Inexpensive food containing processed ingredients and prepared as well as served quickly in an industrialized manner is categorized as Fast Food. Often times synonymous with junk/slow food, fast food – hamburgers, fries, pizza, sandwiches, etc. accompanied by sugar laden soft drinks and milk shakes – these foods are high in calories and low in nutritional value. Any meal with low preparation time can be deemed as fast food. The term, however, principally refers to food that is packaged in take-out/take-away form and sold in stores or restaurants. Ready-cooked foods have been in existence since ancient times with street stands (Rome, Africa, etc.) selling bread, wine, and a assortment of foods. Modern commercial fast food as we know today, evolved with mass urban development brought on by the Industrial Revolution commencing at the latter part of the eighteenth century. Globalization of the fast food industry has been phenomenal. The international market in 2006 propelled 4.8% with a “value of 102.4 billion and a volume of 80.3 billion transactions (Market and Research).” Has the current foreboding economic international meltdown affected the industry? According to the “US Fast Food Market Outlook 2010” analysis report, “While the global meltdown hit hard the economy, the US fast food industry is expected to cross US$ 170 Billion mark by 2010 due to low price and rising working population….the economic meltdown is benefiting the US fast food industry(PRLog).
With a rapidly growing working population fast food supports would contend that such an industry proliferates job opportunities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, the food servicing/preparation industry, including fast food, employs 2 million workers. It meets the demand meets the demand of time crunched Americans. Millions of Americans are “spending their money at these establishments” and major fast food restaurant chains “have adapted to the American public’s demands for healthier foods by cutting down on fat grams, offering more and more salads, wrap sandwiches, and other more healthful items, as well as all kinds of low-carb offerings.” It is consistent with the free market system in terms of law and supply couple with individual rights and responsibility.
Suffice to say, all aspects of fast food (food item, preparation, cost, etc. even its so-called healthy) are aimed at minimizing cost and labor. Its fundamental virtue is expediency as opposed to quality and nutritional value. Excessive caloric and high Trans fat as well as sodium intake catapult fast food to the top of the foods to avoid list by health experts and nutritionists. It is a major contributor to the obesity epidemic as well as a myriad of other life threatening diseases in the US and throughout the world. A recent University of Michigan study linked excessive fast food consumption to strokes (E Fitness Now). “Lack of exercise, eating deep fried food such as french fries, eating fattening hamburgers, is why fast food and heart disease can make a couple and create high cholesterol (heartdiseaseawareness.com). “ A quick solution, but in most cases not the healthiest one.
For proponents against excessive fast food consumption, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal (2001) by American award-winning investigative journalist Eric Schlosser and documentaries Super Size Me and Eating (2nd. Edition – The Rave Diet) provide a bastion of evidence. McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Subway, and Taco Bell, to name a few, have numerous restaurants throughout the world. These franchises have become the trademark of today’s world. Bejing, People’s Republic of China, houses the largest McDonald’s in the world. Jim Hightower, an American farm activist who Schlosser quotes, warned of “McDonaldization of America” in the early 70’s and “viewed the emerging fast food industry as a threat to independent business, as a step toward a food economy dominated by giant corporations, and as a homogenizing influence on American life (Schlosser).”
Hightower’s fear, Schlosser contends, has come to fruition reality considering the unprecedented degree of power major food chains (McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut, etc.) has over the nation’s food supply. Link to obesity, specific marketing to children, global expansion, slaughterhouse savagery is examined. American independent filmmaker Morgan Spurlock’s documentary Super Size Me (2004) chronicles Spurlock’s 30 day consumption binge (three times day) on McDonald’s super size meals. Documenting the radical effects on Spurlock’s physical, mental, and psychological well-being, Super Size Me examines the entrenched corporate influence of the industry and how it promotes poor nutrition for its own profit. Eating is a homegrown based production by Michael Anderson, a former solar energy specialist and computer software analyst/businessmen turned medical researcher and filmmaker. Anderson explores similar issues but most importantly the medical profession/industry’s negligence in most cases to institute proper nutrition and healthy dietary lifestyle changes that can lessen and even alleviate major illnesses. Anderson promotes a whole food vegan diet based on No Refined foods, No Animal foods, No Vegetable oils, and No Exceptions and Exercise (RAVE). All are profound and astounding exposes on the unhealthy, unsanitary and discriminatory practices of the fast food industry.
Food’s overall purpose is to sustain life, provide energy, and promote growth. Unfortunately, in accordance with the fast pace of modern life, the current paradigm for ‘successful’ societies and individuals is measured by their ability to project political, military, economic, and technological prowess and influence. Based on these aforementioned sources as well as a slew of diseases on the rise such as Mad Cow disease, avian (bird) flu, stomach/ intestinal diseases brought on by salmonella poisoning, it’s fair to deduce that the consumer is being consumed by the food.
Anderson, Michael. Eating – 2nd. Edition the Rave Diet. Web.
DiLorenzo, Thomas J. “Marx Lite.” The Free Market: Ludwig Von Mises Institute. Web.
“More Fast Food Joints in Neighborhoods Mean More.” E Fitness Now. Strokes. Wrb.
“Recession Creating New Opportunities for the US Fast Food Industry.” PRLog (Press Release). Web.
Research and Markets. Web.
Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation. Penguin Books, 2002. pp. 4-5.
Spurlock, Morgan. Super Size Me. YouTube.
“The Link Between Heart Disease And Fast Food.” Web.