By Michael H. Brown
Years ago — to be precise, in April 1986 — I wrote an article for Science Digest Magazine that focused on the deceptive cooking techniques of major fast-food chains, an article that ended up causing a firestorm.
In it I explained that the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington had discovered that major fast-food restaurants were frying French fries in beef tallow — the fat trimmed from meat cuts and rendered into shortening.
I wondered if, considering how the potatoes were fried, the same were true of fast-food chicken and fish sandwiches (which health-conscious folks opted for instead of hamburgers) and suggested to the editor, Oliver S. Moore III, that the magazine, for which I was a contributing editor, have those sandwiches tested in a lab.
He agreed and we hired a fellow named Frank Sacks at Harvard Medical School to analyze the fatty acids in chicken and fish from McDonald’s, Burger King, Howard Johnson’s, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. The results showed that McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets and Filet-O-Fish, and Burger King’s Chicken Sandwich and Whaler, “resembled beef more than chicken or fish.”
Let that sink in: Burger King’s “chicken” sandwich contained forty-two grams of fat — equivalent to a pint and a half of Sealtest ice cream!
The jogger stopping at places like McDonald’s for that healthy choice of fish or chicken was getting as much or more beef than in a hamburger!
As we all know now, beef fat contains high cholesterol that can clog arteries. Scientists at Harvard and elsewhere told me they already were seeing signs of arterial disease in teenagers. Our youth were developing “old” blood vessels.
Well, the reaction was immediate. The Associated Press carried the news from the article around the world, and The New York Times ran an editorial citing our testing and demanding that the major companies change their cooking techniques. The article was reprinted in a large European news magazine (Europeo) — with a bit of exaggeration, when it came to the illustration!
In a matter of days (at any rate, not more than several weeks) I was receiving letters from corporate headquarters of places like McDonald’s, informing me that they were going to change their frying processes for the fish and chicken. And so they did. That much credit should be given them. It was a quick response, one they may have been thinking about. (Unfortunately they changed in certain cases to altered vegetable oils that posed their own risks.)
A news release was issued the same day.
But it remains amazing that we even had to check on something like this. In coming weeks, I’ll be giving another example of how corporations have threatened public health in mind-boggling (and often hidden) ways. That’s one item.
A second issue: had this occurred in our own time, someone at a corporation could have yelled falsity and perhaps (at least to a degree) blunted the effect. There could have been denial instead of rectification. The lesson: we should not call items false just because we don’t like the news or the news outlet.
But third and most important: we are still clogging our arteries and those of our children — not just with too much beef and pork (both can be nutritious, when eaten in a measured way), but with dairy products (especially butter, cheese, and cream), various cooking oils (certain vegetable oils are potentially harmful), and all the carbohydrates we ingest, from refined sugar to cookies to white bread to pasta. Always check labels for ingredients, especially saturated-fat and sodium contents (try to stay below “seven percent” as far as sodium, and use as much extra virgin olive oil and whole grain as is feasible, instead of the alternatives). Today, one even has to be careful of products that claim to be “natural” but are not. Here’s what the Bible says.
Remember, our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, and we are charged with taking care of them. Once more, it comes down to “balance”: As in all aspects of existence — whether spiritual, emotional, or physical — balance is a key to making it through the challenges of this grand and glorious obstacle course called life on earth — glorious when we make it intact, at least as much as age and genes allow, to the finish line.
[resources: Michael Brown The God of Healing]