Fast Food America

For anyone paying attention, it is obvious that Americans don’t eat the healthiest of diets, at least on average.  The fast food industry is big in the U.S., but like most things, there are multiple reasons for this.

Americans tend to live busy lives.  Fast food is a convenience.  When there are two working parents, dealing with driving kids around, then sometimes it just leaves little time for cooking.

Contrast this with a person living in France, who spends a couple of hours at the local cafe.  I understand this is stereotypical and there are a lot of exceptions, but it does somewhat reflect reality.

In the U.S., I also believe that the government contributes to bad eating habits in many ways from subsidizing certain things such as corn, to favoring big companies that process food.  Did you know that the U.S. government has massive tariffs on sugar imports?  This makes it convenient for many food producers to use high fructose corn syrup in its place.  It is cheaper because of the corn subsidies and the sugar tariffs.

The government also misleads Americans with its food pyramids and other conventional “wisdom”.  It prevents vitamins and supplements from being marketed as well as they could.  The government has also encouraged a low-fat diet, which is actually harmful.  Americans gave up butter for margarine and they don’t realize the damage it is doing to their health.

It is interesting that McDonald’s has been struggling with lower than expected earnings.  The company is trying to shake things up with its menu and its sales.  As a side note, speaking of “shake”, that is probably the one area where McDonald’s has improved.  I try to eat healthy, but the milkshakes there are really good.

On the occasion that I am in the position of eating at McDonald’s, I will eat a salad.  It is more like tolerate, at best.  Compared to other fast food places, I think the salads at McDonald’s are terrible.

McDonald’s is a cheap place to eat, as long as you aren’t ordering milkshakes.  You can get a decent sized meal for under 5 dollars in most places.  In this sense, it is a friend of the poor.  But in America, the poor people don’t look like many of the poor people  in third-world countries.  Poor people in America are more likely to be obese than really skinny due to a lack of food.

I believe that one problem with McDonald’s that perhaps is being overlooked is that many Americans are simply trying to eat healthier and they are trying to get their kids to eat healthier.  I am not saying this is yet a majority of people, although I don’t really know.  But more and more people are doing their own research and trying to clean up their diets.

Americans do not have a really high life expectancy compared to some other advanced countries.  I have heard people argue in favor of nationalized healthcare because Canadians have a longer life expectancy than Americans.  Of course, there are many factors that go into that statistic and healthcare is just one of them.

In terms of healthcare systems, I believe that Canadians may have an advantage.  Because of the long waits in many cases, people there just avoid going to the doctor and it may actually benefit them in some cases.  Americans are more than happy to see several doctors and get a list a mile long of prescription medication.  Again, this is partially a result of big government colluding with big pharmaceutical companies.

I think technology and the Internet are going to improve things in the U.S. and elsewhere.  There is more information available than ever before.  I know a lot of people who eat a paleo diet and most of my diet would be considered paleo.  It may not be the most accurately named diet, but the key is that many people are eliminating or cutting down on processed foods.

If McDonald’s is going to revamp its style, then perhaps it should offer some healthy food that actually tastes good.  If it isn’t going to do that, then it should just stick with its niche of providing cheap food to the masses.  People looking for healthy food will find alternatives, even if they seek convenience because of their busy lives.

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