Friday, 6 September 2013

Minimum Wage,Fast Food and Finding Something Good to Eat

The New York Times reports this morning on the growing protest among workers at fast food outlets (restaurants is hardly the proper description, I think) for a minimum wage of $15 in the US.  Seems that on Thursday there were walkouts at about 1000 outlets in 50 cities.

They've been supported by the Service Employees International Union since they began a month ago, a fact which "should reinforce the labor movement as something new and relevant to the young workers of today,” the NYT quoted Jeff Rosenfeld, professor of sociology  and labour  at the University of Washington. Its story continues: "pointing to the use of the Internet to spread the strike call, he added, 'The combination of old and new organizing strategies really seems to have paid off here.'”

That's really interesting, and perhaps a harbinger of a sea change in public opinion.  I'd like to think so.

But it also may have an impact on perceptions of the role of fast food in North American culture.  The French call it "la malbouffe," literally "eating badly."    We certainly found that on our little trip in August.  Most of the time we picnicked or ate with friends and twice we really dined at nice restaurants ( Anthony's in Bellingham WA and Offshore Seafood  Restaurant in the BC village are both recommended. )But a few times we were forced to look for a quick meal.

A Pizza Hut in a largish Nanaimo striip mall was expensive and really bad.  That started me thinking about the best small restos around here.  None of them are in high rent premises, and most are ethnic, frequently run by relatively recent immigrants following a dream.  Among them is Kim Bob Cafe in Dorval: it has a breakfast menu that caters to workers at the nearby Trudeau International Airport, and Korean lunches that are really good.  That suggested that a non-franchise resto in an ordinary strip mall mght mean better food.

I asked my foodie niece what she thought of the idea, and she answered that the best food they'd had on a recent trip to Hawaii was in strip mall Indian place.  So we tried the Mongolian Grill in Mukilteo, WA.  Very good, and not a franchise (although apparently it may have started out as one.)  Run by a Chinese family with help from a Latino couple, I hope they're making enough for a living wage. 

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