Musings about Food & the Politics of Food.

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Who’s really being targeted…? 0

Posted on December 12, 2011 by Sahar

I caught this little gem of an article on the Huffington Post food page this morning. The Worst Fast Food of 2011.

Now, to me, this kind of food just reinforces the notion not only here but around the world that Americans are fat, lazy, don’t care about food, and are frankly, gluttons.  I mean, who really needs to eat a pocket of dough filled with enough cheese to feed a family of 4?

Looking at the actors in those commercials, I can guarantee they don’t eat at those places on a regular basis.  They probably even go to the gym on occasion.

Does the rest of the world have this kind of diet?  Frankly, no.  But, with the proliferation of American fast food around the world (in fact, my husband & I saw a McDonalds in the middle of Amman, Jordan this last summer), people are certainly getting hip to our ways.  Too bad for them.  Believe me, the local indigenous foods are so much better.

I my travels, I have seen tourists go into American fast-food restaurants.  It’s all I could do not to yank them out by their fanny-packs.

I’ll admit to eating the occasional take-out pizza or cheeseburger.  I do feel better about doing that (and not a little smug) because I don’t eat from one of the national chains, but from local restaurants.  But, does that make my diet any better?  Probably not.

But, the cynic in me wonders if all this calorie, sugar, fat, and chemically laden fast food is targeted at the people who need it the least: lower-income families.  Look at the deals these “restaurants” shout at you through the TV; $3.99 combo meals, $9.99 buckets of fried chicken, 64-oz sugar-filled drinks. The list is endless.

For a rather sobering look at the hunger and obesity situation in the US, go to the website of the Food Research & Action Center, In many cases, obesity is not because people have too much to eat, it’s because they have too little.

So, when someone who’s living paycheck-to-paycheck, on government assistance, or practically no income at all, has to feed their family, what are they going to do?  They’re going to gravitate towards the cheapest, most filling, calorie-laden way to feed their family.  Because, honestly, they don’t know when their next meal is coming in some cases.  This could also be said for their grocery store choices as well (i.e. Hamburger Helper, frozen pizza, boxed macaroni).

I realize here I’m painting with a broad brush.  Not all low-income families live and eat this way and certainly not all of them are overweight or obese.  Some busy families eat fast food simply because they just don’t have the time to cook

I suppose for some wonk it begs the question, is there any good fast food?  Why, yes.  Yes there is.  Go to your local food truck and try out the fast food there.  Barring that, buy stuff to make sandwiches and take those to work instead.  Or some of last night’s leftovers.  That’s what I do with my husband.

Want to help?

  1. The Sustainable Foods Center  ( has a program called the “Happy Kitchen” that teaches lower-income families how to cook in inexpensive, healthy ways.
  2. The Capital Area Food Bank ( is another wonderful organization that helps to combat hunger in the Austin area.
  3. The Green Corn Project ( helps families learn how to grow their own organic gardens
If you’re not in the Austin area and want to help families break the cycle of poor nutrition and the stranglehold of poverty, look around.  In the US, if you go to the Food Research & Action Center website (see above), they have an extensive list of anti-hunger programs in your state.  Outside the US, please check your private charity listings, no doubt there will be something you can do to help.


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