Original Article: http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/s/schlosser-fast.html
The fast food industry has rapidly expanded over the last three decades in America and the world to the point of almost unavoidability. It can now be found at stadiums, airports, zoos, high schools, elementary schools, and universities, on cruise ships, trains, airplanes, gas stations and even hospital cafeterias. And Americans are buying into it, literally, spending more on fast food than almost anything else, be it high education, cars, personal computers, movies, books etc. Part of the reason for this is the uniformity and routine of fast food restaurants which has become second nature to many customers. The process of which has now become so simple, streamlined and mundane that people no longer think about it, which led to it being instrumental in creating the franchise model that has now taken over America, where 1/9th of its population can now live a life without ever spending money at an independently owned business. The fast food industry has now become almost representative of the entire service industry in America, with McDonalds alone being responsible for 90% of the country’s new jobs, with 1 out of 8 Americans having been at one point employed by McDonalds yet it pays some of the lowest wages and provides little opportunity to rise the corporate ladder, causing a widening income gap. Not only has it disrupted the service industry, but also the farming industry where family farms have now been replaced by corporate farms, with many farmers losing independence and now simply being hired by giant businesses or being forced off their land. Food preparation has also been forever changed by fast food companies which mechanise and automate large partitions of their production. Food has since been heavily modified, going through extensive processes which seem more like factory assembly lines than kitchens. It has tremendous impact on pop culture, with McDonalds overtaking Coca-Cola as the world’s most famous brand through nothing but marketing. This marketing has also targeted children with McDonalds now owning the most playgrounds in America and wing the largest distributor of toys. It is the second most recognised fictional charter among school children behind Santa Claus, which could not be more telling of how children feel about McDonalds. As such, due to its enormous impact, it is necessary that people understand more about the food they eat, and know what goes on behind the fast food industry.