Cover of Supersizing Urban America

An Unfortunate Confluence of Motives: Fast Food as Economic Development

Parke Troutman


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The food movement keeps returning to a hand­ful of themes: the industrialization of food, the promise and challenges of local food, the shenanigans of large corporate players and the like. Rare is a work like Chin Jou’s Supersizing Urban America, which explores a facet of food—one that has serious health consequences—in a potentially new and intriguing way by linking local food environments to a relatively obscure federal program.

The majority of the book is a history of how fast food franchises came to dominate the urban landscape. Jou claims that as late as the 1960s, African Americans were eating better than whites (a claim with so many implications that it deserves a book in its own right). By the early 1970s, the Nixon Administration was looking for explic­itly capitalist—that is, decidedly noncommunist—strategies to revitalize urban neighborhoods torn apart by the violence of the ’60s. It focused on promoting black entrepreneurship.


Fast Food; Food Policy; Nixon Administration; Obesity; Community Health

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