The millions of Americans (Grist included!) glued to their TVs Sunday for Super Bowl XLIII got a personal invite from fast food chain Denny’s to swing by any of its 2,500 U.S. locations this morning for a free “Grand Slam” breakfast — two eggs, two sausages, two slices of bacon, two pancakes (a whopping 800 calories).
The Denny’s stunt is, well, really a sad statement about the American way of food. Fast food chains are part of a vast system of agriculture and industrial processing that is made possible by one thing and one thing only — cheap oil. It’s cheap fuel that powers the synthetic fertilizer that nourishes the thousands of acres of corn planted and harvested by a a handful of combine drivers. Cheap gas transports that corn to factory farms to feed poultry and livestock that are then processed and trucked across the country to the nearest store. It’s a system that pumps tons and tons of CO2 and methane into the atmosphere every day, harming the climate every day.
Denny’s bit of PR-as-charity is one more symptom of a food system spiraling out of control on a petrochemical bender.
Grist likes a greasy breakfast as much as the next person. And we may have even made our way to a Denny’s once or twice at 3 a.m. to satisfy a beer-induced craving for grease with a side of grease. There’s also a lot of truth to the old adage about not looking a gift horse in the mouth.
But let’s have a little truth in labeling here. Denny’s isn’t serving up a hearty, balanced breakfast; it’s providing America with a plate of corn and a side of petroleum. Yum!