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Fast Food Nation: What The All-American Meal is Doing to the World Paperback – 4 Apr 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (4 April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141006870
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141006871
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Amazon Review

Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser's disturbing and timely exploration of one of the world's most controversial industries, has become a massive bestseller in America and rightly deserves to be so this side of the pond. 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 cheapness a second thought. Fast food is so ubiquitous that it now seems harmless. But the industry's drive for consolidation, homogenisation and speediness has radically transformed the West'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. However, he rapidly moves behind the counter to 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 flavour company) and "what really lurks between those sesame-seed buns". Eater beware: forget your concerns about cholesterol, there is--literally--faeces in your meat.

Schlosser's investigation reaches its frightening peak in the meatpacking plants as he reveals the almost complete lack of regulation. 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 introduced E.coli and other pathogens into restaurants, 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 behaviour", 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.

About the Author

Eric Schlosser is a correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly. He has received a number of journalistic honours, including a National Magazine Award for an Atlantic Review article, Reefer Madness. This is his first book.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By C. Charamis on 13 May 2002
Format: Paperback
I thought this was going to be another one of those foam-in-the-mouth anti-business exposes that aim for a quick impression and then leave you with a bunch of unanswered questions. How wrong..
This is an extremely well written and researched book; fluid investigative journalism is combined with facts and statistics that are impressivelly backed-up by 60 pages of notes and bibliography.
Far from being one-sided and polemic, the writer's style is even-handed and sober, if sometimes caustic. He comes across as genuinely concerned with improving the food industry, rather than gaining a reputation for himself.
Mr. Schlosser's findings are nothing less than astonishing (read the book and see what I mean); his calm, collected manner makes them all the more believable and disturbing.
This is a MUST READ book.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Kendall on 21 Feb. 2003
Format: Paperback
The food chain is not what it used to be. More and more centralized and autonomous conglomerates have supplanted local food production and butcher shops. Well paid workers, ranchers and farmers have been replaced by mega-harvesters and food processors and by minimum wage, unskilled workers.
Most of us are at least dimly aware of these changes, but Eric Schlosser provides the sordid, often gruesome, details.
In this carefully researched and informative jeremiad, Schlosser leads us directly to the villain's doorsteps. His targets are sometimes highly visible (ubiquitous fast food chains, especially) but often off the radar screen, (manufacturers of chemical taste substitutes, french fry suppliers, congressmen and lobbyists).
The main thrust of his argument is that the less localized the source of our food, the greater the risk of harmful exposure to e-coli, salmonella and other bacterial pathogens. Bacterial outbreaks are not often discovered until they have become widespread. Most damning of all, the companies that are responsible for the outbreaks often drag their heels in releasing information and are under no legal compunction to do so. Government agencies such as the FDA, the FTC and OSHA are hindered by, and in some cases controlled by, the industries they are supposed to monitor.
Schlosser's battle plan calls for public pressure upon our government to effect changes in labor practices, safety standards (both in terms of worker safety and sanitary standards), and quality of workplace. The food industry, left to its own devices, has shown no historical willingness to make improvements on its own. The food industry's proposed solution to bacterial contamination is irradiation.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 16 July 2002
Format: Paperback
Whilst reading this book you may not think there are any obvious facts or statistics, but they are there if you read carefully enough. The author does tend to ramble on a little too much on certain topics, but the points are made without always being too direct. The author covers so many subjects ( that untimately affect the fast food industry) that it is sometimes difficult to pinpoint the arguament he is making.
It is difficult to predict the direction of the book sometimes, but in retrospect it is easier to appreciate.
Overall, the author tries to give a historical overview of the way fast food has evolved, and ultimately where it may end up. From the first hamburger restaurants in California, to the globalisation of fast food companies, he touches on the production of meat, exploitation of young, untrained, and underpaid staff. He also makes an interesting point on targetting advertising at young children, and the introduction of sponsership of schools by fast food companies.
What I did find refreshing is the explanation of the alternative options available to produce fast food, what governments can do to counter-act some of the issues, and how it's consumers have so much power over these companies.
One point that stuck with me was this - Heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, and breast cancer, are the principal "diseases of affluence", and that we are what we eat.
If you want to read a book full of trivia, statitistics and bites of information to impress your friends whilst sitting in a fast food restaurant - this book is not for you. If you want to know how the fast food industry makes a profit - FROM EVERY ANGLE - then read it. A final point - the book is written by a North American author, and many of the facts are based around activity in the USA.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Rudy on 18 Sept. 2001
Format: Paperback
One of the most thought provoking books you'll ever read; and far more gritty than "No Logo". Eric Schlosser has written a book drawn from extensive research on the history of the U.S. fast food industry including a decent amount of his own investigation and interviews. What he does is expose what goes on behind the scenes which has just as much implication to European residents as it does to our US counterparts.
To just scratch the surface is to talk about the fact that there's more beef fat in a certain purveyor's chicken nugget than you'll find in their burgers. In fact, there's more saturated fat in their fries than in their burgers too. If you want to avoid fat then have a milkshake - less fat than you think but easily containing 20 man-made chemicals.... and do you mind if the strawberry flavour is manufactured 3000 miles away in a New Jersey chemical company in the room next door to where they're manufacturing the taste of the burgers? Schlosser goes beyond just this and illustrates how the fast food global industries are destroying small farming traditions, encourgaing abysmal pay and benefits for their employees plus poor working conditions that can and do lead to diseased meat (and even worse) getting into our food chain. He also examines how their marketing is becoming more and more ruthless, even invading schoolyards in the US (how soon for us?) - What is the most recognisable advert to US children under 10 years old? Budweiser. Sheer Genius or Criminal?
I've only touched the surface of what the book covers, check it out - espescially if you eat in any fast food restaurant - you're deceiving yourself if you think you know what you're putting in your mouth. And if you're wondering - I'm not a vegetarian! I am a confirmed meat eater and an ex-fast food eater.
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