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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 Harper Perennial Edition edition (July 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060838582
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060838584
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.2 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,730 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,976 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.

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Customer Reviews

If you ever eat in fast food restaurants, you should read this book.
Donald Mitchell
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

616 of 665 people found the following review helpful By J. Ryan Stradal on January 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book the moment I saw it mostly because I've always known that fast food is "bad for you" - but I've been both afraid to know why and curious at the same time. After all, I've been hearing the other side of the argument my whole life. I've been pummeled by fast food ads - and eaten plenty of fast food - for a ridiculously long time. Why do I want to stay ignorant about it?
In his introduction to "Fast Food Nation", Schlosser says that he's interested in fast food "both as commodity and metaphor", and indeed, this well-written tome is as much an examination on the titular product as an able primer on the encroachment of large corporations into the lives of working Americans.
Those of you expecting an update on John Robbins' "Diet For A New America" will be disappointed. Schlosser has not crafted a scientific slam against fast food joints, but rather a thorough examination of their motives and histories, with a strong emphasis on the people - from both sides of the coin. The time he devotes to the personal stories of those whose lives have been forever changed by fast food - from the rags-to-riches tale of Carl Karcher to the tragic story of a big-hearted rancher named Hank - are largely what keeps "Fast Food Nation" both emotionally provoking and tangible throughout.
If this book were merely a saber-toothed diatribe against fast food corporations, it couldn't allow itself such concessions and would probably come across as socialist tubthumping to all but the converted. Instead, lengthy establishing essays on the history, ideologies, and present state of the communities and corporations discussed are a welcome introduction (and counterpoint to) the individual stories of struggle, greed, and survival.
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319 of 349 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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76 of 83 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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97 of 108 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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