In America, the term “fast food” comes with a certain set of associations that usually involve bright colors, the smell of French fries, grayish burger patties, and frightening clowns.
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It’s time to put those images aside, because a new age of fast food is dawning. After decades of growth and consolidation, the food system is finally growing smaller — in good ways. Companies are shying away from large food processors and commercial kitchens and are relying more on cooking food by hand. The new fast food chains are being defined by not only their commitments to shareholders and investors but also to their employees, customers, suppliers, and the environment.
By reinventing what fast food can be, these restaurants have upped the standards for everyone. McDonald’s, Burger King, and Chipotle are scrambling to match commitment to quality and care that these healthy fast food chains were founded upon. Most importantly though the emergence of healthy fast food shows a major shift in the American diet. The trendiest new chain aren’t attracting diners with monstrous burgers or cheese-drenched pizza, they are doing it with skillfully seasoned salads, exciting grains, and clever interpretations of meatless proteins.