Americans love food. That’s obvious isn’t it? We have fast food restaurants on corners and in strip malls, university campus buildings and indoor malls, and built right into the big box stores so we can eat even while we buy food.
We have full service restaurants, diners, delis, cafes, and drive-through restaurants. Quick-mart gas stations, establishments that once sold gas only are now called “food marts” or “convenience stores” and sell hot dogs, hamburgers, doughnuts, and packaged foods in addition to gas and cigarettes. In most American towns and cities, remote areas excluded, there is no shortage of places to buy food “stuff” fast. Fast food joints have made it far too easy for addicted Americans to “grab and go” rather than take time to enjoy a nice meal.
The 4 Factors That Determine Food Consumption
When people eat, there are four factors that have determined America’s deadly love affair with fast food.
- How healthy it is,…and usually in that order. It’s understandable but certainly not the best order.
Making food cheap (not healthy), convenient and tasty to the point of creating food addictions to salt, oil, sugar and fat has become the ultimate formula for promoting and literally “inducing” consumption of a product in a competitive market that’s vying for people’s food dollars. The funny thing is, even some natural food products providers have resorted to the same tactics because people are addicted, yes addicted, to refined and added salt, and they too need to make their products taste as good as possible.
Of course, this has also contributed to making Americans overweight and unhealthy, demanding and lazy. Even though we know this, the majority of Americans still eat unhealthy food fast, on a regular basis — four to five times each week!
Did you know, that salt alone is responsible for significant gains in weight?
Why does America continue to have this deadly love affair with fast food?
Before we learn more about the reason behind it, let’s take a look at our history. What really made fast food so popular?
In 1940, brothers Maurice and Richard (“Mac” and “Dick”) McDonald opened a restaurant in San Bernardino, California. The restaurant was named “McDonald’s Famous Barbeque” and served over forty barbequed items.
After realizing that their profit came from selling burgers and not barbeque, in October 1948, the restaurant was closed down, and reopened in December of that year as a “Fast Food” joint with a simple menu of just hamburgers, cheeseburgers, French fries, shakes, soft drinks, and apple pie. The kitchen was redesigned to ensure maximum efficiency, like a ‘factory’ an assembly line was introduced. They called this restaurant ‘McDonald’s’.
Phenomenal growth actually started in the 1960s and 1970s when they started advertising with their golden arch campaign “Look for the Golden Arches”.
But is McDonald’s to be credited, or blamed, for this boisterous fast food industry or can we learn from what they did for unhealthy food and now apply it to now offering healthy food fast?
We think the later.
Introducing other fast food chains:
- A&W began in June 1919 in California, when Frank Wright partnered with Roy Allen mostly selling root beer. 1960, 2000 A & W restaurants in the US opened up selling burgers, fries, drinks, etc.
- White Castle was founded in 1921 in Wichita, Kansas. Anderson, one of the owners of white castle is the actual designer of the assembly line kitchen, thus, giving rise to the modern fast food phenomenon. He was also credit with the creation burger buns.
- McDonalds the Golden Arches, though, is the when it all hit. They brought it all together.
What other factors have played a role in making fast food the billion-dollar industry that exists in America?
Women and Work: Women in America have rolled up their sleeves and joined the workforce. The revolution that called for women to go out and work in 1890 did not come into full bloom until the 1970’s. In that time, women’s expectations of future employment changed. Women became the secondary earners, and Labor force participation by women grew significantly. By now, great number of families had both parents working a nine to five jobs. Needless to say, that leaves little time in the kitchen. Though many people do pull it off, a greater number of Americans simply can’t, and that results in them picking up fast food on a regular basis.
The rise in single parenting in the United States: A report released by the U.S. Census Bureau in November, 2009, said: “There are 13.7 million single moms and dads currently raising their children in the U.S.
53.7% of custodial single parents work full-time, year-round and 27.7% of custodial single parents work either part-time or part-year.” This has lent greatly to our nations near-dependence on fast food. Countless parents are left with the unfortunate option that providing for their children by working long hours means risking their health by having to get them fast food regularly. In these cases, the parents and the child become almost addicted. The consistent salty flavors and soft textures are the most pleasing to our brains, so it usually reaches the point that every other food cannot measure up. For the parents especially, the addiction comes into play with the convenience and low price, to the point where buying actual groceries or spending extra money on fresh vegetables is preposterous.
WE DON’T HAVE TIME!
Probably the most important factor, Advertisement!
It’s everywhere! Your home, work, car, computer, and even in your cell phones! You cannot avoid it. Huge billboards inviting you to take the next turn, and come and join us, not just one but several fast food restaurant to choose from. The temptations are everywhere.
Fast food advertising industries are enormous conglomerates; they know exactly what to say and show every demographic to make them want to come to their restaurant. It may seem innocent, or like worrying about it is a silly conspiracy theory, but they do spend billions on that aspect alone, probably more than they actually spend on food costs.
It is serious.
Time and Convenience: The generation that we are in is always rushing, especially here in America. From morning till evening. This may be the number one reason we love fast food restaurants. We do not even need to exert the energy to get out of our vehicle to get food — just drive up, order, pay and off you go with your food. If that were not enough, the fact that you can find a restaurant on just about every corner makes the convenience factor even higher.
It plays right into The Pleasure Trap
The word food is “fast” which fits very nicely into our busy, hectic, over-booked lifestyles. When my friend works late; she often goes through the drive thru on her way home to pick up dinner. She argues that it gives her more quality time with her family than if she spent time cooking dinner and then cleaning up after. It’s easier to take kids out to Burger King then to cook a meal after a hard day. What used to be an occasion to go out and eat at a fast food restaurant, has become a deadly, I mean daily, routine.
Inexpensive: Fast food restaurants have worked very hard to keep their prices cheap so they can continue to attract as many customers as possible. When you can get a large sandwich, fries, drink and a cookie for $5, who wants to spend time making and packing a lunch from home? Furthermore, when you take into consideration how food prices are rising at local grocery stores, fast food meals are becoming less expensive by comparison.
Value: Who can resist a restaurant that gives you more food for just a few more pennies? Americans are always looking for a bargain and we love the fact that we can get a lot of food for less money at our favorite fast food restaurant.
Taste: Let’s face it, fast food tastes good. Unless you just love salads and hate eating anything that is fried or that has meat, fast food tastes really good. Most fast food chains now offer healthier selections to attract people who are more health conscious; however, most of us go for the super-sized heart attack in a bag by justifying we “earned” it today.
It’s what happens when you are stuck in the pleasure trap.
What to do..
Although, fast food restaurant are introducing lot of healthy options, they are not ‘substituting’ the old menu with the healthy menu, they are merely adding to the old menu and the food may look healthy but with few exceptions it’s not! What does this do? It is basically increasing their customers, hence their profits. Isn’t that what it is all about? They still have their old customers who are hooked, now they want to bring in the ones who were avoiding the ‘unhealthy’ fast foods, hence, the enticing ‘healthy’ menu’. It’s called ‘Target Marketing’.
Fast food is engraved in our brains; it runs through our blood, and by conventional standards it takes a huge effort to stop this deadly love-affair with this vast industry; that is unless you start making the Switch to More Plant Based Nutrient Rich healthy eating!