Artifact Politics – Fast Food

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 SchlosserFast 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.

Eric SchlosserFast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal


11 thoughts on “Artifact Politics – Fast Food”

  1. I enjoyed reading your post and was especially interested in the way you split the political effects into three categories–the impact on families, mass production, and health. I personally have a major opposition to fast food, but must admit that I don’t often stop to think about the initial suppliers and how fast food is changing the farming industry. You could even go so far as to say that fast food acts as an authoritarian political artifact for its manipulative marketing and ability to easily draw in consumers.


  2. I agree with pretty much everything you said. However, it is nice to see every once in a while that changes are made. For instance, several years ago, there was a law put in place so the restaurants were now required to post nutritional facts about the food they serve.


  3. I thought the argument of lack of quality time was interesting, because I wonder if fast food really caused the family dinner to disappear. I know that in my house, at least, we hardly ever eat/ate fast food, and yet I can’t remember the last family dinner that wasn’t a major holiday. For my family, the availability of fast food really hasn’t affected our family time at all, rather, the elimination of family dinner was a natural consequence of everyone growing up and having more responsibilities.


  4. I find it interesting that you wrote about fast food in a political sense, but I agree with your argument. Fast food really does diminish the family institution when it comes to closeness at the dinner table. The amount of effort and money that is spent on fast food shows how it plays a large role in the lives of many people.


  5. I enjoy this topic because not only is it very relevant in today’s society, but also that it is a “touchy” topic for some. I agree that the food is pretty much processed mesh used to only give people a quick and easy way to eat. I do disagree with another portion of your topic; which regards to the notion that fast food has led to a poorer quality of communication between parents and children. This is not necessarily true because there are other factors at play that influence poor quality of communication and awkwardness; such as, the invention of the iPod, Video Games, and Texting, these all are factors that specifically decrease the quality of communication, not so much fast food. I know my family uses fast food as a way to bring us all together, whether it’s going out and eating when we all have time, or simply to bring it home and have a family dinner. I like your essay and I think you hit on very valid points. Good job!


  6. I liked how you didn’t focus on just one aspect of fast food’s politics but touched on multiple facets. I’m not so sure that it has had a direct tie to the reduction of family dinners; people are just so more busy now and hardly have time. I agree that the corporations are pushing farms past their limits. but I am interested if there are any other possible alternatives.


  7. This is a topic that I think is very interesting. I grew up eating too much fast food. Which I found interesting how you mentioned the family dynamics because of fast food. For my family, fast food wasn’t a problem. I actually talked more to them because as a kid I would happily tell my parents that I got that toy in the Happy Meal and ask them when will be the next time I got to come back so I could collect the toys. Now, I don’t eat fast food anymore. Reasons are because like you mentioned how unhealthy it is and how it changed the food and farming industry. Even when we don’t eat fast food, we are affected by it. Fast food companies changed the farming industry so the quality of vegetables and meats are not as natural and healthy as it was in the past.


  8. I really like how you mentioned the fact that even the healthy options at fast-food restaurants are processed. It’s crazy how much advertisement makes a difference on how we perceive the things we consume. Great job!


  9. I also really enjoyed reading your post. I found it interesting how you tied in fast food with family quality time, and sitting together as a family. When I was younger my family and I didn’t really sit down together at a table and eat together, so that was interesting that you brought that up. And I agree that the high demand for foods in the fast food industry has changed the way we grow food, with GMO’s. But I’m glad that some farmers have decided not to change their ways of growing food.


  10. I really like what you talked about! I’m interested in the politics in the fast food. I just tried to add something more to talk, but I found that it will be complicated for me. What you thought covered the main ideas about the topic. In a word, The social influence of fast food is really a good topic for further discussion.


  11. I enjoyed your topic; it speaks to the personal self, beliefs, wants, needs, and loves. But, this is a topic that parents need to get up-to-speed on. “Fast food” should not bbe a replacement for “Complete nutrition”, especially for young children so dependent on where their nutrition comes from. Well done.


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