Good job bringing this to light. People won't realise how huge the problem is and municipalities are woefully ill equipped to...
Agreed; mining can never be sustainable, but then how do you get the metals to make all the things you need in the course of...
Very good piece.
You are what you eat: nothing typifies the phrase more aptly than a fast food chomping urban denizen of a developed nation. The us, particularly, was overwhelmed by fast food culture after World War ii. The country's post-war prosperity was built on people working long hours; as a result, they had less time to prepare food and depended more on takeaways that dished out fatty, ready-made meals.
The us consumers' spending on fast food amounted to us$110 billion in 2001 as against us$6 billion in 1970. Surveys have revealed that people in the us spend more on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, software or cars. Little wonder that, many fast food chains have become symbols of us culture.
The furious growth of the fast food industry precipitated debates on public health hazards and business ethics. Rising obesity levels aroused concern in many parts of the world, especially after the World Health Organization declared the malady an epidemic in 2001. This also coincided with the us surgeon general's report warning that 61 per cent adult and 13 per cent children and adolescents in the country were either overweight or obese.
Europe and Asia are not far behind. According to the International Obesity Task Force, obesity has increased by 10 per cent to 40 per cent in most European countries in the past 10 years. Experts have warned that three-quarters of the population of uk could be overweight within the next 10 to 15 years. The obesity rates are much lower in China: even then, the situation there is quite alarming with 15 per cent men and 16 per cent women overweight. The story is no different in India. According to a survey by the New Delhi-based non-governmental organisation, Nutrition Foundation of India, about 45 per cent women and 29 per cent men in urban India are overweight.
Bad press compelled fast food companies to take a little different approach. For example, McDonald's claimed to have reduced trans fatty acids iii--a fat that is produced when liquid fat (oil) is turned into solid fat through a chemical process called hydrogenation -- in its fried foods, and introduced low-fat yogurt and fruit roll-up desserts.
More notable was the us- based PepsiCo's commitment that 50 per cent of its new products would contain healthier ingredients or would offer improved health benefits. The fast food industry claimed it had undergone a transformation. However, nutrition experts contended that these claims were largely unsubstantiated.
Governments in developed countries tried to deal with the problem by educating consumers about nutritional aspects of fast food. Some us states declared school cafeterias and other public places out of bounds for vending machines that dish out chips, sodas and candy bars. In 2001, California was among the first us states where legislators backed a ban on junk food in elementary and middle schools. In May 2005, Connecticut legislators voted in support of a ban on fast food sale.
Meanwhile, 17 other states in the us levied 'fat-taxes' on fast foods such as sodas, French fries and candy bars, which contain high amounts of sugar and carbohydrates.
The fast food industry in India is at a nascent stage. Our policy-makers can learn from the ordeals of their western counterparts and nip the industry in its bud. This would only help Indians protect their health, prosperity and needless to say, culinary expertise.
Umashanker Shastry is associated with the icfai Business School, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh