I’ve been juggling several books and have just now finished Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, which I blogged about a while back. I couldn’t resist sharing two powerful quotes found toward the end of the book – something to keep in mind if you tend to hit the fast food joints on the weekend as an “easy out” to making something at home!
First, about the power of the consumer in our fast-food world (and think about how the second paragraph applies to each and every fast food chain you know!):
Nobody in the United States is forced to buy fast food. The first step toward meaningful change is by far the easiest: stop buying it. The executives who run the fas food industry are not the bad men. They are businessmen. They will sell free-range-organic, grass-fed hamburgers if you demand it. They will sell whatever sells at a profit. The usefulness of the market, its effectiveness as a tool, cuts both ways. The real power of the American consumer has not yet been unleashed. The heads of Burger King, KFC, and McDonald’s should feel daunted; they’re outnumbered. There are three of them and almost three hundred million of you. A good boycott, a refusal to buy, can speak much louder than words. Sometimes the most irresistible force is the most mundane.
Pull open the glass door, feel the rush of cool air, walk inside, get in line, and look around you, look at the kids working in the kitchen, at the customers in their seats, at the ads for the latest toys,study the backlit color photographs above the counter, think about where the food came from, about how and where it was made, about what is set in motion by every single fast food purchase, the ripple effect near and far, think about it. Then place your order. Or turn and walk out the door. It’s not too late. Even in this fast food nation, you can still have it your way.
And second, about how fast food will be remembered (sic transit gloria McMundi?) along with a hopeful prescription for the future:
Future historians, I hope, will consider the American fast food industry a relic of the twentieth century – a set of attitudes, systems and beliefs that emerged from postwar southern California, that embodied its limitless faith in technology, that quickly spread across the globe, flourished briefly, and then receded, once its true costs became clear and its thinking became obsolete…. Whatever replaces the fast food industry should be regional, diverse, authentic, unpredictable, sustainable, profitable – and humble. It should know its limits. People can be fed without being fattened or deceived. This new century may bring an impatience with conformity, a refusal to be kept in the dark, less greed, more compassion, less speed, more common sense, a sense of humor about brand essences and loyalties, a view of food as more than just fuel. Things don’t have to be the way they are.