Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletJune 17, 2019

Earth Concerns News

Are We Swallowing the Values of Fast-Food Corporations? by Sister Clare Pelkey, CSJ

      Is the following a familiar scene, perhaps even one in which we participate? We=re alone in our car, driving into one of the fast-food establishments. We don=t even have to leave the car because we can drive up to a window where a faceless voice takes our order. We then drive around to another window to pay for and collect our meal.

When we eat fast-food meals alone in our cars, are we swallowing the values and assumptions of the corporations that manufacture them? According to these values, eating is no more important than fueling up and should be done quickly and anonymously. The message seems to be that feedlot beef, french fries and Coke are actually good for you. It doesn't seem to matter where food comes from or how fresh it is because standardized consistency is more important than diversified quality. Containing little, if any nutrition, over time fast food contributes to heightened cholesterol and obesity. When we pledge our dietary allegiance to a fast-food nation, there are grave consequences to the health of our civil society and our national character as well. It is generally conceded that the food we eat could actually be making us sick. So the cost of industrial (fast) food is being charged to the public purse, the public health and the environment.

Hard work, work that requires concentration, application and honesty, such as cooking for the family or one=s local community, is seen as drudgery, of no commercial value and to be avoided at all costs. There are more important things to do.

Having participated in a community-sponsored plan to receive organically grown vegetables and herbs for several years, I have learned to appreciate the time it takes to prepare a meal as well as the uniqueness of each vegetable. Now as I peel, cut, husk, chop, slice and cook carrots, celery, corn, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, squash, melons, cucumbers, beans, I marvel at the color, texture, shapes and patterns of each one. Have you ever noticed the star in the middle of a carrot, the face in a tomato, the emptiness of a pepper (thanks to Joan Sauro for this last insight!) or counted the number of seeds in a squash or cucumber?

There is something soul satisfying in the experience of preparing a meal. Here the sacred is revealed, and one=s spirit is filled with the peace of a slower pace. There is an immense sense of gratitude for the tremendous bounty of God=s creation as well as a realization of responsibilities that the pleasures of the table reveal to one another, to the animals we eat, to the land and to the people who work it.

Perhaps when we consciously examine the value of preparing the food we eat, rather than patronizing fast-food places, we may find that not only are our palates rewarded for the effort, but also that our spirit is enriched as well.


(June 2007)