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Fast Food Nation: What The All-American Meal is Doing to the World [Paperback]

Eric Schlosser
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 April 2002

Now the subject of a film by Richard Linklater, Eric Schlosser's explosive bestseller Fast Food Nation: What the All-American Meal is Doing to the World tells the story of our love affair with fast food.

Britain eats more fast food than any other country in Europe. It looks good, tastes good, and it's cheap. But the real cost never appears on the menu.

Eric Schlosser visits the lab that re-creates the smell of strawberries; examines the safety records of abattoirs; reveals why the fries really taste so good and what lurks between the sesame buns - and shows how fast food is transforming not only our diets but our world.

'Fast Food Nation has lifted the polystyrene lid on the global fast food industry ... and sparked a storm'
  Observer

'Has wiped that smirk off the Happy Meal ... Thanks to this man, you'll never eat a burger again'
  Evening Standard

'Startling ... Junk food, we learn, is just that ... left this reader vowing never to set foot in one of those outlets again'
  Daily Mail

'This book tells you more than you really want to know when you're chomping on that hamburger ... Have a nice day? Listen - you should live so long'
  The Times

Eric Schlosser is a correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly. His first book, Fast Food Nation, was a major international bestseller. His work has appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Rolling Stone and the Guardian. He has received a number of journalistic honours, including a National Magazine Award for an Atlantic Review article on the drug trade, which was later adapted into the book Reefer Madness.


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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: 1.7 x 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 23,056 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing. 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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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll never eat a burger again. 18 Sep 2001
By Rudy
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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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Well Researched Jeremiad 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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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Written with clarity and style 26 Jan 2003
Format:Paperback
In "Fast Food Nation", Eric Schlosser has written an astonishing account of the fast food industry that should stun and provoke all who read it. The book demonstrates the insidious power of corporate wealth, the often exploited beef factory workers and examines the effect of the fast food industry on the world as a whole.
The book begins with the origins of the fast food industry and how the ideals of a few independent businessmen (Schlosser dwells on Carl N. Karcher, founder of Carl's Jr, and Richard and Maurice MacDonald, founders of MacDonald's) sowed the seeds of a cultural phenomenon.
The chapter "Your Trusted Friends" looks at the way fast food restaurants started the trend for big companies marketing to children.
"Behind the Counter" looks at life for workers in the fast food restaurants. Whilst Schlosser makes no effort to delve into the minds of the workers, his outside assessment of the facts of the industry (the lack of unionisation of the teenaged and/or immigrant workers, the unskilled nature of the job, the high turnover, and robberies perpetuated by former or current employees) is well-researched and accurate.
"Success" examines the way the fast food industry has expanded over the years, and "Why The Fries Taste Good" is an interesting look at the flavour industry and its involvement in the creation of fast food products.
But little doubt the most damning chapters in the book are "On the Range", which looks at the deteriorating state of life for cattle farmers and ranchers thanks to fast food; "Cogs in the Great Wheel"; which explores the meatpacking industry's detrimental effects on its surroundings; and "The Most Dangerous Job", which looks at life for the exploited immigrant workers in the meat slaughterhouses.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Foodie review.
Factual analysis of a tough industry is depressing as is the way that the food industry goes all out for profit at the cost of employees and consumers health. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Kevin Clarke
5.0 out of 5 stars Be warned
This book will put you off fast food for the rest of your life! But it a very good examination of the problems with the fast food industry and points a clear way to resolving it.
Published 3 months ago by Ms. D. Barrett
4.0 out of 5 stars EYE OPENER
I bought this book on Amazon way back in 2002 when it first came out.

Eric Schlosser's book on the "fast food" business is a shocker. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Jet Lagged
5.0 out of 5 stars The book was good
Book arrived in good time,and in good condition.
A book full of information to help you understand what you are consuming in these unhealthy foods
Published 14 months ago by yasmeenrose
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast food nations indeed!
All fairly scary stuff really.
Read it then do your own research. I personally found that the contents of this book is true which obviously then puts the emphasis on us to do... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Sa
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast food nation
Very interesting book , bought used but was in good condition! Would recommend to anyone who eats fast food or is interested in the industry
Published 18 months ago by Evie
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast Food - Not What It Seems?
This book is a detailed investigation into the fast food industry in the USA. The author includes a lot of background research to back up his arguments. Read more
Published on 11 Jun 2012 by P. Milligan
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read, especially for activists/advocates
This book is essential reading if you are involved in any kind of advocacy fight.

Almost all our advocacy fights come down to money; our interests vs. Read more
Published on 28 Jan 2012 by Jodi-Hummingbird
4.0 out of 5 stars McWorld
People are naturally inclined to go after tasty, cheap, and easy-to-obtain food. Fast food pushes all the right buttons, so it is not difficult to understand people's addiction to... Read more
Published on 28 Sep 2011 by Hux
5.0 out of 5 stars Get your copy and get informed
This is a book that everyone should read, not just the pure-food-pious, pale-faced and irritating vegetarians like myself, but all you normal, meat-eating people that can currently... Read more
Published on 13 Sep 2011 by Ophelia's Robin
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