Hug your loved ones, say prayers to whatever deities you choose to worship because—as the mainstream media would have it—our great national crisis is over. Yes, the lawsuit in which a consumer blamed McDonald's for his obesity has been thrown out. Finally, the courts have stopped frivolity in the courtroom, and one New York federal court judge has had enough.

But wait a minute. The suit was not exactly thrown out, just tossed back to the wolves.

The mainstream media, talk radio and television anchors have been quick to note that the case is over but, alas, such is not the (ahem) case. While the judge did dismiss the suit, he also was kind enough to offer advice to help get the case back in court. The problem was not that the lawsuit was the very definition of frivolous. The problem was that the lawyers failed to cite the correct arguments. However, the judge was quite helpful in explaining the shortcomings of the suit and offered a number of suggestions. Why do I suspect the consumer's lawyer will gladly take that free advice?

This case, or one similar to it, will make its way back into court, and McDonald's (or Burger King, Wendy's or perhaps a food manufacturer in the future) will send a battalion of lawyers once more unto the breach. As consumers—and their lawyers—would have it, these major companies must be blamed for the alarming, health-risking obesity of the consumer.

I have to ask if the lawsuit goes far enough. After all, isn't obesity related to a lack of exercise? What device hampers our ability to exercise the most? The automobile, of course. Why, if it weren't for the car, I'd have to walk everywhere, but with such a convenient means of transportation available, how can I be expected not to use it? Besides, the car is so helpful for fast-food drive-throughs. I can drive up, place an order for a conveniently fat-filled snack that I cannot resist and pull over in the parking lot to eat, never having to leave the car. Why, the car even has a cup-holder perfectly sized for that giant chocolate shake. That's almost entrapment!

Quick, somebody get a lawyer on the phone.

Internet Information

For more information on this issue's articles, see the Internet sites provided below.

Sweet Indulgence — Haagen-Dazs — Starbucks

Bar None — Clif Bar Inc. — Little Debbie — MetRx

World Issues and Product Development — Functional food news — L. Israelsen's website — Natural Products Industry regulatory page

Flavoring Organics — USDA website detailing regulations on ingredients for organic products

Quality Assurance International pr_organicsurvey.pdf — Whole Foods Market-Survey 10/17/02 — Organic Materials Review Institute

Buying Into Breadcrumbs— Tips on getting coatings to adhere — Technical paper on adhesion of rice-based batters

A Grain's a Terrible Thing to Waste — Advantages of sprouted grain — NIH statistics on celiac disease

Going to California — Article on pizzas — Wolfgang Puck