Prayer at McDonald’s

Excerpt from the actual Prayer: Dear God, I’m a responsible, eco-aware Mama. I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I know the dangers of Big Food. So why are we here? Because my kids are starving and I’m exhausted…The food is cheap, and the fries are to die for.

O what a thorny path to start down. It’s tough to write anything about food + children these days without falling pretty much immediately into a swamp of pre-crimination and recrimination and all other kinds of bad karma. 

Basically, it comes down to this: Whatever you feed your kids, you think is fine. 

Anybody who feeds their kids anything lower on the morality food scale than you do – lower here meaning less careful, less pure and less healthy, not lower in the sense of “closer to the original food source” – is a bad parent. 

Anybody above you – better, purer, rawer, more local – is an annoying hyper-parenter who needs to relax already. What’s a chicken nugget between toddlers?

So goes the snack wars, the staying-over-for-dinner wars, the where-do-you-want-to-meet-on-a-rainy-day wars. For awhile, I was in those wars, and I’m not proud to say, we went to McDonald’s, with friends and alone. Sometimes we went there a lot. What can I tell you? They have a free ball pit, and New England winters are long.

My girlfriend always said: You know you’ve gone to McDonald’s too much when you have every toy in the series, and the toys come out once a week. To that I would add a corollary: You know you’ve really gone too much when you have doubles of the exact same toy.

Ironically, even though I myself was and am a pretty eco-aware mama who knows all about the biological and ecological dangers of ground beef and genetically modified potatoes, the thing that finally got me off our McDonald’s habit was the damn toys.

I would sit there, stealing fries from the kids and eating the pickles out of their cheeseburgers (not gonna lie, I love those pickles), staring at those toys and wondering, “What must the people of China think of us?” How must it feel if your job is to do nothing but produce toys to distract American children as they eat over-processed food that makes them obese while the rest of the world starves? 

We started slowing changing our McDonaldy ways as my guilt started to get the better of me, then went completely cold turkey a couple of years later. And by that I mean no member of my family has had more than a pilfered Mickie D’s French fry in six years now. 

Our secret? We watched Super Size Me as a family. You’re probably going to want to skip over the scene where Morgan Spurlock’s girlfriend complains he can’t get it up because his cholesterol’s so high. But nothing sticks in a kid’s head like the scene where Spurlock opens his truck door and, quite literally, loses his lunch in the drive-thru line. 

Call it vomit-based behavior modification. Works every time.

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One Response to “Prayer at McDonald’s”

  1. dionneford Says:

    We must belong to the same religion!
    My husband and I watched Super Size Me together, but didn’t consider including the kiddies. But we are about to read Michael Pollan’s book as a family.

    Love your blog, Tracy. Can’t wait for the book!
    Dionne

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