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Can You Realy Have It Your Way?

In: English and Literature

Submitted By vlulrich
Words 1978
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Can You Really Have It Your Way?

When you’ve had a stressful day at the office, got caught in rush hour traffic, the kids practice runs over, you forgot to lay something out for dinner or you just don’t have the ambition to cook there’s always a variety of options to quickly resolve your trouble. Fast food restaurants have been rapidly growing since the 1900’s and are now a food source we highly depend on as a society. It wasn’t long ago that the standard was for a family to sit down to a home cooked meal. This standard has severally changed over the years. While having the option to pick up dinner on the way home or have it delivered to our door is convenient, at what point do we stop to consider the dangers of consuming a heart-attack in a sack? What once was considered a treat has now become the norm carrying more than just health concerns. Fast food restaurants have become very beneficial over the years by offering us convenience, agricultural stimulus, and slowing increasing their nutritional values, it’s time to consider other ways they effect our society. Eric Schlosser describes fast food best in his book Fast Food Nation The Dark Side of the All-American Meal when he says “It has become a social custom as American as a small, rectangular, hand-held, frozen, and reheated apple pie” (Eric Schlosser, 2002). Fast food has become more then just convenient for us, it has become a dependent. We no longer use fast food as an alternative when time is cut short but rather as a daily regimen. According to Statistic Brain, “50 million people are served fast food daily” (Statistic Brain, n.d). Fast food has several adverse effects that consumers are unaware of such as depression and addiction. Then there are the effects that we are aware of such as obesity and diabetes. While these are not a concern if fast food is consumed sparingly and the appropriate amount of exercise is preformed, it is pain stakingly obvious that this is not the case in our society. Fast food restaurants are known for high calorie, over-sized proportioned, low cost meals. This makes them an overwhelming target for blame when it comes to our health problems. However, do you ever hear anyone say our health issues are a product of lack of physical activity or self-negligence? As a society we are quick to blame fast food for our health problems without looking at other factors. While fast food has made it easy to become an unhealthy society, can we really place full blame on them? Their convenience factor makes it hard for us to turn down fast food, but society has unconsciously made the choice to pay less attention to our nutritional values and personal health. While convenience is a factor to consider about how fast food affects us as a society, another is nutrition. With the boom in fast food restaurants we just assumed the food was healthy for us to consume. We know now this is not the case as a major health concern has become obesity. Society placed the responsibility of nutrition we received on fast food chains and never thought twice about it until recent years. Over the years we have become more aware of how unhealthy fast food is to consume. “The average burger meal (consisting of a burger, fries and cola) contains 48 grams of fat” (Fast Food Nutrition, n.d). The days of simply consuming fast food without knowing the nutritional values has changed. We now require fast food establishments to make the nutritional values of their products easily available by posting them in the establishment or on the product. However, this is not enough as society takes certain things at face value. Fast food restaurants have begun to make themselves seem more health conscious by selling items such as salads and fruit smoothies. As consumers we take the general knowledge of health and assume these things are good for us to consume. The true of it is that we shouldn’t take them at face value and look a little more at the nutritional values. For example, McDonald’s has a bacon ranch grilled chicken salad that contains 230 calories per serving with 9 grams of fat, 85mg cholesterol, and 700mg sodium (Fast Food Nutrition, n.d). The fat content alone makes up 14% of our daily value and you still haven’t added your drink. While I give fast food restaurants credit for trying to have heather menu options the fact is that home cooked meals are healthier. Beth Hoffman of Forbes discloses “the more you process food, the less nutritious it becomes. Drying, for example, can affect the nutritional value of foods up to 80 percent. Freezing loses 30 percent of food’s Vitamin C and 10 percent of its Potassium” (Beth Hoffman, 2012). By cooking at home our food we consume is less processed, more nutritious and has a larger variety. Home cooked meals do require more time and effort from us but carry more benefits such as knowing how and what our food was made with. By producing home cooked meals we can control and influence our kids eating habits by introducing them to new health food while teaching them to make better food choices. But more than that, we can create better bonds and life skills by teaching them how to cook themselves. This is a major benefit considering researchers have linked depression to fast food. An article by Dr. Alethea Turner, ABC News Medical Unit tells of a study that “claims depression is 51 percent more likely to occur in people who consume large amounts of fast food” (Dr. Alethea Turner, 2012) while also quoting Dr. David Kats, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center who states “higher intake of fast food may very well increase risks of depression by causing poor health in general” (Dr. Alethea Turner, 2012). Not only does fast food carry the risk of depression, it has also been shown to have addictive properties like drugs. The Scripps Research Institute did a study on the addictive properties of junk food which showed “the development of obesity coincides with a progressively deteriorating chemical balance in reward brain circuitries. As these pleasure centers in the brain become less and less responsive, rats quickly develop compulsive overeating habits, consuming larger quantities of high-calorie, high-fat foods” (Research Study, n.d). This is the same thing that happens as one becomes addicted to cocaine or heroin. By preparing home cooked meals we can avoid this effect on ourselves and our children. Slaughterhouses are another main factor to consider when examining how fast food restaurants effect our society. Inadvertently they have affected our outlook and raised questions of animal happiness and welfare. With the rise in concern for how fast food effects our society we have begun to examine the sources of their food supply. This has caused us to evaluate how a slaughterhouse works and the conditions for animals in a slaughterhouse. Society discovered several disturbing conditions for animals such as them living in their own filth and the manner in which they are killed. There are several organizations like PETA that make it a point to raise awareness to society about how these animals are treated before they become our meal. Society has been made aware of the conditions and actions preformed in a slaughterhouse. Things we could not fathom such as burning animals alive, breaking bones, and animals choking on their own blood for example. Fast food restaurants are a major consumer of slaughterhouses and therefore are targeted as being responsible for how these animals are treated. Should fast food restaurants be held responsible for the conditions of a slaughterhouse? Being a consumer of slaughterhouses fast food restaurants do hold some responsibility. As a consumer, rather it be a business or personal consumer it is our responsibility to ensure we approve of the manner in which our product is obtained. Fast food restaurants, however, have taken some responsibility for the condition and manner in which the slaughterhouses operate that they receive product from. They have placed certain requirements on the slaughterhouses they use to ensure the animals are being treated humanely and there is as little suffering as possible. Reality of it is that we as a society should also be held responsible for the conditions of slaughterhouses. We consume there product rather it be through a fast food restaurant or purchasing meat at a grocery. We have become so blind to how we obtain our meat that it is now shocking to find out. Paul McCartney said “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian” (Michelle Kretzer, 2013) Society is faced with the gut-wrenching reality that what we consume was once a living, breathing animal and our fairy tale idea of them greasing in a field and humanly being euthanized is far from the reality. This is a hard fact for us to except and we have a hard time consuming these meat products after being made aware of reality. However, if it weren’t for slaughterhouses we would all be faced with the reality of killing an animal for consumption weekly. At one point in time families depended on their gathering/hunting survival skills to provide food. Now we target fast food restaurants to ensure the meat they receive is being killed humanly because the truth is that we either can’t handle killing an animal directly for consumption or few still retain the skill and time to hunt. However, despite animal rights and welfare organizations there is still animal abuse and inhumane slaughtering occurring at these places. There are thousands of animals’ slaughtered everyday with the majority going to fast food restaurants. With these kind of quotas needing to be met it is impossible to catch all the animal abuse committed in slaughterhouses. Given the amount of adverse effects our consumption of fast food has had on our society we should really ask ourselves if the convenience, and nutritional downfalls are worth the detriments we face. While the agricultural stimulus is beneficial to our economy, we could have the same benefits without consuming such extreme amounts of fast food and have a better quality of life. It is apparent that the consumption of fast food as not only affected how we treat our livestock but also the quality of future generations value on life. It’s time we, as Americans form a better history of our dietary habits starting with the decline in fast food consumption.

References
Fast Food Statistics | Statistic Brain. (n.d.). Statistic Brain | Numbers | Percentages | Financials | Rankings | Statistic Brain. Retrieved July 28, 2013, from http://www.statisticbrain.com/fast-food-statistics/
Hoffman, B. (2012, June 18). What's So Great About Cooking? Four Reasons (and Resources) to DIY - Forbes. Information for the World's Business Leaders - Forbes.com. Retrieved July 28, 2013, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/bethhoffman/2012/06/18/whats-so-great-about-cooking-four-reasons-and-resources-to-diy/2/
Kretzer, M. (2013, March 12). The PETA Files | PETA.org. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA): The animal rights organization | PETA.org. Retrieved July 28, 2013, from http://www.peta.org/b/thepetafiles/archive
Research Study. (n.d.). News Release. The Scripps Research Institute. Retrieved July 28, 2013, from http://www.scripps.edu/news/press/2010/20100329
Schlosser, E. (2002). Fast food nation: the dark side of the all-American meal. New York, NY: Perennial.
TURNER, D. A., & Unit, A. N. (2012, March 30). Unhappy Meals: Are Fast Food, Depression Linked? - ABC News. ABCNews.com - Breaking News, Latest News & Top Video News - ABC News. Retrieved July 28, 2013, from http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2012/03/30/unhappy-meals-are-fast-food-depression-linked/

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