Junk food and me
During the first days of my stay in AIU, some of my country-mates suggested that we should go out for shopping and also explore the city. After we spent 3 hours hanging around the big supermarkets in Alor Setar, we got hungry and decided to have a fast food near the bus station before we come back to campus. There was this giant supermarket called City Plaza where they serve almost everything that customers need such as food, cloth, electronics, and so on. We went to the food-serving place and took some rest. One of our senior country mates volunteered to order the food for us since we were new. After few minutes, he came back with big piece of bread sandwiched with layers of meat and vegetables. This was the famous McDonalds which I heard about many times. This junk food is franchise multinational company that serves its product almost all over the world. The government of Malaysia gave this company the permission to serve this food for its citizens. In addition to that, the media such as the internet and the local and international televisions advertise this food in everywhere which made it very popular. The people who were eating this food and the staff who were serving the people were Malaysians, except few international people including us.
Unfortunately, am pretty sure that many of these customers order the McDonalds, not because of its contents, but because of its popularity. The reason I am saying is that the McDonalds food is not healthy from the first place. Secondly, there are cheaper local foods with better quality. The international people can have a justification because they are not adjusted with the local food. Apart from the franchisee, the government, and the local staff, it is apparent that the Franchiser is a villain who is profiting an incredible amount of money from the pockets of these victims, customers. The media also gains its profit from the advertisement of this ‘globalized’ product which spread the concept of McDonaldization around the world.
Honestly speaking, that day was the first that I happened to eat McDonald. In my home country, Somaliland, we have different fast foods including McDonalds. However, very few people eat those fast foods because the local foods, goat and camel meat, are very delicious than those junk foods without exaggeration. In addition to that, the local foods are cheaper, healthier, and better in quality and quantity compared to the fast food. Although I consumed different fast foods, I never ate McDonalds when I was in my country because I was told about the problems that are associated with its addiction. Nevertheless, the circumstances forced me to eat it in Malaysia due to my unfamiliarity with the local food. Fortunately, now if I am to choose between the McDonald and the local food I would choose the local food because my body and digestive system adapted with it.
The circumstances that can result from this consumerism concept can be devastating economically, politically, culturally, environmentally, and ethically. Firstly, the continuing existence of the McDonalds in Malaysia discourages the domestic and traditional foods. As a result, only the rich people who can contract with the McDonalds will have better life while the middle and low class citizens will be disadvantaged. In addition to that, it is sort of mental slavery that a country and its people encouraging the domination of a product that belongs to another society while leaving behind their traditional food that they were using when they could not afford McDonalds.
Although it is too late to tackle the existence of this business in this country since many people are dependent on it, I believe the government should encourage and support the national foods and put pressure on the foods that are coming from outside in many ways such raising the tax for all the franchise foods. Moreover, the further improvement of the quality of local foods and its cheap price will attract the citizens. Lastly and more importantly, making the people of Malaysia aware of the disadvantages of these franchise companies to individuals and the community at large and using the media to promote the national food will help both the government and its citizens. As a result, the health risks of this junk food will be minimized; the income will circulate between the government and its people, and the people in turn will be proud of and promote their local foods.