This is a guest article by Mannie Barling and Ashley F. Brooks – Simon

A recent survey in the City of Los Angeles disclosed that more than 71% of restaurants in South Los Angeles are fast food restaurants while less than 40% of all restaurants on the tony Westside of Los Angeles (Beverly Hills to the beach) are fast food restaurants. It is unlikely that any other low income area across the country fare any better.

To those of us who live in Los Angeles, this is no surprise. But these demographics are consistent or even low for many areas of the U.S. No one wants to open a gourmet restaurant in middle class or poverty burdened areas because of the price of the food sold. People cannot afford the better restaurants in a recession/depression so they look for food bargains at the market and in restaurants.

In areas such as South L.A., there are few, if any, supermarkets and no Walmarts or Costco. After the Watts riots in 1965, and again after the Rodney King riots of 1992, major grocery stores refused to replace their stores that had burned down. These chains were pleased to collect their insurance proceeds and move on leaving locals to shop at liquor stores, convenience stores and gas station markets.

Fast food chains know this from their research and marketing studies. One has to wonder why it takes so many college graduates in Big Food companies to come to a conclusion that the average American could tell them on any street corner. But Big Food companies are obsessed with marketing surveys and industry statistics and tend to follow them like a whistling sailor follows a set of beautiful legs down the street.

So when the trend in the economy turned toward two working parents, and in many cases teenage children working to help support their families, the fast food chains’ research capitalized on the trend and started opening stores in suburban neighborhoods next to freeway off ramps and major thoroughfares to attract working parents with little time left at the end of their exhausting work day.

They determined that a working parent could only pass two or three fast food restaurants before deciding to buy a fast food meal for their families so they did not have to either shop or cook when they got home.

By adding addicting chemicals such as MSG, ammonia (see McDonald’s website), GMO soy-based fillers, high fructose corn syrup, the companies sought to insure repeat sales. Much like the strategy employed by drug dealers, they knew that once Americans became addicted to their legalized chemicals that cause food addiction, they would become customers for life or until they beat the addiction.

Their strategy worked to perfection. McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, KFC and Carl’s Jr., to name just a few, became pretty maids all in a row for the tired American worker on his or her way home. Around the world, this is known a McDonalization –  “the process by which the principles of the fast-food restaurants are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society as well as the rest of the world”.

Not to let the stand-alone fast food chains dominate the market, fast food delivery chains such as Domino’s and Pappa John’s embarked upon a TV campaign championing special pizzas delivered to your door, dorm room or meeting any time of the day. Instant fast food became a boom and a bane to Americans.

It was and continues to be a media battle to control your food tastes and collect your food dollar by offering meals a family can afford with no effort devoted to cooking. Dollar meals, two pizzas for the price of one, supersizing and Big Gulps all entered the modern lexicon.

Suddenly America had a new dictionary for food unlike anything in the history of mankind. Double cheese Baconator, supersized with a Big Gulp says it all – a mixed metaphor of three different fast food chains that sounds like a menu choice at all of them.

Along with these quick meals came high amounts of artificial flavors, MSG, high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, corn solids, sugar substitutes, factory farmed meats and poultry and some foods containing more than 50 ingredients such as Wendy’s strawberry milk shake. Even simple Dorito’s contain 39 ingredients when it only takes three to make corn chips at home.

How we got to these chemical substitutes for the food your grandmother “used to make” is an exercise in the decline and fall of the American economy. How we get away from these chemical substitutes for food will be an exercise in choices from a democratic people who can either decide or change their destiny by voting at the grocery store check stand or by abstaining from the foods that cause them to become overweight or obese, and eventually ill.

The City of Los Angeles recognized this problem in December 2010, when they passed a law preventing the building of any more stand-alone fast food restaurants in South L.A. The City also banned fast food restaurants near schools and is now active in changing the quality of food offered in schools. For many of us, it is better late than never.

Learning to avoid fast food is now a challenge for concerned parents, especially for those with overweight or obese children. Learning how to read labels and choose chemically-free food is the new American challenge. Chemically addicting fast food and packaged food containing dangerous addictive chemicals are everywhere.

When Americans look at labels or websites providing the ingredients in fast food, they need to ask themselves, “Am I eating real food or a bottle of chemicals normally found under the sink made into solid food?” Much like the old TV commercial parents needs to ask, “Is it real or Memorex”.

If someone made a milk shake, a hamburger or a pie from the chemicals under your sink, would you eat it? Not!!! Then why do Americans go to fast food restaurants and eat similar chemical disguised as fast food without concern or complaint?

Our answer can be found in a rhetorical question, “If someone put heroin into your fast food burger and you became addicted to heroin, would it be your fault?” It is our opinion that It’s Not Your Fault.

But once Americans know the true facts about the addictive chemicals in their food, and still choose to eat the same tainted foods, it will be their fault if they continue to gain weight or become obese.

These are questions and issues all Americans must ask and resolve. We ask and answer these questions in our latest book, It’s Not Your Fault – Weight Gain, Obesity and Food Addiction.

Mannie Barling, along with his wife Ashley F. Brooks, R.N., are the authors of two award winning books (Books and Authors 2010 Best Books in Health, Diet & Reference Category) – Arthritis, Inflammation, Gout, Crohn’s, IBD and IBS – How to Eliminate Pain and Extend your Life and Mannie’s Diet and Enzyme Formula – A Change of Lifestyle Diet Designed for Everyone available at HowToEliminatePain.com, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other booksellers around the world. The authors’ latest book, It’s Not Your Fault – Weight Gain, Obesity and Food Addiction will be available for the December 21, 2010 at booksellers everywhere.

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