Shit! It's an FEA raid! Quick, flush the cotton candy down the toilet and stuff that Snickers bar up your butt! And cover that damn pimple with some Clearasil, man! They'll know you've been using! Oh, man ... NOBODY MOVE! Step away from the éclair and put your hands in the air, you junk food junkie!
Someone's heading to the fat farm.
Like the film Traffic on sugar and triglycerides, Christopher Largen's novel Junk takes us on a tour of a near future "war" on junk food, complete with a food czar, a Food Enforcement Agency, and mandatory sentences for possession of hamburgers, doughnuts and milk shakes.
We meet: Justin Bailey, a squeaky clean cop (he won't even let his wife call him "honey"), who is conflicted about the draconian food laws he upholds; Moe Goodman, a celebrity preacher who counsels junk food addicts but questions the efficacy of the ongoing "war"; and Billy Sweet, a master doughnut baker who takes his business underground after Congress, responding to an "epic of obesity," passes the "Dangerous Products Act." (We also meet his fat and flatulent Doberman, Sugar.) And pulling the strings behind it all, the shadowy "Candy Man," notorious supplier of marked-up sugar and other junk food raw materials.
At first taste, even in the era of Super Size Me, the book's premise seems absurd, perhaps just a stand-in conceit for marijuana. Largen has written extensively elsewhere in favor of the legalization of pot, and he certainly isn't subtle about the parallels between the drug war and his junk war.
But then came the Cookie Monster, who in Junk has been evicted from "Sesame Street." That hasn't happened yet, but I hear he's been forced to push healthy snacks. So who knows. ...
In any case, the larger message of Junk is not so much "up with sweets and red meats" as "liberty and personal responsibility for all." Despite the occasional bit of ham- (er, I meant tofu-) handed satire, Largen is actually quite balanced in what he writes about junk food, acknowledging the costs -- both personal and public -- of our horrid eating habits. He just rejects the idea that personal liberty is a fair price to pay for a less corpulent, more productive populace. Whether we're talking pot or pastries, that principle remains the same.
Little harsh, in'it?
Oh that's right...I DID say enjoy yourself.
Go to hell Kombo!
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