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Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal [Hardcover]

Eric Schlosser
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,041 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 17 2001

New York Times Bestseller, 

 With a New Afterword

“Schlosser has a flair for dazzling scene-setting and an arsenal of startling facts . . . Fast Food Nation points the way but, to resurrect an old fast food slogan, the choice is yours.”—Los Angeles Times

In 2001, Fast Food Nation was published to critical acclaim and became an international bestseller. Eric Schlosser’s exposé revealed how the fast food industry has altered the landscape of America, widened the gap between rich and poor, fueled an epidemic of obesity, and transformed food production throughout the world. The book changed the way millions of people think about what they eat and helped to launch today’s food movement.

In a new afterword for this edition, Schlosser discusses the growing interest in local and organic food, the continued exploitation of poor workers by the food industry, and the need to ensure that every American has access to good, healthy, affordable food. Fast Food Nation is as relevant today as it was a decade ago. The book inspires readers to look beneath the surface of our food system, consider its impact on society and, most of all, think for themselves.

“As disturbing as it is irresistible . . . Exhaustively researched, frighteningly convincing . . . channeling the spirits of Upton Sinclair and Rachel Carson.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“Schlosser shows how the fast food industry conquered both appetite and landscape.”—The New Yorker

Eric Schlosser is a contributing editor for the Atlantic and the author of Fast Food Nation, Reefer Madness, and Chew on This (with Charles Wilson).

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Product Description

From Amazon

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 thriftiness a second thought. Fast food is so ubiquitous that it now seems as American, and harmless, as apple pie. But the industry's drive for consolidation, homogenization, and speed has radically transformed America'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. Quickly, however, he moves behind the counter with 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 flavor company) and "what really lurks between those sesame-seed buns." Eater beware: forget your concerns about cholesterol, there is--literally--feces in your meat.

Schlosser's investigation reaches its frightening peak in the meatpacking plants as he reveals the almost complete lack of federal oversight of a seemingly lawless industry. 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 introduce E. coli and other pathogens into restaurants, public 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 behavior," he writes. Where to begin? Ask yourself, is the true cost of having it "your way" really worth it? --Lesley Reed

From Publishers Weekly

Schlosser's incisive history of the development of American fast food indicts the industry for some shocking crimes against humanity, including systematically destroying the American diet and landscape, and undermining our values and our economy. The first part of the book details the postwar ascendance of fast food from Southern California, assessing the impact on people in the West in general. The second half looks at the product itself: where it is manufactured (in a handful of enormous factories), what goes into it (chemicals, feces) and who is responsible (monopolistic corporate executives). In harrowing detail, the book explains the process of beef slaughter and confirms almost every urban myth about what in fact "lurks between those sesame seed buns." Given the estimate that the typical American eats three hamburgers and four orders of french fries each week, and one in eight will work for McDonald's in the course of their lives, few are exempt from the insidious impact of fast food. Throughout, Schlosser fires these and a dozen other hair-raising statistical bullets into the heart of the matter. While cataloguing assorted evils with the tenacity and sharp eye of the best investigative journalist, he uncovers a cynical, dismissive attitude to food safety in the fast food industry and widespread circumvention of the government's efforts at regulation enacted after Upton Sinclair's similarly scathing novel exposed the meat-packing industry 100 years ago. By systematically dismantling the industry's various aspects, Schlosser establishes a seminal argument for true wrongs at the core of modern America. (Jan.) Forecast: This book will find a healthy, young audience; it's notable that the Rolling Stone article on which this book was based generated more reader mail than any other piece the magazine ran in the 1990s.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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CARL N. KARCHER is one of the fast food industry's pioneers. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a Happy Meal in sight! Dec 31 2004
Once in a while, journalists do what journalists are supposed to do - look at the mundane in broader scope, changing our thinking on something. Eric Schlosser has accomplished that in this sweeping work. There is no way I can ever waltz into a Wendy's or McDonald's and enjoy a burger again. The cost of this cheap food is expensive beyond belief.
I had recently become very ill with campylobacteriosis. I was contacted by a gent from the public health department, trying to track down what I had eaten and where. He told me that a lot of the fresh commercial poultry has salmonella and campylobacter jejuni. I consider myself fortunate; a week of antibiotics cleared it up - had I been elderly or had a compromised immune system, it could have been fatal.
Schlosser's book reveals what is in the food. E. Coli O157:H7, and Lysteria Monocytogenes (found in beef due to fecal contamination) make what I had look like a walk in the park. His description of Alex Donley's death during the Jack In The Box E-Coli outbreak in 1993 is unsparing in its brutality - portions of the child's brain had liquified!
As other reviewers have pointed out, he takes us from the humble hot dog stand to the global picture. The most surreal parts of the book for me were the flavour factory, and the horrendous conditions at the meat packing plants. The effect of a few companies controlling so much of agriculture is frightening - it has become factory farming. Animal abuse, slave labour conditions, government grants lavished on "training" for unskilled work, dumped into the pockets of the corporation, and what is actually in the meat are presented in an easy to read format. He presents his facts and forces the reader to examine them. His book makes you think.
He does give credit where it is due.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great journalism, poor economic analysis March 12 2004
By A Customer
Eric Schlosser does a phenomenal job of recounting and reporting - he is at heart a journalist. However, once the book moves beyond straight reporting, and makes an attempt at economic analysis, that's where the book falls apart. Mr. Schlosser, unfortunately, is not a trained economist. The book provides wonderful anecdotes and brings to life conditions in the fast food industry. Unfortunately, the author doesn't know enough about economics to properly put his anecdotes and reporting into proper context.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars "expose" of what is already common knowledge Feb. 26 2004
By A Customer
Let me condense the pertinent facts of this book:
1. Fast food is bad for you.
2. You don't make a lot of money in a minimum wage job flipping burgers.
3. The animals that we eat, lead horrible, miserable, heartbreaking lives then die violent, painful deaths.
4. Fast food companies have made a lot of money and spread to the far corners of the earth.
No one needs a book to tell them these things. Personally, I don't eat fast food because it tastes bad, gives me a stomach ache and makes my pants tight. If you eat McDonalds, well you are getting what you deserve. Don't blame "an industry" for your girth or your gas.
Where I have to condemn the author is on two points:
1. Suggesting that the lure of employment at McDonalds is causing teenages to drop out of school. (!!!!!!)
2. Linking employment at fast food joints to being murdered.
Kids quit school because they choose to quit school and have rotten parents who allow them to do so. There is free education in this country, and kids who need money can make a decent wage cutting grass, shovelling snow, babysitting, or working part-time. If kids are having to support families, that highlights a socio-economic problem, not the "lure" of working at McDonalds. If working at McDonalds confers some sort of status, well then that person is in a peer group that has profoundly low self-esteem--another problem you cannot blame on McDonalds.
People are murdered because there are sick criminals among us who will always prey on the weakest establishments and individuals. If it isn't a fast food joint, it is a bowling alley.
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By Barry Francis TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Fast Food Nation
By Eric Schlosser

It's been selected as one of TIME's 100 Best Nonfiction books. Fast Food Nation is a landmark book right up there in importance with Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. Originally published in 2002 (and reissued in 2012 with a new Afterward), it's equally relevant today. But, if you're a fast food fanatic you might want to pass on reading it for fear of being driven to vegetarianism.

Slosser traces the history of fast food, from its beginnings with the car culture in California, to its worldwide spread to the point where 65 million people eat at 28,000 McDonald's restaurants every day.

Slosser explores the seamy underside of the fast food business including its impact on the environment, obesity (more than half of all Americans and 25% of American children are obese or overweight) and public health (including the risk of dangerous pathogens being entering the American food chain). He laments the fact that the business is defined by the industrialization of most of its parts.

He describes how fast food chains like McDonald's are supplied with "meat" for their quarter pounders and Big Macs. Agri-business conglomerates maintain giant feedlots with thousands of cattle pressed cheek to jowl being force fed hormones and 3,000 pounds of grain to gain 400 pounds in weight and depositing 50 pounds of waste per day - waste which lies unprocessed in giant pits. He traces the food production process through the disgusting, dangerous (to workers) and often unsanitary practices of slaughterhouses and meat packing plants to the delivery of chemically enhanced pink hamburger patties, each of which can contain meat from dozens and even hundreds of different cattle.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars EYE OPENER
I bought this book way back in 2002 when it first came out.

Eric Schlosser's book on the "fast food" business is a shocker. He shows what goes on behind the scenes. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Jet Lagged
5.0 out of 5 stars gift
Book the book for myself and then love it so much that I bought it for a friend. Great read
Published 13 months ago by Mario Henry
1.0 out of 5 stars Ugh
Even though I'm not a fast food fan and certainly see some interesting/helpful research presented here, I still think this book is a horrible collection of polemic. Read more
Published on June 13 2012 by Mark Nenadov
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 Jan. 29 2012 by Jodi-Hummingbird
5.0 out of 5 stars Changes The Way You Feel About Eating Fast Food
This book was amazing and I've already recommended it to all my friends. The price is right, and the book is really entertaining. Read more
Published on April 4 2009 by M. Lanigan
5.0 out of 5 stars The Lowdown
We all hear about how fast food is "bad" for you and all that, but never much about the process behind it. Read more
Published on Dec 18 2007 by KidKrush
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth Reading
I will not going into details about why I found this book was worth reading. There are hundred of reviews which all state similar reasons why I found this book was a 'must... Read more
Published on July 27 2007 by K. Heiss
5.0 out of 5 stars Caveat Emptor for fast food lovers
While some have compared it to Upton Sinclair's, The Jungle, Schlosser is more a chronicler of popular culture than a muckraker like Sinclair. Read more
Published on April 21 2007 by David Dent
5.0 out of 5 stars Not so tasty
Compared th Sinclair's THE JUNGLE, FAST FOOD NATION is one disturbing and enlightening book. Schlosser's investigation into the world of fast food is more than just his commentary... Read more
Published on March 23 2007 by Warren P.B.
5.0 out of 5 stars Consequences of industrial agribusiness, intended & otherwise
Eric Schlosser's book, Fast Food Nation (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2005), is both a history of the rise of industrial agribusiness and a documentary of our society's... Read more
Published on Dec 17 2006 by Don Drews
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