Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side Of The All-American Meal Info

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New York Times Bestseller


“Schlosser has a flair for dazzling scene-setting and an arsenal
of startling facts . . . Fast Food Nation points the way but, to
resurrect an old fast food slogan, the choice is
yours.”—Los Angeles Times

In 2001,
Fast Food Nation was published to critical acclaim and became an
international bestseller. Eric Schlosser’s exposé revealed
how the fast food industry has altered the landscape of America, widened
the gap between rich and poor, fueled an epidemic of obesity, and
transformed food production throughout the world. The book changed the
way millions of people think about what they eat and helped to launch
today’s food movement.

In a new afterword for this
edition, Schlosser discusses the growing interest in local and organic
food, the continued exploitation of poor workers by the food industry,
and the need to ensure that every American has access to good, healthy,
affordable food. Fast Food Nation is as relevant today as it was a
decade ago. The book inspires readers to look beneath the surface of
our food system, consider its impact on society and, most of all, think
for themselves.

“As disturbing as it is irresistible .
. . Exhaustively researched, frighteningly convincing . . . channeling
the spirits of Upton Sinclair and Rachel Carson.”—San
Francisco Chronicle


“Schlosser shows how the fast
food industry conquered both appetite and landscape.”—The
New Yorker


Eric Schlosser is a contributing editor for
the Atlantic and the author of Fast Food Nation, Reefer
Madness
, and Chew on This (with Charles
Wilson).


Average Ratings and Reviews
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Reviews for Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side Of The All-American Meal:

5

Aug 13, 2007

I thought that this book was going to be like Super-size Me only in book form. Not that the author would eat McDonalds everyday but that he would talk mostly about the unhealthiness of fast food.

I was wrong.

The author barely touches the "fast food is full of fat and fattiness" deal. He mainly talks about the greed, power, and evilness of fast food companies. I would read this book in the mornings as i drank my coffee and I would get so mad at how only a few people can make so many people I thought that this book was going to be like Super-size Me only in book form. Not that the author would eat McDonalds everyday but that he would talk mostly about the unhealthiness of fast food.

I was wrong.

The author barely touches the "fast food is full of fat and fattiness" deal. He mainly talks about the greed, power, and evilness of fast food companies. I would read this book in the mornings as i drank my coffee and I would get so mad at how only a few people can make so many people miserable. I would cry at the working conditions of the meat industry (and trust me, i'm not crying over the cows. it's the workers that have it so bad that i just want to take them all away from that horrible job and give them all sacks of money and comfortable chairs to sit on.)

He discusses the ranchers, the feedlots, the slaughter houses, and the packaging companies. He talks about the potato farms. He talks about minimum wage. He talks about how our government is supposed to regulate and keep us safe from unhealthy meat and that it not only doesn't do that, but CAN'T do that, legally. The USDA cannot recall meat that is unhealthy. It has no rights to do that. The meat companies can voluntarily recall meat, but they can't be forced to, even if the meat is infected with epidemic proportions of e. coli 0157:H7, which, as far as i can tell, is like ebola, it turns your organs into mush.

The meat industry is so corrupt and has bought so many republican congressmen that it has no watchdogs, no police. OSHA is not allowed to investigate a factory unless the injury records show above the national average. The meat companies hire doctors to lie about the severity of injuries and, and, and they keep two injury logs. the real one and the one they turn in to OSHA. This is illegal. And when the companies are caught they have to pay a piddly fine.
The FDA doesn't care about the food you eat. They only care about prescription drugs.
The USDA is not allowed to police the thing it was set up to police. (This is not new and it's also the reason i don't drink milk.) The author also says that the government will not change any of this. That the only way to make some change is if McDonalds will make the change. So if enough people complain and make bad press about McDonalds using nasty beef instead of clean, grass-fed cows...nothing will change.

He discusses the franchise/franchisee relationships.

He discusses the hisory of fast food and the american west. It's amazing.

This book was so interesting. If I were to become a vegetarian it would not be because I had a problem with the way cows are treated. Nay, it would be because of the treatment of humans.

...more
4

Aug 04, 2007

"As God as my witness, I shall never eat another hamburger as long as I shall live!" That's what I said after reading this book. Then the phone rang. It was my friend who wanted to go grab a quick bite at Wendy's. I had a cheeseburger. I never looked back baby!
It's not that this book paints the fast food industry in a wicked horrible light. It doesn't become a witch hunt, this isn't "Hey, you know, Elie Wiesel is right, Nazi's are real sons of bitches!" (which is what I expect most people think "As God as my witness, I shall never eat another hamburger as long as I shall live!" That's what I said after reading this book. Then the phone rang. It was my friend who wanted to go grab a quick bite at Wendy's. I had a cheeseburger. I never looked back baby!
It's not that this book paints the fast food industry in a wicked horrible light. It doesn't become a witch hunt, this isn't "Hey, you know, Elie Wiesel is right, Nazi's are real sons of bitches!" (which is what I expect most people think after reading Night. I've never read it myself... I just expect people think that after reading said book... though to be honest, most people probably think that already, unless you're Mahmoud Ahmadinejad), but it's not all puppys and flowers either. Really, it's rich old white men looking out for themselves (and who else are they going to look out for?)
It's been a few years since I've read the book, so I could be wrong about this, but I'm going to say this book isn't even as harsh on the fast food industry as Supersize Me (A film which I refuse to see, because: Duh! Eat nothing but fast food for a month and you're going to get sick? Who was shocked by this movie? "No, but you don't get it... it's how sick he was, and how fast." That's usually the opposing argument I get. I still say "Duh!" I'm going to make a movie where I shoot up heroin three times a day for a month, or smoke seven packs of cigarettes a day for a month, or hit myself in the head with a hammer five times a day for a month, and see what happens. I really want people to say, "Man, I knew that hitting yourself in the head with a hammer was dangerous, but who knew how dangerous it could be. I mean he was brain damaged by the second day! I'm never hitting myself in the head with a hammer again!" But I digress, this isn't about film... this is about books).
It's a pretty good book for the history lesson on how fast food got started, and how the industry has done a good job screwing everyone from farmers, to fat kids, to illegal migrant workers, to small business owners, to who knows who else. And just when you start to think, "Man, screw fast food..." the author himself says he still eats fast food... then you think, "I sure do like them McDonalds fries." Then you hear about the newest Halo 3 tie in at Burger King, where not only will your fries be wrapped in a Halo 3 themed package, but your soda will come in a Halo 3 cup!?!?"
So what, so what if the meat might be tainted with the fingers of an illegal, or so what if the farmer who sold the slaughtered cow can barely aford new boots, dammit, I want it my way, and I want it my way now!
Plus there is this one part of the book that talks about how some fast food companies will donate money to schools in exchange for advertising space or a spot in the cafeteria... and let's be honest, what would you rather have fat smart kids, or fat dumb kids? (Smart thin kids isn't an option- this is public school we're talking about here).
It's a light romp through the dark underbelly of the fast food world. It'll learn you but good, and it certainly gave me pause, right before I went out and got a #4 supersized with a Dr. Pepper (cause Dr. Pepper rulz). ...more
2

Jan 06, 2008

I could easily give this book a 5 for its well-researched and informative content, its engaging pacing, its excellent mix of dry facts and gossipy tone. I literally couldn't put the book down since I picked it up from my sister's bookshelf.

I started reading with high hopes. I heard so much about the book and how it changes people's perception on fast food. I do not eat a lot of fast food but I enjoy my occasional burgers from Burger King, crave Chicken McNuggets from time to time and adore KFC I could easily give this book a 5 for its well-researched and informative content, its engaging pacing, its excellent mix of dry facts and gossipy tone. I literally couldn't put the book down since I picked it up from my sister's bookshelf.

I started reading with high hopes. I heard so much about the book and how it changes people's perception on fast food. I do not eat a lot of fast food but I enjoy my occasional burgers from Burger King, crave Chicken McNuggets from time to time and adore KFC with heaps of fries, rice and ketchup.

The book begins with the history of McDonalds which encompasses not only the corporate history but also the history of fast food and its supporting industries. So far so good. As I proceed, I find it hard to accept its two major themes: big corporations are the big bad wolf who feast on little people and the king of the pack is McDonalds.

Although the author writes that he doesn't say McDonald and the fast food corporations are the roots of all American problems, he essentially implies so throughout the book. That is not fair. The reason for finger pointing to McDonald and some unknown Carl Jr and Jack in the Box is not apparent in the book. Brand-wise, I wonder how KFC fare in all these debacle although tacobell, owned by the same company, gets an honorary mention. Consumerism-wise, what about those insatiable American appetites?

Another strong message is that the big corporations sell cheap food, by taking advantage of suppliers and their poor, illiterate workers, not from the goodness of their hearts but for humongous profits. Fair enough. But he goes on to argue that the marketing tactics employed, though necessary, are unethical. I am not comfortable with this statement. Since when have we all lost our cognitive power and freedom of choice? When an advertisement says that drinking insecticide is good for us, won't our instinct warn us otherwise? If the kids insist on eating McDonald to collect the latest figurine from Nemo, where are the parents with conscience who will firmly tell them no when a no is warranted?

I have no problem with presenting selected facts to support a theory or argument. But I have problem with authors who do not explore or conveniently neglect the other side of the equation. One particularly disturbing fact-massaging is his argument that fast food restaurants are favourite crime targets and the crimes are mostly inside jobs. On the same page, he mentions that fast food industries have high labour turnover and can afford only to hire people with questionable background. Now, is it chicken first? Or egg?

The author offers obvious solutions in the epilogue. One of the most irritating ones is proposing that free-roaming cattle rearing is the way to go. He conveniently avoids these questions: How can he reconcile the math of vast overhead to maintain the land, huge labour cost (we want our workers to be paid and insured well), and small customer base (transporting meat to all over the country is bad!) with affordable prices? Aren't these organic, grass-fed beef normally sold in chic upscale supermarkets? Is he suggesting no-child policy to curb the population and to make way for those healthy, happy cows?

The book doesn't stop me from anything. Prior to reading, I already know that these fried foods are not good for my health and moderation is key to all my eating activities. I enjoy reading the book but feel misled by its content. The problem with the fast food nation is not the cheap end-product at high social cost but the lack of common sense and excessive gluttony of its consumers.

I remember someone who wrote an email full of expletive because, after reading this book, he felt McDonalds caused his children's addiction to the Happy Meals. Now I understand why he, like countless fans, was so readily bought: the book's theme is David vs. Goliath, its tone straight from tabloids, its information tasty morsels from the dark side of an otherwise wholesome industry. The book provides ammunition for people who prefer to absolve personal responsibilities. In short, this book is served the way people like it, regardless of its content. ...more
4

Aug 29, 2011


Written on May 29, 2012:

I am glad that I had a large Pizza and a KFC burger at the Delhi airport before I started this book. Adios fatty fries, triple-decker domes and cheesy discs, you will be missed. Ignorance is indeed bliss sometimes.

Update: June 22, 2014

I am happy to report that I have largely stuck to this. Ever since reading this I have virtually avoided this sort of trash and must have eaten a maximum of a couple of burgers and pizzas in the last two years (and that too most reluctantly,
Written on May 29, 2012:

I am glad that I had a large Pizza and a KFC burger at the Delhi airport before I started this book. Adios fatty fries, triple-decker domes and cheesy discs, you will be missed. Ignorance is indeed bliss sometimes.

Update: June 22, 2014

I am happy to report that I have largely stuck to this. Ever since reading this I have virtually avoided this sort of trash and must have eaten a maximum of a couple of burgers and pizzas in the last two years (and that too most reluctantly, when unavoidable). Thanks, Schlosser. ...more
5

Jan 14, 2008

Fast Food Nation is a fascinating and very readable book. In some ways it reminds me of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. It's not only a critique of fast food, the chemicals we are ingesting and the health problems we are facing, it is also critical of a system that allows exploitation of young, old and immigrant workers, and of the suburban sprawl that resulted from the eradication of efficient and environmentally friendly public transportation by the auto industry. The author focuses his criticism Fast Food Nation is a fascinating and very readable book. In some ways it reminds me of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. It's not only a critique of fast food, the chemicals we are ingesting and the health problems we are facing, it is also critical of a system that allows exploitation of young, old and immigrant workers, and of the suburban sprawl that resulted from the eradication of efficient and environmentally friendly public transportation by the auto industry. The author focuses his criticism on the states of California and Colorado when in reality the same strip malls with the same chain stores and miles of fast-food clusters and suburban sprawl exist all over the US.

I have always been particular about what I eat and rarely visit fast-food restaurants, so this book has not changed my eating habits drastically. It has, however, made me a wiser consumer.
...more
4

Jun 28, 2013

Oh, America. When will you wise up?

In 1998, the seed of Fast Food Nation appeared in Rolling Stone Magazine. Schlosser's expose has since been expanded to a book and then a movie, and still international love affair with fast food continues. The latest edition also contains an afterword addressing 'mad cow disease,' or bovine spongiform encephalopathy. In it, Schlosser accomplishes the almost Herculean task of weaving together the birth of the fast food industry, the growing connection with car Oh, America. When will you wise up?

In 1998, the seed of Fast Food Nation appeared in Rolling Stone Magazine. Schlosser's expose has since been expanded to a book and then a movie, and still international love affair with fast food continues. The latest edition also contains an afterword addressing 'mad cow disease,' or bovine spongiform encephalopathy. In it, Schlosser accomplishes the almost Herculean task of weaving together the birth of the fast food industry, the growing connection with car and highway culture, the growth of kid-targeted marketing (McDonalds and Disney were early leaders), the developing connection between the industrialization of our food and family farmers (particularly chicken, potato and beef), the anti-union connection and the development of the engineered food product. I liked it more than I thought it would; expecting a didactic cardboard entree, I was provided with a seven-course meal.

He shows true journalistic roots by beginning sections with a human-interest angle, from the beginning with Carl Karcher (Carl's Jr.) and Richard McDonald, to the potato kingpin J.R. Simplot, to a Colorado rancher fighting to protect his ranch against enroaching suburbs, to a union representative fighting for safer conditions in slaughterhouses. If there was any weakness in the book, it would be the challenge in bridging the stories from the individual to the larger philosophical and systemic issue. I understand the human face helps a reader create meaning, but for me it occasionally felt contrived, particularly in the international settings.

For me, there was an especially powerful moment of revelation when Schlosser points out the drawback of dealing with corporations, not local owners:
"The nation's meatpacking firms, on the other hand, have proven themselves to be far less committed to remaining in a particular community. They have successfully pitted one economically depressed region against another, using the threat of plant closures and the promise of future investment to obtain lucrative government subsidies. No longer locally owned, they feel no allegiance to any one place."

Doesn't that just about sums up the state of industry in the U.S.? The only times a corporation can't cut and run is when it depends on a highly skilled workforce. It's one reason the "create jobs" political platforms make me a little crazy.

I found myself wishing this was required reading. It's not that I'm opposed to fast food; I'm opposed to a lack of informed choice. Full disclosure should include understanding some important points from Fast Food Nation:

1) Flavor experts are utilized to create the optimal taste combination that hits our salty-fat-sweet spot. Thus chicken pieces contain an average of 30 different ingredients, of which salt has been added in at least three different steps and an artificial strawberry shake contains over 28 ingredients (http://nutrition.mcdonalds.com/getnut...)
2) the industry has been key in fighting against food regulation and testing, even when known outbreaks of E.coli in school lunches have killed children
3) the burger is sourced from cattle feedlots, where 75% of the pre-cooked meat contained microbes normally found in fecal material
4) companies specifically target children so that they can manipulate their parents into taking them against parents' better judgement
5) potatoes and chicken come from marginalized farmers who are basically one step up from indentured workers, buying raw ingredients from the company and selling the 'grown' product back to them, and insulating the company against risks such as weather, crop failure or disease
6) companies target teens and non-English speakers as workers because they are less liable to demand 'rights' or 'living wages,' and still the company gets a tax break for 'training'
7) absolutely, positively, there is no way to eat healthily at McDonald's with the exception of: a side salad (no dressing), fruit and yogurt parfait (5.2 oz), grilled premium chicken classic sandwich, apple slices and egg whites. (http://nutrition.mcdonalds.com/getnut...)
You may be healthy in spite of the food, but not because of the food.

Again, not saying I condone the choice--I have my once-a-year Shamrock shake, and an intermittent fry craving, proving just how great childhood marketing is and the lure of salty-sweet carb goodness. Less than 5 stars is because for me, the journalistic style over-reached, especially on the section on the German McDonald's, both in Eastern Germany and the one near Dachau as well as Gorbechev speaking at a Las Vegas convention of franchise owners. But overall, it was an excellent book, entertaining and insightful. Reading it gave voice to my intuitive feeling that there is something rotten in the system.


Cross posted at http://clsiewert.wordpress.com/2013/0... ...more
4

May 19, 2018

This, I feel, is now a classic book in the 'wrongs going on in the food-making world'. Although this is from 2001, I feel many of the revelations are still true, unfortunately. It is US-centric, yet at least some of the facts appear worldwide, depending sometimes on the country. But it did make me feel wary about eating fast food if I was traveling in US.

This book of 3 years of research talks about the industry of fast food, and its consequences on people, animals, and nature. There are notes This, I feel, is now a classic book in the 'wrongs going on in the food-making world'. Although this is from 2001, I feel many of the revelations are still true, unfortunately. It is US-centric, yet at least some of the facts appear worldwide, depending sometimes on the country. But it did make me feel wary about eating fast food if I was traveling in US.

This book of 3 years of research talks about the industry of fast food, and its consequences on people, animals, and nature. There are notes and a bibliography at the end, and two afterwords. The city of Colorado Springs, and some other places near it, are the example-centers for many stories within.

This is not a story merely of dangers within food, and on treatment of animals, but also on people suffering because of it. Some of the people are given here as examples of this, and one is left with great sadness after reading their fate. I will now go on to list the chapters. The book is divided in two: first part talk mostly about the business and people behind the counter, the second part focuses on food and global business.
(view spoiler)[
1. Beginnings: history of many fast food companies, including the influence of car culture, and looks of each place
2. Getting to the kids: Disney's involvement, advertising, the toys...
3. The staff: in US often teens - part-time, unskilled, low-pay; causing dropping out of school sometimes; the stricts rules, unpaid overworking, lack of unions, violence in the workplace
4. Being a franchisee (incl. history, rules): success not guaranteed, conflicts with the franchiser (Subway esp. bad)
-
5. Potatoes = french fries: how it is done, how farmers suffer (esp. smaller), where the good taste comes from: 'natural flavor' (not necessarily healthier than the beef tallow used before). Here we find the often-quoted ingredients list for stuff in strawberry milkshake - long and hair-rising).
6. Cattle business: here we find ranchers suffering just like the potato farmers above, small plots merging into bigger ones. Similar is also going on with poultry growers. Some ranchers commit suicide, like the example of Hank here.
7. Meatpacking industry: workers often (illegal-sometimes) immigrants, often illiterate and unaware of any rights; high turnover rate (usual lasting time 3 months); creating poverty-and-crime/drug-ridden areas around; the smell from feedlots (the shit); history: from urban to rural, away from unions.
8. Health risks of workers in said industry: from 'knife cut scars' to 'DEATH'; the working conditions are dangerous, especially because of the speed demanded; many accidents go unreported (and injury reviews are often falsified); abusive supervisors, especially for women who get verbal/sexual abuse also from male workers; especially bad for sanitation crew who work with chroline-mixed, hot water: poor visibility, heath, hit with water by other workers, falling risks, etc. Later the author tells us that while the places he reported about were bad, it was *worse* in Texas.
9. Contaminated food (you might refrain from eating when you read this chapter): the e.coli, salmonella, listeria. The meatpacking systems' lax food safety pratices does not help. What bad can be introduced in the meat besides those mentioned: many, but especially SHIT. Children being vulnerable also through school food (which gets cheap meats). Feedlot issues: worn-out dairy cattle, all the shit around, what they eat (other animals, incl. cats and dogs). The industry goes for denial, inspection-avoiding, recall-avoiding/hiding. The meat also can end up in the home freezers.
10. Fast food globally: rise of obesity, less use of traditional food, agricultural production imports, advertisement for kids, spying on protesters. Global conquest especially post-Cold War, causing protests.
Epilogue 1: Different ways of raising beef; Conway's Red Top (closed in 2012) and In-N-Out (still going strong); what good influence can come from McDonald's power; what even the ordinary consumer can do.
Epilogue 2 (added after first prints): on Mad Cow: from feeding other animals to cows (same sort of feeding happens in other places - poultry, hogs, pets, zoo animals). Reaction to the problem: not addressed well at first. This shows that contaminated food appears in other countries too; although US has avoided serious Mad Cow stuff, who know what will happen? Also addresses reaction to the first prints of the book. (hide spoiler)]

The ending of the book shows the authors' optimistic views about the future of fast food industry; it might be different now. But anyway, this book did make me think, even if some points vary by country. I have some trust in my country's meat industry so that doesn't worry me here. Still, it did raise my awareness of workers' rights, what cautions I might use while traveling, and of favoring more my country own burger chains, I guess *lol*
This is a classic book, one that makes you think, one that might make you lose your appetite for a second, and maybe make you grateful for some things that you don't have (bad working conditions, ill health). It seemed first a bit frightening to read this, but I was glad in the end for the experience. Well worth it. ...more
3

Jun 07, 2007

Wowwwww.

By the time you finish reading this book, you will strongly consider becoming either a vegan or a hard-core local eater, or both. I took a tiny bit of comfort in knowing that I eat vegan about half the days in the year; still, the book really scared me. It's hard, factual journalism with a huge section of footnotes in the back. As much as I'd love to dispute some of Schlosser's claims, I look around me and see evidence to support what he says about the amount of cheap food we eat and Wowwwww.

By the time you finish reading this book, you will strongly consider becoming either a vegan or a hard-core local eater, or both. I took a tiny bit of comfort in knowing that I eat vegan about half the days in the year; still, the book really scared me. It's hard, factual journalism with a huge section of footnotes in the back. As much as I'd love to dispute some of Schlosser's claims, I look around me and see evidence to support what he says about the amount of cheap food we eat and what it's doing to us.

Contrary to popular opinion, this is not a book that vilifies fast food. Chains like In-N-Out Burger are extolled for using fresh, safe meat and peeling their own potatoes. Nor does it vilify carnivores. The gist of the book is that, in our relentless demand for a cheaper, more efficient system, we have neglected the human element of each phase of food preparation, from farm to plate. Something has gone horribly wrong.

The author avoids what could be a smug, glib attitude in favor of an urgent, prodding tone: it is clear he believes we are in a crisis, and he is probably right. It's hard to go back to your favorite restaurant and order a hamburger after reading "What's in the Meat," or to complain about work after finishing "The Most Dangerous Job." Serious stuff.

I do think Schlosser comes down way too hard on conservatives in the book, and he admits in the epilogue that to be fair, many liberals are guilty of the same sins. For instance, the Clinton family has close ties to the poultry industry in much the same was as the Bush family does to the beef industry (which is the primary subject of his research.)

Finally, I applaud his conclusion, which is a very pragmatist (and even capitalist) approach: in a free market, we vote in dollars spent. If, through our purchases, we demand safer meat, fresher produce, and fair pay for food service industry workers, we will get what we want. It's a simple matter of doing research before we buy, of supporting small farms who do things the old, slow, respectful way.

Well, I'd say "enjoy" . . . but I read it too! I gave it three stars only because I couldn't justify saying I "loved it" when it consistently made me want to skip dinner. But I'm glad I read it. You should read it too.

Kyrie eleison! ...more
4

Mar 08, 2008

Another title for this entertaining book could have been "Our disposable society: How our utter disrespect for our selves, each other and our environment created the world we live in today."

The automobile's destructive force on American life was been well documented in other works. But Schlosser extends that work specifically as it relates to the food industry. Not just fast food. But the entire food industry. And it's scary stuff.

Bottom line: we're killing our selves. Yes, fast food is bad for Another title for this entertaining book could have been "Our disposable society: How our utter disrespect for our selves, each other and our environment created the world we live in today."

The automobile's destructive force on American life was been well documented in other works. But Schlosser extends that work specifically as it relates to the food industry. Not just fast food. But the entire food industry. And it's scary stuff.

Bottom line: we're killing our selves. Yes, fast food is bad for you. But its not just the crap they serve at the chains. The influence of fast food is so pervasive that it effects all aspects of our nation's food supply. And it does so adversely.

Our nation's food supply is now a full blown public health crises. Food poisoning is epidemic. Food supply recalls from corporate farms, meat plants and canneries are a weekly occurrence. Each episode worse than the previous.

Schlosser doesn't offer solutions. He sounds the alarm.

...more
3

Nov 24, 2018

Schlosser takes us on a crash course in American history, and it all starts with McDonalds. At the same time that Ray Kroc was envisioning how McDonalds could change the world (and make him rich), Eisenhower was overseeing the construction of the superhighway system. Almost immediately, fast food restaurants began mushrooming on the edges of freeway entrances, and America was never the same.

Fast food isn't just unhealthy, its destroying our culture. Instead of looking around at our beautiful Schlosser takes us on a crash course in American history, and it all starts with McDonalds. At the same time that Ray Kroc was envisioning how McDonalds could change the world (and make him rich), Eisenhower was overseeing the construction of the superhighway system. Almost immediately, fast food restaurants began mushrooming on the edges of freeway entrances, and America was never the same.

Fast food isn't just unhealthy, its destroying our culture. Instead of looking around at our beautiful environment, we see mostly urban sprawl: gigantic neon signs, and cookie-cutter subdivisions. Not only does this loss of beauty affect our souls, our standard of living has gone down. Gone are many good jobs. Meatcutter jobs that were part of the middle classes are now mainly occupied by illegal immigrants who are so desperate they will risk losing their fingers (or their lives) in these dangerous, difficult jobs. And what has happened to the livelihood of farmers is a national shame.

Being that this book is 20 years old, there is reason for optimism. Slow food has become a movement. Organic foods are sold in every grocery store. But we still have to make the choice. The choice of what world we wish to live in. The temptations to stop for fast food are still there. But improvements that Schlosser was dreaming of are happening, more and more.

I recommend this book because these gory details and tragic histories could freeze into our brains and be a fit reminder to bypass these common and convenient foods and begin to make changes in our lives. The history of these companies is important to know. They cared about keeping their pockets lined, at the expense of their workers. At the expense of peoples lives. ...more
5

Nov 28, 2018

Excellent

The last sentence of the book (that I appreciate a lot) : 'Despite all evidence to the contrary, I remain optimistic'.
4

Feb 05, 2013

McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, and more...they all have the friendly, bright exterior, with the fast, cheap, addictive food. But behind the bright colors, the mascots, and the friendly clerk smile is a whole different world of fast food. Eric Schlosser peels back that wrapper to show the real world of fast food - big corporations using people and people's ignorance to rise in power, drive out the little guy, and make more and more money for themselves. Oh, yeah, and the food is gross too.

I McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, and more...they all have the friendly, bright exterior, with the fast, cheap, addictive food. But behind the bright colors, the mascots, and the friendly clerk smile is a whole different world of fast food. Eric Schlosser peels back that wrapper to show the real world of fast food - big corporations using people and people's ignorance to rise in power, drive out the little guy, and make more and more money for themselves. Oh, yeah, and the food is gross too.

I think by this point most people have heard of this book or the "Super Size Me" movie or many of the other pieces that have swarmed the media mind in the past decade. (Yes, decade. God, I feel old.) That was what drove me to buy this book years ago - that, and it was used.

This year has been the year of non-fiction reads for me. Finally, almost five years after graduating college, I can read non-fiction again without tensing up and going into melt-down mode. One of the many non-fiction topics that has interested me is the fast food industry and the America meal. That is why I took this book off my shelf and finally read it.

I didn't really expect to learn much that was new. I had read the news articles about how bad fast food is for you. I saw "Super Size Me" and the McDonald's hamburger and fries that looked good after weeks of sitting out on a counter exposed to the elements. And I've experienced first hand the affects of fast food - how it makes you gain weight, become lethargic, etc. So I figured this book would be pretty much more of the same.

If you open this book expecting only to hear about how bad and unhealthy the fast food itself is, you will be surprised to find out that is only a small portion of what Schlosser focuses on. Sure, he does bring up the quality of food (SPOILERS: It's gross), but he focuses a lot more on other areas: how these seemingly cheery companies treat their workers, their competitors, and the food industry itself.

One of the images that stays with me is the life of a worker in a slaughterhouse - not because of seeing a cow gutted (though, admittedly, that sounds absolutely disgusting). But how these companies drive their employees like draft horses. Pushing through 40+ cattle an hour. Forcing employees to lie about injuries. Refusing to pay worker's comp. Letting employees work in terrible conditions, exposed to dangerous chemicals and gases. Not training the employees enough to do the job well. And then paying these employees the absolute lowest amount they can get away with.

All the while, these companies tightly grasp the curtain and shout to the government, "Nothing to see here! Everything's all good!" Even as employee after employee dies in a tragic, mostly preventable manner. Even as meat is exposed to dangerous diseases (E.Coli anyone?). You want to know what one company got fined after several people died of hydrogen sulfide poisoning? $480 PER PERSON. For a company making billions in profits per year?! That's absolutely ridiculous!!

There were moments that I found rather dry and pointless. The prologue introduces us to a military compound in Colorado to make us imagine how future explorers may find fast food wrappers in caves and wonder what these weird people from the 1990's are like. And that's pretty much the entire point of bringing up this base in intricate detail. A lot of time is spent detailing the background of Colorado's growth, key fast food giant's backstories, and more. And while a good portion of it does make sense (learning about Ray Kroc or Carl Karcher's background IS important to the "narrative"), sometimes it got long-winded and meandering.

The other "problem" with this book is how dated it already is. This book was written in 2001, with an updated forward in 2002. A lot has happened in the 10 years since this book was written. A lot of fast food companies aren't doing the "Super Size Me" thing anymore. McDonald's has included apples and milk to its Happy Meal menu; most of the fast food companies have hurriedly added coffee drinks to their menus to draw new customers. And that doesn't include how most menus have a lot more salad and chicken options (Okay, so they aren't all that healthy, but it's certainly better than it was before!). I personally would love to see a "sequel" that explores some of the changes that the fast food industry has been forced to make and how much farther they have to go.

A lot has changed in the world since the Mad Cow Disease and E.Coli outbreaks scared many people into reconsidering their food choices. This book lead the forefront into bringing awareness and change. And for that reason, this book has an important place in our history. Even if you think you know what this book says, I recommend picking it up and checking it out. You may learn a thing or two. ...more
2

Jul 12, 2007

I heard such great things about this book, but I have to say that I really had a hard time digesting it. Sorry, that pun was intended. It had so much gloom and doom and I really lost interest. Plus, I felt like I already knew more than half of the gross-out, oppressive factoids it spewed at me. The only part I enjoyed was when it talked about In-N-Out Burger and what a great employer they are and that John 3:16 is printed on the bottom of the cups. When I went to an In-N-Out and the clerk handed I heard such great things about this book, but I have to say that I really had a hard time digesting it. Sorry, that pun was intended. It had so much gloom and doom and I really lost interest. Plus, I felt like I already knew more than half of the gross-out, oppressive factoids it spewed at me. The only part I enjoyed was when it talked about In-N-Out Burger and what a great employer they are and that John 3:16 is printed on the bottom of the cups. When I went to an In-N-Out and the clerk handed me my cup, I immediately flipped it over and saw the John 3:16 and then showed my two friends. The worker behind the counter asked what I was looking at and I showed him. When he said that he had no idea that those words were under the cups, it made me happy to know that In-N-Out wasn't forcing their religious beliefs down their workers' throats. Mmmm... For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only a juicy In-N-Out burger. Amen! ...more
4

Sep 12, 2016

Although a little dated, this book takes a good look at the fast-food industry and what effect it has had on people's lives--starting with the history of how it all began.

Some of the issues that Schlosser is concerned with here are: good nutrition, food safety, animal welfare, worker rights and sustainable agriculture. What also is of concern is the Americanization of food around the world, bringing food of questionable nutrition and its accompanying health issues, such as obesity and heart Although a little dated, this book takes a good look at the fast-food industry and what effect it has had on people's lives--starting with the history of how it all began.

Some of the issues that Schlosser is concerned with here are: good nutrition, food safety, animal welfare, worker rights and sustainable agriculture. What also is of concern is the Americanization of food around the world, bringing food of questionable nutrition and its accompanying health issues, such as obesity and heart disease.

#2016-aty-reading-challenge-week-47: a book with a type of food/drink in the title. ...more
5

Sep 08, 2007

I grew up in Greeley, CO. It was interesting to read about how your hometown is a home base for slaughterhouses. At night the entire town smells bad. I could relate to this book because I lived in Greeley and I can relate to this book because I am not fond of fast food.

The book talks about the start of burger joints and how they grew to be such an influence in today's society. The author discusses the life of workers and the working conditions in the meat packing plants. This interests me as I I grew up in Greeley, CO. It was interesting to read about how your hometown is a home base for slaughterhouses. At night the entire town smells bad. I could relate to this book because I lived in Greeley and I can relate to this book because I am not fond of fast food.

The book talks about the start of burger joints and how they grew to be such an influence in today's society. The author discusses the life of workers and the working conditions in the meat packing plants. This interests me as I believe all workers of any vocation should be entitled to a safe and healthy working environment.

I also learned about In and Out burger joint. I have never seen In and Out Burger here in Colorado. I was very impressed. In and Out Burger purchases meat from local farmers. They also pay their employees better than the popular burger joint.

I enjoyed taking the tour with the author into the food industry's practices. I knew a lot about the meat industry before reading this book and I learned even more about what constitutes "natural flavors." The book made me want to read "The Jungle" by Sinclair.

The book was informative. I might have a biased reason for liking this book as it was validation to why I didn't eat meat anyway. I live in Boulder County now so what can I say? Damn Hippies. ...more
3

Jun 30, 2007

There are some shady rhetorical techniques used in this book. I particularly mean the chapter that begins with the little boy who dies after eating at a fast food restaurant. At the chapter's opening is a picture of the boy. It's sad. Then the chapter tells the story. Schlosser builds up a load of pathos to prove his point that fast food is so awful it kills children. Then, in a cursory statement, Schlosser divulges that the boy had other problems and died of a cause unrelated to the food he There are some shady rhetorical techniques used in this book. I particularly mean the chapter that begins with the little boy who dies after eating at a fast food restaurant. At the chapter's opening is a picture of the boy. It's sad. Then the chapter tells the story. Schlosser builds up a load of pathos to prove his point that fast food is so awful it kills children. Then, in a cursory statement, Schlosser divulges that the boy had other problems and died of a cause unrelated to the food he ate. What?! The book is loaded with these kinds of flaws. Which is sad because I think the thesis is important. That food is awful. And the situation must change.
I taught a research and writing class with this book, and most of my students were at first appalled by Schlosser's finding. Then, after we analyzed his rhetorical techniques, they were appalled by Schlosser. In the end, no student took Schlosser's thesis seriously. We didn't exactly throw a fast food party, but I think everyone would have eaten the food had we done it.
That does not mean the book has no value. It explains the fascinating history of the fast food industry. That, in itself, got this book three stars on my ratings. ...more
4

Nov 22, 2008

I was surprised at how balanced this was! I'd heard about it and expected a start-to-finish diatribe against the fast food nation industry from top to bottom, but that wasn't the case. Schlosser's approach is more soft-touch than ham-fist, which is good, because I prefer my medicine to go down easy, not taste like acid.
4

Aug 11, 2015

Well, I finished that considerably sooner than I expected to. Mainly because the last 44% of the book (I read it on my Kindle) is taken up entirely by an enormous bibliography, photograph credits section and an incredibly in-depth index.

I wasn't sad; by the 56% mark I'd had enough, to be honest. I'm not saying it's a bad book by any means but it's not the kind of book one enjoys.

The book held few surprises for me, I'm sad to say. I already knew at least 50% of the information contained in it and Well, I finished that considerably sooner than I expected to. Mainly because the last 44% of the book (I read it on my Kindle) is taken up entirely by an enormous bibliography, photograph credits section and an incredibly in-depth index.

I wasn't sad; by the 56% mark I'd had enough, to be honest. I'm not saying it's a bad book by any means but it's not the kind of book one enjoys.

The book held few surprises for me, I'm sad to say. I already knew at least 50% of the information contained in it and another 40% I could have guessed, based on my knowledge of how big business works. Perhaps I'm just too cynical to be shocked by this stuff or perhaps I've just accepted the fact that large companies will do absolutely anything they think they can get away with to increase their profit margins as a basic fact of life in the twenty first century.

'What about the other 10%?' I hear the more attentive mathematicians amongst you cry! Well, the only part of this book I did find a bit shocking was the section that dealt with some of the horrific injuries suffered by employees in meat packing factories in the US. Injuries and deaths, I should say. Bone-chilling stuff, particularly the part about the meat packing employee who fell into a vat and was rendered into lard. Bad as that is, it's not the worst part (no sausage jokes, please); the lard was then SOLD AND EATEN!

Ghhaarrrccckkkk!!!

Anyway, I'm not dwelling on that any longer than absolutely necessary... Let's just say that this is an informative book that everybody should read... probably... It might give you nightmares, though; don't say I didn't warn you! This being said, you probably won't get the desired effect from the book unless you're considerably less cynical than I am...

Right! That's that review written! Now... Burger King or KFC for dinner tonight? Decisions, decisions... ...more
5

Jul 10, 2012

This is one of those books that should open the eyes of most readers to the food and flavor industry in America.

As with so many aspects of American life, Schlosser deftly examines how humans are studied and then manipulated into following our drives, both conscious and subconscious, and how those that profit from learning about our behavior, continue to do so.

In reading this book, people will see food, production of food and the marketing and selling of food, in a new light.

3

Mar 20, 2011

There's a witty and disturbing satire by Stanislaw Lem called The Futurological Congress. It's one of those books where the hero gradually comes to understand that the world isn't as it seems. He's ended up in this future utopia, but there are some puzzling details that don't quite fit. For example, why do people often appear out of breath when they get out of the elevator?

In the end, all is revealed. He's sitting with a friend in a fancy restaurant, and (view spoiler)[the guy says that yes, There's a witty and disturbing satire by Stanislaw Lem called The Futurological Congress. It's one of those books where the hero gradually comes to understand that the world isn't as it seems. He's ended up in this future utopia, but there are some puzzling details that don't quite fit. For example, why do people often appear out of breath when they get out of the elevator?

In the end, all is revealed. He's sitting with a friend in a fancy restaurant, and (view spoiler)[the guy says that yes, much of their life is an illusion. This is well known, though people prefer not to talk about it. But if he's so curious, there's a thing he might want to try. It's a chemical that will strip off all the multiple illusions that are projected in order to make life look pleasanter than it really is.

So the hero hesitates a moment, and then he takes the red pill. (In this book, it's a preparation based on very intense smelling salts, a touch I liked). The real world appears. He suddenly sees why you're breathless when you get out of the elevator. There are no elevators: people are swarming up and down the grillwork of the shafts like climbing apes. His friend, who a moment ago looked like a healthy, successful, middle-aged scientist type, is revealed as a hideously deformed cripple. The cordon bleu meal in front of them turns out to be a ghastly pile of chemical slop. (hide spoiler)]

His friend looks at him in alarm.

"Was I... much changed?" he whispers.

Well, it's not quite as bad as that with Fast Food Nation, but, as Gulla says in the comment below, you won't want to eat a hamburger again. It will be much changed.
...more
4

Aug 13, 2009

So I was eating a Big Mac at a McDonald's in the town where I was going to college, while reading this book, when a woman walked over to me and asked me what I was reading. I showed her the cover of the book. She asked me what it was about. I said it was about fat people in a fat nation. She was horrified with my response. (Let me tell you that I played football in college, and I've always had a few extra pounds on me: 5'10" 240lbs.; I was strong-side linebacker.) Anyways, she went on to ask why So I was eating a Big Mac at a McDonald's in the town where I was going to college, while reading this book, when a woman walked over to me and asked me what I was reading. I showed her the cover of the book. She asked me what it was about. I said it was about fat people in a fat nation. She was horrified with my response. (Let me tell you that I played football in college, and I've always had a few extra pounds on me: 5'10" 240lbs.; I was strong-side linebacker.) Anyways, she went on to ask why I would be reading this book in a McDonald's. I really didn't have an answer to her question; it just happened to be the one I grabbed before walking over for a burger. I should have asked her why she was so unsettled that I was reading this book while enjoying a Big Mac and chocolate shake, but I didn't. I shrugged and said it was a good book and she went away.

That was almost ten years ago; I've modified my eating habits. I guess as you get older the old metabolism decides to stop working at full capacity. I had all but forgotten about this book until I read a review of one of my GR friends, Nancy. After I read her review, I was reminded of how much I really like the book. Yes, it is sensationalistic journalism at its finest, but it does make some good points. And even with all the scare tactics thrown in the book for good measure, the book does raise awareness to exactly what we are putting in our bodies when we decide to eat fast food, and how the animals are treated before being slaughtered for our consumption.

(On a side note, there happens to be a section about meatpacking plants, and the one in the town I grew up in is mentioned by name. Hurrah Midwest!!)

Read the book. But make sure that you know just what exactly is be spotlighted. Like any piece of investigative journalism, the reader has a responsibility to think about the facts after being exposed to them.

Man, I'm kinda hungry.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
...more
4

Feb 01, 2011

This book opened my eyes and scared the shit out of me. Just the description of how meat is produced in slaughterhouses was enough to make me quiver and question our entire 'food system'.

This book answers questions that you didn't even know you needed to be asking. The glut of (disturbing) information is easily digestible (see what I did there?) and the knowledge contained here is important for *everyone* to know in our modern era of 'so called food' and 'nutrition'. -Jen from Quebec :0)
3

Feb 17, 2009

I started reading this book after having lunch at a fast food restaurant....

Have you ever been bored of cooking, would like to get away from stressful problem, trying to find a place where you can eat while your children can play, or trying to find a fast testable tasteful food? …..

I grew up in a country where rice is the staple food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My first acquaintance with fast food was in mid 80’s. School and work have brought me to different culture and different countries I started reading this book after having lunch at a fast food restaurant....

Have you ever been bored of cooking, would like to get away from stressful problem, trying to find a place where you can eat while your children can play, or trying to find a fast testable tasteful food? …..

I grew up in a country where rice is the staple food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My first acquaintance with fast food was in mid 80’s. School and work have brought me to different culture and different countries which forced me to survive to various tastes and culinary culture. But this first touch of fast food has sometimes become a ‘get-away’ path for me.

After long hours of studying (or dance practice), I still remember of having late supper at “three letters” fast food restaurant down at College Station Road, Athens (GA) with friends. Years after that during Eid, some friends and I were having dinner again at this ‘three letters’ restaurant in Newcastle, UK., because we were too busy and couldn’t find time to have a proper Eid meals. I also recalled couple of visits in this restaurant chain in Menado or Kendari after long weeks of hiking and staying in remote places of Talaud or Buton.

This book was not just about the food, but the whole industry related to fast food, the franchise, the packaging, the workers and their welfare, and the lethal E.coli !!!. Ouch! How lucky I was surviving from the possibility of facing the impact of this industry, at least to my health. Trend is like virus, very contagious. I am wondering if we’re having the similar problems in my country. Malls are everywhere, face-to-face. When one food vendor becomes popular, everyone wants to be in the first queue of tasting it and the others build similar types of stores or sell similar types of food. The use of borax in meatballs or tofu has drawn our attention to be more careful in selecting or buying our food.

Indonesian meals particularly home-made meals are still my preference these days. It is healthier but is time consuming to prepare especially like me who put the same seriousness in cooking as in studying. One thing I could not avoid, the potato products… Chips and fries… sigh!
...more
3

January 4, 2013

Disconcerting Supply Chain
Unlike the restaurants and food preparatory processes discussed, the statistics and case studies of Fast Food Nation are palatable. The book succeeds in taking a complex industry, introducing the reader to its history in the context of American industrial development, and disassembling it out by its major components. One of the more memorable sections of the book focuses on fast food employees, the growing standardization of their roles over time, and the extreme measures some companies pursue in order to avoid any consequences of hiring an inconsistent, unreliable workforce.
Fast Food Nation makes a great effort to identify many of the cultural, personal, and political issues in play within the fast food industry, though it does little to incite change. If the book presented concrete solutions, I do not recall many of them, it works better as a highlight reel of atrocity rather than a meditation on possible improvements. I read the book in 2012, 11 years after Fast Food Nation was originally published but I have failed to see any of the changes highlighted in the book taking hold. Democracy still appears to be smothered by special interests and lobbying, and despite other media emphasizing the horrifying state of our food industry we seem stuck in that same feedback loop.
Ultimately Fast Food Nation will open your eyes to many of the issues in the fast food industry, though perhaps the greatest lesson is how much more it will take to actually incite change.
4

Dec 28, 2008

I expected this story to be the written version of Supersize Me, but it is actually much more comprehensive. Schlosser provdes a pretty in-depth history of the development of the cattlle, poultry, and potato industries and also fast-food chains. Schlosser has his moments of leftist, Republican-bashing arguments, but for the most part he tells a balanced story. The meatpacking industry comes off looking very malicious, but surprisingly Schlosser is somewhat light on his criticism fast food I expected this story to be the written version of Supersize Me, but it is actually much more comprehensive. Schlosser provdes a pretty in-depth history of the development of the cattlle, poultry, and potato industries and also fast-food chains. Schlosser has his moments of leftist, Republican-bashing arguments, but for the most part he tells a balanced story. The meatpacking industry comes off looking very malicious, but surprisingly Schlosser is somewhat light on his criticism fast food chains. He does not talk extensively on the obesity epidemic that is fueled by Big Fast Food.

I think the pertinent themes that resonate in this book are:
1) The drive for smaller government is far less benign than it sounds. Regulation of industries is an undertaking that only governments (and not individuals or self-policing businesses) are equipped to do. When governments are regulating effectively, OSHA is able to ensure safe work environments, small businesses are able to stay competitive thanks to anti-trust regulations, and food products are relatively uncontaminated. When budgets get slashed, all the above (and also apparently the financial markets) are compromised.
2) Some will argue that the ends justify the means and that our food is as cheap as it is only because of the objectionable practices of the meat and fast food corporations. Schlosser argues that in fact fast food chains like In-And-Out and other companies making organic products provide decently priced foods without squeezing workers to death or being lacksadaisical with safety. A point is also made that cheap food should not be our blind end goal.
3) Turnover and low skill sounds bad for employers, but in the meatpacking and fast food industries, quick turnover and low-skilled workers are ideal in order to prevent having to provide benefits and also to prevent successful unionization.

The writing style was very smooth and easy to fly through.

All in all, this is an exemplary work of investigative reporting that will hopefully one day be regarded similarly to Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. ...more

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