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Fast Food Lesson for Kids: Facts & History

Instructor: Kelly Beaty

Kelly has taught fifth grade language arts and adult ESL. She has a master's degree in education and a graduate certificate in TESOL.

Fast food has been around for a long time, and it seems to get more popular every day. Unfortunately, fast food often takes the place of nutritious food in our diets. In this lesson, you'll learn about fast food, why it came to be, and some of the ways it affects our health.

Fast Food

What do smiling clowns, kings and queens, golden arches, and dominos have in common? They're symbols for fast food! One well-known landmark in Georgia is called 'The Big Chicken.' It not only helps people find their way around, it's also the sign for a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant.

The Big Chicken
Big Chicken

A big bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken can be a huge treat: it's fast, tasty, and doesn't cost a lot of money. This is what fast food is all about: cheap, ready-to-eat food that people enjoy eating.

I bet you can think of dozens of fast foods. Do you have any favorites? Donuts? French fries? Milk shakes? Chicken nuggets? Pizza? Ready-made salad? These are the foods we turn to when we're hungry but don't have time to prepare a meal. Unfortunately, they're not always the best choices for our health.

How did Fast Food get to be so Popular?

Most of us have some idea that too much fast food isn't good for us. So the big question is how did fast food get to be so popular?

Centuries ago, people lived in communities and didn't have cars. Food came from local farmers. Houses didn't have electricity and easy ways of storing and cooking food. Nothing was really fast. The closest thing to fast food in these times was street food - food customers could buy as they walked down the street. Street food is still popular today.

Street Food
street food

Over the past few centuries, cars, microwave ovens, freezers, and giant grocery stores have made it easy for us to eat without ever really cooking. We don't have to depend on local farms anymore because packaged foods can be shipped long distances.

This new way of eating inspired a lot of new food businesses. Packaged foods like potato chips and cookies, fast food restaurants with drive-thru windows, pizza to go, and hotdogs at gas stations are examples of the many ways we can get fast food.

A lot of people think of McDonald's when they think of fast food. McDonald's restaurants can be found all over the world, but McDonald's was not America's first fast food restaurant. The first one was actually White Castle, a place to get burgers and fries that opened in Kansas in the early 1900s. McDonald's didn't come along for another few decades. Now there are thousands of fast food restaurants in America and all over the world.

How does Fast Food affect our Health?

What makes food worthwhile to your body is the nutrition it provides. Nutrition is like fuel for your body. Things like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy products, and meat give our bodies the fuel they need.

Nutritious Foods
nutritious food

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