The cultural consequences of fast food

Many of us know of chef Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse and an originator of California Cuisine. In her new cookbook, she promotes local, seasonal, organic, and minimally-processed foods, and a philosophy of paying attention to where your ingredients come from, taking time and care with your food, and eating with friends and family. These are all things I agree with. And I’ve spent time thinking about the health and environmental consequences of my food. But Waters elevates the importance of our food choices above the direct impacts of the ingredients. In an interview in Salon, she makes the most eloquent case that I’ve seen so far that food choices have cultural consequences:

When we’re eating fast food, we’re not just eating the food, we’re eating a set of values that comes with the food. And it’s telling us that food should be cheap. It’s telling us that food should be the same no matter where we are on the planet. It’s telling us that advertising confers value. That it’s OK to eat 24 hours a day. That there are unlimited resources. It’s telling us that the work of the people who grow or raise the food is unimportant — in fact we don’t even need to know. And all of those values are informing what’s happening in the world around us. We’re ending up with malls instead of beautiful places to live in.

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