One of the eating guidelines in Michael Pollan‘s Food Rules is to eat things that will eventually rot. Things like meat, fruits and vegetables, all eventually decompose, returning them to the organic cycle from which they came. Foods that don’t go bad, from Twinkies to Spam, have been highly processed. Not only are processed foods often full of synthetic chemicals, they’ve also been stripped of many of the nutrients that your body needs yet are still full of empty calories.
So, with this rule in mind, should you eat a McDonald‘s hamburger and fries? New York photographer Sally Davies has set out to answer this question. She’s been photographing a Happy Meal every day, to demonstrate how long it will take to decompose. She began the Happy Meal Project on April 10, 2023. Today is 145 days later and the meal looks nearly identical to day one. That’s some serious preservatives in action. Imagine that next to an unprocessed piece of beef that was fresh on April 10th. It would be rotten and festering.
McDonald’s meals are highly engineered to appeal to our senses of sight and smell. The taste is a secondary consideration and the nutritional value is hardly factored in.
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