Thursday, 10 September 2015

A Defence of Fast Food from Stephen H. Webb

Against the Gourmands: In Praise of Fast Food as a Form of Fasting

"Frozen pizzas, canned vegetables, cheap hamburgers, and sugary beverages are not the enemy; we are, which suggests that junk food is not the real temptation: pride is. When we regulate one desire, we inevitably take pleasure in another. When vegetarians give up meat, they find compensation by granting themselves the right to tell other people what to eat. Liberal academics who rant against Walmart and McDonald’s are the moral equivalent of dieters who secretly indulge in french fries: the regimen of most scholars is typically so focused, restrained, and vigilant that the sheer fun of making sweeping generalizations about the lower classes is, on occasion, irresistible. Everyday sinning is not very original, but original sin is very creative. We have a bottomless capacity to derive moral gratification from our sensual sacrifices."

***

"Cavanaugh’s story of the Zweber family farm is meant to illustrate the value of buying locally as a check on the menace of multinational corporations, the hypermobility of capital, and the false universality of globalization. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with buying locally, but Cavanaugh fails to recognize just how capitalistic the Zwebers of the world are. Hormone-free farmers are responding to consumers, and once a nichemarket becomes popular with the masses, it must match growth with increasing efficiency. In other words, if everyone wanted to drive out into the country for free-range meat, demand would outstrip supply, the price would go up, and somebody would figure out a way to lower prices by linking, organizing, and expanding the various production sites. Free range would go corporate (and this, of course, is already happening). Cavanaugh holds up the local as the choice everyone should make, but if everyone were to make that choice, it could no longer be local."

***

"I kind of like the idea of church potlucks becoming a celebration of local produce, but doesn’t this risk introducing the very class divisions that the Apostle Paul, when he advised Christians to eat at home, feared? Won’t those who bring garden veggies to the table look down on those who make a green bean casserole from the can?"


This is not new, but I really liked it. With his support for America, capitalism and globalization, Stephen H. Webb is not a very fashionable writer.

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