How Fast Food Companies Coopted Black America

Food and racism are heavily tied, and the history of fast food franchises in America is one of many examples. In order to continue the fight for civil rights and name the social and racial disparities that we continue to see in our time, it’s important to learn how we got here.

Today on The Doctor’s Farmacy, I’m excited to dig into all this and so much more, with Marcia Chatelain. A third of Americans eat fast food every day, and we know that fast food restaurants are hyper-concentrated in lower socioeconomic areas. It’s no coincidence that African Americans consume more fast food than any other population and also have greater risks for obesity and diabetes. Marcia walks us through the history of fast food franchises in America and how they’ve specifically impacted Black communities.

This relationship rose from the notion of improved economic opportunity through entrepreneurship, but the idea backfired and has worked against these communities in myriad ways, which includes increased rates of chronic disease. Our social policies need to acknowledge that nutrition does indeed impact health outcomes and we need to improve access and education for healthy food to higher-risk populations.

Marcia and I discuss the true cost of food and what shifts she believes are needed to change the trajectory of poor health for Black communities. While it might seem like an impossibly large topic to tackle, Marcia and I are hopeful. She shares that the intersection of COVID and the Great Resignation could be an incredible moment for raising awareness of the human toll of the food system. We’re seeing people fight for justice in ways we’ve never even thought of before. We also talk about the power of working in community to solve collective problems and thinking of how to get the same things for your neighbors that you’d want for yourself.

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