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When my parents were young there weren’t walls full of food in every store, there weren’t vending machines of junk food at work or in schools, gasoline stations weren’t places where people ate full meals. Fast food places wouldn’t sell breakfast while staying open 24 hours, seven days a week. Today, access to unhealthy food choices and their persistent aggressive advertising and marketing campaigns, specifically of fast food restaurants, is practically abundant. Fast food restaurants began selling bigger portions of hamburgers, french-fries, and sodas while avoiding apples and bananas considering that it’s their greatest economic interest to generate a revenue along with a toxic food environment. The rapid growth of the fast food industry with its unreliable marketing and unhealthy approach to the population generates on our society, especially on American people, an increase of bad habits and health problems.
As I said, not many years ago, the amount of junk food offered by stores was almost non-existent. However, nowadays, grabbing a snack packed with calories or a full meal is not that hard, especially when almost every corner of every street has a fast food restaurant. As an example, Santa Clarita has over two hundred restaurants but nearly one quarter of them could be classified as healthy. This can be the reason why more than half of the American population has food-related health problems, overweight or obesity, but no one can blame them.
Ever since the creation of fast food in a greater scale, the debate around it has always included the unhealthy meals sold. Calorically packed foods offered by fast food places will make people gain more weight than food that they prepare at home, but sometimes people can’t help to buy food there. One writer suggests that “If you’re like most young people, you see an average of 21 food advertisements very day on TV. Most of these ads are for food loaded with sugar and fat”. Considering this massive and aggressive advertising that makes junk food look tasty and appetizing, even if these places did offer natural and healthy food, the majority of kids and teenagers will choose the biggest hamburger with a side of French fries and a sugary drink.
On the same note, fast food places often use the loose term “all natural” in an attempt to sell “healthier” food to people that do care about what they put inside their bodies, but this word used deliberately as marketing remains quite unreliable. Fast food chains use the term without it being heavily regulated, meaning that “all natural” doesn’t always mean the food sold to people has less sodium or less fat, therefore less unhealthy, because in most cases, it’s the other way around. This deceiving way to sell “health” to a certain group of people, in the long run, would affect them even more.
Lately, more people are aware of how the fast food industry works. The people who supply fast food chains are not taking environmental or even healthy approaches to grow the food used in our meals, especially the meat, which is not coming from a farm but from a factory where some reports say animals and workers suffer from abuse. Big fast food chains want a huge amount of food supplies that need to be nearly identical, literally meaning all birds exactly the same size, and if grown quickly the factories and obviously the fast food chains gain more money. Actually, organizations like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, called out several fast food chains from for not handling the animals compassionately. Unfortunately, nobody has done anything to change that. Last week, I watched how animals and workers were treated on the movie Food Inc. and it’s infuriating. Even though the evidence is clear, and people know the kind of abuse happening, not doing anything about it has become one of the fast food industry’s interest. No one can blame the workers for treating animals that way considering that they don’t want to do this type of work, they just desperately need the money, but people can blame the companies behind.
As a matter of fact, eating in fast food chains will always offer consistency, meaning same taste across the board. In the article A Mickey Mouse Approach to Globalization, Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom states that people have tried McDonald’s Burgers from all over the world and “[T]hey really do all taste the same”. Nevertheless, mass production of food is certainly not a decent mechanism when talking about to processed foods. Chemicals and preservatives used in the process make it nearly impossible to clearly keep an eye on the quality of the food when prepared on a huge scale. Due to this, some cases have popped up claiming fast food places caused mass outbreaks of food borne illnesses. For example, some years ago there was a case of a family that went on vacation, and as they got hungry, they stopped at the nearest fast food restaurant to eat some cheeseburgers. Later on, the youngest kid of the family started to feel sick. As the family rushed to the hospital, the little kid felt worse every second. Sadly, the kid died thirteen days later due to a food poisoning disease called E. Coli, found in the meat of the cheeseburger the kid had eaten days before. The unintended consequence caused by the fast food industry, that technically relies on the meat industry, was never addressed, and to this day, the fast food chained that caused this atrocity remains untouched.
If the government realized that fast food and unhealthy foods send people relying on the us health care system, to the hospital because of diabetes or other foodborne diseases, and try to find a way to fix the food industry, they’ll realize how much money they can save and even gain. The goal is simple: not sending people to the hospital. The need to find a good way to fix the fast food system, or even the food industry in general is urgent.
No one’s asking the government to close every last fast food restaurant down forever, because who doesn’t love a hamburger with a side of fries every once in a while, or even once a week. As Michelle Obama says in the article Remarks of First Lady Michelle Obama as Prepared for Delivery Let’s Move Launch “Our kids don’t choose to make food products with tons of sugar and sodium… and the to have those products marketed them everywhere they turn”. The customers just ask for more regulations regarding the marketing of these fast food products as well as the purity and sanitation of them. It wouldn’t be that hard to achieve healthy food at a cheaper price if companies gave the same attention they put in fast food chains to vegetables and fruits, and if they actually cared about what they’re feeding to the population. Or if the government actually addressed the topic instead of just speaking about it.
Every once in a while, not every aspect of the fast food industry turns out negative. When a person skips a meal, their metabolism slows, and they can suffer a rebound effect, meaning they will eat more food at their next meal; in this case, fast food offers convenience. Busy parents running their kids from school to practice while being late for work can make a great use out of fast food due to the fact that eating nothing is worse than eating unhealthily, but obviously not every day. Hand in hand, not one restaurant can beat the price of fast food places. There’s a significant amount of competition for the food industry which leads fast food chains to constantly lower their prices, and yes, being cheaper helps a lot of parents that need to feed their families, but this actually makes things worse because it makes it easier for people to live based on an unhealthy diet, also a negative impact on the American population.
Numerous fast-food places have already eliminated problematic ingredients of their products. For example, McDonald’s announced it was purging a numerous amount of their items from artificial preservatives, counting the Chicken McNuggets. The fast food chain also said it’s still working in its promise to no longer serve chicken treated with antibiotics. If they continue to change their products with more healthy ones, and if other fast food chains follow, this will have a huge positive impact on the lives of American people, but sadly it will take more than just one simple step from one fast food chain until anything changes.
The facts and statistics remain at the tip of our hands but still, people need to realize how the calorically and sugary packed foods filled with chemicals and preservatives the fast food industry sells have a greater impact not only on our society, our animals and workers, but on the future generations. As I said before, my parents didn’t have easy access to junk food when they were young, but as we see that nowadays people find fast food almost everywhere, the rate of obesity has increased to over 40%. If people keep ignoring the issue, the quick progress of the fast food industry with its defective marketing and unhealthy approach will generate, especially on American people, a huge increase of unintended consequences leading to bad habits and health problems. Finally, I could suggest a variety of initiatives, including the raise of taxes and severe limitations on the marketing not only on fast foods, but junk food in general, to cut down the populations consumption of sugary and fatty foods. On top of that, people could start eating local food which benefits the environment and minor, local farmers that also preserve farmland. But without the attention of the governments and their willingness to actually change regulations and rules instead of just speaking about the issue, my ideas will mean nothing.
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