Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal Paperback – Mar 1 2012
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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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
HSchlosser'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 the 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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Just how important and utterly fascinating Fast Food Nation is might not be immediately apparent based on a description of the subject. Schlosser, however, focuses his book very carefully to avoid tackling a topic beyond comprehension, choosing Colorado as emblematic of the current state of the industry - and the chilling effect on our school system, believe it or not. And he balances out his factual passages with anecdotes about ranchers, fast food magnates, restaurant employees, slaughter house workers, franchise owners, and so forth. Schlosser's skill as a writer is evident in the way that he maintains control over all of the information he includes; he jumps, at times, between early 20th century California, post-war Germany, and modern Colorado seamlessly and effortlessly.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Wow.....I will never eat frozen hamburgers again. And thats what the fast food places sell. This book is an eye opener, and really is a must read for anyone who has ever eaten a... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Bootsy Bass
Too dry. I felt like I was reading a college textbook. I couldn't finish it although the primary plot I found very interesting.Published 18 months ago by Lindsay Greene
Fast Food Nation
By Eric Schlosser
It's been selected as one of TIME's 100 Best Nonfiction books. Read more
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
Book the book for myself and then love it so much that I bought it for a friend. Great readPublished on June 28 2013 by Mario Henry
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 morePublished on June 13 2012 by Mark Nenadov
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
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