The localisation of the fast food industry in Ireland
For many years food as an academic discipline was ignored by academics in favour of more ‘serious’ topics such as poverty, unemployment and gender issues within the workplace. We as people now live in a consumer society were choice and variety is the norm. Our supermarkets are now filled with dozens of varieties of fruits, vegetables and meats which now mirror that of supermarkets in American the consumer capital of the world. However consumers have now become sceptical of the food industry and are worried how healthy food is on offer in supermarkets in light of food scares such as foot and mouth disease, BSE, and Salmonella. Since the beginning of this new century, a global obesity epidemic has come to dominate academic and medical interests. This was reflected in the popularity of Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation (2000), Greg Critser’s Fat Land (2003) and Felicity Lawrence’s Not on the Label (2004). The fast food industry and especially McDonald’s have come under severe criticism due to the high content of fat, sodium, and sugar in its products and the marketing strategies directed especially at children. McDonald’s and its golden arches have come to symbolise the rising levels of obesity in Irish society. This paper will not only discuss how McDonald’s has come to symbolise rising obesity levels, it will also discuss how a multinational like McDonald’s has come to symbolise broader sociological trends in society like the homogenization and dehumanization of the Irish landscape. The lack of non-union affiliation within the private service sector and how the globalisation of food is eroding our cultural identity and local democracy in what we eat. The research for this paper entailed interviews with different political activists groups like the Globalised Resistance Movement, the trade union SIPTU, members of the general public as well as the more traditional methods of research through medical journals and textbooks.
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