Jason and the Veganauts

and the Quest for the Vegan Golden Fleece

Day 242: Fourth Meal

Taco Bell is responsible for popularizing the Fourth Meal concept.  It is an embarrassing notion from a global perspective, but the PepsiCo chain wanted to make it clear to people that three meals a day couldn’t possibly be enough food for hard working Americans.  Especially after they toiled away at desks, cash registers, and spreadsheets all day.  That kind of physical activity requires at least six double decker cheesy beefy gorditorista nacho burrito supremes to stay alive.

Even when I was eating those kinds of menu items as fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh meals, I knew it was BS marketing (I’m not talking about a Bachelor of Science in marketing).  I didn’t go to the Drive-Thrus of Shame because of clever names.  I went because the food they sell is made by food scientists that have mastered the art of triggering my caveman brain in all the most easily excited areas.  The salts and fats, cheeses and meats, colors and chemicals, are all combined into a cocktail of hind-brain delight.  They are drug dealers and I was one of their many junkies.

The poison they profit from is bad enough by itself, but I was playing a little gas consumption math game yesterday that concerned me.  If a drive-through window can see one car every five minutes, that is 12 cars an hour, and 144 cars in a business day.  If you add all those numbers up you get… 162.  Crazy right?  Well if you divide that by 2, and multiply that by the number of pickled peppers in a peck, I think you will begin to see the point I am making.

Drive-through windows at banks, dry cleaners, and fast-food joints rob people of an opportunity to stretch their legs and interact with humanity.  Even worse than that is the amount of gas wasted in drive through lines.  People are waiting with the windows up and the air conditioning or heating going, burning fuel for 5-10 minutes and getting nothing but unhealthier and more disconnected from other humans.

If I was king of the world, I’d wave my magic scepter and remove all drive-through windows… after a few other sweeping changes of course, but stay with me.

Imagine the change that would occur from that one small commandment.  I wonder how many fourth meals would be skipped if it meant having to get out of the car and cross an entire parking lot.  How many Big Macs would go uneaten if you couldn’t buy them in your underwear (or less, *gasp*)?  Would the dry cleaning pollution be lessened to a degree if people had to park?  Maybe a slightly used suit could be worn once more if the dry cleaning chore involved 20 whole foot steps AND a door pull.

Unfortunately, the kingly scepter hasn’t arrived yet.  I am stuck being the master of myself and not the entire population of Earth.  For now.  As such, I have commanded myself to set aside convenience for global stewardship.  I proclaimed that I would not use a drive through window during the rare errands when one is available.  I put my kingly seal of approval on the rule that prohibits using rain and lethargy as excuses for staying in the car when visiting the bank.

As for the concept of Fourth Meal, I fully support it.  I am on my Fourth Meal now in fact.  I have about eight very small meals a day.  These days I graze on produce instead of gorditas which is zillions of times better for Mother Earth and trillions of times better for me… and I have yet to come across a drive through produce stand.

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21 thoughts on “Day 242: Fourth Meal

  1. Love this! it makes me sick to think of all the gorging that goes on while right here in the US hunger is a real issue.

    • And also the number of people who think a 99 cent bean burrito is cheap compared to the cost of those you make at home. Brainwashing. I lived it. I used the excuses and laughed off the danger. Ugg. Quinoa and kale could feed the world for pennies. We’ll fix it.

  2. Yes…and no. When I travel alone with two sleeping babies I am thankful for Starbucks drive thru so I can get a water without waking the kids. How bout you use your wand to make what comes out of the window healthy instead?

    • That is the problem right there. As soon as I wave my magic scepter a few times, mothers with sleeping children would have additional help at home so they could go to Starbuck’s alone. Why have that much power if you aren’t going to use it for good? Thanks for reading : )

      • I LOVE your magic scepter! I was just going to say that, while there are no drive-thrus in my urban area, I often wish there were so I could get coffee without waking whoever’s sleeping in the car. But I like your solution even better! :)

      • LOL! See, we thought that we were marrying a scepter to help with the kids already!

      • Somer on said:

        I’m with you! Unfortunately a drive thru is a mother’s saving grace for sleeping or rambunctious children. I was actually wishing last week the post office had a drive through so that every time I went there my 3 year old didn’t dismantle the hallmark card rack and the priority mail display in the 30 seconds it took me to write down an address on an envelope. Then I have to pretend to smile while I try to hold him in a choker hold and he bites my arm as I awkwardly pay to mail out a package so he doesn’t break anything else. Wave that scepter Jason! I need babysitters for shopping and to get mail sent out!

        Oh and guess where I worked as a teenager?…. Taco Hell. Absolutely NOTHING is prepared fresh on the premises. Even the lettuce and tomatoes come pre-chopped and covered in preservatives. Gross. The sour cream and guac had something like 20 ingredients each. Their meat isn’t even real meat. I remember reading the ingredient label: oats and soy protein made up a majority of their ground taco meat…. Maybe that would be a good thing if it weren’t chemically engineered to still taste like meat. Eww.

      • Ewwwww…. the inside scoop! Fast food is so wretched. It is an example of what happens when profitability influences decisions. Nobody thinks rationally when money is on the line.

        There are some people that should have drive through convenience: Moms of youngins are at the top of that list : )

      • Somer on said:

        I promise I get enough exercise otherwise and don’t idle my car ;)

  3. I do love a good fourth, fifth and sixth meal just not from TB! So about the whole getting out of the car thing …you know turning it off, going in etc….What about the cost of turning your car back on vs just leaving it running? I am being serious ….I think it cost the most to turn your car on vs leaving it running but I really don’t know at what point one is cheaper than the other….like say you were going to leave your car running for 2 minutes or turn it off and back on. Which is cheaper? And like when does it become cheaper?

  4. This is a really cool question- the 10 second rule. It takes 10 seconds of idle fuel to stop and start your car. This means a one minute idle is using 50 seconds of wasted fuel. This does not take into account air-conditioning and heating loads added to the engine either. Google 10 second rule and you will find a lot of data. Thanks for the question, I learned something from that : ) Thanks for reading!

    • John D. on said:

      I was going to say with modern fuel injection systems the amount of gas to start a car is much lower than what it used to be on the 60s and 70s. The 10 second rule is a great rule to use.

  5. My brother has been embracing the fourth meal concept since he was a baby…and the fifth meal, sixth meal and seventh come to think of it :)
    I’d like to live in that world where you are king and banish the drive-thrus. I’m proud to say I haven’t been in a fast food place or its drive thru for about 6 years. It’s just a repository of greasy filth. And the most worrying thing is that most cars I see in the fast food lanes are packed full of little kids. I worry about the next generation….

    • Great job avoiding the crap for so long! I am also terrified for the younger generation~ I worked in elementary schools for decades and watched the school lunches and parent decisions get worse as the country got more and more unhealthy. I don’t know of a big solution- just waiting for the pendulum to swing back to sanity, and pushing it when we can. That’s what we are doing, I guess : )

  6. Great post as always. Love your blog.

  7. Wow, cool! Thanks for reading!!

  8. Two things that should trouble anyone about Taco Bell: 1) No matter what the menu item is, it has the same ingredients. 2) Food delivered by caulk guns is usually a bad thing.

  9. mjmarti11 on said:

    This is awesome! Love how you turned food scientist into drug dealers. Lol!
    By the way, love your writing style. Keep up the good job!
    And, even though I don’t know you, I feel proud of you for making this change in your life. Keep it up. Your body and mother earth will appreciate it. ;)

  10. i eat taco bell at least once a week. fresco bean burritos & fresco crunch tacos with beans instead of meat are very much a part of our lives.

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