Don’t Eat This Book
Okay, fair warning. If you take this book too seriously, you might end up not eating anything at all. Because there isn’t anything safe. That’s how Morgan Spurlock describes the regular food that we, working people, eat everyday. What I like about this book, however, is that it stresses the importance of making the right choices when it comes to eating. It also keeps harping about getting enough exercise to rid yourself of toxins.
Belonging to an upper middle class family of a third world country, I grew up with home cooking. Like my parents, my siblings and I eat every two hours. Oh, we snack a lot but we burn everything fast because, as my student puts it, “Miss Bea, you cannot keep still.” Nevertheless, health problems remain common because our idea of nutrition is skewed. If Spurlock is concerned about America being grossly uninformed about nutrition, you can imagine how it’s like in a third world country. The moment everyone receives his or her salary, it’s off to the nearest thing that can bring temporary happiness. We’re just as addicted to McDonald’s as every average American because Mom kept us from eating junk food when we were kids.
And here’s one tidbit I noticed about my nation: we don’t walk…unless we’re inside interconnected malls. We drive or ride cabs, take tricycles and jeeps to the nearest block. Then again, try walking outside in a tropical country and see if you don’t get sunburned in 5 minutes. Our form of exercise is “malling” (yes, in the Philippines, it’s a verb) and we only do that during the weekends. The result: I can’t fit into my mother’s wedding gown even if I inhaled till I turn blue. And at 100 pounds (45 kilograms), I’m considered thin.
Contrary to other reviewers I’ve read, Spurlock doesn’t only attack McDonald’s. He mentions a lot of other fast food joints, including my favorite Subway. I was actually shocked to learn that Subway is considered fast food, since I never really get the bloated feeling I get from other more common brands. Oh, right. I stay away from icky mayonnaise, that’s why. He reveals other things in his appendices — like which food companies are actually owned by tobacco corporations — that I was thankful I started reading labels last year. The author heaps shocking upon shocking revelations that it almost had me going vegan. Almost.
In the final two chapters, he does mention that there are ways to get livestock that aren’t genetically manipulated or that are at least treated ethically. Stress-free pigs, cattle, fish and poultry, as I call them. He also talks a little bit about organically grown vegetables.
The book sometimes cites references, sometimes just stories from friends. It’s not very heavy, as it doesn’t bombard you with health-related jargon. In fact, Spurlock writes blogger style, which makes it an extremely easy read. I think it’s perfect for those who are rethinking their lifestyles but don’t want to be overburdened with too many scientific details. In my case, it made me think a lot about how seriously education systems in my country have overlooked the value of nutrition. American school cafeterias aren’t the only ones selling artery-clogging junk to its kids. If I take a survey of how many school cafeterias actually include leafy vegetables in their menu, I’ll only be able to come up with one.
On a side note: Morgan Spurlock is also the award-winning director of the documentary Supersize Me. You may be able to notice that Don’t Eat This Book updates that video.