It is not unknown that fast food is very popular in American culture. Over the years, fast food has developed into a huge industry that acquires many sales and surplus profits for the companies involved. People demanded meals that were filling and affordable, not taking into consideration the effects on their health. Companies everywhere across America opened up several locations and became increasingly favored, with lines filling up the store just to order one thing on the menu. However, that one item may be loaded with calories, trans fats, preservatives, and other harmful ingredients. The main issue of why junk food is so prominent in American society is because of the lack of knowledge of what is really inside. Junk food is constantly regarded as “bad” and “unhealthy”, but that is not enough to stop people from consuming it daily. Monica Drane addresses this topic by loosely mentioning that she would not feed her kids Lunchables, even though her father is the inventor of the packaged meal. This raises questions on fast food companies’ motivations to sell and their intentions. If the owner of Lunchables own daughter would not eat it, why should the rest of Americans feel like they have to?
Although Monica Drane does not explicitly state why her children do not eat Lunchables, it can be inferred through her follow-up statement, “We eat very healthfully” that she has acknowledged the negative effects that Lunchables have on kids’ health (Moss 269). She most likely grew up privileged, and was not subjected to consuming fast food. Instead of eating at McDonald’s or Wendy’s, she probably had her food prepared with fresh ingredients. She had the option of avoiding quick, cheap meals such as Lunchables. Yet her father, Bob Drane, is the one behind the mass corporation. He is responsible for putting poison on the shelves of supermarkets for the children of America to indulge in. He is aware that the product he’s making is not the most beneficial thing to consume when trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, especially for growing bodies. In fact, the amount of preservatives and sodium in Lunchables can cause obesity in adolescents when eaten in large quantities. “When in doubt, add sugar” (Moss 267). This quote sums up every company’s agenda; if they are falling behind on sales they add more sugar in order to attract buyers. Given this information, companies should take a step back and realize their negative impact.
Why would anyone feed their child a Lunchable every day for school if they are mindful of the risks? Simply put, most parents do not have the time or resources to provide their child with a nutritional meal that meets all the food plate requirements. Lunchables, and other fast food products, are a quick and easy way to satisfy a child’s hunger. Lunchables targeted mothers of young children who sought to provide their children with a more enjoyable meal (Moss 267). Not only are the kids ecstatic about designing their own meal, they feel empowered by the freedom of not being told what to do. When they take out that Lunchable during recess, it brands them as “cool”, and they feel like they fit in better with their peers. Bock Eckert, the C.E.O. of Kraft, said “Lunchables are not about lunch. It is about kids being able to put together what they want to eat, anytime, anywhere” (Moss 268). This is a recurring theme in society. Humans naturally want to assimilate with their surroundings. This fits into the bigger picture of the need to be included with the status quo. Since Lunchables were such a hit, every child wanted them and had to have them, which put pressure on the parents to purchase them.
It may not be the healthiest option, but junk food is easily accessible, and that attracts most parents. Another factor to consider is monetary difference. Fresh fruits and vegetables cost significantly more than packaged fruits and vegetables. Even produce can be processed. Stores such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods sell items with the label “organic”, which avoid that processed feel. However, these stores are often way more overpriced than a typical grocery store. This is because the items sold in “organic” stores generally come from smaller farms which take more time to cultivate a healthy product. Since time is money, the products on the shelves of health food stores will be marked up higher than the average grocery store product. People with higher salaries have the luxury to afford organic food, thus maintaining a healthier lifestyle. This ties into the economics of the food industry. Healthier food is for wealthier people. That is precisely why fast food restaurant prices are so low. They target lower-to-middle class individuals that are seeking a quick bite to eat, not paying any mind to the consequences. “Don’t talk to me about nutrition, talk to me about taste” (Moss 261). The typical consumer just wants something to fulfill their senses, without having to worry about the negative health effects.
The general public plays ignorant. They have the choice between eating healthy and consuming junk food, and if they choose junk food, the company cannot always be blamed. Of course, the creators have a huge part to play. They dispense these products with the intention of selling them in mass quantities to unsuspecting Americans. And by unsuspecting, it is meant that most Americans do not actually know what is in the food they are eating. This is because companies cover harmful ingredients with euphemisms. For example, terms such as “natural” and “organic” usually mean the product contains petroleum, which does not sound appealing to consumers. Instead of saying “fried”, they say “baked”. They disguise their products with colorful patterns and catchy logos to reel a customer in. “The selling of food matters as much as the food itself” (Moss 275). Junk food companies are worried about their profit margin, thus expanding marketing for their unhealthy products.
The most viable solution to the junk food epidemic is having personal gardens and growing one’s own food. This would be cost-efficient and nutritious. However, this is easier said than done, because many problems arise with the ownership of a garden. Gardens are difficult to upkeep, and take up space which not a lot of people have, especially in urban environments. People will have to worry about watering crops, pesticides, and retrieval. The preparation of food would also be an obstacle, as not many Americans have the time to assemble 3 full meals a day. And the flavor would not be as savory as if it were to be purchased at an establishment. Also, avoiding junk food at all costs is also necessary. Falling into the trap of junk food’s packaging will only make matters worse. With everything, all it requires is a chain reaction. If a few individuals at a time start resisting the urge to go out and indulge in unhealthy food, it can cause a huge impact. Companies will start to go through a drought in sales, which will force them into producing more healthy foods in order to meet their consumers’ demands. This is a consumeristic society, and whatever the people ask for, companies will provide to make a profit. Everything is economically-driven, but that does not necessarily have to be a negative factor. The less junk food on the market, the more beneficial it is for the average American.