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Customer Review

on April 17, 2001
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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