Wow. This ad was produced by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and aired in the Washington DC area recently. It is nice to see SOMEONE spending time and money going up against the fast food industry- one of the groups most responsible for driving up health care costs in the US. Obesity in the US is caused in large part by what people eat and and a large part of what people eat is fast food. Sure, it is not all bad, but survey the landscape and you see a lot more similarity to places like McDonald’s than not. This ad is sensational (read this comment string in the NYT) and extremely one sided (just like Super Size Me), but it seems to have gotten a lot of peoples attention, which is awesome.
We know McDonalds isn’t the only problem, but they are the largest player in an industry that is negatively affecting the health of the population. People love to make the argument that it is your choice to eat fast food, but is it always your ‘choice’ if the food is addictive? Look at cigarettes; for the longest time people thought they were not so bad. Then a bunch of research comes out showing that not only are they killing you, they are addictive as all get out. Through education, regulation, and taxation we have curtailed the effect of smoking on the population of the US. Sure, people still smoke, but everyone who does it at least makes a conscious choice to do something that is bad for them. Education has made this possible, and it also drastically affected the amount of children who smoke. Why shouldn’t fast food see similar education, regulation, and taxation programs? The big difference between food and cigarettes is that while you can quit smoking, you can’t quit eating. That is why it is crucial to have programs in place that alter the eating patterns of the population while at the same time forcing the food service industry to change their destructive ways. And unless people start getting less busy and finding more time to cook from scratch, more places like Modmarket will be needed to give people fast, affordable options for eating that are sustainable for your health. Hopefully others will see this void in the market, throw on their chef coats like we did, and create more sustainable fast food options. This ad does a great job of pointing out the fatal flaw in the fast food system, eat enough of what is out there now, and it will kill you. Hopefully that energizes people to see that the same system that created the problem (one that makes food convenient for a modern lifestyle) can also be a solution to the problem. Fast food and sustainable health do not have to be mutually exclusive.