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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a Happy Meal in sight!
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...
Published on Dec 31 2004 by Dianne Worley

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars "expose" of what is already common knowledge
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...
Published on Feb. 26 2004

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5.0 out of 5 stars Fast Food Nation, June 24 2004
BOB (Washington, DC, DC United States) - See all my reviews
Through Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser depicts the many obvious and many underlying issues involving the fast food industry and corporate America. He begins with anecdotes about how the fast food companies, most importantly McDonalds, came into being. However, his condemnation of fast food companies becomes most descriptive when he discusses the meatpacking industries and the manner in which the food is prepared and distributed. His brutally honest description of the unbelievable conditions in the meatpacking industries does great justice to his apparent dislike of fast food companies. Through his use of anecdotes, descriptions of the labor and health conditions in the meatpacking companies, and the many people's lives McDonald's has destroyed, Fast Food Nation shows just how dangerous the fast food companies are to America.
I thought that Eric Schlosser did a great job showing Americans the damages fast food is doing to our health and just as importantly, the environment. The food that is served in fast food restaurants is appalling. Not only are the meatpacking companies practicing completely unfair labor practices, much of the meat contains diseases such as Salmonella and E. coli. These companies are destroying the environment, whether it be polluting the air or ruining beautiful land. This book does a great job of depicting the many evils of McDonald's, and showcasing the effects on society. I thought that Eric Schlosser's argument was very relevant, and its compelling nature should make all fast food participants think twice.
In terms of his arguments and major points, I completely agree with just about everything that he is contending. The nature of the industry and the means through which the industry is run is unbelievable. The wages that the employees are paid and the unfair and unsafe conditions in which they work are just a few of the many evils of McDonalds. However, I think Schlosser's best point is the utter disregard McDonald's shows for the rest of the world, in particular farmers, employees and consumers. They have so much power that they have eliminated the need for farmers, costing many of them jobs and a decent living. McDonald's has blocked out all of the small businesses, and made the entire industry corporate. They have changed the landscape of all of America, in particular agriculture. When a corporation has become that powerful, the call for social responsibility has to be made.
Although I agree with just about all of what Eric Schlosser writes, I disagree with the fact that no blame is being put on Americans. I agree that some, if not most, of the blame should be on McDonalds. However, Americans are the ones who are purchasing the food and the ones that fuel this business with profits. Some of the blame for the state of our society has to be on the American people. Americans have to take some responsibility, although they cannot control many of the evil practices that McDonalds engages in. Also, as Schlosser eventually mentions in his afterword, I do feel that he was a bit biased against Republicans. He was a little too brash and critical of what the Republicans have been doing to encourage the creation and preservation of the McDonalds Corporation. I felt that his depiction of the Republican Party was a little one- sided, and he could have used some examples of Democrats supporting McDonalds' practices.
Overall, however, I thought that it was a great book that was very compelling. It definitely causes one to think twice about going to a fast food restaurant, and makes one wonder just how good that 99 cent cheeseburger really is.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Why we Americans are so fat!, June 21 2004
Elizabeth (Metairie, LA) - See all my reviews
FAST FOOD NATION brings you through the history of fast food restaurants and how the fast food mentality became such a big part of American life. There are many interesting facts about why we love fast food. Schlosser points out that McDonalds markets to children with playgrounds, the clown, and toys. If a child wants to go to McDonalds, then the parents will bring the child, giving McDonalds two more customers. Also, a psychologist interviewed said that the golden arches make us subconsciously think of motherly breasts! I know, very strange...I never thought of that! But we as Americans get bonded to fast food as kids and then have great memories and want to relive memories by eating the food. We also eat fast food for convenience, which contains too many calories, and we don't work it off because we drive cars instead of walking places like people used to.
The book also discusses the meat industry and how ranchers are having trouble because beef is so cheap now. All of the family-made businesses are disappearing. The little guys are being crushed by the big manufacturers. It's very sad. The book also discusses how immigrants are taken advantage of in the slaughter houses and how many people die and the deaths are not reported. The illegal immigrants can't complain about being treated unfairly, so they are injured every day and many die. Very sad!
This book is worth a read, it's interesting. But nothing is really new- you probably know about most of the things in this book- underpaid employees in fast food who are mistreated, e coli, salminela, etc.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I am a Citizen of a Fast Food Nation, June 18 2004
"baldphil" (Los Angeles, CA United States) - See all my reviews
Eric Schlosser's damning indictment of the fast food industry is a calmly reasoned, well documented polemic against the entire armada of interests that fall under the rubric of the corporate food industry, including fast food restaurants, suppliers, complicit politicians and their hamstrung government agencies, in addition to a culture of sprawl that has provided fertile hunting grounds for these predators.
The author carefully takes the reader through three years of his own research, clearly articulating what must have been quite a journey for him: from the roots of the fast food culture in Southern California, to its current standard bearer in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to the people who transformed french fries from hand cut, hand cooked potatoes to the robot-controlled frozen monstrosities now consumed by the ton at fast food outlets around the world. He even includes a graphic description of a tour he took of a real live meat packing plant.
This purports to be a book about food. It is also a book about the changing nature of our society, and Schlosser introduces a number of the new faces of that change. We meet some of this country's young, bright high school students too exhausted from 40 hour a week jobs to do their homework properly, we meet some old fashioned ranchers trying to return to a sustainable ranch culture, we even meet the pioneers of the fast food industry itself. These pioneers are, ironically, some of the most interesting characters of this tale; they are iconoclasts with high school educations (or less) who persevered with classic American hard work and gusto. Indeed, they probably have more in common with their lowest paid employees than they do with their own senior executives, who are largely guys with MBAs from privileged backgrounds.
"Fast Food Nation" has deservedly become a manifesto for those who blame corporate America for creating a food industry seemingly devoid of ethics and common decency, an industry which has aggressively thwarted even mild attempts at government regulation, even while accepting huge government subsidies for services not rendered to the American economy.
The most significant criticism of the book is its anecdotal style. There are a lot of anecdotes, but they are backed up with cold realities. There is one man, for example, who was asked to sign a liability waiver giving up the right to sue his meat packing plant employer after an accident. He had to sign the waiver with the pen in his mouth; the accident had destroyed his hands, and if he did not sign, his hospital bills could not be paid. This is a graphic anecdote to be sure, but it illustrates the concrete point that the industry has callously lobbied to gut workers' rights to fair compensation, a point Schlosser amply substantiates independently of this story.
I am a dieter, so I picked up this book for my health. What I discovered was an irrefutable link between the dangerous, addictive products that I have (stupidly) crammed down my throat for years, and a corporate culture of greed and cynicism. If you are overweight as I am, you can no longer separate your condition from the toxic food environment which this industry has deliberately foisted upon you. Our fast food nation did not arise organically; it did not arise by chance: it arose by design, and this book contains the proof.
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3.0 out of 5 stars good writing, bad ideology, June 9 2004
D. Friedman (New York, NY United States) - See all my reviews
I hate fast food. I look with pity and derision on those that consume it daily and those who find it to be their misfortune to work in such environments. But I am not a liberal. I do not buy into the idea that people are automatons without will, who can be controlled and manipulated by corporations in the way that a hunk of metal can be controlled and manipulated by a lathe.
But, that is the image Schlosser presents in this book: we are all doomed to be used like a child's toy at the hands of the big, bad, evil corporation.
Look, what Schlosser is arguing is that people are unable to make decisions for themselves, that they are duped into working at McDonald's because they think it glamorous or they think it a better route to fame and fortune than an education. It is a specious to assert that McDonald's forced anyone to make these decisions; rather, people decide, based on their own igorance or failings that time spent flipping burgers is a better use of one's time than time spent, say, reading Shakespeare or doing calculus. It is hardly McDonald's fault that it 'exploits' people's ignorance.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Investigative Bestseller About the Industry, June 7 2004
When I bought this bestseller I thought it was mainly about McDonalds since it has a pictures of some McDonalds fries on the book cover, but this is not a book just about McDonald's per se, but about the industry as a whole including economics, food supplies, and the labor problems and working conditions at the restaurants and at the suppliers. The author Eric Schlosser is a journalist, an excellent writer, and does a good job at keeping our attention. Each chapter is entertaining, almost a page-turner, and he follows the 270 page main text with 100 pages of notes and comments.
There are some things that are a bit unfair about the book. I think the author goes into many issues in great detail that are only marginally related to fast food. The author uses Colorado as a case study and for example the decline of small ranches in the western plains and the economics of beef producing is only marginally tied to fast food as is the issue of mad cow disease. Similarly the author takes us step by step through a cattle slaughter house and describes possible injuries to workers, and that has almost no relationship to fast food - in my opinion - but is a general problem of the meat industry.
Having said that, what the author does with great clarity is to describe fast food operations and how the food is produced. He presents a brief history of the national chains, and discusses (not in this order) franchising, SBA financing, profit margins on things like French fries, the structure of the corporations, marketing to children, television adds aimed at children, market penetration in schools and sports, influencing - believe it or not - the textbooks in the classroom, salaries, teen workers, intentional employer induced employee turnover, migrant labor, bussing in of illegal aliens, ghettoes of illegal workers on the high plains, federal and state government financial subsidies of worker "training", crime and violence in the workplace, child labor, automation and training, standardization, economics of food production, animal wastes, political lobbying and donations to politicians, the minimum wage, and the production problems of potatoes, beef, and chicken. Of course he discusses calories and fat content. There are many interesting passages along with lots of facts and figures on the fast food business. It is all a very worthwhile read and an eye opener with some very dramatic parts.
One of the things that sticks out for myself is the relationship between the franchiser and the franchisee. I had always been under the impression that there was a fair degree of security in the purchase of a national fast food franchise. But apparently, and according to the book, there is a high degree of financial risk involved, many hours of long hard work for the franchisee, and surprisingly a high percentage go bankrupt or lose their franchises. So if you are considering such an undertaking, do your research before entering a franchise contract even with a major national name brand, and do so with some caution. It is not so rosy and your fate is tied to the fate and often the whims of the franchiser. Also, some brand names cannot provide the owner with a living wage with single fast food outlet.
Great book
Jack in Toronto
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5.0 out of 5 stars Where do I begin., June 2 2004
Colleen A. Riggs (Lodi, CA) - See all my reviews
Well first of all, a while ago as a conscious decision to eat healthier, I cut down on my fast food consumption. When I do eat at a fast food place I opt for the healther items on the menu such as the Chicken McGrill (which McDonalds claims only has 4 grams of fat, but can I believe them anymore?).
I read this book because I was very interested in the fact that our nation as a whole is obese. And I found it really amusing after the boys in New York I think it was, sued Mc Donalds because they ate it everyday and got fat. I do not agree with this because EVERYONE knows that eating McDonalds on a regular basis is bad for you, let alone eating it every day. But I didnt not know however how bad it really is and how dangerous it is.
This book is a great book, it puts it all out there for the world to know. I think that this should be a manditory book to read in high school because it sure opened my eyes and made me think twice when I think about getting fast food. So maybe our kids will be making wiser choices if they knew the truth about what they were putting in their mounths. I also cannot believe the horrible meat that is being fed to our school children. I work for the local school district and I cannot believe the crap that they feed these kids, nothing healthing is being fed for lunch unless you think pizza and cheeseburgers are good almost every day.
So please read this book and learn more about the horrible conditions these workers are put through and the disgusting things the meat we eat is going through before it gets to our plates. I garuntee you will be disgusted and shocked at the same time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars They're not just big in Texas, May 30 2004
G. Latham (Austin, TX United States) - See all my reviews
A friend recently suggested Eric Schlosser's outstanding expose "Fast Food Nation." I clawed through it, but had to pause here and then to gain traction against the decades of deceit, graft, and cronyism that defined the food industry's rise in worship of the almighty dollar. Don't misunderstand: I'm a capitalist, no doubt, but the practices described in this text stretch well beyond that reasonable to fuel a healthy free market. One might be skeptical of the muckraking that is so carefully detailed, but that's exactly the rub: the devil is in those details. Schlosser does such a meticulous job of substantiating every morsel of data (62 pages of footnotes) that he leaves you full with the knowledge of system derailed by its own appetite. We want bigger meals, bigger cars, and bigger houses to what end? We spend >$110 billion each year on fast food, and another $30 billion to try to lose the weight we so carelessly invited? A recent report by the Centers from Disease Control (CDC) pinpoints the next two years as the turning point when obesity will overtake smoking as the #1 preventable cause of death in this county. The price tag? About $440 million dollars in public health costs. It's not just you who is affected when you supersize yourself. In an era of skyrocketing health care premiums, you'll smother all of us.
Some of the more intoxicating gems from Schlosser's book:
1) Americans spend more on fast food than new cars, and more than higher education and computers put together.
2) Fast food purchases outweigh book sales by about 4-fold.
3) Perhaps 2 cents out of every french fry purchase goes to the farmer who grew the potatoes.
4) The rate of obesity among American adults is twice as high now (>25%) as it was in the early 1960's.
5) The rate of obesity among American children is twice as high now as it was in the LATE 1970's.
6) In the UK, the number of fast food restaurants doubled between 1984 and 1993-- and so did the adult obesity rate.
7) A large Coke (32 oz) has 310 calories. A supersize order of fries has 29 g of fat and 610 calories. Note that 3600 calories is equivalent to one pound of fat.
8) A medium Coke at McDonald's in the 1950's (8 oz) was 33% smaller than a CHILD's Coke today (12 oz).
9) A medium Coke at McDonald's contains about 3.5 oz of Coke syrup, or about 10 cents worth. You pay about $1.29.
10) A 1996 USDA study revealed that 7.5% of all ground beef samples taken from processing plants were contaminated with Salmonella, 12% with Listeria monocytogenes, 30% with Staphylococcus aureus, and 53% with Cloistridium perfringens. All of these pathogens can make you ill; Listeria kills 20% of those it infects with food poisoning. You are what you eat: 79% of the contaminated beef contained microorganisms that spread primarily by fecal matter. You know what that means.
I could go on, but that point sums it up nicely. Personally, I working on more responsible carnivore habits, as a stepping stone to my ineluctable conversion to vegetarianism. There's just too much wrong-- with how the cattle are treated, how the workers are treated, and how the consumers are slipped a sometimes repulsive, if not downright dangerous product-- to continue to blindly order an "All-American Meal".
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4.0 out of 5 stars You want fries with that?, May 16 2004
J. S. Kaminski "j_s_k" (Aberdeen, NJ United States) - See all my reviews
Yeesh. Gross. Sick. Disgusting.
I think you get the point. "Fast Food Nation" tells it like it is - and some of it is not very pleasant to the ear. I've come to think that reading this book is a "necessary evil" - you don't really want to read it, but you have to. The revelations Eric Schlosser provides are too important to ignore.
It starts slowly with the dawn of the fast food era, but soon enough Schlosser is touching on many topics; globalization, the exploitation of fast food workers, how and why fast food companies focus their ad campaigns towards children, why the fast food companies don't like labor unions, and more.
Then it really gets interesting when Schlosser begins to talk about the food itself. The chemicals used, the procedures of the meat-packing plants, pathogens, mad cow disease, E coli,'s all here. It's not a pleasant story, but as mentioned, a story that needs to be told nonetheless.
Powerful and disturbing stuff. Would have been five stars if not for the slow start.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book, and pass it on., May 13 2004
With obesity rapidly becoming the number two cause of death in North America (cancer being number one), this book should be mandatory reading for all high school age kids; and I would strongly recommend Mr. Schlosser creates a version of this book for elementary school children. Personally I never was a big consumer of McDonald's or any fast food products for that matter, but like most parents I would take my children on occasion for a Happy Meal and get myself a Big Mac... until my very last experience with McDonald's food three years ago. Driving across New York State from Salem MA. to my home north of Toronto, I stopped at one of the many McDonald's restaurants along the highway and ordered a plain hamburger... no fries, no drink, just a hamburger. I was literally crumpling the wrapper and putting it back in the bag when it was as if someone flipped a switch and I instantly HAD TO FIND A WASHROOM. The remainder of my trip (about 6 hours to go from that point) was literally driving at high speed from rest stop to rest stop across New York State. I've never eaten at McDonald's since, have never taken my children there, and will never do either again under any circumstances. I came to this decision well before reading Mr. Schlosser's book, and like most kids, mine still ask to go but this book has given me the answers to the "why not?" question when I refuse.
Mr. Schlosser goes off on a bit of a rant on the meat packing industry which is and always has been a brutal business, but some of the recalls of ground beef products in recent times are horrifying. Not only for the quantities recalled, but for the reasons these products were recalled. Ironically it is here that Mr. Schlosser compliments the McDonald's corporation and clearly illustrates just how powerful this organization is. When the FDA wanted stricter controls on salmonella counts in ground beef the meat packing firms said "impossible". When McDonald's requested that ground beef used in McDonald's hamburgers meet this new FDA standard, the meat packing firms said "no problem". So McDonald's actually do have the power to effect positive change in the meat packing industry, but will they use this power for positive or profit driven reasons?
This is a terrific book and it points out very clearly the dangers of eating fast food which I genuinely believe cannot be consumed safely in any quantities. Recently my local school board took steps to ban "junk food" from school cafeterias, food which included meals supplied by McDonald's. The manager of our local McDonald's wrote a scathing criticism of not only this policy but of the use of the term "junk food" in reference to McDonald's meals. His major point was "since when has bread, meat and potatoes been considered junk food?". After reading Fast Food Nation I only wonder how is it possible to even consider a meal from McDonald's simply bread, meat and potatoes?
Read this book you'll be glad you did and pass it on to people you care for, you may literally be saving their lives. If you are a parent, set an example of proper eating habits and be forthright with your children on the choices they make regarding the food they consume. If they are old enough let them read this book for themselves and draw their own conclusions. A lifetime of obesity related health problems, the working conditions in the restaurants, the inside of meat packing plants and the plethora of natural and artificial flavourings put into this food is generally NOT depicted in fast food ads... for good reason. Time has long passed when we could take for granted the safety of food served in these establishments.
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5.0 out of 5 stars From Dark comes Light, May 12 2004
M. Fisher - See all my reviews
If you've read up on nutrition and health, read about the dangers of overly processed food, and otherwise pursued healthier living, you'll love this book.
Though the information it contains is downright scary, you'll be engrossed by this book. The author writes well and weaves an intriguing story of our nation's food supply.
What did I get from this book? Further support for the attitude I've developed that you should live off of your local food supply. Instead of eating processed convenience foods and unhealthy meals at national food chains, look to local growers.
Find out what you're eating. Know how your food was grown (whether animal or vegetable), how it was treated, and each step of the process from growth to your plate. Don't take food for granted; demand quality and cleanliness.
This book, along with everything else I've read over the last year or two, has been a strong positive in my life. It contains some very scary information, but this is information that you're better off knowing. I cannot praise this book enough; it is excellent.
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