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Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal Hardcover – Jan 1 2001

4.3 out of 5 stars 1,048 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; First Edition edition (Jan. 1 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395977894
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395977897
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 717 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 1,048 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #334,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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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

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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Top Customer Reviews

By Bootsy Bass TOP 500 REVIEWER on Dec 1 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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 fast food burger...or chicken...or fish. The most powerful chapter, though, is the authors tour of a kill line....but starting from the end with the packaged meat products going towards the entry point for the cows. POWERFUL......enough to make a vegetarian out of anyone.

The book is very well written and engrossing. 5 of 5. impressive book
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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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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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
More of a personal journey than a scientific non-fiction book. From a Canadian perspective, some chapters I could not finish as they specifically relate to the United States' history and politics. Still, chapter 5 'Why the Fries Taste Good', chapter 8 'The Most Dangerous Job' and chapter 9 'What's in the Meat' were well written and informative, and these 3 chapters made the book worth buying/reading.
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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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