If you have eaten fast food today, you are not alone: by this evening, a third of American adults will have, too. Whether you have it regularly, avoid it like mad cow disease, or are somewhere in between, there’s no denying that fast-food chains, um, have issues.
Fast-food industry workers are among the lowest-paid members of the labor force, netting just over $20,000 per year on average. Hart Research Associates found that 40 percent of women face sexual harassment in the fast-food workplace (in the fields — which fast-food chains along with the rest of us rely upon — it’s twice that).
The fast-food sector is a $570 billion worst-of-the-worst supply chain. The unfathomable volume of food companies sell in a given day across the world means that they only work with multinational suppliers that source the cheapest ingredients made at the largest scale in the entire world, such as Cargill, JBS, Kraft Heinz, and Smithfield Foods (a part of the Chinese-owned WH Group) — and, of course, Coke and Pepsi.
It may be more “efficient” to have as few suppliers as possible, but the demands of volume, timeliness, and price translate to such a devastating waste of resources that to call it “efficient” — whose definition includes waste-minimizing — is a joke: Fast food drives modern-day slavery, massive water use and contamination, deforestation, biodiversity loss, antibiotic resistance, and animal cruelty on a scale and consistency unrivaled in global history. It’s so bad that recently, investors worth almost $7 billion grew so guilty profiting from this planetary destruction that they publicly let themselves off the hook by calling for action. (We haven’t seen much.)
All this without mentioning what fast food does to our bodies. Poor communities and some communities of color, in particular, have weak purchasing power and limited access to alternatives and, as a result, they bear the brunt of diet-related health problems.
With this in mind, Heated brings you a not-super-quantitative but fact-based ranking of five chains that especially suck: Burger King, McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, Subway, and Wendy’s.