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Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal Paperback – January 8, 2002
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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
Another point that I Schlosser touched on was the quality of food that is being served in the fast food restaurants. Majority of the meat served in fast food restaurants come form slaughterhouses around the nation. Some of the slaughterhouses provide meat nationwide. When slaughterhouses only income is from fast food chains, they are more willing to mass produce meats and process them to increase their profits. The fast food giants want the biggest profit possible, therefore, the cheaper the supplies, the greater the income. This is another example of how fast food giants are taking advantage of people with no other option for work.
Throughout this book, Schlosser does not bash the businessmen behind the fast food nation. Instead, he paints a clear picture as to why fast food has become such a power house today. It is offering jobs for those who have nowhere else to go, it is cheap and affordable, quick service, and there are large profits that come with mass processed food. Unlike other books or articles that point at fast food as the number one cause for obesity, Schlosser goes behind the scenes and explains why fast food is such a growing industry. He also points out the target market for these restaurants being the youth. There are so many people to blame for this epidemic and Schlosser did a fantastic job dissecting each level of the industry to make us better understand why it has become so popular and why it will keep growing.
I won't quote any of the extraordinary facts from the book. Please read it for yourself. In the first part of the book, you'll get to know the history of the fast food industry as well as the commercialization of the United States in general. Then, you'll find out how the food you most often eat is made, processed, and grown. The book should anger and frustrate you and compel you to write to your local and state congressional members.
One complaint I have about the book concerns its distractedness. In extended efforts to tie seemingly unrelated ideas--for example, the complex relationship between General Motors, fast food, California, and the interstate and highway systems--Schlosser sometimes leaves his ideas for far too long and returns to them out of breath and laboring to rally the point.
All in all, there's no reason why I should not recommend this book. It's the truth about Happy Meals and most of the food that people in this country consume.
I didn't really zip through it and the writing style didn't charm me so my recommendation is about the information - if you know all about meat processing in America and already are turned off and wary, then you do not need to spend money on this book.
I recommend this book because everyone needs to know but I thought this book would have been better with more details. The best thing I got out of this book was the Lasater Grassfed Beef recommendation.