God help us all, Donald Trump is making fast food great again
- Yonden Lhatoo is still picking his jaw up off the floor after the US president orders junk food from McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King for a candlelit banquet at the White House
I trust by now everyone has seen the photographs and video clips of US President Donald Trump’s fast food feast by candlelight at the White House for a visiting team of college football champions.
One Kodak moment captured on camera has to be the defining image of the American presidency and the state of the union: Trump posing in all his glory in the State Dining Room with a smorgasbord of junk food delivered by McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King.
It was a surreal scene, an unholy union of stately opulence with trailer-trash Epicureanism.
With forefather Abraham Lincoln looking down upon him from a 19th century portrait on the wall, the man making America great again presented a mahogany dining table piled high with boxes of Quarter Pounders, Filet-O-Fishes and McNuggets stacked on polished silver trays and flanked by gold candelabra. Ornate sterling gravy boats were overflowing with dipping sauce packs, and fries had been transferred from their original containers into paper cups sporting the presidential seal.
Fast food at room temperature is not really most people’s cup of tea, especially when invited to a banquet in their honour at the White House. But it was quintessential Trump all the way – indecent and unapologetic. “I like it all,” he said. “It’s all good stuff. Great American food.”
Trump has long been the antithesis of healthy eating, and that’s not surprising for a man who eschews physical exercise in the bizarre belief that it will deplete a finite amount of energy stored in the human body, like a battery.
But he took it to a whole new level with this one, serving a nutritionist’s nightmare to elite athletes in a country where 40 per cent of adults are obese and fast food has perpetuated a national health crisis that costs billions of dollars in medical care.
Sure, those young footballers will have easily burned off the extra calories already, but this goes beyond treating a bunch of jocks to an objectionable meal. This is about the president of the United States proudly promoting and celebrating cheap, over-processed food that is sending millions of Americans to an early grave.
Somehow, Trump has made eating awful food a matter of patriotic pride. In the twilight zone of “America First”, you’re only a “real man” and “true American” if you embrace obesity, heart disease and cancer through what you eat, apparently.
It’s also a big middle finger in the face of growing awareness around the world about healthier eating, and coincides with the unveiling this week of the first science-based diet aimed at teaching people to eat better food while simultaneously preventing a global environmental catastrophe.
Clemson is really eating FAST FOOD at the White House!!!!!
President Trump (@realDonaldTrump) is serving McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King and pizza to the College football National title team at the White House. @wusa9 @WUSA9sports #Clemson #FastFood #Trump pic.twitter.com/tRMaLqpvPb
— Darren M. Haynes (@DarrenMHaynes) January 14, 2019
The “planetary health diet”, published by British medical journal The Lancet, calls for halving the consumption of red meat and sugar while doubling the intake of nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes. It also addresses the problem of livestock farming in particular and the incredible damage it inflicts on the planet.
Of course, all this is lost on Trump, the real Burger King of America. We’re talking about a man who has no problem inhaling two Big Macs, two Filet-O-Fishes and a chocolate shake in one sitting, according to former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. He also drinks 12 Diet Cokes a day, so abandon all hope ye who enter here.
Back to that picture of Trump – it is truly worth the proverbial 1,000 words, personifying the tremendous incongruity of his presidency in an otherworldly amalgamation of the best and worst, the highest and lowest, of America: McDonald’s by candlelight; “hamberders” on silver platters; Donald Trump in the White House.
And you know what, it’s only the beginning of 2019. You’ve been served.
Yonden Lhatoo is the chief news editor at the Post