Friday, July 24, 2009

Ten Thousand Low Fat French Fries

I am planning some more in-depth analyses for future posts on this blog, and I am also trying to line up some interesting and informative interviews with people in my area who are involved in activities that foster neighborhood and community resilience. However, there is research to be done and there are appointments to be made, so these things won't hit the blogosphere for a while yet. Please stay tuned.

In the meantime, I'll be publishing a few essays and light posts, the ideas for which have been kicking around in my head (and/or on my digital camera) for the last several weeks. Today we'll talk a bit about food.

I have a (fictitious) friend named Jones, who's been trying to battle excessive weight caused by an excessive lifestyle. One of Jones' favorite foods is French fries. In fact, he can put away five hundred Fred's Famous French Fries in one sitting. (Fred's is a (fictitious) fast-food joint a block away from Jones' house.)

Jones' doctor had recently begun to warn him about the dangers of his lifestyle, telling him that he'd better quit his munching and straighten out. But Jones resented his doctor's words, being unwilling to endure the pain of denying his munchies. Because he was a rich man, Jones therefore hired a team of doctors, agronomists, chefs and nutritionists to invent a low-fat French fry that would enable him to munch away without guilt. After several months of intense research, his team finally presented him with a low-fat, low-calorie French fry every bit as decadently salted and flavored as the fries he was accustomed to munching at Fred's.

Cool!!” Jones exclaimed, after the first bite. “Now I don't have to stop at 500 fries. Now I can munch 10,000!!!”

Jones is a metaphor for the “non-negotiable” American way of life, a symbol of the American attitude toward the call to learn to live on less. And the mindset embodied in Jones' low-fat fries can be seen in vehicles like the all-new Chevy Tahoe hybrid:

The salesman who let me take this picture told me that it gets 20 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. Impressive! How many miles per gallon does it get when stuck in traffic? When one considers the energy embedded in manufacturing one of these, how much energy does the hybrid technology actually save? By the way, Chevy even has a full-sized hybrid pickup truck!

Maybe someone should tell Jones that eating ten thousand low-fat French fries will kill a man just as surely as eating five hundred regular fries. At least here is an example of an un-hypocritically, honestly sinful regular “French fry”:

(It is also, unfortunately, an example of why Chrysler went bankrupt.)

But look here! Has Peak Oil actually brought us back to this?!

I saw this woman and her horse next to a tire shop while on the way home from work. It seems that her horse trailer had some problems and the mechanics were repairing it. Yet I know that if the mechanics had been unable to fix it, she'd still have had a ride home.

Here, lastly, is a guy who's doing things right...


Stormchild said...

Holy mackinoley, 20 mpg city & hwy and this thing's a HYBRID?

I had a Mazda Protege, bought in late 1990, that got about 50 mpg hwy. I ran it til it died, and when it died [3 yrs ago] it was getting 40+ mpg hwy.

Stick shift. Nimble, nice little car, I'll miss it forever. The car I have now, also a subcompact, gets 40 mpg hwy going flat out downhill in neutral with a tailwind. It is also a stick, and has cruise control [when I can use that, its mileage is closer to my old Mazda's].

20 mpg hwy for a hybrid. Talk about shameless. Whew.

Kiashu said...

Actually, it gets infinite mileage when stuck in traffic. Because it has an electric engine side-by-side with the petrol engine, the electric engine kicks in when it's decelerating, the petrol engine when it's accelerating.

So when it's stopped, both engines are off and the power is only drawn for aircon, etc.

That's the one useful feature of hybrids, that they burn no fuel when stuck in traffic. But this is only useful in comparison to regular vehicles.

Of course, as you imply, a bicycle burns zero fuel whether it's moving or sitting still.

The thing is that cars could be run on nothing more noxious than pretty girl's smiles and they would still be an abomination. They kill 2 million people a year - more than warfare. Good cropland is paved over, cities are rendered vile to live in, and so on.

I look forward to carfree cities.