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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing.
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...
Published on 13 May 2002 by C. Charamis

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I agree (in general) with the reader from Denmark
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...
Published on 16 July 2002 by Amazon Customer


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing., 13 May 2002
By 
C. Charamis (Greece) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Fast Food Nation: What The All-American Meal is Doing to the World (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
4.0 out of 5 stars A Well Researched Jeremiad, 21 Feb 2003
By 
Bruce Kendall "BEK" (Southern Pines, NC) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Fast Food Nation: What The All-American Meal is Doing to the World (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. Addressing the source of the problem (assembly lines in meat packing houses move too quickly to be accurately monitored and lead to worker accidents) would cut into the bottom line profits of the corporations.
Schlosser proceeds in his inquisition in a measured manner for the most part. The one exception might be when he takes us into the depths of a slaughterhouse "somewhere in the high plains." I can appreciate that the scene he witnessed and which he describes is genuinely horrific, but his tone shifts from reportorial/objective to horror novelist/sensational. Though it is not a major mark against his credibility, I did take the book down one star for that chapter.
I do hope that the book performs its purpose and that Schlosser's clarion call will be heeded by the powers that be in government. Of course, that will happen only if his readers tell their friends and at least organize some e-mail campaigns to let their government representatives know that they are concerned about the quality and safety of what they and their children put in their stomachs.
BEK
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll never eat a burger again., 18 Sep 2001
By 
Rudy (his bedroom) - See all my reviews
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to put down..., 3 May 2005
This book should make concerned readers not only in America but across the world. The style of writing by Schlosser does not go out to shock but the sheer enormity of the subject matter makes truly shocking. The chapters are well thought out and give an informed view and interesting spin with each sub-chapter. I gained a real sense of the pioneer spirit that has been seen as 'The American Way' throughout the book that has become 'bastardised' into corporate, feudal power.
I have not eaten in a fast food restaurant since reading this book and never intend to return to one. I am truly feel sorry for the people of Amercia as this book is more a damning insight into the corrupt practices of their successive governments motivated by personal greed and power rather than caring for the American people. The paperback I have read gives some extra chapters that give some balance to the sometimes 'anti-republican' feel of the book. Schlosser does not single out any one fast food chain as part of his objective balance within the book too.
I hope that a simliar in-depth look into the practices of the British government will shed any condemenbale practices they may be using...
Bravo, Eric Schlosser...excellent reading that is truly McHorrifying.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I want a triple cheeseburger + fries with a pizza chaser, 17 Feb 2006
By 
Joseph Haschka (Glendale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
FAST FOOD NATION is one of those true life tales that's as hard to put down as an edge-of-your-seat thriller. It's Eric Schlosser's detailed and eminently readable portrait of the American fast food industry: its founders (most notably Ray Kroc and Carl Karcher), its Southern California evolution, marketing strategy (especially as it targets kids), corporate alliances (e.g. McDonald's with Disney Corporation), hiring and employment practices, franchising structure, food product design, flavor and color additives, food growers and processors, meat packers, food contamination, job-related injuries, union relations, regulatory agencies, and overseas operations. Everything you're drooling to know - and then some. It sounds dry, but isn't.
Did you know that Ray Kroc was so fastidious that he cleaned the holes in his mop wringer with a toothbrush? That the "smell" of strawberry results from the interaction of at least 350 different chemicals? That perfectly sliced french fries are formed by shooting the skinned spud from a high pressure water hose at 117 feet per second through a grid of blades? That none of the workers in McDonald's roughly 15,000 North American stores is represented by a union? Or that every day in the U.S. roughly 200,000 people are sickened by a foodborne disease, of which 900 are hospitalized and 14 die?
The dominant tone of Schlosser's narrative ranges from neutral to strongly censuring. By my count, only thrice did he write something clearly positive about a fast food giant: the good wages paid by the In 'n' Out chain, the improvements in beef procurement by Jack In the Box following a 1993 outbreak of E. coli contamination at several of its outlets, and the current effort by McDonald's to clean up its meat suppliers' acts following some very bad lawsuit-generated PR. (Of course, the cynic will say it's only self-serving damage control.) So, either the industry is truly in need of reform, or the author is a closet anti-Big Business activist. You must decide for yourself. In any case, FAST FOOD NATION didn't turn me against fast food. Why, right now I'm endeavoring to keep the "secret sauce" from dripping onto my keyboard, and I can hardly see the screen for the smears of fried chicken grease.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I agree (in general) with the reader from Denmark, 16 July 2002
This review is from: Fast Food Nation: What The All-American Meal is Doing to the World (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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And you thought McDonalds was bad for you!, 25 Jun 2004
By 
Aj Viljoen (Kuwait) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Fast Food Nation: What The All-American Meal is Doing to the World (Paperback)
You might think you know what this guy has to say, but rest assured that this book as full of surprises! It is also very interesting in a way that makes you read deep into the night.
The book doesn't only cover what fast food is doing to our health and families, but also at how it is changing industries across the world. It contains a shocking section on how minorities are being exploited, especially in the US meat industry.
It becomes more and more obvious how much research must have gone into the book, and it is refreshing, and maybe a little ironic, to see a product into which a lot of care and time was invested, especially in this fast-everything culture.
I recommend this book wholeheartedly, because it is interesting, well-researched, well-written, relevant and good value for money.
You'll never look at McDonalds the same way!
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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
By 
Alain English (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fast Food Nation: What The All-American Meal is Doing to the World (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. In these chapters, Schlosser uses anecdotal examples to illustrate his points with devasting effect.
The most hyped chapter of the book is "What's In The Meat". Schlosser shows us how hamburgers are afflicted with e-coli, a fact topped off by the book's most famous revelation: "there is s**t in the meat." Only people with the strongest of stomachs will want to eat a hamburger again after reading this.
If there is any flaws with the book, it is that it focusses almost exclusively (the chapter on "Global Realization" excepted)with America. It would be interesting to know more about how fast food is regulated and controlled here in Britain, for example.
Although Schlosser mentions all the major fast food chains, he dwells on great detail on MacDonald's. This slightly biases the book. More detail about the other fast food chains would have helped balance this out and give a more rounded view of the fast food industry.
Minor quibbles aside, this book is excellent. Schlosser has thoroughly researched his subject, being quite courageous at times in his pursuit and unveiling of the truth. The three chapters on the meatpacking industry are easily the most interesting.
Schlosser's style is passionate, enthusiastic and really vivid. Like the best academic writers who deal with complex subjects, he is able to make his vast array facts accessible to his readers. He is at his best though, when he is writing in a purely anecdotal style. The stories of individuals affected, positively or negatively, by the fast food are honest, and sentimental without being too mawkish.
All in all a great book, highly reccommended.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and eye-opening, 27 April 2006
By 
T. CORBALLIS "Toby Corballis" (London, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Fast Food Nation: What The All-American Meal is Doing to the World (Paperback)
Ever wondered what's actually in the fast food you eat? There's more to the ingredients of your favourite hamburger than simply beef, cheese, and bread. In this book, Schlosser takes a walk through the history and production of the food, from farming techniques and a vivid explanation of the mechanics of the slaughterhouse, to how french fries are made. Everything, it seems, is formulated - including the marketing of the product to children.

The way the book is written is clear and accessible. Schlosser keeps the reader gripped with real-world acounts of how the industry hooks in it's customers. Each section is fascinating in its own right - I was particularly taken by the section on how the flavours are created. But then I could genuinely say that about all of the sections.

My personal opinion is that this book should be on the circulumn for all students so that they get an to understanding of the real world and, in particular, how they're being conned by multi-national corporates. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with multi-nationals; it's nice that Schlosser also finds time to talk about companies that take an ethical stance and still make profit.

This is more than the story of fast food. It is an exposee of dirty tricks, unethical practices, and disregard for human life on a scale that is hard to fathom.

Reading this book may only change your eating habits. Then again, it may also stimulate a hunger for more knowledge about the world of commerce and the impacts on the ordinary person. And that can only be a good thing.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Hidden Costs of Mass Consumption of Fast Food, 26 July 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Fast Food Nation (Hardcover)
If you ever eat in fast food restaurants, you should read this book. It will fill your mind with issues that probably had not occurred to you before.
The fast food industry today is the service equivalent of the harshest environments of industrial America. The industry's size creates behemoths among its suppliers who can be even more aggressive in cost-cutting than are the employers of your neighboring teenagers. This book recounts the many dangers and hidden costs this industry imposes on everyone in our society, and suggests some ways to improve. The best defense, however, is a discerning consumer. Read this book to help become one.
Mr. Schlosser begins with the founding of the modern fast food companies, and traces them all back to Richard and Maurice McDonald's first hamburger parlor on E Street in San Bernardino, California. Carl Karcher (Carl's Jr.), Glenn Bell (Taco Bell), and the founder of Dunkin' Donuts all visited there and designed their stores to take advantage of those ideas about achieving higher throughput and consistency. Naturally, Ray Kroc later came along to refine the practices into the foundations of the modern McDonald's.
With success came market power, and abuses of that power. The book looks at several ills that have resulted. For example, the cost of meat needs to be as low as possible. This has led to dangerous conditions where many people are injured in the slaughter houses. His story of Kenny Dobbins at Montfort will chill you forever. The industry has also succeeded in getting inspection standards reduced so more harmful bacteria are making their way into your meal, and more people are getting sick. The old and the young are most likely to be harmed by the rapid growth of E. coli 0157:H7. The U.S. Federal Government buys meat for school children with lower quality standards for bacterial contamination than even the fast food people apply. Pressure from slaughter houses on ranchers has driven many out of the business. The human price can be high, as one story recounts here.
The food is harmful in other ways. It is full of sugar and fat (that's what makes it taste good). The growth in obesity (what some people call an epidemic in America) closely tracks the expansion of fast food meals (25% of the population will eat at least one weekly). And the trend is getting worse, now that you can have unlimited refills of sugared soft drinks.
Children are especially vulnerable, because advertising is so persuasive to them. As a result, they go to eat the meals in search of toys and games, and other novelties.
Teenagers are sometimes employed in fast food parlors in violation of the child labor laws, costing them sleep, exposing them to late night dangers, and leaving them too tired to focus on school. Those who deliver the food often create accidents and are at risk to be robbed.
The physical appearance and culture of towns is brought to the lowest common denominator by the drive to produce these meals fast and cheaply.
If the local management isn't very good, goofing off employees have been known to put noxious substances into the food. Franchisees often work long hours, costing them a normal life. Carl Karcher reported that he was still heavily in debt after 50 years in the industry. The main sign of progress he told the author was that the road outside used to be dirt, and was now paved.
These ills are being transported around the world now, as fast food is globalized.
Mr. Schlosser has several suggestions for improvement including tougher regulation of food, working conditions, and of advertising to children (he wants it banned). I thought his most realistic suggestion was that the fast food companies themselves lead the way by raising standards. McDonald's has done this in the past (to its credit), and could certainly do so again. After the facts in this book are more widely know, it is highly likely that there will be an interest in eating food from restaurants that provide these meals in more socially productive and humane ways. I know that I would shift my purchasing to reflect such improved standards.
To me, the interesting part of this story is that the problems exposed here are not hidden. This book could have been written at any time in the last 40 years. Why do we turn a blind eye to the problems that fast food creates?
After you finish this interesting and thorough book, I suggest that you consider where else problems exist that we do not pay attention to. For example, where does the sewage from your town go? What are the implications of how it is disposed of? Where does your trash go? What problems does that create? What are the pollution effects of your new SUV? How much more likely is your family to be injured or killed if it rolls over?
Consider all the costs of the products and services you consume, not just the ones you pay for directly to the person who sells to you.
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Fast Food Nation: What The All-American Meal is Doing to the World
Fast Food Nation: What The All-American Meal is Doing to the World by Eric Schlosser (Paperback - 4 April 2002)
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