As human beings we have to consume food to obtain the nutrients our bodies need in order to function properly. For most of our existence a lot of our energy and resources have gone into the collecting, hunting, preparing, cooking and various other processes of obtaining food. All of these processes take a great deal of time, time that most people would rather be investing in other aspects of their busy lives. This all changed when the invention of a technology known as fast food was introduced by the McDonalds brothers. While many restaurants had previously sold fast food style meals cooked in a reasonably quick matter, it was the McDonalds brother’s assembly-line kitchen and drive-thru serving that really changed the game. Fast food gives busy people the opportunity to obtain an entire meal not only within a fraction of the time required to prepare and cook one themselves, but also without ever having to leave their car.
The technology of fast food may be a great way to save time when food is needed in a rush, however the severity of the political impact of fast food on today’s society is gravely overlooked by many people. “A generation ago, three-quarters of the money used to buy food in the United States was spent to prepare meals at home. Today about half of the money used to buy food is spent at restaurants–mainly at fast food restaurants.” (Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal). Due to fast food being so readily available the importance of the family meal has seemed to diminish with my generation and the generations after mine. Not many families take the time to cook a nice meal and sit around the table and talk about what is going on in their lives too often anymore. The loss of this quality conversation time has led to poorer quality relationships between parents and children. I also believe this lack of parent child communication has caused younger generations to become more socially awkward. However I don’t believe this is nearly as important as how the fast food industry has changed the way we look at food in general.
The major fast food corporations like McDonalds have completely reshaped the way we grow food. In order to keep up with the high demand that the fast food market has created the fast food corporations have had to implement industrialized mass production farms. These major corporations have created an authoritarian style system by forcing local farmers to sign contracts with them and implement their production systems in order to keep up with the companies production standards. The farms have to function at such a high level that safety and care for the land is often disregarded. This has led to not only the genetic modification of plants and animals but also to the destruction of farm land due to pushing the land past the limit it can withstand. Many people in today’s society don’t realize that all of this convenient fast food being available just about anywhere comes with a price, especially the younger generations who have grown up not knowing any different.
Another major aspect of the politics of fast food to consider is the impact their advertisements have on the population’s perspective on what is healthy. Most people would agree that fast food is not healthy for you but the majority of those people probably couldn’t tell you why. To appeal to the fact that fast food is unhealthy fast food companies have “healthy” alternatives such as apple slices, or a salad, which most people would agree is healthy. But what people don’t realize is that these salads or apple slices, might be a little better than the hamburger and fries but are still incredibly processed in order to be cheaply produced and stored for long periods of time. So these people think they are eating foods that are better for them but are just being manipulated by clever marketing.