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Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal Paperback – July 5, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 383 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; First Edition edition (July 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060838582
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060838584
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,799 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #228,433 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

On any given day, one out of four Americans opts for a quick and cheap meal at a fast-food restaurant, without giving either its speed or its thriftiness a second thought. Fast food is so ubiquitous that it now seems as American, and harmless, as apple pie. But the industry's drive for consolidation, homogenization, and speed has radically transformed America's diet, landscape, economy, and workforce, often in insidiously destructive ways. Eric Schlosser, an award-winning journalist, opens his ambitious and ultimately devastating exposé with an introduction to the iconoclasts and high school dropouts, such as Harlan Sanders and the McDonald brothers, who first applied the principles of a factory assembly line to a commercial kitchen. Quickly, however, he moves behind the counter with the overworked and underpaid teenage workers, onto the factory farms where the potatoes and beef are grown, and into the slaughterhouses run by giant meatpacking corporations. Schlosser wants you to know why those French fries taste so good (with a visit to the world's largest flavor company) and "what really lurks between those sesame-seed buns." Eater beware: forget your concerns about cholesterol, there is--literally--feces in your meat.

Schlosser's investigation reaches its frightening peak in the meatpacking plants as he reveals the almost complete lack of federal oversight of a seemingly lawless industry. His searing portrayal of the industry is disturbingly similar to Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, written in 1906: nightmare working conditions, union busting, and unsanitary practices that introduce E. coli and other pathogens into restaurants, public schools, and homes. Almost as disturbing is his description of how the industry "both feeds and feeds off the young," insinuating itself into all aspects of children's lives, even the pages of their school books, while leaving them prone to obesity and disease. Fortunately, Schlosser offers some eminently practical remedies. "Eating in the United States should no longer be a form of high-risk behavior," he writes. Where to begin? Ask yourself, is the true cost of having it "your way" really worth it? --Lesley Reed --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Schlosser's incisive history of the development of American fast food indicts the industry for some shocking crimes against humanity, including systematically destroying the American diet and landscape, and undermining our values and our economy. The first part of the book details the postwar ascendance of fast food from Southern California, assessing the impact on people in the West in general. The second half looks at the product itself: where it is manufactured (in a handful of enormous factories), what goes into it (chemicals, feces) and who is responsible (monopolistic corporate executives). In harrowing detail, the book explains the process of beef slaughter and confirms almost every urban myth about what in fact "lurks between those sesame seed buns." Given the estimate that the typical American eats three hamburgers and four orders of french fries each week, and one in eight will work for McDonald's in the course of their lives, few are exempt from the insidious impact of fast food. Throughout, Schlosser fires these and a dozen other hair-raising statistical bullets into the heart of the matter. While cataloguing assorted evils with the tenacity and sharp eye of the best investigative journalist, he uncovers a cynical, dismissive attitude to food safety in the fast food industry and widespread circumvention of the government's efforts at regulation enacted after Upton Sinclair's similarly scathing novel exposed the meat-packing industry 100 years ago. By systematically dismantling the industry's various aspects, Schlosser establishes a seminal argument for true wrongs at the core of modern America. (Jan.) Forecast: This book will find a healthy, young audience; it's notable that the Rolling Stone article on which this book was based generated more reader mail than any other piece the magazine ran in the 1990s.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

ERIC SCHLOSSER is the author of The New York Times bestsellers Fast Food Nation and Reefer Madness. His work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and The Nation.

Customer Reviews

Be warned- you will never eat fast food again after reading this book.
William Coleman
Eric Schlosser's book Fast Food Nation describes "the dark side" behind America's fast food industry.
Chelsea T
This book was very informative, very well researched, and a very easy read.
CreepyT

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

321 of 352 people found the following review helpful By Jamie Bourgeois VINE VOICE on May 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
I read this book knowing I was not going to learn any new and cheery anecdotes about how Ronald McDonald got his start..... instead I read this to solidify the notion that fast food was not a healthy choice. And boy, did this book give you reasons it is not, and I'm not just talking nutritional value here.
I found this book fascinating for the detail was great, well researched, and given to the reader straight. It was an eye opening book. Who knew that due to the meat industry being run just by a few corporations, essentially we are eating the same meat from the same feedlots and slaughter houses whether we buy it at a fast food chain or the local supermarket, and perhaps even the nicer restaurants. I also found some of the content appalling. Cattle are fed cats, dogs, other cows, even old newspaper! If this doesn't outrage you enough, just wait to you get to how these same meat conglomerates treat the low paid, low skilled employees of the slaughterhouses.
This book is insightful and unbelievable, and will make you question how the fast food giants sleep at night.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By C. Brennan on March 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
Muckraker or hero? Schlosser has been called both by reviewers of this book. Personally, I think Schlosser has written a book that long-needed writing and confirms the truths we already knew but didn't want to admit: our comfort is killing us. This book isn't *just* about fast food and the perils of The Golden Starches: it is an indictment of our entire "gimme now, gimme cheap, gimme easy" culture. No one is exculpated: we are all in some fashion part and party of the McDonaldization of America.
Schlosser looks unblinkingly at the meat packing industry; the impact of the fast food industry on our environment, economy and social custom; our gradual and apparently inexorable return to the "Robber Baron" days. Much of what he writes is uncomfortable to read. I know I revisited just about every Big Mac I've ever eaten while reading this book. Having done so, I can tell you that I will never eat another Big Mac, Whopper, Biggie Fry, Chicken Bucket or Taco Grande again. Ever. Neither will my kid, until he can buy his own Super Size Bucket o' Crud with his own money and by his own choice. I hope he makes better choices than that.
As disturbing as the meat packing and food handling details are, the bit that resonates the most with me is the imperialist attitude of these corporate giants towards their workers. I was astonished to learn that these companies get tax breaks in the hundreds of millions of dollars under the aegis of "job training" when their goal is to have full automation in their kitchens. The only "job training" done in most of these places consists of knowing what button to push when a buzzer rings. Even basic literacy isn't a requirement for one of these jobs.
Fabricated food is supplanting whole food in our nation's diet.
Read more ›
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98 of 109 people found the following review helpful By Mixmaster Mago on January 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover
A fascinating, important book for everyone. Fast Food Nation doesn't take easy shots at the fast food and beef industry, it shows the whole story, shifting back and forth betweeen intimate details of real people (a meat packing plant worker, a franchise owner, several cattle ranchers), and the larger, global markets created by the fast food restaurants. The book achieves a kind of epic flow to it, full of interesting and infuriating information. Splendid reading.
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76 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. McKeon on April 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The excerpt from this book on food additives which appeared in "The Atlantic" was by itself an incentive to read this book. However, it is far more comprehensive and fascinating. I was "pleased" to find this a thorough, scholarly, and also quite interesting overview of the history and impact of fast food upon American society.
I found myself continually reminded of Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle", Ruth Ozeki's "My Year of Meats" and, more pleasantly, David Halberstam's "The Fifties". Schlosser provides a fascinating history of the fast food industry and food notes to relevant agricultural and related labor history and legislation. The irony of the later, however, is overpowering.
Clearly the issues of food safety are the most terrifying aspect of this book. I was left chilled by how particularly critical it is to protect my children from consuming fast food. However, one is left with an incredible sense of outrage, and impotence, about the recidivism of American corporate practices in terms of minimal fair labor practices and its lack of fundamental social conscience regarding consumer safety. It is too reminiscent of Sinclair's seminal work and ironically the impact of Schlosser will probably be the same -- to raise concern about food quality alone rather than the egregious exploitation of those in fast food production and service. It leaves you increasingly cynical about the corporate lack of business ethics, and failure of politicians to act as guardians of the common good.
This book will terrify, enrage, and depress you. It is not sensational; the validity of the basic facts is inescapable. The author has performed a great service to society -- regrettably, it seems unlikely to result in any call to action.
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