Food is a fast changing entity in today’s global culture. America’s vast influence and power within the fast food industry has infiltrated various regions globally. The expansion of the fast food industry is a collective action problem due to its increased detrimental health effects and the eventual decline of traditional and customary cultural aspects associated with food in various nations. Fast food chains eventually eradicate the health of those countries’ citizens and cause long-term health implications. The world today is enduring stark radical changes in its food culture, greatly affecting both health and tradition.
In Eric Schlosser’s “Fast Food Nation,” he states that, “the wealth and modernization that occurred to various regions around the world, the Middle East in particular, eventually gave way to the population’s discovery of American fast food.” Around the world, fast food is regarded as quicker to obtain, eat; as well as it being cheaper, and more convenient. To local populations in cities around the globe, fast food chains represent a new era for food culture. However, as more people shy away from the traditional family dinners of home-cooked, nutritious dishes, the greater the impact is on the culture of family and community. Fast food chains have increased, and now reach many nations — there are fast food places far and wide like at the Great Pyramids of Egypt, and in holy cities like Jerusalem. This proves the swelling domination of the world’s food demand. The affordability and variety of products has served as the industry’s recipe for victory across the world.
The industry is much more than food -it is about lobbying power and profit.
American fast food chains have become especially popular in the Middle East, a region that has unfortunately seen dramatic increases in obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. The region’s food culture has also been eroding over time; yet another way in which the fast food industry affects the region. Manal El Masry claims in her article on the foreign agriculture service website, the “demand for processed, ready-to-eat food is on the rise, and U.S. firms dominate the Egyptian fast-food market, accounting for 72 percent of sales.” Fast food tactics have been deemed extremely profitable as the increase of cultural transformation continues exponentially.
Many governments around the world do not regulate fast food chains, despite the health controversies, because if regulations were implemented, the industry would not profit as much. The industry is much more than food -it is about lobbying power and profit.
In 2012, the Economist in “Food for Thought” published that “the big question for the food industry is whether it can continue to make money even as it cuts calories.” Transparency in regards to food production is one solid approach in tackling the issues that the fast food industry exacerbates. Of course, we must recognize that many chains have attempted to introduce healthier menu options, but most are not considered ‘healthy’ by most nutritionists. Yet it is still a step in the right direction, but progress will not continue if the global demand for healthier, cheap alternatives is not high.
Tarek Eweida is a sophomore international studies major.