Even in France...

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.


More like this

Employees of the fast-food giant McDonald’s recently filed 28 complaints with federal OSHA about health and safety problems at their workplaces. The complaints involved McDonald’s locations in 19 cities, including Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Kansas City. The complaints were announced on Monday…
I was reading the July 2009 Consumer Reports (as usual, I'm about a month behind on magazines) and reached a set of ratings for chain restaurants. Read the commentary and the neat little sidebar where trained tasters compared oversized New York strip steaks at Morton's with slightly less oversized…
Even in the world of giant beef recalls in the US this one stands out: 143 million pounds. This dwarfs (by a factor of four) the previous recall record of 35 million pounds, and as the AP report observes, amounts to two hamburgers for every man, woman and child in the United States. This one has an…
Wages in the highly profitable fast food industry are so low that more than half of families of front-line fast food workers are enrolled in and depend on public assistance programs to make ends meet. In other words, that seemingly inexpensive burger and fries not only comes with a secret sauce,…

What we don’t remember, though, is that it doesn’t have to suck.

I am fortunate to live in a university town that the big fast food chains have mostly forsaken. The only national chain with a presence in this town is Domino's (we used to have a Burger King, but it didn't bring in enough revenue during summers and term breaks). But we do have several locally owned, modestly priced (not exactly cheap, but meal prices are comparable to McDonald's et al.) fast food outlets, some of which serve food that has actual flavor (including at least two pizza places with better product than Domino's). Thus I have all the more reason to avoid McDonald's et al.: I routinely encounter fast food that doesn't suck.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 06 May 2013 #permalink

having just spent a year in a relatively poor city in the global south (Oaxaca, Mexico), I can testify to the abundance of good, cheap street food. There is also a lot of crappy cheap street food, like industrial hot dogs and lots of fried dough in various forms, but there is still a lot of great food to be had.

Some of my favorites - corn on the cob, kept hot in kettles over charcoal braziers, slathered with mayonnaise, lime juice and chile powder; tacos, of course, but there are also food carts selling consome, molotes, fresh fruit salads, fresh squeezed orange juice (juicer built right in) and, my favorite, an amazing contraption, a giant tricycle that somehow has a built on wood-fired steam chamber. It steams yams and plantains, and is outfitted with an amazing steam whistle that you can hear for blocks.

I have not eaten fast food while in Europe, but I did notice that their prices were about the same as in the USA, while local resturant or grocery store prices were considerably higher.

By Jim Thomerson (not verified) on 12 May 2013 #permalink

Why, "Even in France" ? France is not immune to junk-culture imports from the U.S.

For me, NPR is (one of) the journalistic analogues to "junk food".

True, "McDo" has a very big presence in France. Since its inception in France, it has benefited from exclusive dispensations (it got them by arm-twisting, though how much "twisting" it had to do is another matter; corruption and kick-backs for favoritism aren't exactly unknown in France) from the state--mainly in the form of tax advantages for carry-out food which McDo's competitors don't enjoy.

True, French people have become more sedentary, more overwieght. They've taken up the habits in eating that goes with this.

True-- dining time is in certain places way down (esp. since the recession/depression) at lunch and people's once-larger lunch-hours have been reduced either formally or informally--through employees' self-imposed reductions out of fear of finding themselves penalized when compared to peers who take less time at lunch. So, it's a vicious circle, driven by insecurity, which, in the rececssion, is abundant.

However, "Fast-food" in France means _mainly_ McDo-like burger joints is not true.

While there are lots of McDonalds, there are even more independent bakeries and probably the great majority of French people (who eat fast-food at lunch because they haven't time to order and eat a hot lunch served at a table) do that by going to a nearby bakery and buying "la formule"--a ready-made sandwich (typically on some sort of fresh-baked bagette), a canned drink (though very often, bottled water), and a dessert, which usually means some sort of pastry, also made fresh at the bakery. Of course, lots of people also go into larger supermarkets for the same things just described. Those are grocery stores such as Monoprix or Carrefour where similar kinds of lunch fare is on offer.

For photo images of what I mean, you can search Google's "images" using the key terms:

"sandwiches aux boulangeries"

For an idea of where the one or two percent goes for lunch, try Google's image bank with these key-terms:

" restaurants gastronomiques déjeuner france "

True-- all that is worst about U.S. culture, the solely-price-driven, race-to-the-bottom, lowest-common-denominator stuff, (and, for that reason, quite predatory in character) insinuates itself everywhere, "even in France."

There is very little 'push-cart' style 'street vendor' food in France. The closest approximation is perhaps the stands which can be found in market squares in small towns and villages on market-days of the week. In a large city, what exists of street vendor food isn't very good in quality or in range of choice. There is little reason for such a secto since bakeries provide sandwich fare which precludes a need for street vendors.

The two main other very ubiquitous alternatives to burger joints à la McDo are 1) the oriental carry-out restaurant. Fast, only passable to very mediocre in quality, and, while relatively "cheap", it' expensive for what you are served, and, 2) the "gyros" (Turkish or Greek style) kebab & pita lamb rotisserie sandwich & fries ---likewise only passable to very mediocre in quality, and, while relatively "cheap", it' expensive for what you are served.

By proximity1 (not verified) on 28 May 2013 #permalink


"But American chains like McDonald's and Subway also attract French fans for the ways in which they depart from local customs — at least when it comes to wait staff, says Labro."

"French waiters, she says, tend to be "so mean and unserviceable that the American way of doing things in fast food places is almost pleasant."

Hello ?

Silly hyperbole. While I virtually never--"Never? Well, hardly ever, ever"-- set foot inside a McDo, I do sometimes go to Subways, which in general I like. But the quality of "service"--it's a food-counter line, for crying out loud!-- is no better than what I typically find from a bistro/café waiter.

Café waiters who are rude don't necessarily pick out or pick on foreigners--whether American or other; they can be just as rude to their fellow French man or woman. Does this surprise you?

There is, however, one signal cultural difference that too many Americans are perhaps simply unaware of: in France, it is regarded as extremely rude to fail to say "Hello" before going on to speak to any stranger, including a waiter in a bar, a café, a restaurant, etc. And waiters expect a "hello" from any client --wherever he or she may come from. But, in U.S. culture, this simply isn't the common practice. So, right off the bat, a U.S. customer can involuntarily begin every encounter by "being rude": i.e., failing to start with the minimum in daily French courtesy, which consists entirely of saying, "Bonjour." (Hello).

By proximity1 (not verified) on 28 May 2013 #permalink

I've been browsing on-line greater than 3 hours today, but I by no means identified any interesting guide like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all webmasters and bloggers made excellent content material as you most likely did, the net will possibly be much more useful than ever before.

I like what you guys are up too. Such smart work and reporting! Carry on the superb works guys I have incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it will improve the value of my web site :).

I and also my guys were found to be digesting the great tips on your web page and then unexpectedly I had an awful suspicion I had not thanked you for those tips. Most of the ladies ended up as a result warmed to read through all of them and now have very much been having fun with them. We appreciate you getting quite helpful as well as for making a choice on some really good topics most people are really desperate to understand about. Our honest apologies for not saying thanks to you earlier. jdei726ya

I’m impressed, I need to say. Really hardly ever do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me let you know, you've hit the nail on the head. Your concept is outstanding; the difficulty is one thing that not sufficient individuals are talking intelligently about. I'm very glad that I stumbled across this in my seek for something referring to this.

Spot on with this write-up, I honestly believe that this web site needs a great deal more attention. I'll probably be returning to read through more, thanks for the information!

My wife and i felt very delighted that Michael could finish off his analysis from your ideas he discovered while using the weblog. It's not at all simplistic just to find yourself giving out key points which some people may have been making money from. We figure out we have got the writer to thank for that. All of the explanations you have made, the easy site menu, the relationships you give support to create - it's got most extraordinary, and it's really facilitating our son in addition to the family feel that the concept is enjoyable, which is certainly quite indispensable. Many thanks for everything!

Hiya, I am really glad I've found this info. Nowadays bloggers publish just about gossips and web and this is actually frustrating. A good site with interesting content, this is what I need. Thanks for keeping this web site, I will be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Cant find it.

Thanks for sharing your ideas. I might also like to convey that video games have been at any time evolving. Better technology and inventions have made it easier to create reasonable and fun games. These kinds of entertainment games were not that sensible when the concept was first being tried out. Just like other forms of technological innovation, video games too have had to advance by means of many decades. This is testimony towards the fast progression of video games.

I like what you guys are up too. Such intelligent work and reporting! Carry on the excellent works guys I’ve incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it will improve the value of my website :)

Thanks for your helpful post. Through the years, I have been able to understand that the particular symptoms of mesothelioma are caused by the build up associated fluid relating to the lining of the lung and the chest cavity. The ailment may start while in the chest area and get distributed to other body parts. Other symptoms of pleural mesothelioma cancer include weight loss, severe inhaling trouble, vomiting, difficulty ingesting, and bloating of the face and neck areas. It really should be noted that some people living with the disease usually do not experience every serious signs at all.

Do you have a spam issue on this blog; I also am a blogger, and I was wondering your situation; many of us have created some nice methods and we are looking to trade techniques with others, why not shoot me an email if interested.

Hi, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam remarks? If so how do you protect against it, any plugin or anything you can advise? I get so much lately it's driving me crazy so any help is very much appreciated.

By http://es.wiki… (not verified) on 07 Jun 2013 #permalink

I’ve been exploring for any small for any high-quality articles or website posts on this sort of location . Exploring in Yahoo I ultimately stumbled upon this site. Studying this details So i’m satisfied to convey that I’ve a really superb uncanny feeling I located out specifically what I needed. I most unquestionably will make particular to do not omit this web page and provides it a glance a continuing.

Hi there! This post couldn't be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my good old room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this write-up to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

Woah! I'm really enjoying the template/theme of this blog. It's simple, yet effective. A lot of times it's very difficult to get that "perfect balance" between usability and appearance. I must say that you've done a excellent job with this. Additionally, the blog loads very fast for me on Internet explorer. Excellent Blog!

Ιt's appropriate time to make some plans for the future and it's time for you to be pleased. I' ead thi οst andif I might I wish to recmmnd ou couple of interstng thing o uggeston.Ρerhaps yu an ite nxt tcles elating to thsartle. I want to lerneνen moe ssues about it!

By 手機外殼 (not verified) on 14 Jun 2013 #permalink

Every thing you do not know regarding sunglass could be costing even more than one thinks.

By Cheap Oakley W… (not verified) on 26 Jun 2013 #permalink

Thanks for nice perform. I will get back to you quickly.

By 推薦行動電源 (not verified) on 26 Jun 2013 #permalink

Hello there! Do you know if they make any plugins to assist with SEO? I'm trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I'm not seeing very good gains. If you know of any please share. Appreciate it!

Hey, you used to write magnificent, but the last several posts have been kinda boring?K I miss your super writings. Past several posts are just a little out of track! come on!

Do you have a spam issue on this site; I also am a blogger, and I was wondering your situation; we have created some nice procedures and we are looking to swap methods with others, be sure to shoot me an email if interested.

Do you mind if I quote a couple of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources back to your blog? My website is in the exact same area of interest as yours and my visitors would really benefit from a lot of the information you present here. Please let me know if this alright with you. Many thanks!