Eric Schlosser's compelling new book, Fast Food Nation, will not only make you think twice before eating your next hamburger, but it will also make you think about the fallout that the fast food industry has had on America's social and cultural landscape: how it has affected everything from ranching and farming to diets and health, from marketing and labor practices to larger economic trends... Fast Food Nation provides the reader with a vivid sense of how fast food has permeated contemporary life and a fascinating (and sometimes grisly) account of the process whereby cattle and potatoes are transformed into the burgers and fries served up by local fast food franchises.
Michiko Kakutani - New York Times
Schlosser is a serious and diligent reporter.... An avalanche of facts and observations.... Pretty compelling.... A fine piece of muckraking, alarming without being alarmist. At the very least, Schlosser makes it hard to go on eating fast food in blissful ignorance.
Rob Walker - New York Times Book Review
Fast Food Nation should be another wake-up call, a super-size serving of common sense.
Atlanta Journal Constitution
Fast Food Nation presents these sometimes startling discoveries in a manner that manages to be both careful and fast-paced. Schlosser is a talented storyteller, and his reportorial skills are considerable.
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.
It is not unusual, from time to time, to read expos s about the unhealthy quality of mass-produced American food. What makes this book special is its indictment of the enormous U.S. fast-food industry. The author, an award-winning contributor to Atlantic Monthly, contends that chains like McDonald's are significant contributors to global ill-health; ugly, homogeneous landscapes; an undertrained and unpromotable work force; and a widespread corporate conformity that discourages the very individualism that propelled these companies to their initial success. While excellently researched, Fast Food Nation is not at all dull but is peppered with acerbic commentary and telling interviews. Of critical importance is the end: just as the reader despairs of a solution, Schlosser outlines a set of remedies, along with steps to get them accomplished. Highly recommended. —Wendy Miller, Lexington P.L., KY
National Magazine Award-winning journalist Schlosser spent three years studying the history of fast food, the business practices of its major chains and the nexus of agribusiness and chemical concerns behind it. Schlosser makes a powerful argument against an industry that exploits its workers, destroys the environment and creates an obese society in the relentless pursuit of profit. We learn about the chemical factories in New Jersey that manufacture fast foods' realistic and delicious flavors, and tour the filthy, Dickensian hell-hole of a modern meatpacking plant, where each year one in every three of its migrant workers can expect to suffer a serious injury. Most troubling, Schlosser argues that the influence of the meatpacking lobby on Congress largely prevents federal agencies from regulating the industry that Upton Sinclair first exposed nearly a century ago in The Jungle. This is in many ways a disturbing book, about much more than the already well-known public health implications of addictive, fattening and potentially disease-carrying foods. Beyond revealing what is actually in those burgers and fries, it shows why their cheap prices do not reflect their true human costs. —Eric Wargo
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