Earlier this week, a photo of two-year-old fast food—that hasn’t rotted or aged at all—went viral. Reactions were varied, but most were in two camps: 1) This is a really good reason not to eat burgers and fries, or 2) This photo is totally fake and I’m still going to eat my burgers and fries, dammit. The science of why burgers don’t rot, mold, or get eaten by bugs has been explored elsewhere, but we wanted to know from a doctor what we should really take away from the photo in terms of our health. So we talked to Dr. Frank Lipman, Integrative & Functional Medicine Physician and founder of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center, to find out what he makes of the meme.
Here’s what he had to say:
First off, what’s your interpretation of the photo (in the 2-year-old fast food post)? What do you think the main take-away should be for consumers?
We are such a visual culture, and I think that shocking images like this can be helpful to wake people up. I teach that food is information for our body, so you have to consider whether you want fast food burgers to be the type of information you give your cells for optimal health and energy. Living food provides vibrant energy and supports life.
Some people are saying the whole thing is a farce, and that it weakens the argument against fast food because it looks fake. Do you think these kinds of viral photos are helpful, or just confusing?
I don’t think there’s anything confusing here. I’m not sure if this image has been validated, but an image like this goes viral because it speaks to a truth that junk food is truly junk.
Are there any foods that “should” last for two years under normal circumstances—that are safe to consume on a regular basis? Should we only consume foods that will go bad within days?
Dry goods like rice or lentils could last for 2 years, and canned goods such as beans could also last. These non-perishable foods are fine to keep in your diet. Fresh fruits, veggies, organic meats and fish will not last!
Where is the place for non-perishable foods and fast foods in our diets? Should we ban them all, only eat them occasionally…what’s your take?
Yes, I believe we should “ban” fast foods from our diet for optimal health.
If not this diet, what do you think is the most powerful information or example to help people change their diets?
I often encourage patients to cut down on their caffeine intake, especially coffee because it is so acidic and harsh on our system. Recently a patient shared with me that they kept their coffee out on their work desk overnight, and when they came in the next day the coffee had “eaten away” at the cup! That’s another helpful visual for what that substance may be doing inside our body.