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Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal Hardcover – Jan 17 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Jan. 17 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395977894
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395977897
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.4 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 680 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,043 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #500,969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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

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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Dianne Worley on Dec 31 2004
Format: Paperback
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jason Koulouras on Aug. 15 2004
Format: Paperback
An amazing piece of critical literature and explanation of the economic ramifications of the chain, fast food and franchise manias that have swept the Americas and globally as well. This book has significantly impacted my way of thinking about chains and franchises and has changed my spending habits back towards the mom and pop independents where possible. An excellent read, well worth the time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Evelyn C. Graeff on Jan. 7 2003
Format: Paperback
I think everyone in America should read this book. It is an excellent account of the rise of fast food in America. It gives you a behind the scenes look at the quality of the food served at fast food chains, the corporate stronghold, the meatpacking industry, and many other insights into the business. The impact of fast food on our society and others is huge. The book was thought provoking and has definitely changed my viewpoint about eating fast food. America has to rethink it's eating habits, and eliminating fast food will certainly make all the difference in the world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sohrab Ismail-Beigi on Sept. 10 2002
Format: Paperback
Frankly, this book is marvelous. Read it.
The book is centered on the fast food industry: how it works, where it came from, where it is going, what it has done to American society (and now increasingly the global one), etc. The book is full of documented facts. In addition, it is full of great and fascinating history: the growth of the West on the 20th century, transformation of agriculture, food processing, potatoes, beef ranchers and processors, advertising directed at children, Disney and anticommunist hysteria, fast food franchising, labor relations, exploitation of child/teenage labor, where the flavor of most foods comes from, and so on. Each chapter deal with particular aspects but all chapters hang together nicely.
I found two things to be quite impressive: (1) the clarity and depth of the factual documentation of what happened and is happening. This is simply a great book because you LEARN so many things. (2) The author is, in my opinion, balanced and not a whiner. This is particularly clear in his treatment of the historical aspects as the contradictions of US society are laid out in this particular case: the good and bad about private entrepreneurs, the pluses and minuses of a fast food system that provides unhealthy food and low wages but also provides playgrounds and toys and a social environment, the role of the government in subsidizing and/or regulating, etc.
I felt the author tended to show some anger and frustration on a few issues: he takes sides against the fast food companies on issues regarding SEVERE labor exploitation particularly of the poor and immigrants, easily avoidable and extremely dangerous work conditions in meat processing, and grave lack of food safety and sabotaging of the food safety system by the companies and their hired politicians.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Feb. 26 2004
Format: Paperback
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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