Sunday, February 23, 2020

Moldy But a Goodie

So, Burger King has a new ad out, in which a Whopper goes from pristine to decayed over the course of 34 days in time-lapse.

Early reaction to the campaign Wednesday was a mix of applause for the shift away from preservatives, to disgust.
Burger King portrays moldy Whopper in new TV ad
I've seen some of the negative reaction, and for me, the point is less about the daring or honesty of the advertisement, and more about the unrealistic expectations of food that are now commonplace in the United States. Food, especially perishable food, left unprotected for a month, is going to become moldy. That's a fact of life, or in this case, death. Nothing about a Whopper, or the majority of the food we eat is alive when we eat it. And decomposition is what happens to dead biomass. That's where new biomass comes from. Digestion and decomposition are different processes, but not completely so; it's reasonable to say that mold digests food. And food in the middle of the digestive process is pretty gross, too.

It's also worth noting that we have an inconsistent relationship with preservation. The (false) idea that Twinkies are so loaded up with chemical preservatives that they have a shelf life measured in decades is often cited as proof that they lack any real food ingredients. Even the actual shelf life of Twinkies, twenty-five days, is often viewed suspiciously.

This paints a picture of a society that wants things to be a certain way; in this case, wanting food to be safe and visually appealing over time, but doesn't really want to understand how it is made to be that way; in many cases, through chemical additives (natural or synthetic) that arrest the decomposition process. And this can contribute to a dialog around food that is fundamentally dishonest. Food companies tell the public what they understand the public wants to hear, and, in turn, the public treats it as the truth for long enough that they lose sight of the fact that it's a lie.

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