- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Allen Lane; 1st UK Paperback Edition edition (26 April 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0713996021
- ISBN-13: 978-0713996029
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.7 x 23.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (127 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,028,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- See Complete Table of Contents
Fast Food Nation: What the All-American Meal is Doing to the World Paperback – 26 Apr 2001
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More About the Author
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
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. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is just great. I often come back to read it again and again.
It's a real eye-opener as to the state of our food industry, both terrifying and fascinating in the same... Read more
Alarming and thought provoking - even though this was written in 2002 I don't think the situation will have improved much. Read morePublished 1 month ago by T. I. Vevers
An informative read for everyone. I read this several years ago and bought this for a colleague. I now only eat at certain establishments.Published 2 months ago by Jacqui999
this is my second copy; have lent out the last one to someone and forgotten who! A very interesting book, and still relevant if a little dated. Also relevant the the UK really.Published 2 months ago by Mrs AJ Comber
Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser, is full of facts and statistics, and he writes about the ways in which the fast food industry has changed, going from high paid workers and... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Lucie