Will Banning Fast Food Joints Make Detroit Skinnier?

Amy Kuras

A committee of doctors has asked Detroit Mayor Dave Bing to impose a moratorium on new fast food joints in the city ... in its 138 square miles, Detroit has 73 fast-food outlets.

And as a lifelong Detroiter, I say, "Good luck with that."

For one thing, those 73 fast food outlets sound like a lot, until you learn that you can fit the land mass of San Francisco, Manhattan, and Boston within Detroit's borders with room to spare, and I'd be shocked if they didn't have nearly as many.

Obesity is a huge (no pun intended) problem here ... I am always surprised when I travel and realize that in other cities most people do sport only the one chin, and we have the fourth-highest rate of heart disease in the country. That being said, we have more pressing problems.

I'd suggest Bing tell the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine that sure, we'll get right on that ... as soon as we get functional unemployment down below 50 percent, or get the school district to the point that kids who graduate high school are able to read and write, or deal with crime. Then, maybe, we'll concern ourselves with whether people are scarfing down too many Big Macs.

And quite frankly, Detroiters are not generally interested in healthier choices. I once got my kids Happy Meals from the McDonald's down the street as a treat and asked for the apple slices. First the girl didn't understand what I wanted, and when I got them home and went to put them on a plate for my daughter, they were so old and slimy they were inedible ... not a lot of turnover of that product, clearly.

We have a great farmers' market here just on the edge of downtown, and a thriving, if small, sustainable/locavore food culture. But we also have such a depressed economy that a fast food operator that showed up here with green money in hand would not be turned away. I'm fine with banning any new fast food places, but if the PCRM thinks that they'll be replaced with yoga studios and vegan cafes ... well, they must have never even been to Detroit.


Image via paul (dex)/Flickr

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