Why You Should Avoid Eating Fast Food.
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What is Fast Food?
In modern American society it is almost impossible to find someone that does not eat fast food occasionally. The allure of the quick "fix" that fast food offers is irresistible to many people.
What is fast food?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines fast-food as follows:
- of, relating to, or specializing in food that can be prepared and served quickly <a fast–food restaurant>
- designed for ready availability, use, or consumption and with little consideration given to quality or significance <fast–food TV program>
What is fast food really? When fast food comes to mind, I immediately associate it with definition number 2. This is due to the low quality of most fast foods. Here are a few ways that I define fast food when faced with a culinary conundrum.
- Drive through window: The presence of a drive through window is not mandatory for a restaurant to be considered fast food. If the window is present, and food is served through this window, then it is to be defined as a fast food restaurant.
- Limited Menu selection: Menu is generally focused on one niche, such as; burgers, fries, tacos, chicken etc. Although their may be other possible food types that emerge as this industry continues to evolve.
- Dining Ware: All eating utensils, plates, containers and beverage cups will be disposable. There are exceptions, some establishments provide glasses, ceramic plates, metal utensils to dine in customers.
- Wait Service: Typically fast food establishments do not provide wait service. The customer picks up their food at the counter, carries it to the table, then disposes of the trash at the end of the meal. A few fast food restaurants provide wait service. Beware of the masquerade, if the menu appears to be fast food, and a drive through window is present, it is still fast food.
- Restaurant Operations: This involves discretion on the part of the customer. If it appears that the employees are mass producing food, instead of preparing a meal, then you may be in a fast food restaurant.
How often do you eat fast food?
Fast food has grown in popularity at an almost exponential rate since the inception of White Castle in 19162. In industrialized nations around the world, fast food has become a phenomena that many partake of on a regular basis.
In 1970 Americans spent $6 billion on fast food. The amount that Americans spend on fast food has increased steadily to an estimated $110 billion in 20002 (statistics not adjusted for inflation).
This alarming trend is not indigenous to the United States, the viral spread of fast food has migrated to foreign markets as well. McDonald's alone boasts restaurants in 126 different countries on 6 different continents (watch out Antarctica, your next), with over 31,000 restaurants world wide2.
Obesity and Fast Food?
How do you feel?
The Physical and Financial Toll.
Now that we have covered some of the background information, we can take a look at the issues surrounding the consumption of fast food.
Obesity: As the chart shows, obesity has been increasing steadily for years. Although there are other contributing factors, the correlation between the increase in America's waist lines and fast food sales cannot be denied. Obesity and the consumption of high cholestrol, high fat foods can lead to a variety of illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes
Cost: As we all know with the current economic downturn, prices are up, wages are down, and many Americans have ended up in debt. When eating out (not just fast food) we spend much more money than the equivalent amount of food would have cost at the grocery store. In hard economic times the sensibility of eating at an establishment that may provide substandard food at an increased cost should be carefully considered.
If you have ever known anyone that has had the misfortune of working in the fast food industry, you are probably aware of some of the more dubious practices that occur in such an establishment. Although there are some reputable establishments in the industry, there are some possibilities for disaster that you need to be aware of.
- The Food: Although not all fast food can be classified as "processed," much of the menu items come prepared from a factory/commissary type location and only require brief reheating. Due to the nature of the environment especially during peak business hours, the employees responsible for food preparation maybe working at break neck speed as well as being expected to multi-task. Multi-task you ask? Yes, some locations the person who handles the money/cash register transactions will also come into contact with various food items. Since they are in a "hurry" they may neglect to wash their hands or put gloves on. Although this is against most restaurants policies (as well as the health dept.) the employee may commit this grievous indiscretion for the sake of keeping customers happy. When the food is prepared as fast as humanly possible, there is the potential that it will be extremely messy. Sandwiches thrown together with condiments haphazardly squirted on them, wrapped up, then "on to the next one."
- The Help: Although there are many very intelligent and well educated individuals that work in the fast food industry, they are often the exception rather than the norm. Most of these establishments have incredibly low hiring standards, this can lead to some rather suspect characters having access to your food. Keep a few of these examples in mind the next time that you are ordering at a fast food restaurant.
Teenagers: There just to make a few bucks and hopefully meet members of the opposite sex. A few of them legitimately care about the quality of service they provide. The rest of them are being overwhelmed by hormones and could care less about you and your food.
Convicted Felons: Imagine the recently released sex offender allowed freedom to roam around. Talking to the teenagers, cleaning the restroom, dining rooms and childrens play area. I know they need jobs to so they can become a productive member of society, but the idea of having them that close to the public with a limited amount of supervision disturbs me.
Drug Addicts: Many fast food facilities do not perform drug screens on new hires. This provides them with an unlimited pool of applicants with a very low expectation of career mobility. If one quits,dies, is arrested, becomes sober or is fired, they simply hire another one.
Other ne'er do well's (It's a real term): This title is reserved for the "rest of them."
Their are many fine hard working honest Americans that are employed in the fast food industry. If you ever talk with them about their job, the co-workers that are listed above will undoubtedly come up. When visiting one of these glorious establishments, you may have the privilige of being served by a true working class, red blooded American, or you may have the misfortune of dealing with one of those "personalities".
An eye opener!
What's the cost?
As fast food permeates American culture, it has fueled a general mindset throughout the nation that "faster is better." If many of us stop and perform deep introspection, we will find that this is not the case. Much of the happiest times of our lives is when we have not been hurried, or taken short cuts (unless you are visiting the in-laws).
Families taking the time to cook a meal together has practically became non-existent. Time that was once spent sitting around the table at dinner and having a legitimate discussion has now been replaced with eating as fast you can in a restaurant, in a car, or in front of a television/computer.
Cooking Skills are on the decline as most of America's young people have not been exposed to home food preparation.
With the current trends of obesity, debt and the deterioration of American moral values, we have to wonder if many of the "breakthroughs" of the past century have been a negative influence. The propagation of the fast food phenomena is only one example of a catalyst that has lead to the break down of American society.