Local Answers To Global Problems

With the recent publication of “Slowing Down Fast Food,” an excellent policy guide sponsored by the big-business watchdog Corporate Accountability International, the old revolutionary maxim “Think global, act local” has never been truer.

Sadly, as the report lays out, with 2010 revenues of over $180 billion, and an ever-increasing presence especially in low-income neighborhoods, the fast food industry also seems to have never been stronger, and the future here in the land of diet-related diseases never more desolate.

But the report’s authors, research associate Monica Gagnon (a former WhyHunger VISTA volunteer!) and Professor Nicholas Freudenberg, both of CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College, examine innovative uses of local policy that can change the landscape. While in the midst of an ongoing Congressional fight over the food and farm bill, it seems unlikely that change will come at the federal level, a simpler recipe, made of all local ingredients, may finally provide the tools necessary to engage in a fair fight against fast food giants.

Gagnon and Freudenberg propose a set of four simple local policy approaches focused on kids and communities – the main targets of the fast food industry – and provide case studies for each, demonstrating how successful such ideas have already been, and could be again.

“Slowing Down Fast Food” is a call to mobilize local communities and institutions, guide them in a practical, simple path towards transforming ideas into actions, and effectively reverse the impact fast food industry has on our health.

Candice Comisi