1 Fast Food Mania What ever happened to a home cooked meal? Dinner time in a household was once special and food was prepared by people who actually cared about what they served. About a generation ago, more than half of the meals consumed were prepared at home. Today, a majority of the meals we eat are prepared by strangers who could care less about our health as long as they receive a paycheck. Our fast paced society no longer values the simple things of the past and the food that we eat today is just the tip of the iceberg.
I found my mind wondering today as I researched this topic. Despite my opposition, a craving for a McDonald’s cheeseburger gripped my senses and would not let go. Fast food is like a drug and it is all around us. Unfortunately, most of us are addicts and do not even realize it. In Fast Food Nation: The True Cost of America’s Diet (1998), Eric Schlosser reports that “Americans now spend more money on fast food than they do on higher education, personal computers, software or new cars” (3).
Despite the obscene amount of cash Americans spend on fast- food, it is our bodies and economy that ultimately end up paying the price. Obesity and diabetes in adults and children is prevalent in the United States today, thanks in part to fast- food. Fast- food is cheap, tasty, convenient, and loaded with saturated fat and calories. Unfortunately, minorities are usually hit the hardest and many do not have access to adequate health care. Children are the primary target of fast-food chains, specifically McDonald’s.
Billions of dollars are spent by McDonald’s marketing to children in hopes of shaping their eating habits. “A survey of American schoolchildren found that ninety-six percent could indentify Ronald McDonald. The only fictional character with a higher degree of recognition was Santa Clause” (Schlosser 3). 2 High-fat, high-sugar foods are widely available, taste good and cost less than healthier foods. Not only are these toxic meals cheap and easy, they are available in larger portions. The “More bang for your buck” concept has proven to have deadly consequences in some aspects of life.
Advertisements for precooked, prepackaged foods are watched, read, and heard by millions of American’s almost every minute of the day. Few fast- food restaurants serve fresh foods straight off the grill. Most of the restaurants receive their food frozen, canned, or freeze-dried. To top it all off, exercise is an endangered species. The average American drives almost everywhere and spends very little time walking. Besides the long-term health risks of a fast-food diet, many restaurant chains receive contaminated food products from poorly ran packaging plants.
To keep the prices of meat low, most slaughter houses have moved from big cities to small towns. Instead of hiring skilled workers, these packaging plants usually employ unskilled, untrained, immigrants and teenagers, who greatly increase the risk of food poisoning. Due to indecent handling and improper cattle processing, manure can and does get mixed in with the meat. Our meat is then contaminated with salmonella and Escherichia coli [E. coli]. E. coli is one of the worst types of food poisoning and can be very deadly.
Americans suffer physically, emotionally, and financially from fast-food mania. A few corporations have a great deal of power and influence when it pertains to our food supply and jobs. Today, most parents cannot afford to have one parent stay at home and raise the children as in the past. Swamped with debt and living beyond their financial means, most Americans must subject themselves to long hours and poor wages as a means of survival. In turn, meals are not cooked at home regularly and the fast-food business has profited tremendously. Schlosser points out that “An estimated one in every eight Americans has worked at McDonald’s. The company annually trains more new workers than the U. S. Army” (3). In addition to low hourly wages, many fast-food employees are seen as expendable and can be replaced with the blink of an eye. A large part of this has to do with the assembly line structure incorporated by the fast-food industry. Most employees need only be trained on how to operate machinery that does all the work for them. In turn, “management no longer relies upon the talents or skills of its workers…” (Schlosser 15).
Huge corporations tend to make it so that the little guy can be easily replaced at the minimum cost. It is intuitively obvious that fast-food employees make a substantial amount less than other workers in the U. S. and have poor and/or no health benefits. Obesity, diabetes, and no money for hospital bills is a deadly combination that has left millions of families distraught and discouraged. Most fast-food restaurants are filled with senior citizens, teenagers, and middle age women behind the cash registers. This has made fast-food chains an easy target for many robberies. Many features that make fast-food restaurants so convenient-such as their locations near highway offramps- also make them attractive targets for armed robbery” (Schlosser 18). There have been many brutal crimes committed in fast-food chains and they do not seem to be on the decline despite what the media may convey. Not only are employees in danger of armed robbery but the possibility are self-inflicted injuries are also prevalent. Overexertion, burns, cuts, and sprains are just a few of the issues employees must face in this fast- food nation.
It is obvious fast food is not going anywhere any time soon but changes must be made quickly in order to control this deadly epidemic that has swept America up in its deadly grasp. Obesity, diabetes, and many other diseases are on the rise and our bodies are certainly NOT “Lovin it”. 4 Works Cited Schlosser, Eric. “Fast Food Nation: The True Cost of America’s Diet. ” Rolling Stone magazine 3 Sep. 1998. 24 Nov. 2008 <http://www. mcspotlight. org/media/press/rollingstone1. html>.