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Fast food, slow food

To encourage the children to consider alternatives to fast food as an expression of our responsibility towards the world that God has made.

by Helen Redfern

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To encourage the children to consider alternatives to fast food as an expression of our responsibility towards the world that God has made.

Preparation and materials


  1. What is the first word that comes into your head when I say ‘fast food’? For how many of you was it McDonald’s? Ask for a show of hands.

    McDonald’s has become the epitome of fast food in this country and I imagine that the majority of people in this room have been in a McDonald’s restaurant at some point in their life. Let’s see how much you know:

    (a) What percentage of beef is there in a McDonald’s hamburger – 50, 75 or 100 per cent?
    Answer: 100 per cent.

    (b) How many customers visit McDonald’s every day in the UK – 1 million, 2.5 million or 5 million?
    Answer: 2.5 million.

    (c) There are McDonald’s restaurants in how many countries worldwide – 119, 219 or 319?
    Answer: 119.

    (d) In what year did the first McDonald’s open in the UK – 1959, 1974 or 1985?
    Answer: 1974.

    McDonald’s is undoubtedly the most popular restaurant chain in the world. So why does fast food get such a bad press?
  2. The Slow Food movement began in 1986 when an Italian journalist visited Rome and saw a brand new branch of McDonald’s at the foot of the Spanish Steps. Carlo Petrini was horrified. To him, this symbolized a global takeover. The fast food revolution was gaining ground. Food all over the world was in danger of becoming highly processed and the same wherever you went.

    What would happen to the wide variety of good, traditional, regional Italian food? What would happen if we could no longer sample boeuf bourguignon in Paris, fish and chips in Grimsby, a vindaloo in Mumbai or moussaka in Athens? If all we could eat was the same fast food in every capital of the world?

    Carlo Petrini decided that it would be a good idea to set up a 'slow food' movement to counteract the potential for 'fast food' world domination. Since the 1980s, Slow Food has become an international organization of 80,000 members in 90 countries.
  3. You may by now be thinking, well, good for them. Each to their own. What does it matter what I eat?

    At the end of the biblical account of the creation of the world in Genesis chapter 1, God has these instructions for humankind: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’

    God gave us the world to enjoy – and what an amazing range of traditional dishes and regional specialities there are to discover and savour all over the world!

    But God also gave us the world to look after. Therefore we have a responsibility to be aware of the issues raised by the food on our plates – environmental implications, intensive farming, genetic modification, overuse of fertilizers, animal cruelty, exploitation of workers, obesity and globalization.
  4. So what can we do? You could perhaps allow the students to discuss this in pairs and see what they come up with.

    Here are five suggestions for you to think about:

    (a) Restrict eating fast food to once a week/special occasions.
    (b) Become more informed about what you eat and how it has been farmed and where it comes from.
    (c) Learn how to cook.
    (d) Visit a local market garden, do some fruit picking, grow some veg in your garden.
    (e) Try something new – develop your taste buds.

Time for reflection

In Genesis 1.31, at the end of the creation story, it says that ‘God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.’

Take time to reflect on all that is good in the world around us.

You may want to thank God for the birds that sing, the pets that light up your life, the food on your table.

But too often, we are enslaved by speed.

A fast life leads us to eat fast food.

Our food choices affect the rest of the world.

Slow down.

Take time to reflect.

Consider slow food.

You may want to tell God of one way you will try to change the way you eat this week.

‘God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.’

Let’s do what we can to keep it that way.


‘For the beauty of the earth’ (Pierpoint)

‘For the fruits of his creation’ (Pratt Green)

‘God in his love for us lent us this planet’ (Pratt Green)

Publication date: July 2008   (Vol.10 No.7)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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