Hail to the Junk Food President

I have a new column – writing about politics and food – for the excellent Mace Magazine, which also features top articles by William Boyd, Anthony Seldon, Rowan Williams, Sarah Champion and Ken Clarke…

‘You are what you eat,’ the old adage insists and since we live in an age where politics makes almost no sense perhaps it’s time we took a look at what our politicians stuff down their gullets: it may reveal untold truths about them as well as the chaos they’re presiding over. 

So let’s begin by deconstructing the plate of the most powerful man in the Western world. Donald J. Trump’s diet is – as People magazine once put it -‘populist, cheap, and maybe too salty for most people’s taste.’ As you might guess from the shape of him, the 45th President of the United States exists on junk food. 

There were ‘four major food groups’ served on Trump Force One during the American election campaign, ex-aides David Bossie and Corey Lewandowski note: ‘McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, pizza and Diet Coke.’ Trump’s most regular order was ‘two Big Macs, two Fillet-O-Fish and a chocolate malted.’ The cupboards were stuffed with Vienna Fingers, potato chips, pretzels and Oreos. 

In addition to suggesting Trump is – by and large – composed of fat and sodium, this diet is also evidence of his rampaging paranoia. Michael Wolff claims his addiction to junk is rooted in his fear of being poisoned. He thought it safe to eat at McDonald’s since ‘nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely premade.’ At nights, he likes to eat cheeseburgers alone in his room whilst watching three television screens and talking on the phone. 

Some argue all this connects him to voters. Trump may be excessively rich but he chows down just like a blue collar voter. ‘There’s nothing more American and more of-the-people than fast food,’ Republican strategist Russ Schriefer reckons.

Did it win him the 2016 election? Certainly Hillary Clinton saw food as essential to that campaign – she devotes a whole chapter of her book, What Happened? to what she ate. For breakfast – it was egg whites and vegetables and she carried hot sauce in her handbag for every other meal.

Like almost everything else about her the details seem singularly inauthentic. (Who eats vegetables for breakfast? Does she really like hot sauce or was this – as many commentators suggested – an effort to connect with black voters, perhaps, in the hope they’d overlook her Super Predator speeches in the days of Bill?) 

On Hillary’s plane there weren’t any Oreos – just a nutritionist called Liz who made brownies out of chickpea flour. While everyone’s heard of a Big Mac, Hillary snacked on ‘Flavor Blasted Goldfish.’ It’s worth noting that in the days the Clintons ruled the world, her husband’s diet closely resembled Trump’s. Now – like many a Goldman Sachs trophy spouse – he’s vegan.  

Ultimately, the more you read about what Trump eats the more fallible and human he appears. While we fear he’s got his finger on the nuclear button, actually he’s just pressing a small red one in the Oval Office through which he can order a constant supply of Diet Coke.

Thinking about all that fizz and pop inside of him he must – surely? – trump constantly. Does this explain all his hysterical outbursts? 

No one knows. 

But it certainly demystifies him – and the state of his politics.

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