While a handful of workers manage to rise up the corporate ladder, the vast majority lack full-time employment, receive no benefits, learn few skills, exercise little control over their workplace, quit after a few months, and float from job to job. During the economic boom of the s, when many American workers enjoyed their first pay raises in a generation, the real value of wages in the restaurant industry continued to fall. The roughly 3. The only Americans who consistently earn a lower hourly wage are migrant farm workers.
A hamburger and french fries became the quintessential American meal in the s, thanks to the promotional efforts of the fast food chains. The typical American now consumes approximately three hamburgers and four orders of french fries every week. But the steady barrage of fast food ads, full of thick juicy burgers and long golden fries, rarely mentions where these foods come from nowadays or what ingredients they contain.
The birth of the fast food industry coincided with Eisenhower-era glorifications of technology, with optimistic slogans like Better Living through Chemistry and Our Friend the Atom. The sort of technological wizardry that Walt Disney promoted on television and at Disneyland eventually reached its fulfillment in the kitchens of fast food restaurants.
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The leading fast food chains still embrace a boundless faith in science - and as a result have changed not just what Americans eat, but also how their food is made. The current methods for preparing fast food are less likely to be found in cookbooks than in trade journals such as Food Technologist and Food Engineering. Aside from the salad greens and tomatoes, most fast food is delivered to the restaurant already frozen, canned, dehydrated, or freeze-dried.
A fast food kitchen is merely the final stage in a vast and highly complex system of mass production. Foods that may look familiar have in fact been completely reformulated.
What we eat has changed more in the last forty years than in the previous forty thousand. Much of the taste and aroma of American fast food, for example, is now manufactured at a series of large chemical plants off the New Jersey Turnpike. In the fast food restaurants of Colorado Springs, behind the counters, amid the plastic seats, in the changing landscape outside the window, you can see all the virtues and destructiveness of our fast food nation.
I chose Colorado Springs as a focal point for this book because the changes that have recently swept through the city are emblematic of those that fast food - and the fast food mentality - have encouraged throughout the United States.
Countless other suburban communities, in every part of the country, could have been used to illustrate the same points. Subdivisions, shopping malls, and chain restaurants are appearing in the foothills of Cheyenne Mountain and the plains rolling to the east.
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And new restaurants are opening there at a faster pace than anywhere else in the nation. Fast food is now so commonplace that it has acquired an air of inevitability, as though it were somehow unavoidable, a fact of modern life. And yet the dominance of the fast food giants was no more preordained than the march of colonial split-levels, golf courses, and man-made lakes across the deserts of the American West.
No other region of the United States has been so dependent on government subsidies for so long, from the nineteenth-century construction of its railroads to the twentieth-century financing of its military bases and dams. The fast food industry took root alongside that interstate highway system, as a new form of restaurant sprang up beside the new off-ramps.
Moreover, the extraordinary growth of this industry over the past quarter-century did not occur in a political vacuum. It took place during a period when the inflation-adjusted value of the minimum wage declined by about 40 percent, when sophisticated mass marketing techniques were for the first time directed at small children, and when federal agencies created to protect workers and consumers too often behaved like branch offices of the companies that were supposed to be regulated.
Ever since the administration of President Richard Nixon, the fast food industry has worked closely with its allies in Congress and the White House to oppose new worker safety, food safety, and minimum wage laws. While publicly espousing support for the free market, the fast food chains have quietly pursued and greatly benefited from a wide variety of government subsidies. The fast food chains now stand atop a huge food-industrial complex that has gained control of American agriculture. During the s, large multinationals - such as Cargill, ConAgra, and IBP - were allowed to dominate one commodity market after another.
Farmers and cattle ranchers are losing their independence, essentially becoming hired hands for the agribusiness giants or being forced off the land. Family farms are now being replaced by gigantic corporate farms with absentee owners. Rural communities are losing their middle class and becoming socially stratified, divided between a small, wealthy elite and large numbers of the working poor.
Small towns that seemingly belong in a Norman Rockwell painting are being turned into rural ghettos. The hardy, independent farmers whom Thomas Jefferson considered the bedrock of American democracy are a truly vanishing breed.
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The United States now has more prison inmates than full-time farmers. These changes have made meatpacking - once a highly skilled, highly paid occupation - into the most dangerous job in the United States, performed by armies of poor, transient immigrants whose injuries often go unrecorded and uncompensated.
And the same meat industry practices that endanger these workers have facilitated the introduction of deadly pathogens, such as E. Again and again, efforts to prevent the sale of tainted ground beef have been thwarted by meat industry lobbyists and their allies in Congress. The federal government has the legal authority to recall a defective toaster oven or stuffed animal - but still lacks the power to recall tons of contaminated, potentially lethal meat.
I do not mean to suggest that fast food is solely responsible for every social problem now haunting the United States. In some cases such as the malling and sprawling of the West the fast food industry has been a catalyst and a symptom of larger economic trends. The author Eric Schlosser an investigative reporter whose impeccable researching and bold interviewing captures the true essence of the immense impact that fast food restaurants are having in America.
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Annotated Bibliography "Food Day, October 24, Center for Science in the Public Interest, n. They have five priorities that will help increase the public health in our world.
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The Center. It has long been the worthy goal of many policy makers to find solutions to alleviate poverty in the United States, as well as other nation around the world. Politicians in our nation take a variety of stances on how this can best be accomplished, one of which is the use of the minimum wage.
Are we taking it too far by blaming fast food restaurant for obesity? Although throughout the years many people have claimed that obesity is a genetic disorder for the most part; results of recent studies strongly indicate that lifestyles rather than genetics are what are causing an obese society, because people choose to not exercise, not watch their diet, and eat fast food. For the past few decades, food companies had aimed their marketing at single meals, pushing to inflate portion sizes.
Throughout my research I have come to find a lot of facts and statistics about fast food consumption causing obesity. Statistics show that without a doubt the United States is the most obese country in the world.
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