It's been a while, so let's recap. So far, Michael Pollan has advocated unlimited unprotected sex, bombing the shit out of as many countries as possible, bringing back the pre-Prohibition days of public drunkenness, and reinstituting enforced busing into our white, white, cowless suburbs. Now I can understand why he’s earned his reputation as a radical.
After all this, and on our seventh date, the last place I expected him to take me was McDonald's. But okay, Michael Pollan, if you're buying. A large fries, please. Oh, and a strawberry shake.
In the last chapter of the corn section, Pollan drives home the point that corn is in everything we eat (remember the two-bit ho?). From the meat that has been fattened on corn, to the corn syrup used as a sweetener, to the cornstarch and corn flour used to bind and bulk, to the fat used to fry. Whether you're buying a prepackaged meal at the grocery store or grabbing a quick bite at a fast food joint, you can count on about 60% of the calories, on average, to come from corn.
Still, even Michael Pollan admits he isn't immune to corn's cunning charms:
"I ate a lot of McDonald's as a kid.... I loved everything about fast food: the individual portions all wrapped up like presents...; the familiar meaty perfume of the French fries filling the car; and the pleasingly sequenced bite into a burger—the soft, sweet roll, the crunchy pickle, the savory moistness of the meat."
You're really speaking my language, Michael Pollan. Keep it coming.
"Well-designed fast food has a fragrance and flavor all its own...this generic fast-food flavor is one of the unerasable smells and tastes of childhood—which makes it a kind of comfort food. Like other comfort foods, it supplies (besides nostalgia) a jolt of carbohydrates and fat, which, some scientists now believe, relieve stress and bath the brain in chemicals that make it feel good."
Uh-huh, tell me more.
"...but after a few bites I'm more inclined to think they're selling something more schematic than that—something more like a signifier of comfort food. So you eat more and eat more quickly, hoping somehow to catch up to the original idea of a cheeseburger or French fry as it retreats over the horizon. And so it goes, bite after bite, until you feel not satisfied exactly, but simply, regrettably, full."
Well, that was downer. Note to Michael Pollan: if you're trying to sex me up, use more descriptors like "meaty perfume" and "savory moistness." Still, I know what he means. It’s like eating cheap chocolate. I can eat 25 Hershey bars and still hanker for more, but give me a single, well-made truffle and I'm good. (Congratulations, Hershey. I guess you win.)
Anyway, this concludes the Corn section, thank god. It’s only been six months. Now we can move on to the section we've all been waiting for: Grass. (Pass the French fries.)