Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Happy Meal Experiment - One Week Later

It's now been one full week since I bought the Happy Meal for this experiment. It is a plain cheeseburger Happy Meal, with fries. I am treating this Happy Meal as a "Forgotten Happy Meal." This past week it has sat on my kitchen counter. For the record: our house has no AC and we haven't had the heat on either. Temperatures have varied this past week from the lower-mid 90's to barely 60 and rainy. It has been pretty humid here though, no matter the weather. We have the window open in the kitchen, as well as fans going, so there is a lot of air flow in general. So, the Happy Meal has just sat out, forgotten about, on the counter. The only thing I've done is taken the toy out of the box. Even the napkins are still in there! Take a look!

~Looking as if I just brought it home from McDonald's~

~Unwrapped for examination. So far, still looking rather new. The fries have shriveled up and darkened a little bit. The burger still feels normal.~

~A close-up of the french fries.~

~When I was handling the bag of fries I noticed that the bottom of the bag felt heavier than it usually does when it is "fresh." So, I peered in. I noticed at least one fry was growing mold and turning black. Since the ones on the top weren't doing this, I'm inclined to think that this is because the fries on the bottom of the bag are clustered together in a more moist environment. I moved the fry so that we could get a photo of the one I saw with the black spot. I did NOT take all of the fries out. This is a "forgotten Happy Meal", to take them out would be messing with it too much.~

~The cheeseburger seemed fine. I pried the bun away from the bottom just a little bit, it was NOT wanting to come apart. So far, everything still looks roughly the same, maybe just a little older looking. When I turned the burger over though, I could see some white fuzz of mold beginning to grow. Again, given that the burger was wrapped with the loose part of the wrapping being on the top of the bun, I am inclined to say that the growth here is for the same reason as the fries.~

It is decaying more than I thought it would. Which makes me cringe to have to admit my husband might have been right in his "I don't believe that" about the 4 year old Happy Meal that has not rotted or decayed at all. I am keeping this for at least another week, but I have a feeling that it will have rotted to the point of tossing by then.
I am also reminded of the food that I find in the car. Anyone who has kids finds food in their car at some point in time and wonders how long it has been there. It doesn't always rot and mold and decay.
I wonder if the Happy Meal in the video wasn't left to sit out and air-dry to some degree. Sitting out yes, but not wrapped up. Should that be the case I feel like the video is misleading and twisting truths since she shows it in original packaging (wrapper, fry bag, etc).
I'm very curious to see what next week brings.

What do you think??

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Happy Meal Experiment

I recently saw this video on YouTube of an interview with a woman who had been carrying around a McDonald's Happy Meal for nearly 4 years.

I believed the woman and was pretty grossed out by the fact that the food wasn't decaying. Food is meant to go bad and decay, not stay the same year in, year out.
I told Justin about it. As usual, his response was a very matter-of-fact "I don't believe it." ~ Ok, it's a little bit more than annoying when you find out something new and eagerly tell your spouse about it, only to be met with an arrogant & condescending "I don't believe that." Without having seen it, without wanting to hear more about it, without knowing anything about it. I love the man, but ... grrrrr!

HOWEVER, that being said, he does have a point. Do I believe the lady? Yes. But did I see this personally? No. Have I seen how it was truly kept? No. Scientifically speaking, Justin's doubt is justifiable. Time for a Science Experiment.

So yesterday I went out and bought a plain cheeseburger kid's Happy Meal from our local McDonald's. I'll even admit to buying myself a meal too. The kitchen is still under construction, so I hadn't eaten, and if this experiment turns out the way I think it will, I decided to let myself have one last McDonald's meal.

~The said Happy Meal, properly dated.~

And so begins "The Happy Meal Experiment".

THE QUESTION ~ Will food from a McDonald's Happy Meal decompose and rot like real food should, if left out? Food includes a plain cheeseburger and a small french fry order.

MY HYPOTHESIS ~ I don't think it will. I think it will turn stale and old, but not properly rot.

THE VARIABLES ~ I am treating this Happy Meal as a "forgotten Happy Meal." One set aside to be eaten later, and then forgotten about. The food will be kept somewhere in my house, set up out of the way so little hands and hungry dogs won't be able to get it.
*The food will be stored the way it came when I ordered it. The cheeseburger is loosely wrapped in it's wrapper, the fries are sitting in their bag. I've even left the napkins in the bottom of the box. (I did remove the toy and let the kiddos have that)
*For the 1st month I will take weekly photos of the food inside. After that I will take monthly photos.

Here is the first photo of the food, taken yesterday Sept. 23, 2010. You can see how these items come served.
I did not open the cheeseburger to expose the burger or cheese. I won't do so until they begin to fall apart on their own.

What do you think? Do you think this food will rot & break down?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Got Sour Cream??

This video is worth watching, and worth listening to. You can tell because I put it at the top of the blog ;) - Here is the link to it, just in case the video won't play

What Michael Pollan said about sour cream got me thinking. He said if you looked at the ingredients of no-fat sour cream that you would be stunned.

Fat Free Sour Cream from Kroger, with the little colorful labels to assure me it is good for us. But, to quote Michael Pollan "It's an image, an idea of sour cream..". As much as I believe in real food, as much as I love raw milk, I will sadly admit this is what I had been buying for my family.

This is what I'm buying now. Why? Well, let's look at the labels.

From Breakstone's All Natural Sour Cream:

Cultured Pasteurized Grade A Milk and Cream, Enzymes
- In case you want to double check, just click here - or you can also click here -

From Kroger's Fat Free Sour Cream:

Cultured Skim Milk and Cream, Modified Corn Starch, Cellulose Gel, Propylene Glycol Monoester, Gum Arabic, Cultured Dextrose, Gelatin, Titanium Dioxide (For Color), Cellulose Gum, Lactic Acid, Natural Flavor, Anhydrous Milkfat, Xanthan Gum, Salt, Rosemary Extract, Sodium Citrate, Vitamin A Palimate.
-If you want to double check me on this one, you're going to have to go to Kroger, meander down the dairy aisle, and read the label for yourself. I tried and tried, but couldn't find the ingredient list online. The Nutritional Info I could find, the ingredients .. nope.

~Fun Fact -- Titanium Dioxide (also found in sunscreen & toothpastes among many other products) is a known possible carcinogen.

I don't know about you, but after reading the ingredient list on Kroger's Fat Free Sour Cream, I was pretty turned-off. Grossed out. And left standing in the dairy aisle wondering such things as "what the hell is Proylene Glycol Monoester" and "why does a white product need coloring added" and "Cornstarch? Really?!?"
Also, it really creeps me out that I couldn't find the ingredient list online for Kroger's Fat Free Sour Cream. Yea, sure they list the Nutritional Info, but to me that is only 1/2 the picture.

Is Breakstone's All Natural (triple churned too!) Sour Cream the best possible sour cream out there? Not likely. It isn't organic, it is highly unlikely that the cows were pasture-raised, and I'm guessing the "all natural" part of their label just means "read the ingredients, there isn't a lot of creepy crap in there!"
But, I DO feel a lot better about giving my children the Breakstone Sour Cream as opposed to the Kroger Sour Cream. I don't think the Kroger Sour Cream should even be allowed to be called Sour Cream. Imitation Sour Cream Product would be much more appropriate.

What do you think?