Super Size Me — A Review. Of Sorts.

Super-Size-MeI know I’m probably the last person in the civilized world to see this movie, but when it came out, I scoffed.  I knew McDonalds was horrible for the health of anyone who eats it more than once a month, but I loved my occasional Quarter Pounder with fries (never super sized, I might add), and I didn’t figure seeing the movie was going to change my mind.  And at the time, I don’t think it would have.  In fact, last night as I was watching with my husband, I said, “This is really making me crave some Micky D’s.”  And it did.

I broke down and saw the movie because after reading Kelly’s review, I want to see Fat Head, and since that’s a rebuttal to Super Size Me, I figured I ought to see Super Size Me first.

While it was certainly entertaining, the movie didn’t share anything particularly new or surprising.  I thought it was a pointless experiment, actually.  We all know fast food is nasty, and who actually eats it exclusively?  The doctors who were shocked that he was destroying his liver were amusing.  I mean, REALLY?  That was SURPRISING?  I will say that the fact that he started to show signs of addiction was interesting, although even that was not particularly surprising.

Even though I haven’t had fast food since I started my “whole foods initiative” a few months ago, I can’t say that I never will again.  It’s not totally unappealing to me; rather, when I drive by those famous golden arches, I often consider it briefly and then think to myself that I don’t really want it right now.  Some day I might, and if I do, I may go ahead and treat myself.  Hopefully it won’t taste as good as I remember, but I can’t say that watching the movie turned me off of McDonalds forever.  That’s not the part that got to me.

I’ll tell you what really got to me — the scenes in the high school cafeteria.

That segment made me want to cry, scream, and bang my fists against a brick wall.  And perhaps even consider homeschooling — not that that’s a horrifying thought; it’s just not something that I’ve felt called to do.  Not yet, anyway.

But last night, as I watched those scenes of kids making lunches out of Ho Hos and Ding Dongs and potato chips, and the teachers pontificating about teaching them to make wise choices when there wasn’t a decent choice to be had in the entire place — the supposedly better choices were reheated, reconstituted packaged foods, undoubtedly full of sodium and sugars and fake vegetable oils — and then to see those lunches contrasted against the lunches at the school in Appleton, Wisconsin that were made with real, fresh ingredients, and they don’t even cost any more.

Did you get that?  Feeding our kids real nourishing food doesn’t cost any more than the slop they are currently served in the vast majority of public schools across the country.**

So why aren’t we doing it?  It seems like a no-brainer, right?  I mean, diet has been linked to all sorts of learning disorders and behavior and health problems.  Why are we feeding our children the same garbage we feed our prisoners?


Not that I’m necessarily in favor of feeding it to our prisoners, but my first concern is most certainly our children.

Of course, my kids are young, and I can pack their lunches, and as far as I know, they are eating the food that I send.  For now.  But I don’t think for a moment that I can send my teenagers to the school cafeteria where soft drinks and cupcakes and potato chips abound, and expect then to happily eat their natural peanut butter on whole wheat and carrot sticks while their friends pig out on junk.

And it’s not just about me.  The way we feed our school children makes them distractable and lethargic and contributes to behavior problems and learning disorders.  It affects the learning environment of our entire culture.  I just don’t understand why improving the food in school cafeterias (and getting rid of soda machines and junk food) isn’t a top priority for every school district in America.

** This is what Morgan Spurlock stated in Super Size Me.  I tried to verify this fact with online research (that is, if the two minutes I spent googling the topic qualifies as research) and came up with nothing.  I have a hard time believing that real food is cheaper than reconstituted precooked food, but if you consider all the factors and the money saved on behavior problems and health and learning issues, real food always comes out ahead.

Sorry to be all Debbie Downer, and on a Monday to boot.  Let me try and end on a positive note.

I am happy to report that the nurse at my children’s elementary school is very concerned about health and nutrition, and there is a Health and Wellness committee forming, which I volunteered for.  I am anxious to see what we can do to help improve the school lunches in our district.  I was also pleased to note at my children’s Back to School night that they are banning sugary sweet treats for classroom celebrations; instead they have a recommended list of healthier alternatives such as goldfish, soft pretzels, fruit pops, apple slices, carrot sticks, etc.  There are plenty of things on the list that I wouldn’t keep in my home, but this isn’t a perfect world, and I’m thrilled to see an effort being made to improve the snacks we bring into the classrooms.

All this to say, if we band together, we can make a difference.  I tend to wring my hands and vent about the situation, but I’m making a concerted effort to try and find ways to get involved and get the tides of change moving.  I’m open to suggestions, if you have them.  Has anyone been involved in a similar endeavor in their own school districts?  I’d love to hear about it.

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18 thoughts on “Super Size Me — A Review. Of Sorts.

  1. I think finding good help matters in many instances. For example, our head cafeteria lady had been there for years before retiring, making everything from scratch, providing balanced nutrition but the new one, well, needless to say the food is terrible and not healthy at all. I’d imagine with such a small community and school, finding someone to cook hearty, nutritious meals would be a challenge. I wonder what the criteria is when hiring a lead lunch lady if there is any.

    P.S. I actually love McDonalds but we try really hard to eat places like Subway or restaurants so that we can include vegetables into our meals…..

  2. I love McDonalds too, but strangely I haven’t missed it.

    Interesting that the lunch lady at your school was responsible for the type of food served. You’d think that decision would come from the top, kwim?

    In the school in Appleton, WI, they trained the staff to cook the meals. The food was supplied by Natural Ovens and they also supplied the recipes and trained the staff.

  3. I saw the movie Super Size Me a while back and I did enjoy it- the one little thing that got me was realizing how much sugar was in sodas- that was absolutely disgusting to see. Of course that and the schools. I totally agree. My kids are only in preschool right now but same thing- they get crap for their “snacks” (seriously- when my DS was in the toddler room (1-1.5 years old) they gave them cheese puffs for a snack!). They totally chinz (word?) out on the snacks they provide. I’d certainly be willing to throw in an extra $50 a year for them to provide natural snacks instead of the crap they give them now. Oh great. I’m fired up. You’ve inpsired me. My daughter’s birthday is today & I’m bringing in a snack for the class on Wednesday. I hadn’t decided what to do but in honor of B, I’m going to bring in Edamame which B happens to LOVE. Won’t that surprise the heck out of them!! 🙂
    Great review and I love that you’re doing something about your “findings.”

  4. Lindsay – before you take Edamame in to school, you should read The Unhealthy Truth by Robyn O’Brien and see dangerous soy can be for some kids.

    Jo-Lynne – I felt the way that you did about Supersize Me. We all know that fast food is bad for you. Why would you do that to your body to prove a point? I had a packed lunch even all the way through high school and I never strayed from it. I was too afraid of gaining weight. I do think that our schools always offered healthy options though – a salad bar, water, milk. We never had a soda or snack machine in the school. I think that if you instill healthy eating in your kids from the time that they are small, they won’t want the unhealthy food.

  5. Don’t worry Jo-Lynne, you aren’t the LAST person on earth, lol. Hubby and I have never seen the movie either. We haven’t passed through the arches in over 11 years, so we didn’t see a need to hear about what we already know.
    I agree, it’s amazing that cost has nothing to do with healther school lunches, but they refuse to do it anyway! Sad, considering they are contributing to (in the long run), the breakdown of the human body which leads to poor health when they are older. It’s a no-brainer. 🙂

  6. I totally agree with you about the movie. But, I did think it was kinda weird for him to eat a complete supersized meal that made him puke to prove his point. Like, look how bad this is for you as I stuff it in my mouth. Made me kinda nauseous!
    I did a take a quick look at Fat Head… any other thoughts on his point of view?
    Hope ya’ll have a wonderful Monday!

  7. We don’t do fast food very often, try not to really. I don’t like McD’s, to peppery at times.

    But, I do love my daughters cafeteria. They have healthy choies each day. Our Head Cafeteria person is smart, and talks with parents at the Open House, so many of us had questions about the food. They use good oils, lots of veggies and even give the kids an option of having bottled water instead of milk (which is bad for your teeth if you drink to much). Boo loves having the options, so that makes it easier.

  8. I am very familiar with Super Size Me. My hubby and I watched it and then listened to his book on tape for “Don’t Eat This Book.” Some of the statistics are shocking… some are no-brainers. My son has ADD and he is directly affected by junk. That being said, he is also a ridiculously picky eater. I fight with this all the time! Natural peanut butter? He won’t touch it. But I am getting ready to convert the whole family to a “clean eating” model so he is going to have to get used to it.

    I wonder if my school has that type of committee. I think I am going to check it out!

  9. When I was teaching I was very surprised at the food being served. When I was a high school student we were served hot food on trays you could wash and with real silverware. When I taught school as an adult (not that many years later, btw) food was served on styrofoam plates with disposable utensils and there was more junk food around then real food.

  10. Did you know that in our school district (not sure if it is nation wide yet in Canada)the soda and junk-dispensing machines are gone!! They have “Friday Store” once a week to raise funds for the school. Used to be able to buy ‘treats’, now they are modified treats, which I whole heartedly approve of – yogurt tubes, juice boxes instead of soda, and baked chips instead of fried, and pizza pops instead of chocolate bars. It is still packaged and pre-made and all that, but I suspect it has a whole lot more nutrition per calorie than the other stuff. And my daughter is ADD too, and food affectsher so much. And yet, I swear she is showing signs of being addicted to sugar… she’ll sneak it even! And she’s only 9… I’m quite stuck about what to do! This whole-foods things that you’re talking about are intriguing to me… I’ll have alook around. Where should I start?

    Thanks for posting your heart, Jo-Lynne, good discussion!


  11. Hey Cathy. Those changes are promising, but unfortunately are not a huge improvement over the former. But hey, they’re trying. It’s a start, right?

    Go to my Health and Wellness category to see all of my posts on the topic. 🙂

  12. I’ve always said that the problem of health care would be solved if the government would focus on limiting the crap and chemicals allowed into food – let’s fix the root problem!

  13. Texas has a ban on sweet treats in the classroom and I just @@@@ (roll my eyes). The kids who are obese are not that way because of the holiday and Valentine Day party. I mean…seriously. So a fun holiday that is normally a rite of passage for kids and has been for decades complete with ooey gooey cupcakes is now ruined and full of apple sticks because some parents can’t say NO at home on most days and provide a balanced diet at home. Give me a break.

  14. You know, I had the exact same reaction to that movie… it was SO unrealistic, especially for us personally. AS IF we eat fast food in that way, until we are literally throwing up. Who does that?! And keep eating after they’re sick? Ridiculous.

    I agree totally with the state of the cafeteria. One battle at a time, ma dear.

  15. I was googling looking for the name of the helth food servise going into the only helthy school in that supper size me and You had it posted thoughtfully.
    May your blessings return to You shining and magnafide.

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