Sorry Ronald McDonald, But So Cal Isn't Lovin' It

On Sept. 30, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger planned to sign a bill proposed by Sen. Alex Padilla that would force all restaurants in the state of California to post calorie counts for each item on a menu and provide informational brochures that include calories and grams of saturated fat.

It is obviously very favorable for everyone to know what is going into their bodies when they casually grab a quick bite at a fast-food restaurant. It is also a good thing so that the excuse of ignorance can no longer be used. Given, it will not change the problem of obesity overnight. This is a deep-seated problem with much more complex roots and it will clearly be a long process.

However, there are a few realities that everyone must face. One of them is that some people are naive and will eat whatever they are told to eat. Yet there are still those who are aware of the threats to their personal health who consciously choose to eat what they want when they want. But the goal of the new law is to make more people aware, with the thought that not everyone is currently hip to what is in their food. Once that goal has been reached, the government can wash their hands of the situation and say that they've done all they can do.

People who eat at fast-food restaurants have seen the trucks that bring in their processed, preserved and frozen burgers and meals. It's no secret that the french fries are not fresh. It's not like anyone has walked into McDonald's and was told to wait because the potatoes were still being peeled, cut and lightly salted for the fries. It's no secret that the "real ice cream" shakes from some fast food joints are made from powdered milk and not in the magical creamery in the back.

Some people just don't care. In poverty-stricken communities, some people just feel hunger pains and want a meal. This argument poses the reality that regardless of calorie count, people of lower income brackets will continue to order their fat-filled burgers and fries out of necessity to eat, perpetuating the quagmire of poor health.

By July 1, 2009, every restaurant will have to provide brochures and by 2011 all menu boards behind the counter will have calorie counts for each item. By 2011, everyone will be fully informed about the contents of their meals. Some people might change their eating habits while others will ignore every word beyond the number seven combo they have ordered. While there are many people who are well informed of the effects of high calorie counts and trans fat, the reality is that there are still many people who are uneducated.

If a customer is uneducated on what high levels of certain ingredients can do to them, then the calorie postings are irrelevant to their knowledge. If a person has never taken a nutrition class, doesn't visit his or her doctor regularly and doesn't understand the calorie system, then they may not take the numbers as seriously as they should.

An average person doesn't understand that saturated fats that are found in pork, beef, lamb, poultry fat, butter and cheeses can cause high blood pressure, high cholesterol and how consumers are directly affected, then it won't matter to them how much of it is in the food. The key is educating each generation and somehow getting the message across that living a healthy life leads to longevity.

In 2008 a law was passed so that no more fast food restaurants could be built in south central L.A. South central L.A. especially doesn't need any more fast food restaurants. There are fast food spots and liquor stores on just about every corner. It's ridiculous that a child can walk home from school and pass more than four or five fast-food restaurants and liquor stores. There are too many resources that are missing in south central L.A. for corners to be filled with junk so that these food chains can get rich off of the poor communities. Between big food chains like McDonald's and Jack in the Box and smaller places like the taco stands and burger joints, the area is overflowing with unhealthy, inexpensive food.

South central L.A. can use resources like after school programs for children, places where people can transition from unhealthy lifestyles to the work environment and safe places where people can go for recreation just like some of the other communities. The community suffers from numerous problems ranging from crime to poverty.

If legislations are going to be passed that certain types businesses can not be built in the community to prevent the continuous damage that has already been done then one can only hope that there will be businesses that the community can benefit from.