possible to track the shipping crates that carry McDonald’s ingredients, it doesn’t mean we know what is in the ingredients themselves.
What we do know is scary enough. Let’s take the example of McDonald’s french fries. These salty, greasy sticks contain 14 ingredients. Just two of these ingredients are natural beef flavor, which could include virtually any chemical or food processing agent, and dimethylpolysiloxane, an antifoaming agent that may contain formaldehyde.
Mickey D’s french fries also contain sugars, hydrolyzed wheat, chemical stabilizers and trans fats — to name just a few. All in all, they’re remarkably unhealthy and do not represent “clean eating” at all.
Trump also told Cooper and South Carolina voters: “The other night I had Kentucky Fried Chicken. Not the worst thing in the world.” There are indeed worse things than KFC in the world, but all of those acrylamides aren’t doing America’s cancer rates any favors. KFC is also synonymous with a not-so-healthy waistline.
So, what’s the big deal about a presidential candidate opening up about his junk-food habit? First of all, he’s supporting and promoting McDonald’s and other junk-food-peddling franchises, potentially bringing them more credibility and more customers. Secondly, since many people tend to idolize politicians, and especially presidents, more Americans may be encouraged to make poor dietary choices as a result of this promotion — and we all know obesity is on the rise.
Thirdly, if Trump were to become president, what would happen to nutrition programs for America’s children? Michelle Obama has been working hard promoting the Let’s Move program, which focuses on nutrition and exercise to end childhood obesity. Trump seems to think McDonald’s is “great stuff.” Will he do anything to further healthy nutrition initiatives for children, or work in a real way to combat obesity? It doesn’t seem likely.
America is currently experiencing a lifestyle-induced health crisis. One that does not need to be further complicated by a president who supports the industry that feeds the fire!
Let’s hope Trump soon recognizes that his love affair with fast food has the potential not only to add inches to his waistline and subtract years from his life, but also to derail the health initiatives that others have worked so hard to put in place.
Yes, what we eat really does matter! Yes, what our president eats really does matter!
Tanya is a writer at The Alternative Daily with a passion for meditation, music, poetry, and overall creative and active living. She has a special interest in exploring traditional Eastern remedies and superfoods from around the globe, and enjoys spending time immersed in nature.