When Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation came out in 2001, it incited discussions about the prevalence of fast food fare in our diets. Three years later Morgan Spurlock placed some french fries in a jar and wondered, “Why on earth don’t these things decompose?”
We can add Councilwoman Jan Perry of LAs 9th District to the list of activist muckrakers. Councilman Perry is advocating for a 2-year moratorium on the establishment of new fast food restaurants within her district, arguing that healthier restaurants are shut out of development opportunities.
I’m not a very big believer in mandating public behavior. In fact, I even agreed with Leykis’s statement that this is just the politicians’ way of appearing to solve a serious problem, without actually doing anything about it. The problem is not the ubiquitousness of fast food restaurants. The real problem is poverty (and the affordability of junk food vs. the cost of healthy options), and a lack of education (are health classes in schools tackling this problem early on? are parents being properly educated on developing healthy eating habits in their children?).
In my math class, I teach the students that before the LA Riots, there were upwards of 600 liquor stores within a 3-mile radius of any given South Los Angeles neighborhood. We discuss density and all that, sure; but I always mention that these liquor stores exist only because the market can bear it. Should demand fall, these stores would shutter their doors. Any war, including this new war on obesity has to be fought on the demand side. Fighting the supply side never works. Hasn’t the war on drugs taught us anything?