Fast and Scurrilous

I have nothing against fast food. I have no personal vendetta against fried chicken. I happen to love hamburgers, and God help you if you try to wrest a perfectly salty and fried potato, in any form, from my greasy fingers.

That being said, I hate American fast food. I hate what it has done to our food and our people. I can’t stand the way this country has been misled, damaged, and brainwashed by a system that doesn’t give a crap about anything but the bottom line.

Where did we go so horribly wrong? How have we so badly squandered our many blessings?

Like a younger sibling who has suddenly found himself taller and stronger than his older brothers, we have set out to show ourselves bigger, faster, and wealthier than the entire rest of the world. An endless game, trying to prove we have a bigger pair of brass ones than anyone else. We ran full tilt into expansion, spending and consuming with reckless abandon, believing in ignorance all our resources would continuously and miraculously renew like the widow’s jars of flour and oil.

Oh how very wrong we have been. One has only to drive down the main drag of Anytown, USA to witness the full effects of this irresponsible philosophy in the food world. The food world, full of the same greedy, self-serving, immoral humans as any other industry, jumped on the industrial ship named Progress, pulled up the anchor of common sense, and set sail on the high seas of modernity without a compass to guide the way through the treacherous and murky waters.

Right now, all over the world, people are feeding themselves in a different way. In their everyday lives, they go about the practice of preparing fast and simple meals with meager ingredients and resources out of necessity. Their tools, their products, are the bits and pieces we sneer at, the things at which we turn up our noses in wealthy disdain and fling into our garbage bins. In another part of the world, the heady perfume of fresh bread mingles with the savory scents of bistro delights where diners unashamedly tear into, and eagerly enjoy, a plate of unctuous, fatty delights which would leave an American so guilt ridden as to starve diet for the rest of the week. Even closer to home, just across the border, stalls and stands of quick and tasty bites are being served up to lines of appreciative eaters who know the true value of real, well-prepared food.

So what is the difference between these corners of the world and ours? We are a young, impetuous country. We feel the need to prove ourselves. Look at our efficiency! Gawk at our wealth! Envy our progress! Somehow, after millennia of proof otherwise, we have the audacity to think that our history will be different. We can’t fall. We are predestined to be Super. Well, the jig is up. We are full of crap.

The pride we feel over Efficiency and Progress has led us to the brink of agricultural collapse. The food industry, with our government tightly leashed, has created a system of food production that is impossible to sustain and cannot endure. One has to look no further than the contents of a Not So Happy Meal.

Peel away the garish circus mask from the face of the fast food industry and what lies beneath is an open, festering wound. The damage done to our resources and to ourselves from the continual rape and pillage of our land and our workers threatens to destroy everything in the name of greed and laziness. We have forgotten what it is to work hard, to reap what we sow, the deep feeling of satisfaction we get from a job well done. The kid flipping mystery meat behind the counter is not an eager apprentice learning a valuable craft or trade; he is not carrying on a tradition and a culture; he is a mindless, faceless worker, completely expendable, carryout some mind-numbing task to make the corporate lords richer.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We have a unique ability in this country to change things. It really boils down to the simple economic lesson of supply and demand. We, as citizens and patrons, demand something different. We stop buying into the industry that is killing us. We support and frequent those businesses that are doing it the right way. We grow our own food. We take enough pride and care in ourselves and our families that we insist on, we demand, something better. We get off our lazy butts and realize that it takes hard work and dedication to bring anything worth anything, to fruition. And we teach our kids to demand the same. We stop expecting someone else to act on our behalf. We strike the word “entitled” from our vocabulary. Supply will only change if we demand it, so start demanding.

1 comment:

Dennis L Hitzeman said...

I once read that the only thing Americans fear is inconvenience. Far too many people would rather eat food they know is unhealthy because it is convenient than eat food that is healthy but inconveniences them.

Before we can change anything from how it is now, we have to reintroduce people to the concept of even caring about these sorts of things, and to do that we have to convince them that doing the right thing is never inconvenient.