With the recent lawsuit filed against Taco Bell many Americans are suddenly wondering just what is inside that delicious little late night treat. The lawsuit states that only 35% of the taco filling is actually beef, with the remainder of the “meat” being made up of seasonings and other ingredients. While the company claims a much higher percentage of actual beef is in the "beef," PETA jumped to the defense of the fast food giant stating that a low percentage of actual meat translates to a low percentage of animal cruelty associated with the product.
However, all of this leads to a different question entirely: What do people actually expect to get for 98-cents? Street vendors sell dirty water dogs for upwards of three dollars in big cities across the country. A USDA prime steak can set you back well over $20 for a six ounce cut. Why is it so unfathomable to think that the taco filling within some of the cheapest fast food available contains fillers? Some would expect nothing less.
According to Alice Waters, a pioneer in the sustainable food scene in Berkeley, CA, the "biggest impediment to fixing the food system in the United States is that we expect food to be cheap." She has worked tirelessly to bring quality meals to the nation's school system and teach children from a young age to not only eat healthier, but to eat food that is local and in season.
But the truth is, we live in a country where 96% of schoolchildren can identify Ronald McDonald. On a global scale, more people recognize the Golden Arches than Jesus. Let's face it: Chicken McNuggets are ALWAYS in season.
Fast food can be found around the globe. If you are climbing on the Great Wall of China and get a jonesing for KFC, fret not, because there is one right at the base. Spent the day touring the Taj Mahal and would give anything to get a slice of some pepperoni pizza? No worries! There is a Pizza Hut right down the street! You cannot escape the ever-expanding clutches of fast food.
Furthermore, it is estimated that more than 10% of Americans had their first taste of employment at McDonalds. By this point, you may be wondering, how does any of this relate to a meatless taco? The linkage between all of this is the degree to which fast food has been ingrained in our culture. Americans are constantly looking for the newest, cheapest, fastest thing. However, Mick Jagger famously pointed out, "You can't always get what you want."
If you want quality food, arguably you should expect to pay a commensurate amount. However, if you are on a budget, by all means chow down on a Big Mac or a Gordita. Just don't complain when you find out that a few fillers have been added so that you can get a filling meal for under $5.