- Pages: 12
- Word count: 2874
- Category: Gardening
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The CIA was not the only institution to be established in 1947, but also Red’s Giant Hamburg, the first fast food chain ever to grace America’s soil (Wilson, Tracy). Whether for convenience or sheer laziness, fast foods soon became so popular that they expanded like weeds and so did America’s waistlines. Some will argue that fast food’s convenience and prices outweigh the minimal affects that it may entail. However, though fast food can be useful on occasion, its over-use by working families is affecting communities, so much so, that we all suffer from negative effects such as price increases on healthy and fresh food.
Two seemingly beneficial reasons for fast food are convenience and price. With both parents working and the children at school, it is not uncommon to want something easy and fast with little to no clean up. One popular opinion would be that “no one wants to spend a ton of money to just be an under-glorified chef, and fast food definitely eliminates that whole mess.” (Bacic Media Group, LLC) However, fast food is not always faster, more convenient, or cheaper than meals made at home. I will be discussing these topics in addition to the effects of fast food on the body, as well as the consequences on the community and local farmers. I will also cover the benefits of cooking at home, such as being a more content, healthy, and organized.
Fast food restaurants like MacDonald’s are not adequate, convenient, healthy food sources and is not a substitute for nutritious meals. Time scarcity, the feeling of not having enough time is associated to changes in food consumption patterns such as decreased food preparation at home and increased consumption of fast foods.
(Jabs, Jennifer, and Devine Carol. pp. 196-204 ). Time scarcity greatly contributed to the success of fast foods. Many building designs and drive-ups were created for convenience, but when Red’s Giant Hamburg came out with the drive through in 1947, it blew every other business out of the water. In 1948 the MacDonald brothers opened their redesigned restaurant, and several other fast-food chains that exist today opened soon after. Fast food restaurants around the world began to appear forming a new generation of convenience and leisure (Bacic Media Group, LL), According to the National Restaurant Association, American sales of fast food totalled $163.5 billion in 2005. The industry is growing globally as well. Total sales for McDonald’s grew 5.6 percent in 2005, and the company now has 30,000 franchised stores in more than 120 countries (Wilson, Tracy).
Fast foods play on peoples’ feeing of time scarcity not just through the fast foods mere presence, but also through advertising. In 1970 MacDonald’s came out with its first child-centered advertisement. Parents were happy to bring their kids to fast food restaurants due to convenience. Over the years, kid based advertisements have been so successful that the growing epidemic of childhood obesity is a major public health concern (Jabs, Jennifer, and Devine Carol. pp. 196-204 ). Currently 5% of United States youth are overweight, a prevalence nearly twice as high in children and three times as high in adolescents compared to 1980 prevalence rates. Almost two-thirds (60%) of overweight children have at least one cardiovascular risk factor and a one in three chance of developing type 2 diabetes. These trends may seriously compromise the future health and productivity of the United States population and add to health care costs (Story, Mary, and French, Simone, p. 3). However, these feelings of time scarcity are not only influenced by ads, but also the modern feelings of people being pressed for time.
Feelings of time scarcity refer to people’s feelings or perceptions of not having enough time to do all they need to in a day. In today’s society people accomplish a host of goals, own many material goods, and want to get the most out of their leisure time, all of which influence feelings of not having enough time to get everything done. With both parents working, individuals look to fast foods as a time saving instrument. American Labor Statistics verify that though Americans may feel that time is scarce and getting scarcer, we in fact have more leisure time now than before fast foods were established.
The average workweek changed dramatically during the 20th century. In 1900, the average workweek in manufacturing was 53 hours, where as in 2017 it was approximately 42 hours (United States, Congress, pp. 1-8). Other work settings were consistent to the above example.
Today’s average working class now have nine hours more leisure time than those before 1947. Regardless of reported hours worked, researchers agree that people today feel more time pressured, with less time for leisure activities than in the past, though this is indeed false (Jabs, Jennifer, and Devine Carol, pp. 196-204). One of the main reasons for this are employed mothers.
In 1923 woman started flooding into the work place. By 1947 women’s participation in the U.S. labor force climbed from 32.7 percent in 1948 to 56.8 percent in 2016 (DeWolf, Mark). By 2013, 69.9 percent of the women in the work force were working mothers. Working mothers are a huge contributing factor to the feelings of time scarcity. With both the father and the mother working, the need to outsource food in order to save time is prevalent. Qualitative studies have reported that employed mothers often experience the feeling of a general lack of time, which also influences their food choices. Preparation of healthy foods is perceived to be a time-consuming activity, and thereby highly processed convenience foods are often used as a time saving strategy. In 2017, a large prospective study conducted in ten European countries found that highly processed foods contribute 61–79% of mean energy intake. These results are consistent with findings from Canada and the United States (Laukeland , Djupegot, Ingrid, Et al.).
Fast food advertising has paved the way for mothers to avoid cooking and has played to the time scarce fears of the working class. Though fast food can appear to be an invaluable resource to free up time, it only sucks up more time than is necessary. Despite this, hundreds of thousands of people continue to go to fast food restaurants every day. This large amount of people visiting fast food restaurants force the fast food chains to find cheaper alternatives to fresh foods. These cheaper alternatives are not only processed, but also barely pass as real. Ultra processed foods are composed of industrial ingredients such as corn syrup, lactose, soy proteins, and culinary ingredients that are refined or extracted from whole foods. (Laukeland , Djupegot, Ingrid, Et al.)
Most of the public chooses not to know what is in the “fast foods” that we eat. However, it is in everyone’s best interest that it be known. I have heard on several occasions and witnessed myself that MacDonald’s foods do not deteriorate with time. MacDonald’s reason is that the lack of moisture in the food results in it not deteriorating.
MacDonald’s gave an example that it is like bread sitting on the counter overnight not molding, However, bread does mold sitting on the counter, and the MacDonald’s foods do not. MacDonald’s foods can even resist molten copper. Some of the ingredients in the bun alone are: enriched flour, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, yeast, hydrogenated soybean, oil, in addition to approximately 30 other ingredients. The French fries have 19 ingredients including beef flavor, citric acid, dextrose, and sodium acid phosphate. These ingredients are used for preserving the color and longevity of the food (Shukla, Pragati).
Other problems that arise with fast foods can occur in pregnant women. A study in 2013 and 2014 was made to determine the association between Ultra Processed Foods consumption in pregnant women and selected maternal/newborn health outcomes (Deus, Raquel de. Et al. pp. 1433–1440). The results indicated that “consumption of ultra-processed foods leads to unfavorable pregnancy outcomes including excessive maternal gestational weight gain and increased newborn body fat. For both mother and newborn, excess fat is likely to remain, contributing to associated maladies such as Type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, mental health issues, and cancer. Reducing dietary consumption of ultra-processed foods is an avenue for improving short and long-term maternal and newborn health. A natural, minimally-processed diet centered on home cooking should be promoted among pregnant women (Deus, Raquel Et al. pp. 1433–1440). That means that fast foods could be hurting future generations before they are born.
However, though this experiment was tested solely with pregnant women, the effects on the body do not just apply to them. In a filmed experiment made by Morgan Spurlock, Spurlock documents this lifestyle’s severe effect on Spurlock’s physical and psychological well-being. In the documentary, Spurlock eats nothing but MacDonald’s foods for thirty days resulting in Spurlock gaining 24 pounds, a 13% body mass increase, increased cholesterol to 230 mg/dL, mood swings, and fat accumulation in his liver. Fast foods are not an effective way to maintain a healthy diet and should be reduced to limited consumption due to side effects of the preservatives and unhealthy amounts of carbohydrates and ingredients (Spurlock, Morgan).
Another issue that has arisen from the fast food industries that is affecting America is the decline of the small farmer. According to a chart by Roberto Ferdman, small family farms have reduced from seven million in 1935 to two million in 1975 and are slowly declining every day (Par. 2). Some of the small farms supported entire cities and towns and kept the community healthy by selling its products to farmers markets, restaurants, and grocery stores, as well as makes use of the land and provides jobs for the local public. With the rise of fast-foods, mega-marts, and other industrialized companies that outsource for meats and vegetables, small farmers could no longer afford to stay afloat (Ferdman, Roberto). This is destroying the land value and local food prices making it uneconomical for the working class that purchased the local foods and is forcing them to also outsource foods. Outsourced foods are now so prevalent in today’s society that purchasing large quantities for short-term storage is both reasonable and affordable causing obesity and other maladies.
A journal of nutrition expressed that at the individual level, the prevalence of obesity is higher among groups with low education and low incomes. Therefore, those of low income chose food that taste good, convenient, and cheap despite it’s effects on the body. “At the environmental level, the highest rates of obesity are found in lower-income states, lower-income congressional districts, and in the most deprived areas (Story, Mary, and French, Simone).” An editorial in The Lancet acknowledged that “as long as a meal of grilled chicken, broccoli, and fresh fruit costs more and is less convenient than are the less healthy options, the battle for obesity will be lost.” (Lancet, p 339) There are however short-term solutions to this that many people either do not want to see or are lethargic and choose not to The first of these solutions is economically purchasing essential ingredients in bulk that are dried or canned for future use, or purchasing what is needed for vertical gardening in order to sustain themselves for years to come without purchasing anything due to saving seeds. On a larger scale the small communities could also pitch in for community gardening land. Community gardens can supply alternatives to fast foods and other ultra-processed foods. An example of the effectiveness of community gardening is a community based research study done by Oregon Health & Science University, in Portland Organ (Carney,
Patricia, Et al. pp 874–88 ). They used popular education techniques to support and educate Hispanic farm worker families in planting and maintaining organic gardens. This included a pre-post gardening survey, key informant interviews, and observations made at community-based gardening meetings to assess food security, safety, and family relationships. After two gardening seasons, one result was a 66% increase of both adults and children eating vegetables. There were few other positive responses when Hispanic families were asked the open-ended questions, “How do you think having a garden will help your family?” and “Do you think the garden helped the health of your family?” The responses generated several emergent themes. Physical health benefits and economic benefits, as well as well-being and family health were the most frequently mentioned concepts in the pre-gardening open-ended question. Some said it was like therapy, while others claimed it saved them a great deal of money. When asked if the garden increased the health of the family, 94.9% of participants reported that it did. This study definitely attests to the effectiveness of community gardens (Carney, Patricia Et al. pp 874–88).
The principal alternative to fast foods and ultra processed foods is home cooking. The solution to any health problem is better foods prepared healthier. That does not mean that the foods have to be expensive, fresh, or local. The food simply needs to be real— non-processed, whole foods that are healthy and clean— Some cheap whole foods are dried beans, rice, canned tomatoes, potatoes, lintels, oats, spinach, and the list goes on. In an article from the Greatest the author names forty-four healthy foods for one dollar. Among the cheapest listed are eggs, beans, and chicken breast. It doesn’t get much healthier than that.
Organizing one’s time by making the entire week’s meals on the weekend is another benefit of cooking at home (Schwecherl, Laura). By cooking at home you will save the time it takes to go to fast food restaurants and enjoy healthy meals throughout the week. This is also cheaper than fast-foods because you can save money by buying in bulk to provide you with the entire week’s meals. According to an article by affiliated workers association, making the week’s meals ahead of time brings families closer together because families are able to eat around the table and communicate. The change in eating habits creates a happier and healthier environment for everyone involved, even the chef (Premier Health Solutions, LLC).
Fast foods can be useful on occasion, such as times when there is no more food in the freezer. However, as a whole, fast food is harming the public on a global scale. Feelings of time scarcity and low income can play major roles in fast food purchases. Though it is the people’s decision to purchase fast-food meals, fast foods and ultra processed foods are hurting communities and farmers through industrialized farming and outsourcing foods making it economically impossible for small farmers to stay afloat. The results of fast food are not just affecting this generation, but also the next. Luckily for those with a lower income who cannot afford fresh ingredients from stores, there are other options to surviving and even thriving in the settings that they are in.
Living with small to no amounts of fast food in the diet is optimal, though it is harder. People with lower incomes and those in deprived areas can still thrive without the use of fast foods and ultra processed foods. Community gardens or even small individual or vertical gardens can provide free and fresh foods for every day (Carney, Patricia. Et al. pp 874–88). Even if a garden is not the path chosen, there are other cheap options that are flavorful and economical.
Making economic decisions for better health will increase productivity and family longevity. Fast food is an ever growing epidemic and is hurting Americans. Children are already facing a one in three chance of getting diabetes. If we continue on this path, future generations will continue to suffer from the mistakes that we are making. Hopefully in our future or the future of our children, America will return to the vibrant and divers agriculture and landscape that first started the American economy before fast foods ever began.