March 29, 2013

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

When I started this book, I expected something like Super Size Me.  A book detailing why fast food is bad for us.  But what I got was more like Sinclair's The Jungle (and indeed, that book is mentioned several times in this one).  This book focuses on the labor and unethical business practices of fast food.

Schlosser starts with the origins of fast food, and it's a really interesting look at history.  From Walt Disney's interaction in the industry to the founders of all the major fast food chains, there are a lot of people represented here.  It also shows how they became so popular and why they are thriving today.  Next it heads into what the book calls "Meat and Potatoes".  It shows the different ways these two products are manufactured and the inherent dangers that happen in processing.  There's also a lot on the subject of food borne illnesses.  Finally, it ends with the globalization of the fast food restaurants.

Schlosser feels very strongly about the subject and you can certainly tell what side he's on.  And I'm on the same side, so it doesn't bother me at all.  But Monsanto and some of the other companies represented in this book might not be as happy with it.  And from this book I found out that some states actually allow the food manufacturers to sue you for libel if you say something against their food without sufficient proof to back it up.  So, I'm hoping for the authors sake, that everything in here is well researched and true, although with the size of the bibliography and notes there was a lot of research done.

This is a subject that hits near and dear to me because I care about where my food comes from.  Unfortunately my wallet is not as picky so I probably do consume a little food that comes from the manufacturers as I can't afford organic for every meal.  But I do the best I can, and every little bit counts.  And I do have to say, like The Jungle, this book has put me off hamburger meat again.  Like I said before, it is biased, but Schlosser has done his research. He's able to grip you with the facts at the same time turning your stomach and making you feel for the people working in such poor conditions to produce the food.  I for one wouldn't mind paying more for my food if it meant better safety for the workers, and this book opened my eyes to that.

An eye-opener type of book.  You'll explore things about the food industry that you don't particularly want to know.  But it's well written and informative and while I would have liked to see more on the health effects of the food, I definitely learned by reading this book.

Fast Food Nation
Copyright 2001
356 pages

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