Fast food

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Fast food is food that is prepared, cooked and served very quickly, and packaged for being consumed on-the-go. Typically, this is from either a restaurant, kiosk, stand or sometimes a drive-through service. Fast food in the West often describes something like the American fast-food burger experience found at restaurants like McDonald's and Burger King. The variety of fast food sold in Western cities covers much more than burgers and fries and includes sandwiches, fried chicken, burritos, pizza, sushi and much more.

Fast food has been spread worldwide, with McDonald's operating in 120 countries. Critics of fast food point to both it's impact on health (in terms of large calorific intake and the use of 'trans fats', and the contribution that fast food and junk food can make to obesity and diabetes), on the environment, on employment rights (specifically with some of the large chains banning unions), on children (to whom many fast food products are marketed with toys and branded tie-ins to movies and TV) and on culture as a whole. Companies like McDonald's work hard to ensure that their products are sourced and designed so that they taste the same in Moscow, Madrid and Massachusetts. The reduction in cultural diversity has prompted some to suggest the need for "slow food" and an increased focus on local food. Many of these issues came to a head in the famous "McLibel" trial in London where two activists - Helen Steel and Dave Morris - were sued by McDonald's over a leaflet they distributed and, although they lost, the verdict contained a large number of criticisms of McDonald's. Many of these criticisms of fast food are to be found in Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser.

See also