Fast Food Nation: What The All-American Meal is Doing to the World Paperback – 4 Apr 2002
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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.
"Schlosser is a serious and diligent reporter..." "["Fast Food Nation"] is a fine piece of muckraking, alarming without beling alarmist."
--Rob Walker, "New York Times Book Review" 1/21/01
"Eric Schlosser's "Fast Food Nation" is a good old-fashioned muckraking expose in the tradition of "The American Way of Death" that's as disturbing as it is irresistible....Exhaustively researched, frighteningly convincing....channeling the spirits of Upton Sinclair and Rachel Carson....Schlosser's research is impressive--statistics, reportage, first-person accounts and interviews, mixing the personal with the global."
--"San Francisco Chronicle
"An exemplary blend of polemic and journalism....A tale full of sound, fury, and popping grease."
--starred review "Kirkus Reviews
""Schlosser is part essayist, part investigative journalist. His eye is sharp, his profiles perceptive, his prose thoughtful but spare; this is John McPhee behind the counter...."
--"Washington --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
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 7 months 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 7 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 8 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 12 months ago by Lucie
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