Posted in Family and Society, Food

Culture of Fast Food

The rise of the urban development has been directly proportional to the growth of fast food culture.

In 1951 Merriam-Webster had recognized the term “Fast food” as “of, relating to or specializing in food that can be prepared and served quickly” or ” designed for ready availability, use or consumption and with little consideration given to quality or significance (adj.)(noun)”. Although contrary to popular belief, fast food has been there since the times of the Romans. The cities of the Roman empire had marketplaces like the Forum with food vendors who sold baked goods and cured meats to the urban population living in “the insulae” (similar to multi-story apartment blocks). Functioning more or less like a simple eating establishment, bread soaked in wine, cooked vegetables and stews later on were available. The trends continued through the ages and the civilizations as seen in China of the 12th century where fried dough, soups and stuffed buns were snack foods. Meanwhile the markets of their contemporaries in Persia (now Baghdad) sold processed legumes, purchased starches and even ready-to-eat meats. Moving ahead during the Middle Ages, large towns and major urban places like London and Paris had numerous vendors with stalls of ready to eat dishes such as pies, pasties, flans, waffles, wafers, pancakes and cooked meats. With the rapid industrial revolution, booming of towns, progresses in the food and science industry, the ready to eat meals underwent rapid changes, for better then but worse now. Along with the era of colonization, wars, immigration and emigration , the fast paced food industry had picked up in leaps and bounds.

Not everyone necessarily needs new things all the time and creative designs. It’s good to have luxury restaurants and fast-food restaurants. You need both. Rei Kawakubo

From prepackaged food sold at convenience stores, street vendors, filling stations to fast food outlets, the entire scenario revolves around quick service when “on the go” preferring finger food to “the cutlery food”. “Take-away” or “take-out” with “drive-through” options, all started off as the fast-paced life took over with people working two to three jobs, lack of provisions or money or time to cook the regular meals. Of late, the development of technology has allowed one to order food through the smart phone applications.

You can do good work simply staying up all night and eating nothing but junk food, but probably not in the long term. John Mulaney

Despite the popular assumption that fast food and junk food are the same, they are not. True although there is an overlap between the terms, they are not entirely substitute terms. Fast food refers to the fast assembly process for the preparation of the food, where food is ready in a matter of minutes. Junk food is labelled based on the little nutritional value of the food which is high calorie, high sodium with or without high saturated fat, sugar or salt content.

I follow my own advice: eat less, move more, eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and grains, and don’t eat too much junk food. It leaves plenty of flexibility for eating an occasional junk food. Marion Nestle

While the taste buds are tempted and cravings are fulfilled, on the downside the price to pay on the long run with risk of colorectal cancer, obesity, high cholesterol and depression to list a few. As good things always come in small packages, to downsize the portions, space out the intake and nutritionally substitute the fast food as well as retaining the taste are the few of the tricks to tackle the constant pull to it.

“The problem is when that fun stuff becomes the habit. And I think that’s what’s happened in our culture. Fast food has become the everyday meal.” Michelle Obama

As we mark any occasion or dining out with fast or junk food, keeping it in moderation makes us guilt-free to enjoy the pleasures once in a while. As been proven time and again, too much of anything spoils the fun.