Monday, April 6, 2009

Much A Do About Nothing

Two things caught my eye today after a 10-day hiatus with computer problems and pressing business and health issues.

One is the flap over touching Queen Elizabeth. The other is the worst fast-food restaurants in America. Americans have a fetish for both.

We must live dull lives if our heroes are royalty, actors, musicians and athletes. Yes, they play a role in our lives. Mostly for diversion and occasionally for inspiration.

So what if the queen puts her arm around Michelle Obama. What does it matter our first lady returned the gesture by putting her arm around the queen's back. Purists say it is against royalty protocol. Well, excuse me! The world is coming apart at the seams and we're prattling over this? Give me a break! The news chroniclers are obsessed with these mundane frailties of our newsmakers. The queen-Michelle embrace garnered equal space and time and definitely better reader and viewership than details of the G-20 Summit.

We create heroes and are aghast when they fail. There are more Brittany Spears, Michael Jacksons, Paul McCartneys, John Waynes, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwires, Rod Blagojeviches and Richard Nixons who fall from their pedestals than those who survive as our icons.

At a very young age I discovered these icons are not legends created by their PR machines but real people possessed with star qualities and personal demons just as you and me. To use in old sports cliche, they put their pants on one leg at a time.

I prefer my heroes contributing something to the benefit of our society. The teacher at Garfield High School in the Los Angeles barrios who taught calculus to his students and won national awards for their proficiency. Dr. Jonas Salk who won most of the credit for developing the polio vaccine. The pilot who safely landed his jetliner in the Hudson River. These are the people who deserve our admiration, not a strong-armed, gimpy-knee Joe Namath who led the Jets to a Super Bowl victory over the Baltimore Colts.

We get our priorities confused too often. One is convenience which leads to the fast-food outlets contributing mightily to producing generations of fat, cholesterol-laden zombies. The incipient rise in juvenile diabetes can rest at the feet of McDonald's, Jack-in-the-Box, Arby's, Carl's and their ilk -- as well as the parents who indulge in this eatfest.

Worst drive-in restaurant on MSNBC's website drew my attention to this morsel under the cheeseburger category:

Hardee's Monster Thickburger
1,420 calories
108 g fat (43 g saturated fat)
2,770 mg sodium
230 mg cholesterol

This burger is called “Monster” for a reason. It’s got the caloric equivalent of almost 6 McDonald’s hamburgers, the saturated fat equivalent of 43 strips of Oscar Mayer bacon, and the sodium equivalent of 84 saltine crackers. You’ll satisfy nearly an entire day’s worth of calories in one sitting, so opt for the significantly less monstrous Low-Carb Thickburger, instead, and save 1,000 calories that you can allocate to more deserving and nutritious fare.

Low Carb Thickburger
420 calories
32 g fat (12 g saturated fat)
1,010 mg sodium

There are 19 categories of menu items listed as "worsts:"

Drink -- Sonics cranberry mix
Value Meal -- Burger King chicken and crispy sandwich
Mexican -- Taco Bell grilled stuffed burrito
Hot Sandwich -- Sonic chicken club
Crispy Chicken -- Hardees
Roast Beef -- Arbys
Kids Meal -- Burger King
Chicken Strips -- Dairy Queen
Breakfast Sandwich -- Jack-in-the-Box
Side -- Arbys mozzarella cheese sticks
Milkshake -- McDonald's triple thick chocolate
Potato -- Jack-in-the-Box bacon cheddar wedges
Salad -- Chick-fil-A chicken strip
Dessert -- Dairy Queen large strawberry cheesecake
Fish Sandwich -- Burger King
Cheeseburger -- Hardees monster
"Healthy Food" -- Arbys turkey sandwich
Grilled Chicken -- Jack-in-the-Box chipolte chicken ciabatta
Drive-in -- Carls

Some of these drive-thrus are reluctantly complying with tough municipal ordinances requiring all their menu items carry food nutrition labels. That's an educational step in the right direction.

If the Obama administration is serious about preventive medicine practices in its health care reform, applying food nutrition labels for all restaurants would be a wise custom for the dining out public.

I'm hungry. Anyone care to join me at Carls?

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