Fighting Food with Food to Save America

Fast food. We’ve all had it. Fast food’s influence on the American diet and lifestyle is immeasurable. Every time you drive down the street you are surrounded by different fast food restaurants and billboards. Fast food is mentioned in our books, movies, and conversations. Who can blame us? Fast food is tasty, cheap, and extremely convenient. It includes no clean up, virtually no wait, and is always close by. But fast food is a major problem that plagues this country. While fast food is unhealthy and produces a lot of unnecessary waste, there is a simple solution: cooking at home.

First, let’s envision the scope of fast food’s impact on America. “During 2013–2016, 36.6% of adults consumed fast food on a given day.” Given that the population of the United States is about 330 million, that’s about 120 million people eating fast food every day. It doesn’t end there. In 2019, it was estimated that there were 194,395 fast food restaurants and the fast food industry is worth $296.5 billion in 2021. Clearly fast food is a major factor of American life.

Keeping the size of fast food in mind, let’s shift over to the dark side of fast food. “Fast foods tend to be high in calories, fat, salt and sugar, which — when consumed in excess — can be associated with obesity, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, among other health risks.” Fast food is the epitome of unhealthy. These restaurants have to produce food that people enjoy, but it also has to be cheap and quick. To meet all of these requirements, restaurants cut corners. They use ingredients that have been frozen, have preservatives and other chemical additives, or are not up to a high standard of quality. They use large amounts of fat, sugar, and salt in their foods to please the masses. While in recent years there has been a public effort to use better ingredients by fast food companies, their food is still not something that people should be regularly putting in their bodies.

“Top 5 fast food chains in Austin” – Favor Delivery

However, the food we eat is not the only problem; it’s the food we don’t eat. “US restaurants generate an estimated 22 to 33 billion pounds of food waste each year.” Restaurants cook food, and whatever isn’t eaten gets thrown away. This waste of food is ridiculous. This is filling up our landfills, increasing the pollution and destroying environments.

The way to fix this problem is through cooking at home. This alternative to fast food is significantly healthier. You get to choose your own ingredients. You can include fresh, nutritious vegetables. You can incorporate high quality meats and grains. You control the amount of salt, fat, and sugar. Instead of processed food, you can make the healthier option. Also, home cooking reduces waste. The amount of food you make is completely up to you. If there is extra, it can be leftovers rather than trash. Fast food restaurants wrap their food in paper, plastic, and foil. But you can use reusable dishes and significantly reduce the amount of trash. Home cooking is clearly the better option for you and the environment.

Cooking might not be something you think much about. But it is something we all should do, and it is something I love. I love cooking because of the variety, the product, and the process. First, the possibilities of cooking are endless. Through the kitchen you can experience foods and flavors of different cultures. This is a great way to expand your view of the world. In contrast to the limited fast food options of burgers, chicken, and tacos, you can make anything. Second, the results from home cooking are amazing. It is extremely easy to make food that is tastier than fast food. Also, sharing food is a great way to enrich your life. In an infographic on how to make and nurture healthy relationships, it said, “Always provide help and support to them(friends) when they need it.” Sharing food is a great way to make others happier. Finally, the process of making food is really fun and a little soothing. It’s a great feeling to start with these plain everyday ingredients and end up with something amazing. Barry Lopez writes, “I have sensed that an extrapolation from a single fragment of the whole is the most invigorating experience I can share with them.” Similar to the way Barry Lopez uses reason to reach a conclusion, in cooking you use the recipe and each individual step to create the final product. In the short film, “Lost and Found”, Blair Somerville says, “Probably the most pleasure I get is the designing phase.” Cooking is really enjoyable and rewarding. 

“Cooking at Home in the Time of Coronavirus” – bon appétit

Nevertheless, there are many reasons why people hesitate to cook. They don’t know how. They are too busy. It’s not fun. These are not valid reasons. This is a problem when trying to combat the adverse effects of fast food. But there is good news. Cooking really isn’t that difficult. For the majority of dishes, all you need to do is just follow the recipe. Pay attention to the instructions and you can cook. It just takes practice and patience. You will get better and you will not regret learning this skill. If you think you don’t have time, it is important to understand that cooking does not take that much time. There are plenty of quick recipes. You can always do meal preparation before the meal to speed up the process. Furthermore, if you do not enjoy cooking, you have to make it fun. Cook with someone, listen to music, anything to make it not seem like a chore. Anyone can cook, and it is well worth it. 

So I challenge you to cook for yourself. If you don’t know how to cook, start learning. If you are tempted to eat fast food, try staying at home and making something better. Let’s work together to eliminate the problem of fast food. You won’t regret it and you’ll hardly ever want to eat fast food again.

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