Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fast Food Nation

i wanted to share a blog i have been following for some time now- Sistah Vegan Project with Breeze Harper.
i really love how she analyzes EVERYTHING. exploring the the spaces in which issues intersect with others brings an entire new perspective on so many things. she talks about how race intersects with diet, how gender issues intersect with race, how both of those intersect with class issues and struggles, how class struggles intersect with diet, their connections with capitalism, its connection with the environment and our treatment of the's a new concept to think that all these things are connected and to hear and understand how they're connected.

i was just in a discussion on facebook about a physician's letter to the president asking him to consider the people that abuse the system when thinking about making healthcare universal. and the physician said something along the lines of "...the patient informed me they only eat fast food and smoke a pack of cigarettes a day...." (in order to show how many poor choices the patient was making that contributes to their ailments...leaving to doctor to question why they should have to pay for someone's healthcare like this). the fast food portion stuck out to me and i thought about Breeze Harper and her criticisms of the system and how they relate to our food choices.

around January, i stopped eating meat, and soon after that i stopped eating at fast food restaurants. theres a million and one reasons i stopped eating meat, and i may talk about that in another post, but this post is more focused on why i stopped eating fast food.
for one, most of them don't serve a meal (side-dishes, yes, but not full meals, with the exception of salads) without meat in it, so that was my personal issue. second, once meat is removed from the diet, you (well, i) become more conscious of the food groups and what you should be intaking. not getting enough iron or protein could be the difference between having energy and being light-headed just walking up a flight of stairs (not the worst case scenario). and many of these fast food restaurants do not offer fruits and vegetables (again, with the exception of salads), making their menu pretty dim for me. those are the initial reasons, but more importantly, i stopped eating at them because of what they stand for, what they promote and who they target.

i did a post a while back about a book i read that was a catalyst for my diet change and connecting that with another book i read that spoke about the staggering statistics on health (or lack thereof) in black and brown communities.
what they stand for: these companies stand for and benefit from money money and more money. Eating Animals and the documentary Food, Inc. illustrate how fast food chains have taken over the meat industry and made it what it is today (i.e. an industry that raises sick, diseased animals for the cheapest amount of money to produce the highest amount of profits while treating farmers, factory workers, restaurant employees and consumers like shit). the demand for meat has skyrocketed based almost solely on these fast food chains. they don't stand to feed the hungry (because TONS of their food is thrown away daily. i used to work at McDonalds. trust me.), they don't stand to help anyone's diet. they stand simply to take your money at the least cost to them. eating at these places is filling some white man's pocket and nothing more.
what they promote: fast food chains promote shitty, nutritionally vapid, cheap (cheap monetarily and qualitatively)....shit. lol...i don't know any other word to describe their food. theres a few people taking a photo a day or carrying around months or year old hamburgers and fries from McDonalds that AREN'T AGING. what kind of bread or meat doesn't mold or break down in some fashion? they promote illness, obesity, and all around bad health. we're making some corporation fatter while we somewhere down the line develop type 2 diabetes and hope we don't have to get one of our fingers or limbs cut off.
who they target: they target low-income families , most of which are black and brown communities. in my last post i talked about the Church's Chicken commercials with the black woman selling chicken with her exaggerated accent and neck twisting taking me back to the images of mammy. but look at any fast food restaurant commercials, who are in them (Popeye's, Church's, Checkers, and McDonald's)? whats that-oh, black people and brown people? whats that i hear-hip-hop? and urban slang? did she just say "chile"? oh....and they're dancing? ....seriously?
if the top paid marketing companies that design these commercials were to lay out their plans and reasoning behind why they chose who they chose for the commercials, why they have certain music playing and why the script sounds like it was written by a high schooler from brooklyn....everyone would be up in arms about how racist it is, yet when you see the product...i guess it becomes blurry for some of us.

the book, Killing the Black Body is also a good book that talks about mainly forced sterilization of colored women and reproductive rights, but it also goes into the history of health and takes it back to how food has basically been another factor in the demise of black and brown communities. during slavery, food was used to keep the slave alive just enough so that he/she could work, make babies, or serve the slave owner. eating lard, gravy and other scraps of menial food was what they had to eat to survive. can we not see the correlation between that time and black and brown people STILL eating only what can get us by and not things that aid in our betterment and longevity?

this is as much an individual issue as it is a societal. we have to be the ones to demand that these companies start offering better food options, to children especially. how much of the blame does the parent own when, for example, they have only 10 dollars to last them the rest of the week?-theres McDonald's EVERYWHERE (convenience) and their dollar menu allows for you to spend $3 (cheap) on a meal when anywhere else would be at least double that. and the company knows this. as much money as McDonald's, for instance, is making, there is no way they could not afford to offer fresh fruits and vegetables or maybe just better quality food like...i don't know...REAL meat.
the capitalistic system we live in is as much to blame for unhealthy eating choices as our individual will is. when this is the food we've been raised on (because our parents were working class), what we know, what our culinary preferences have come to love, it's no wonder black and brown communities have to many illnesses, diseases, and deaths based on factors that could have been avoided like our diet. these restaurants are the enemies, but the change that needs to happen is going to have to start with us before they will change. we have to make a dent somewhere in their pockets or raise enough awareness around the negatives of these fast food chains in order for something to change. although you as an individual can make a start by not eating from these restaurants or doing it less often.

comment. think. change your eating habits. analyze your diet. prioritize. criticize.
also, check out a post i did a while back on food. and some hip hop on food.


  1. haha! what up Jessica! i like your blog.
    yea, i'm pretty sure it is real. ridiculous, right?