News flash: Fast food is bad for you. And no, you shouldn’t go suing the huge, monolithic corporations that run the fast food chains, no matter how complicit they may be in our country’s obesity. If you’re still dubious about the causal relationship, read Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation. No, we aren’t getting kickbacks from the publisher for mentioning it, but the book did serve as the inspiration for this issue of Dish. Much of the book focuses on the culture of fast food eating; it’s not a slap on the wrist for craving food that’s cooked quickly. Food that’s produced locally and made locally and not by a chain, will always be healthier and probably tastier, not to mention that it keeps our local economy steady. You can also take things a step further, toward eradicating fast food culture altogether–like the foodies that are anxious to get us to savor our food and appreciate the foods that are grown near us, to prevent their extinction by too many people flocking to the aforementioned chains. In this issue, we’ll focus on both extremes. Lissa Brennan discusses some fast food joints that are a refreshing alternative to Schlosser’s chains of doom. Sharon Kebschull Barrett shares her favorite recipes for cooking up those American guilty-pleasure staples–burgers, fries and pie–fast, and at home. Elizabeth Gibbs lays down the appetizing argument for the slow food movement, and Byron Woods describes the slowest food of them all: Brunswick stew.

Bon appetit!

—Laura Hatmaker