Fast food sales now outnumber sit-down restaurant food sales in the home of gastronomy:
More than half of all French restaurant sales now take place, sacrilegiously, at fast food chains, according to a new survey by food consultancy firm Gira Conseil.
This is the first time fast food sales have surpassed sit-down restaurant sales in France — you know, the the country that gave us cafes, bistros and the Michelin star. It also makes France the world’s second-biggest consumer of fast food, NPR reports, with 1,200 McDonalds franchises alone.
That number is only growing (much, it must be said, like French waistlines): Consumption at casual eateries jumped 14 percent just in the past year, according to the survey, and companies such as Subway and Burger King have launched major expansions in the country.
The fact that fast and cheap outrank, in economically insecure times, expensive and slow is not, perhaps as shocking as it might seem, even if it is sad. The real problem is that there is so little GOOD fast and cheap out there (although some of the fast-food sales are surely creperies and such) in most developed world regions.
In most of the Global South, McDonalds certainly has a presence, but so do tons of independent street food dealers who can often offer better prices than the industrial giants because of a lack of supervision. Now there are risks to this approach, of food borne-illness, but there are also rewards. Some of the most amazing food in the world is produced by street vendors with the simplest possible equipment – a charcoal grill, a few pots and pans. Again, small scale and local CAN compete, if we can design and enforce (and we could if we wanted to) food safety regulations for very small producers working on the home scale, rather than taking industrial regulations and applying them to everyone from McDonalds to your Mom with her pies.
The world needs fast, inexpensive food. What we don’t remember, though, is that it doesn’t have to suck.