- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (March 13, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0547750331
- ISBN-13: 978-0547750330
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,969 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,771 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal Paperback – March 13, 2012
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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 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.
Top customer reviews
For those of us interested in the history of Fast Food, this is quite an extra ordinary look into the matter. Its well-researched, presented in a fairly lucid manner with dollops of mirth popping up every now & then. If the book was just this much, I'd have given it 5 stars. In fact, if that is all you take away from the book, which I think you should, you'll stand to be benefit from reading this book.
However, the spilling over of, or at least that's how I perceived it, Schlosser's politics makes this book slightly more than an historic & academic look at the matter. In choosing his facts & his politics, it appears to me that Schlosser is presenting a rather gruesome picture of the republican party - in a limited way - but also that of the entire construct of capitalism. I do not necessarily agree or disagree with him, my point is that in building his tacit case against crass commercialism, he judges without necessarily representing equally both the good & bad. And so, the strong implicit message of sustainability & equity (& the political associations of that theme) tout a certain value system & a certain political thinking.
I personally would have preferred the history without the politicizing. I repeat, though, that discounting that bit this was a fundamentally strong & very enjoyable read on the topic.
Fast Food Nation makes a great effort to identify many of the cultural, personal, and political issues in play within the fast food industry, though it does little to incite change. If the book presented concrete solutions, I do not recall many of them, it works better as a highlight reel of atrocity rather than a meditation on possible improvements. I read the book in 2012, 11 years after Fast Food Nation was originally published but I have failed to see any of the changes highlighted in the book taking hold. Democracy still appears to be smothered by special interests and lobbying, and despite other media emphasizing the horrifying state of our food industry we seem stuck in that same feedback loop.
Ultimately Fast Food Nation will open your eyes to many of the issues in the fast food industry, though perhaps the greatest lesson is how much more it will take to actually incite change.
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.