BN.com Gift Guide

Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

( 305 )

Overview

Fast food has hastened the malling of our landscape, widened the chasm between rich and poor, fueled an epidemic of obesity, and propelled American cultural imperialism abroad. That's a lengthy list of charges, but Eric Scholsser makes them stick with an artful mix of first-rate reportage, wry wit, and careful reasoning. Along the way, he shatters myths and unearths a trove of fascinating, unsettling truths - from the unholy alliance between fast food and Hollywood to the seismic changes the industry has wrought ...
See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (445) from $1.99   
  • New (1) from $3.85   
  • Used (444) from $1.99   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$3.85
Seller since 2006

Feedback rating:

(998)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

New
2005-07-05 Paperback New New Item. Item delivered via UPS in 7-9 business days. Tracking available by request Ships from US. Please allow 1-3 weeks for delivery outside US.

Ships from: Appleton, WI

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Close
Sort by
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.49
BN.com price
(Save 30%)$14.99 List Price
This digital version does not exactly match the physical book displayed here.
Marketplace
BN.com

All Available Formats & Editions

Overview

Fast food has hastened the malling of our landscape, widened the chasm between rich and poor, fueled an epidemic of obesity, and propelled American cultural imperialism abroad. That's a lengthy list of charges, but Eric Scholsser makes them stick with an artful mix of first-rate reportage, wry wit, and careful reasoning. Along the way, he shatters myths and unearths a trove of fascinating, unsettling truths - from the unholy alliance between fast food and Hollywood to the seismic changes the industry has wrought in food production and popular culture.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Fast food has become a veritable American institution, with restaurants serving a quick bite in every strip mall and roadside rest area across the country. But, according to Fast Food Nation, the fast food establishment has been serving up much more than just cheap hamburgers and greasy fries. In compelling fashion, author Eric Schlosser traces the growth of fast food chains after World War II and condemns the industry for giving rise to such cultural maladies as obesity, classism, American global imperialism, and environmental devastation.
San Francisco Gate
“Superb and wonderfully horrifying....”
Boston Globe
...reminiscent of Upton Sinclair's 'The Jungle'.....
Rob Walker
...Schlosser is a serious and diligent reporter..." "[Fast Food Nation] is a fine piece of muckraking, alarming without beling alarmist. —The New York Times
Time Out New York
Part cultural history, part investigative journalism and part polemic...intelligent and highly readable critique....
Atlanta Journal Constitution
'Fast Food Nation' should be another wake-up call, a super-size serving of common sense....
From The Critics
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

Publishers Weekly
In this fascinating sociocultural report, Schlosser digs into the deeper meaning of Burger King, Auggie's, The Chicken Shack, Jack-in-the-Box, Little Caesar's and myriad other examples of fast food in America. Frequently using McDonald's as a template, Schlosser, an Atlantic Monthly correspondent, explains how the development of fast-food restaurants has led to the standardization of American culture, widespread obesity, urban sprawl and more. In a perky, reportorial voice, Adamson tells of the history, economics, day-to-day dealings and broad and often negative cultural implications of franchised burger joints and pizza factories, delivering impressive snippets of information (e.g., two-thirds of America's fast-food restaurant employees are teenagers; Willard Scott posed as the first Ronald McDonald until higher-ups decided Scott was too round to represent a healthy restaurant like McDonald's). According to Schlosser, most visits to fast-food restaurants are the culinary equivalent of "impulse buys," i.e., someone is driving by and pulls over for a Big Mac. But anyone listening to this audiobook on a car trip and realizing that the Chicken McNugget turned "a bird that once had to be carved at a table" into "a manufactured, value-added product" will think twice about stopping for a snack at the highway rest stop. Based on the Houghton Mifflin hardcover. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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.
Library Journal
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. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/00.]--Wendy Miller, Lexington P.L., KY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Talk Magazine
Millions of Frenchman can't be wrong: American fast food really has homogenized the entire world. More that your postholiday diet's at stake with your next partly-beef patty. This is cultural history from the ground (round) up.
Rob Walker
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.
New York Times Book Review
Michiko Kakutani
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.
New York Times
From the Publisher

"Schlosser is a serious and diligent reporter..." "[Fast Food Nation] is a fine piece of muckraking, alarming without beling alarmist."
—Rob Walker, New York Times Book Review 1/21/01

"Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation is a good old-fashioned muckraking expose in the tradition of The American Way of Death that's as disturbing as it is irresistible....Exhaustively researched, frighteningly convincing....channeling the spirits of Upton Sinclair and Rachel Carson....Schlosser's research is impressive--statistics, reportage, first-person accounts and interviews, mixing the personal with the global."
San Francisco Chronicle

"An exemplary blend of polemic and journalism....A tale full of sound, fury, and popping grease."
—starred review Kirkus Reviews

"Schlosser is part essayist, part investigative journalist. His eye is sharp, his profiles perceptive, his prose thoughtful but spare; this is John McPhee behind the counter...."
Washington Post

"...everywhere in his thorough, gimlet-eyed, superbly told story, Mr. Schlosser offers up visionary glints....For pure, old-fashioned, Upton Sinclair-style muckraking, the chapters on the meatpacking industry are masterful."
Observer

"'Fast Food Nation' is investigative journalism of a very high order. And the fit between the author's reporting and his narrative style is just about perfect. The prose moves gracefully between vignette and exposition, assembling great quantities of data in small areas without bursting at the seams."
Newsday

"Schlosser establishes a seminal argument for the true wrongs at the core of modern America."
Publishers Weekly, Starred

"Reminiscent of Upton Sinclair's 'The Jungle'....."
Boston Globe

"Schlosser has done huge amounts of intense, on-the-scene reporting, and he backs up his concerns very convincingly. He presents incredibly resonant images and statistics and observations the reader is unlikely to forget."
San Jose Mercury News

"'Fast Food Nation' should be another wake-up call, a super-size serving of common sense...."
Atlanta Journal Constitution

"Part cultural history, part investigative journalism and part polemic...intelligent and highly readable critique...."
Time Out New York

"Fast Food Nation is the kind of book that you hope young people read because it demonstrates far better than any social studies class the need for government regulation, the unchecked power of multinational corporations and the importance of our everyday decisions."
USA Today

"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."
Hartford Courant

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060838584
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/5/2005
  • Series: P.S. Series
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Schlosser
Eric Schlosser has been investigating the fast food industry for years. In 1998, his two-part article on the subject in Rolling Stone generated more mail than any other item the magazine had run in years. In addition to writing for Rolling Stone, Schlosser has contributed to The New Yorker and has been a correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly since 1996. He won a National Magazine Award for "Reefer Madness" and "Marijuana and the Law" and has received a Sidney Hillman Foundation Award for Reporting. His work has been nominated for several other National Magazine Awards and for the Loeb Award for business journalism.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Introduction

Cheyenne Mountain sits on the eastern slope of Colorado's Front Range, rising steeply from the prairie and overlooking the city of Colorado Springs. From a distance, the mountain appears beautiful and serene, dotted with rocky outcroppings, scrub oak, and ponderosa pine. It looks like the backdrop of an old Hollywood western, just another gorgeous Rocky Mountain vista. And yet Cheyenne Mountain is hardly pristine. One of the nation's most important military installations lies deep within it, housing units of the North American Aerospace Command, the Air Force Space Command, and the United States Space Command. During the mid-1950s, high-level officials at the Pentagon worried that America's air defenses had become vulnerable to sabotage and attack. Cheyenne Mountain was chosen as the site for a top-secret, underground combat operations center. The mountain was hollowed out, and fifteen buildings, most of them three stories high, were erected amid a maze of tunnels and passageways extending for miles. The four-and-a-half-acre underground complex was designed to survive a direct hit by an atomic bomb. Now officially called the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, the facility is entered through steel blast doors that are three feet thick and weigh twenty-five tons each; they automatically swing shut in less than twenty seconds. The base is closed to the public, and a heavily armed quick response team guards against intruders. Pressurized air within the complex prevents contamination by radioactive fallout and biological weapons. The buildings are mounted on gigantic steel springs to ride out an earthquake or the blast wave of a thermonuclear strike. The hallways and staircases are painted slate gray, the ceilings are low, and there are combination locks on many of the doors. A narrow escape tunnel, entered through a metal hatch, twists and turns its way out of the mountain through solid rock. The place feels like the set of an early James Bond movie, with men in jumpsuits driving little electric vans from one brightly lit cavern to another.

Fifteen hundred people work inside the mountain, maintaining the facility and collecting information from a worldwide network of radars, spy satellites, ground-based sensors, airplanes, and blimps. The Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center tracks every manmade object that enters North American airspace or that orbits the earth. It is the heart of the nation's early warning system. It can detect the firing of a long-range missile, anywhere in the world, before that missile has left the launch pad.

This futuristic military base inside a mountain has the capability to be self-sustaining for at least one month. Its generators can produce enough electricity to power a city the size of Tampa, Florida. Its underground reservoirs hold millions of gallons of water; workers sometimes traverse them in rowboats. The complex has its own underground fitness center, a medical clinic, a dentist's office, a barbershop, a chapel, and a cafeteria. When the men and women stationed at Cheyenne Mountain get tired of the food in the cafeteria, they often send somebody over to the Burger King at Fort Carson, a nearby army base. Or they call Domino's.

Almost every night, a Domino's deliveryman winds his way up the lonely Cheyenne Mountain Road, past the ominous DEADLY FORCE AUTHORIZED signs, past the security checkpoint at the entrance of the base, driving toward the heavily guarded North Portal, tucked behind chain link and barbed wire. Near the spot where the road heads straight into the mountainside, the delivery man drops off his pizzas and collects his tip. And should Armageddon come, should a foreign enemy someday shower the United States with nuclear warheads, laying waste to the whole continent, entombed within Cheyenne Mountain, along with the high-tech marvels, the pale blue jumpsuits, comic books, and Bibles, future archeologists may find other clues to the nature of our civilization -- Big King wrappers, hardened crusts of Cheesy Bread, Barbeque Wing bones, and the red, white, and blue of a Domino's pizza box.

What We Eat

Over the last three decades, fast food has infiltrated every nook and cranny of American society. An industry that began with a handful of modest hot dog and hamburger stands in southern California has spread to every corner of the nation, selling a broad range of foods wherever paying customers may be found. Fast food is now served at restaurants and drive-throughs, at stadiums, airports, zoos, high schools, elementary schools, and universities, on cruise ships, trains, and airplanes, at K-Marts, Wal-Marts, gas stations, and even at hospital cafeterias. In 1970, Americans spent about $6 billion on fast food; in 2000, they spent more than $110 billion. Americans now spend more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software, or new cars. They spend more on fast food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos, and recorded music -- combined.

Pull open the glass door, feel the rush of cool air, walk in, get on line, study the backlit color photographs above the counter, place your order, hand over a few dollars, watch teenagers in uniforms pushing various buttons, and moments later take hold of a plastic tray full of food wrapped in colored paper and cardboard. The whole experience of buying fast food has become so routine, so thoroughly unexceptional and mundane, that it is now taken for granted, like brushing your teeth or stopping for a red light. It has become a social custom as American as a small, rectangular, hand-held, frozen, and reheated apple pie.

This is a book about fast food, the values it embodies, and the world it has made. Fast food has proven to be a revolutionary force in American life; I am interested in it both as a commodity and as a metaphor. What people eat (or don't eat) has always been determined by a complex interplay of social, economic, and technological forces. The early Roman Republic was fed by its citizen-farmers; the Roman Empire, by its slaves. A nation's diet can be more revealing than its art or literature. On any given day in the United States about one-quarter of the adult population visits a fast food restaurant. During a relatively brief period of time, the fast food industry has helped to transform not only the American diet, but also our landscape, economy, workforce, and popular culture. Fast food and its consequences have become inescapable, regardless of whether you eat it twice a day, try to avoid it, or have never taken a single bite.

The extraordinary growth of the fast food industry has been driven by fundamental changes in American society. Adjusted for inflation, the hourly wage of the average U.S. worker peaked in 1973 and then steadily declined for the next twenty-five years. During that period, women entered the workforce in record numbers, often motivated less by a feminist perspective than by a need to pay the bills. In 1975, about one-third of American mothers with young children worked outside the home; today almost two-thirds of such mothers are employed. As the sociologists Cameron Lynne Macdonald and Carmen Sirianni have noted, the entry of so many women into the workforce has greatly increased demand for the types of services that housewives traditionally perform: cooking, cleaning, and child care. A generation ago, three-quarters of the money used to buy food in the United States was spent to prepare meals at home. Today about half of the money used to buy food is spent at restaurants -- mainly at fast food restaurants.

The McDonald's Corporation has become a powerful symbol of America's service economy, which is now responsible for 90 percent of the country's new jobs. In 1968, McDonald's operated about one thousand restaurants. Today it has about twenty-eight thousand restaurants worldwide and opens almost two thousand new ones each year. An estimated one out of every eight workers in the United States has at some point been employed by McDonald's. The company annually hires about one million people, more than any other American organization, public or private. McDonald's is the nation's largest purchaser of beef, pork, and potatoes -- and the second largest purchaser of chicken. The McDonald's Corporation is the largest owner of retail property in the world. Indeed, the company earns the majority of its profits not from selling food but from collecting rent. McDonald's spends more money on advertising and marketing than any other brand. As a result it has replaced Coca-Cola as the world's most famous brand. McDonald's operates more playgrounds than any other private entity in the United States. It is one of the nation's largest distributors of toys. A survey of American schoolchildren found that 96 percent could identify Ronald McDonald. The only fictional character with a higher degree of recognition was Santa Claus. The impact of McDonald's on the way we live today is hard to overstate. The Golden Arches are now more widely recognized than the Christian cross.

In the early 1970s, the farm activist Jim Hightower warned of "the McDonaldization of America." He viewed the emerging fast food industry as a threat to independent businesses, as a step toward a food economy dominated by giant corporations, and as a homogenizing influence on American life. In Eat Your Heart Out (1975), he argued that "bigger is not better." Much of what Hightower feared has come to pass. The centralized purchasing decisions of the large restaurant chains and their demand for standardized products have given a handful of corporations an unprecedented degree of power over the nation's food supply. Moreover, the tremendous success of the fast food industry has encouraged other industries to adopt similar business methods. The basic thinking behind fast food has become the operating system of today's retail economy, wiping out small businesses, obliterating regional differences, and spreading identical stores throughout the country like a self-replicating code.

America's main streets and malls now boast the same Pizza Huts and Taco Bells, Gaps and Banana Republics, Starbucks and Jiffy-Lubes, Foot Lockers, Snip N' Clips, Sunglass Huts, and Hobbytown USAs. Almost every facet of American life has now been franchised or chained. From the maternity ward at a Columbia/HCA hospital to an embalming room owned by Service Corporation International -- "the world's largest provider of death care services," based in Houston, Texas, which since 1968 has grown to include 3,823 funeral homes, 523 cemeteries, and 198 crematoriums, and which today handles the final remains of one out of every nine Americans -- a person can now go from the cradle to the grave without spending a nickel at an independently owned business.

The key to a successful franchise, according to many texts on the subject, can be expressed in one word: "uniformity." Franchises and chain stores strive to offer exactly the same product or service at numerous locations. Customers are drawn to familiar brands by an instinct to avoid the unknown. A brand offers a feeling of reassurance when its products are always and everywhere the same. "We have found out...that we cannot trust some people who are nonconformists," declared Ray Kroc, one of the founders of McDonald's, angered by some of his franchisees. "We will make conformists out of them in a hurry.... The organization cannot trust the individual; the individual must trust the organization."

One of the ironies of America's fast food industry is that a business so dedicated to conformity was founded by iconoclasts and self-made men, by entrepreneurs willing to defy conventional opinion. Few of the people who built fast food empires ever attended college, let alone business school. They worked hard, took risks, and followed their own paths. In many respects, the fast food industry embodies the best and the worst of American capitalism at the start of the twenty-first century -- its constant stream of new products and innovations, its widening gulf between rich and poor. The industrialization of the restaurant kitchen has enabled the fast food chains to rely upon a low-paid and unskilled workforce. While a handful of workers manage to rise up the corporate ladder, the vast majority lack full-time employment, receive no benefits, learn few skills, exercise little control over their workplace, quit after a few months, and float from job to job. The restaurant industry is now America's largest private employer, and it pays some of the lowest wages. During the economic boom of the 1990s, when many American workers enjoyed their first pay raises in a generation, the real value of wages in the restaurant industry continued to fall. The roughly 3.5 million fast food workers are by far the largest group of minimum wage earners in the United States. The only Americans who consistently earn a lower hourly wage are migrant farm workers.

A hamburger and french fries became the quintessential American meal in the 1950s, thanks to the promotional efforts of the fast food chains. The typical American now consumes approximately three hamburgers and four orders of french fries every week. But the steady barrage of fast food ads, full of thick juicy burgers and long golden fries, rarely mentions where these foods come from nowadays or what ingredients they contain. The birth of the fast food industry coincided with Eisenhower-era glorifications of technology, with optimistic slogans like "Better Living through Chemistry" and "Our Friend the Atom." The sort of technological wizardry that Walt Disney promoted on television and at Disneyland eventually reached its fulfillment in the kitchens of fast food restaurants. Indeed, the corporate culture of McDonald's seems inextricably linked to that of the Disney empire, sharing a reverence for sleek machinery, electronics, and automation. The leading fast food chains still embrace a boundless faith in science -- and as a result have changed not just what Americans eat, but also how their food is made.

The current methods for preparing fast food are less likely to be found in cookbooks than in trade journals such as Food Technologist and Food Engineering. Aside from the salad greens and tomatoes, most fast food is delivered to the restaurant already frozen, canned, dehydrated, or freeze-dried. A fast food kitchen is merely the final stage in a vast and highly complex system of mass production. Foods that may look familiar have in fact been completely reformulated. What we eat has changed more in the last forty years than in the previous forty thousand. Like Cheyenne Mountain, today's fast food conceals remarkable technological advances behind an ordinary-looking façade. Much of the taste and aroma of American fast food, for example, is now manufactured at a series of large chemical plants off the New Jersey Turnpike.

In the fast food restaurants of Colorado Springs, behind the counters, amid the plastic seats, in the changing landscape outside the window, you can see all the virtues and destructiveness of our fast food nation. I chose Colorado Springs as a focal point for this book because the changes that have recently swept through the city are emblematic of those that fast food -- and the fast food mentality -- have encouraged throughout the United States. Countless other suburban communities, in every part of the country, could have been used to illustrate the same points. The extraordinary growth of Colorado Springs neatly parallels that of the fast food industry: during the last few decades, the city's population has more than doubled. Subdivisions, shopping malls, and chain restaurants are appearing in the foothills of Cheyenne Mountain and the plains rolling to the east. The Rocky Mountain region as a whole has the fastest-growing economy in the United States, mixing high-tech and service industries in a way that may define America's workforce for years to come. And new restaurants are opening there at a faster pace than anywhere else in the nation.

Fast food is now so commonplace that it has acquired an air of inevitability, as though it were somehow unavoidable, a fact of modern life. And yet the dominance of the fast food giants was no more preordained than the march of colonial split-levels, golf courses, and man-made lakes across the deserts of the American West. The political philosophy that now prevails in so much of the West -- with its demand for lower taxes, smaller government, an unbridled free market -- stands in total contradiction to the region's true economic underpinnings. No other region of the United States has been so dependent on government subsidies for so long, from the nineteenth-century construction of its railroads to the twentieth-century financing of its military bases and dams. One historian has described the federal government's 1950s highway-building binge as a case study in "interstate socialism" -- a phrase that aptly describes how the West was really won. The fast food industry took root alongside that interstate highway system, as a new form of restaurant sprang up beside the new off-ramps. Moreover, the extraordinary growth of this industry over the past quarter-century did not occur in a political vacuum. It took place during a period when the inflation-adjusted value of the minimum wage declined by about 40 percent, when sophisticated mass marketing techniques were for the first time directed at small children, and when federal agencies created to protect workers and consumers too often behaved like branch offices of the companies that were supposed to be regulated. Ever since the administration of President Richard Nixon, the fast food industry has worked closely with its allies in Congress and the White House to oppose new worker safety, food safety, and minimum wage laws. While publicly espousing support for the free market, the fast food chains have quietly pursued and greatly benefited from a wide variety of government subsidies. Far from being inevitable, America's fast food industry in its present form is the logical outcome of certain political and economic choices.

In the potato fields and processing plants of Idaho, in the ranchlands east of Colorado Springs, in the feedlots and slaughterhouses of the High Plains, you can see the effects of fast food on the nation's rural life, its environment, its workers, and its health. The fast food chains now stand atop a huge food-industrial complex that has gained control of American agriculture. During the 1980s, large multinationals -- such as Cargill, ConAgra, and IBP -- were allowed to dominate one commodity market after another. Farmers and cattle ranchers are losing their independence, essentially becoming hired hands for the agribusiness giants or being forced off the land. Family farms are now being replaced by gigantic corporate farms with absentee owners. Rural communities are losing their middle class and becoming socially stratified, divided between a small, wealthy elite and large numbers of the working poor. Small towns that seemingly belong in a Norman Rockwell painting are being turned into rural ghettos. The hardy, independent farmers whom Thomas Jefferson considered the bedrock of American democracy are a truly vanishing breed. The United States now has more prison inmates than full-time farmers.

The fast food chains' vast purchasing power and their demand for a uniform product have encouraged fundamental changes in how cattle are raised, slaughtered, and processed into ground beef. These changes have made meatpacking -- once a highly skilled, highly paid occupation -- into the most dangerous job in the United States, performed by armies of poor, transient immigrants whose injuries often go unrecorded and uncompensated. And the same meat industry practices that endanger these workers have facilitated the introduction of deadly pathogens, such as E. coli 0157:H7, into America's hamburger meat, a food aggressively marketed to children. Again and again, efforts to prevent the sale of tainted ground beef have been thwarted by meat industry lobbyists and their allies in Congress. The federal government has the legal authority to recall a defective toaster oven or stuffed animal -- but still lacks the power to recall tons of contaminated, potentially lethal meat.

I do not mean to suggest that fast food is solely responsible for every social problem now haunting the United States. In some cases (such as the malling and sprawling of the West) the fast food industry has been a catalyst and a symptom of larger economic trends. In other cases (such as the rise of franchising and the spread of obesity) fast food has played a more central role. By tracing the diverse influences of fast food I hope to shed light not only on the workings of an important industry, but also on a distinctively American way of viewing the world.

Elitists have always looked down at fast food, criticizing how it tastes and regarding it as another tacky manifestation of American popular culture. The aesthetics of fast food are of much less concern to me than its impact upon the lives of ordinary Americans, both as workers and consumers. Most of all, I am concerned about its impact on the nation's children. Fast food is heavily marketed to children and prepared by people who are barely older than children. This is an industry that both feeds and feeds off the young. During the two years spent researching this book, I ate an enormous amount of fast food. Most of it tasted pretty good. That is one of the main reasons people buy fast food; it has been carefully designed to taste good. It's also inexpensive and convenient. But the value meals, two-for-one deals, and free refills of soda give a distorted sense of how much fast food actually costs. The real price never appears on the menu.

The sociologist George Ritzer has attacked the fast food industry for celebrating a narrow measure of efficiency over every other human value, calling the triumph of McDonald's "the irrationality of rationality." Others consider the fast food industry proof of the nation's great economic vitality, a beloved American institution that appeals overseas to millions who admire our way of life. Indeed, the values, the culture, and the industrial arrangements of our fast food nation are now being exported to the rest of the world. Fast food has joined Hollywood movies, blue jeans, and pop music as one of America's most prominent cultural exports. Unlike other commodities, however, fast food isn't viewed, read, played, or worn. It enters the body and becomes part of the consumer. No other industry offers, both literally and figuratively, so much insight into the nature of mass consumption.

Hundreds of millions of people buy fast food every day without giving it much thought, unaware of the subtle and not so subtle ramifications of their purchases. They rarely consider where this food came from, how it was made, what it is doing to the community around them. They just grab their tray off the counter, find a table, take a seat, unwrap the paper, and dig in. The whole experience is transitory and soon forgotten. I've written this book out of a belief that people should know what lies behind the shiny, happy surface of every fast food transaction. They should know what really lurks between those sesame-seed buns. As the old saying goes: You are what you eat.

Copyright © 2000 Eric Schlosser. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
I. The American Way
1. The Founding Fathers 13
2. Your Trusted Friends 31
3. Behind the Counter 59
4. Success 91
II. Meat and Potatoes
5. Why the Fries Taste Good 111
6. On the Range 133
7. Cogs in the Great Machine 149
8. The Most Dangerous Job 169
9. What's in the Meat 193
10. Global Realization 225
Epilogue: Have It Your Way 255
Afterword: The Meaning of Mad Cow 271
Photo Credits 291
Notes 292
Bibliography 356
Acknowledgments 362
Index 365
Read More Show Less

First Chapter

Fast Food Nation
The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

Chapter One

the founding fathers

Carl N. Karcher is one of the fast food industry's pioneers. His career extends from the industry's modest origins to its current hamburger hegemony. His life seems at once to be a tale by Horatio Alger, a fulfillment of the American dream, and a warning about unintended consequences. It is a fast food parable about how the industry started and where it can lead. At the heart of the story is southern California, whose cities became prototypes for the rest of the nation, whose love of the automobile changed what America looks like and what Americans eat.

Carl was born in 1917 on a farm near Upper Sandusky, Ohio. His father was a sharecropper who moved the family to new land every few years. The Karchers were German-American, industrious, and devoutly Catholic. Carl had six brothers and a sister. "The harder you work," their father always told them,, "the luckier you become." Carl dropped out of school after the eighth grade and worked twelve to fourteen hours a day on the farm, harvesting with a team of horses, baling hay, milking and feeding the cows. In 1937, Ben Karcher, one of Carl's uncles, offered him a job in Anaheim, California. After thinking long and hard and consulting with his parents, Carl decided to go west. He was twenty years old and six-foot-four, a big strong farm boy. He had never set foot outside of northern Ohio. The decision to leave home felt momentous, and the drive to California took a week. When he arrived in Anaheim -- and saw the palm trees and orange groves, and smelled the citrus in the air -- Carl said to himself, "This is heaven."

Anaheim was a small town in those days, surrounded by ranches and farms. It was located in the heart of southern California's citrus belt, an area that produced almost all of the state's oranges, lemons, and tangerines. Orange County and neighboring Los Angeles County were the leading agricultural counties in the United States, growing fruits, nuts, vegetables, and flowers on land that only a generation earlier had been a desert covered in sagebrush and cactus. Massive irrigation projects, built with public money to improve private land, brought water from hundreds of miles away. The Anaheim area alone boasted about 70,000 acres of Valencia oranges, as well as lemon groves and walnut groves. Small ranches and dairy farms dotted the land, and sunflowers lined the back roads. Anaheim had been settled in the late nineteenth century by German immigrants hoping to create a local wine industry and by a group of Polish expatriates trying to establish a back-to-the-land artistic community. The wineries flourished for three decades; the art colony collapsed within a few months. After World War 1, the heavily German character of Anaheim gave way to the influence of newer arrivals from the Midwest, who tended to be Protestant and conservative and evangelical about their faith. Reverend Leon L. Myers -- pastor of the Anaheim Christian Church and founder of the local Men's Bible Club -- turned the Ku Klux Klan into one of the most powerful organizations in town. During the early 1920s, the Klan ran Anaheims leading daily newspaper, controlled the city government for a year, and posted signs on the outskirts of the city greeting newcomers with the acronym "KIGY" (Klansmen I Greet You).

Carl's uncle Ben owned Karcher's Feed and Seed Store, right in the middle of downtown Anaheim. Carl worked there seventy-six hours a week, selling goods to local farmers for their chickens, cattle, and hogs. During Sunday services at St. Boniface Catholic Church, Carl spotted an attractive young woman named Margaret Heinz sitting in a nearby pew. He later asked her out for ice cream, and the two began dating. Carl became a frequent visitor to the Heinz farm on North Palm Street. It had ten acres of orange trees and a Spanish-style house where Margaret, her parents, her seven brothers, and her seven sisters lived. The place seemed magical. In the social hierarchy of California's farmers, orange growers stood at the very top; their homes were set amid fragrant evergreen trees that produced a lucrative income. As a young boy in Ohio, Carl had been thrilled on Christmas mornings to receive a single orange as a gift from Santa. Now oranges seemed to be everywhere.

Margaret worked as a secretary at a law firm downtown. From her office window on the fourth floor, she could watch Carl grinding feed outside his uncle's store. After briefly returning to Ohio, Carl went to work for the Armstrong Bakery in Los Angeles. The job soon paid $24 a week, $6 more than he'd earned at the feed store -- and enough to start a family. Carl and Margaret were married in 1939 and had their first child within a year.

Carl drove a truck for the bakery, delivering bread to restaurants and markets in west L.A. He was amazed by the number of hot dog stands that were opening and by the number of buns they went through every week. When Carl heard that a hot dog cart was for sale -- on Florence Avenue across from the Goodyear factory -- he decided to buy it. Margaret strongly opposed the idea, wondering where he'd find the money. He borrowed $311 from the Bank of America, using his car as collateral for the loan, and persuaded his wife to give him $15 in cash from her purse. "I'm in business for myself now," Carl thought, after buying the cart, "I'm on my way." He kept his job at the bakery and hired two young men to work the cart during the hours he was delivering bread. They sold hot dogs, chili dogs, and tamales for a dime each, soda for a nickel. Five months after Carl bought the cart, the United States entered World War II, and the Goodyear plant became very busy.

Fast Food Nation
The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
. Copyright © by Eric Schlosser. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Read More Show Less

Introduction

Introduction

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN SITS on the eastern slope of Colorado's Front Range, rising steeply from the prairie and overlooking the city of Colorado Springs. From a distance, the mountain appears beautiful and serene, dotted with rocky outcroppings, scrub oak, and ponderosa pine. It looks like the backdrop of an old Hollywood western, just another gorgeous Rocky Mountain vista. And yet Cheyenne Mountain is hardly pristine. One of the nation's most important military installations lies deep within it, housing units of the North American Aerospace Command, the Air Force Space Command, and the United States Space Command. During the mid-1950s, high-level officials at the Pentagon worried that America's air defenses had become vulnerable to sabotage and attack. Cheyenne Mountain was chosen as the site for a top-secret, underground combat operations center. The mountain was hollowed out, and fifteen buildings, most of them three stories high, were erected amid a maze of tunnels and passageways extending for miles. The four-and-a-half-acre underground complex was designed to survive a direct hit by an atomic bomb. Now officially called the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, the facility is entered through steel blast doors that are three feet thick and weigh twenty-five tons each; they automatically swing shut in less than twenty seconds. The base is closed to the public, and a heavily armed quick response team guards against intruders. Pressurized air within the complex prevents contamination by radioactive fallout and biological weapons. The buildings are mounted on gigantic steel springs to ride out an earthquake or the blast wave of a thermonuclear strike. The hallways and staircases are painted slate gray, the ceilings are low, and there are combination locks on many of the doors. A narrow escape tunnel, entered through a metal hatch, twists and turns its way out of the mountain through solid rock. The place feels like the set of an early James Bond movie, with men in jumpsuits driving little electric vans from one brightly lit cavern to another.

Fifteen hundred people work inside the mountain, maintaining the facility and collecting information from a worldwide network of radars, spy satellites, ground-based sensors, airplanes, and blimps. The Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center tracks every manmade object that enters North American airspace or that orbits the earth. It is the heart of the nation's early warning system. It can detect the firing of a long-range missile, anywhere in the world, before that missile has left the launch pad.

This futuristic military base inside a mountain has the capability to be self-sustaining for at least one month. Its generators can produce enough electricity to power a city the size of Tampa, Florida. Its underground reservoirs hold millions of gallons of water; workers sometimes traverse them in rowboats. The complex has its own underground fitness center, a medical clinic, a dentist's office, a barbershop, a chapel, and a cafeteria. When the men and women stationed at Cheyenne Mountain get tired of the food in the cafeteria, they often send somebody over to the Burger King at Fort Carson, a nearby army base. Or they call Domino's.

Almost every night, a Domino's deliveryman winds his way up the lonely Cheyenne Mountain Road, past the ominous DEADLY FORCE AUTHORIZED signs, past the security checkpoint at the entrance of the base, driving toward the heavily guarded North Portal, tucked behind chain link and barbed wire. Near the spot where the road heads straight into the mountainside, the delivery man drops off his pizzas and collects his tip. And should Armageddon come, should a foreign enemy someday shower the United States with nuclear warheads, laying waste to the whole continent, entombed within Cheyenne Mountain, along with the high-tech marvels, the pale blue jumpsuits, comic books, and Bibles, future archeologists may find other clues to the nature of our civilization - Big King wrappers, hardened crusts of Cheesy Bread, Barbeque Wing bones, and the red, white, and blue of a Domino's pizza box.

What We Eat

OVER THE LAST THREE DECADES, fast food has infiltrated every nook and cranny of American society. An industry that began with a handful of modest hot dog and hamburger stands in southern California has spread to every corner of the nation, selling a broad range of foods wherever paying customers may be found. Fast food is now served at restaurants and drive-throughs, at stadiums, airports, zoos, high schools, elementary schools, and universities, on cruise ships, trains, and airplanes, at K-Marts, Wal-Marts, gas stations, and even at hospital cafeterias. In 1970, Americans spent about $6 billion on fast food; in 2000, they spent more than $110 billion. Americans now spend more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software, or new cars. They spend more on fast food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos, and recorded music - combined.

Pull open the glass door, feel the rush of cool air, walk in, get on line, study the backlit color photographs above the counter, place your order, hand over a few dollars, watch teenagers in uniforms pushing various buttons, and moments later take hold of a plastic tray full of food wrapped in colored paper and cardboard. The whole experience of buying fast food has become so routine, so thoroughly unexceptional and mundane, that it is now taken for granted, like brushing your teeth or stopping for a red light. It has become a social custom as American as a small, rectangular, hand-held, frozen, and reheated apple pie.

This is a book about fast food, the values it embodies, and the world it has made. Fast food has proven to be a revolutionary force in American life; I am interested in it both as a commodity and as a metaphor. What people eat (or don't eat) has always been determined by a complex interplay of social, economic, and technological forces. The early Roman Republic was fed by its citizen-farmers; the Roman Empire, by its slaves. A nation's diet can be more revealing than its art or literature. On any given day in the United States about one-quarter of the adult population visits a fast food restaurant. During a relatively brief period of time, the fast food industry has helped to transform not only the American diet, but also our landscape, economy, workforce, and popular culture. Fast food and its consequences have become inescapable, regardless of whether you eat it twice a day, try to avoid it, or have never taken a single bite.

The extraordinary growth of the fast food industry has been driven by fundamental changes in American society. Adjusted for inflation, the hourly wage of the average U.S. worker peaked in 1973 and then steadily declined for the next twenty-five years. During that period, women entered the workforce in record numbers, often motivated less by a feminist perspective than by a need to pay the bills. In 1975, about one-third of American mothers with young children worked outside the home; today almost two-thirds of such mothers are employed. As the sociologists Cameron Lynne Macdonald and Carmen Sirianni have noted, the entry of so many women into the workforce has greatly increased demand for the types of services that housewives traditionally perform: cooking, cleaning, and child care. A generation ago, three-quarters of the money used to buy food in the United States was spent to prepare meals at home. Today about half of the money used to buy food is spent at restaurants - mainly at fast food restaurants.

The McDonald's Corporation has become a powerful symbol of America's service economy, which is now responsible for 90 percent of the country's new jobs. In 1968, McDonald's operated about one thousand restaurants. Today it has about twenty-eight thousand restaurants worldwide and opens almost two thousand new ones each year. An estimated one out of every eight workers in the United States has at some point been employed by McDonald's. The company annually hires about one million people, more than any other American organization, public or private. McDonald's is the nation's largest purchaser of beef, pork, and potatoes - and the second largest purchaser of chicken. The McDonald's Corporation is the largest owner of retail property in the world. Indeed, the company earns the majority of its profits not from selling food but from collecting rent. McDonald's spends more money on advertising and marketing than any other brand. As a result it has replaced Coca-Cola as the world's most famous brand. McDonald's operates more playgrounds than any other private entity in the United States. It is one of the nation's largest distributors of toys. A survey of American schoolchildren found that 96 percent could identify Ronald McDonald. The only fictional character with a higher degree of recognition was Santa Claus. The impact of McDonald's on the way we live today is hard to overstate. The Golden Arches are now more widely recognized than the Christian cross.

In the early 1970s, the farm activist Jim Hightower warned of the McDonaldization of America. He viewed the emerging fast food industry as a threat to independent businesses, as a step toward a food economy dominated by giant corporations, and as a homogenizing influence on American life. In Eat Your Heart Out (1975), he argued that bigger is not better. Much of what Hightower feared has come to pass. The centralized purchasing decisions of the large restaurant chains and their demand for standardized products have given a handful of corporations an unprecedented degree of power over the nation's food supply. Moreover, the tremendous success of the fast food industry has encouraged other industries to adopt similar business methods. The basic thinking behind fast food has become the operating system of today's retail economy, wiping out small businesses, obliterating regional differences, and spreading identical stores throughout the country like a self-replicating code.

America's main streets and malls now boast the same Pizza Huts and Taco Bells, Gaps and Banana Republics, Starbucks and Jiffy-Lubes, Foot Lockers, Snip N' Clips, Sunglass Huts, and Hobbytown USAs. Almost every facet of American life has now been franchised or chained. From the maternity ward at a Columbia/HCA hospital to an embalming room owned by Service Corporation International - the world's largest provider of death care services, based in Houston, Texas, which since 1968 has grown to include 3,823 funeral homes, 523 cemeteries, and 198 crematoriums, and which today handles the final remains of one out of every nine Americans - a person can now go from the cradle to the grave without spending a nickel at an independently owned business.

The key to a successful franchise, according to many texts on the subject, can be expressed in one word: uniformity. Franchises and chain stores strive to offer exactly the same product or service at numerous locations. Customers are drawn to familiar brands by an instinct to avoid the unknown. A brand offers a feeling of reassurance when its products are always and everywhere the same. We have found out . . . that we cannot trust some people who are nonconformists, declared Ray Kroc, one of the founders of McDonald's, angered by some of his franchisees. We will make conformists out of them in a hurry . . . The organization cannot trust the individual; the individual must trust the organization.

One of the ironies of America's fast food industry is that a business so dedicated to conformity was founded by iconoclasts and self-made men, by entrepreneurs willing to defy conventional opinion. Few of the people who built fast food empires ever attended college, let alone business school. They worked hard, took risks, and followed their own paths. In many respects, the fast food industry embodies the best and the worst of American capitalism at the start of the twenty-first century - its constant stream of new products and innovations, its widening gulf between rich and poor. The industrialization of the restaurant kitchen has enabled the fast food chains to rely upon a low-paid and unskilled workforce. While a handful of workers manage to rise up the corporate ladder, the vast majority lack full-time employment, receive no benefits, learn few skills, exercise little control over their workplace, quit after a few months, and float from job to job. The restaurant industry is now America's largest private employer, and it pays some of the lowest wages. During the economic boom of the 1990s, when many American workers enjoyed their first pay raises in a generation, the real value of wages in the restaurant industry continued to fall. The roughly 3.5 million fast food workers are by far the largest group of minimum wage earners in the United States. The only Americans who consistently earn a lower hourly wage are migrant farm workers.

A hamburger and french fries became the quintessential American meal in the 1950s, thanks to the promotional efforts of the fast food chains. The typical American now consumes approximately three hamburgers and four orders of french fries every week. But the steady barrage of fast food ads, full of thick juicy burgers and long golden fries, rarely mentions where these foods come from nowadays or what ingredients they contain. The birth of the fast food industry coincided with Eisenhower-era glorifications of technology, with optimistic slogans like Better Living through Chemistry and Our Friend the Atom. The sort of technological wizardry that Walt Disney promoted on television and at Disneyland eventually reached its fulfillment in the kitchens of fast food restaurants. Indeed, the corporate culture of McDonald's seems inextricably linked to that of the Disney empire, sharing a reverence for sleek machinery, electronics, and automation. The leading fast food chains still embrace a boundless faith in science - and as a result have changed not just what Americans eat, but also how their food is made.

The current methods for preparing fast food are less likely to be found in cookbooks than in trade journals such as Food Technologist and Food Engineering. Aside from the salad greens and tomatoes, most fast food is delivered to the restaurant already frozen, canned, dehydrated, or freeze-dried. A fast food kitchen is merely the final stage in a vast and highly complex system of mass production. Foods that may look familiar have in fact been completely reformulated. What we eat has changed more in the last forty years than in the previous forty thousand. Like Cheyenne Mountain, today's fast food conceals remarkable technological advances behind an ordinary-looking façade. Much of the taste and aroma of American fast food, for example, is now manufactured at a series of large chemical plants off the New Jersey Turnpike.

In the fast food restaurants of Colorado Springs, behind the counters, amid the plastic seats, in the changing landscape outside the window, you can see all the virtues and destructiveness of our fast food nation. I chose Colorado Springs as a focal point for this book because the changes that have recently swept through the city are emblematic of those that fast food - and the fast food mentality - have encouraged throughout the United States. Countless other suburban communities, in every part of the country, could have been used to illustrate the same points. The extraordinary growth of Colorado Springs neatly parallels that of the fast food industry: during the last few decades, the city's population has more than doubled. Subdivisions, shopping malls, and chain restaurants are appearing in the foothills of Cheyenne Mountain and the plains rolling to the east. The Rocky Mountain region as a whole has the fastest-growing economy in the United States, mixing high-tech and service industries in a way that may define America's workforce for years to come. And new restaurants are opening there at a faster pace than anywhere else in the nation.

Fast food is now so commonplace that it has acquired an air of inevitability, as though it were somehow unavoidable, a fact of modern life. And yet the dominance of the fast food giants was no more preordained than the march of colonial split-levels, golf courses, and man-made lakes across the deserts of the American West. The political philosophy that now prevails in so much of the West - with its demand for lower taxes, smaller government, an unbridled free market - stands in total contradiction to the region's true economic underpinnings. No other region of the United States has been so dependent on government subsidies for so long, from the nineteenth-century construction of its railroads to the twentieth-century financing of its military bases and dams. One historian has described the federal government's 1950s highway-building binge as a case study in interstate socialism - a phrase that aptly describes how the West was really won. The fast food industry took root alongside that interstate highway system, as a new form of restaurant sprang up beside the new off-ramps. Moreover, the extraordinary growth of this industry over the past quarter-century did not occur in a political vacuum. It took place during a period when the inflation-adjusted value of the minimum wage declined by about 40 percent, when sophisticated mass marketing techniques were for the first time directed at small children, and when federal agencies created to protect workers and consumers too often behaved like branch offices of the companies that were supposed to be regulated. Ever since the administration of President Richard Nixon, the fast food industry has worked closely with its allies in Congress and the White House to oppose new worker safety, food safety, and minimum wage laws. While publicly espousing support for the free market, the fast food chains have quietly pursued and greatly benefited from a wide variety of government subsidies. Far from being inevitable, America's fast food industry in its present form is the logical outcome of certain political and economic choices.

In the potato fields and processing plants of Idaho, in the ranchlands east of Colorado Springs, in the feedlots and slaughterhouses of the High Plains, you can see the effects of fast food on the nation's rural life, its environment, its workers, and its health. The fast food chains now stand atop a huge food-industrial complex that has gained control of American agriculture. During the 1980s, large multinationals - such as Cargill, ConAgra, and IBP - were allowed to dominate one commodity market after another. Farmers and cattle ranchers are losing their independence, essentially becoming hired hands for the agribusiness giants or being forced off the land. Family farms are now being replaced by gigantic corporate farms with absentee owners. Rural communities are losing their middle class and becoming socially stratified, divided between a small, wealthy elite and large numbers of the working poor. Small towns that seemingly belong in a Norman Rockwell painting are being turned into rural ghettos. The hardy, independent farmers whom Thomas Jefferson considered the bedrock of American democracy are a truly vanishing breed. The United States now has more prison inmates than full-time farmers.

The fast food chains' vast purchasing power and their demand for a uniform product have encouraged fundamental changes in how cattle are raised, slaughtered, and processed into ground beef. These changes have made meatpacking - once a highly skilled, highly paid occupation - into the most dangerous job in the United States, performed by armies of poor, transient immigrants whose injuries often go unrecorded and uncompensated. And the same meat industry practices that endanger these workers have facilitated the introduction of deadly pathogens, such as E. coli 0157:H7, into America's hamburger meat, a food aggressively marketed to children. Again and again, efforts to prevent the sale of tainted ground beef have been thwarted by meat industry lobbyists and their allies in Congress. The federal government has the legal authority to recall a defective toaster oven or stuffed animal - but still lacks the power to recall tons of contaminated, potentially lethal meat.

I do not mean to suggest that fast food is solely responsible for every social problem now haunting the United States. In some cases (such as the malling and sprawling of the West) the fast food industry has been a catalyst and a symptom of larger economic trends. In other cases (such as the rise of franchising and the spread of obesity) fast food has played a more central role. By tracing the diverse influences of fast food I hope to shed light not only on the workings of an important industry, but also on a distinctively American way of viewing the world.

Elitists have always looked down at fast food, criticizing how it tastes and regarding it as another tacky manifestation of American popular culture. The aesthetics of fast food are of much less concern to me than its impact upon the lives of ordinary Americans, both as workers and consumers. Most of all, I am concerned about its impact on the nation's children. Fast food is heavily marketed to children and prepared by people who are barely older than children. This is an industry that both feeds and feeds off the young. During the two years spent researching this book, I ate an enormous amount of fast food. Most of it tasted pretty good. That is one of the main reasons people buy fast food; it has been carefully designed to taste good. It's also inexpensive and convenient. But the value meals, two-for-one deals, and free refills of soda give a distorted sense of how much fast food actually costs. The real price never appears on the menu.

The sociologist George Ritzer has attacked the fast food industry for celebrating a narrow measure of efficiency over every other human value, calling the triumph of McDonald's the irrationality of rationality. Others consider the fast food industry proof of the nation's great economic vitality, a beloved American institution that appeals overseas to millions who admire our way of life. Indeed, the values, the culture, and the industrial arrangements of our fast food nation are now being exported to the rest of the world. Fast food has joined Hollywood movies, blue jeans, and pop music as one of America’s most prominent cultural exports. Unlike other commodities, however, fast food isn't viewed, read, played, or worn. It enters the body and becomes part of the consumer. No other industry offers, both literally and figuratively, so much insight into the nature of mass consumption.

Hundreds of millions of people buy fast food every day without giving it much thought, unaware of the subtle and not so subtle ramifications of their purchases. They rarely consider where this food came from, how it was made, what it is doing to the community around them. They just grab their tray off the counter, find a table, take a seat, unwrap the paper, and dig in. The whole experience is transitory and soon forgotten. I've written this book out of a belief that people should know what lies behind the shiny, happy surface of every fast food transaction. They should know what really lurks between those sesame-seed buns. As the old saying goes: You are what you eat.

Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

Introduction

Next to death and taxes, fast food might be the most unavoidable experience for Americans. In an age when Ronald McDonald is the second most identifiable fictional character to young children (after Santa Claus), fast food embodies a number of modern American characteristics: the familiar, the ready-made, and the easily disposable. Fast food restaurants are not only a staple on street corners but are becoming fixtures in schools and even hospitals. These ubiquitous chain restaurants have assumed such a large role in American life that they are largely taken for granted.In the critically acclaimed and nationally bestselling Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser embarks on a journey that raises some disturbing questions about the practices and the food of those big corporations with the family friendly mascots. Schlosser goes out into the field to interview workers and to see the current beef processing practices that have allowed ground beef to become efficient carriers of e. coli and other potentially harmful bacteria. He reveals the collusion between the federal government and corporations that fosters unsafe working conditions for fast food workers and meat packing employees.He also examines the alarming obesity epidemic among children and adults in the United States and stresses that this "supersizing" of Americans into the context of an epidemic that needs to be urgently needs to be addressed.Discussion Questions1.Schlosser discusses the eagerness of fast food companies to avoid hiring skilled workers and to rely instead upon highly unskilled workers. In fact, some chains openly embrace "zero training" as their ultimate goal. Since these companies are providing a steady paycheck, is it really the obligation of fast food chains to take an interest in their workers and to teach them job skills? Also, since many of the workers are recently arrived immigrants, doesn't employment at fast food restaurants offer them a toehold in the American economy and an opportunity to move onto a better job?

2.Over the last several decades, fast food companies have aggressively targeted children in their marketing efforts. Should advertisers be permitted to target children who lack the sophistication to make informed decisions and are essentially being lured into eating high fat, high calorie food through toys and cute corporate mascots? Is it possible that fast food companies - like tobacco companies - are recruiting increasingly younger consumers in order to insure a steady customer base as their older constituents die from heart disease, diabetes, and other obesity-related disorders?

3.Upton Sinclair's The Jungle was the first book to sound the clarion call about the appalling abuses inherent in mass-produced beef. In the decades since its publication, the state of meatpacking has received scant attention. Were you shocked that Fast Food Nation documents some of the same unsafe conditions and practices that Sinclair revealed nearly 100 years ago? Were you under the impression that the unsafe conditions in meatpacking had largely been eliminated and that the United States' beef and poultry industry set the standard for other countries? Does the author's contention that not enough has changed in the meat industry challenge the progressive belief in American capitalism-that it will lift all boats and make constant improvements in working and living conditions?

4. Fast food chains, despite the myriad problems documented by the author, have an undeniable appeal-they are convenient and offer inexpensive and tasty food. Even if you are disturbed by the practices of these corporations, could you realistically swear off your food, given its ubiquity and mainstream appeal? If you are driving home from work, tired and hungry, and your two choices are a familiar fast food restaurant or an unknown Mom-and-pop, which would you choose? What kinds of implications does this choice have?

5.If one accepts the author's assertions that the beef processors and fast food corporations are engaging in patterns of unethical conduct, what can the consumer do to modify their behavior? Can the conduct of an individual have an impact on a company's practices? Why is a company most likely to change its conduct? To generate public goodwill? To respond to its employees' concerns? To address diminishing profits?

6.Since few people would confuse fast food with health food, who bears the greater responsibility for the alarming rate of obesity in children in the United States: the fast food chains that market "supersize" meals to children, or parents who are not educating their children about the benefits of a balanced diet? Can well-intentioned parents maintain control over the eating habits of their children in an era when school districts are contracting to bring fast food into the school cafeteria?



Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 305 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(158)

4 Star

(76)

3 Star

(33)

2 Star

(17)

1 Star

(21)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 307 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 3, 2010

    Fast Food Nation - A High School Student's Perspective

    While very reminiscent of Upton Sinclair's 1906 novel, "The Jungle", Eric Schlosser manages to convey the same provocative and enlightening messages in his 2001 novel, "Fast Food Nation". While a bit outdated, the overall themes featured in the novel still hold relevance in today's society and truly make a person think twice about going to fast food restaurants in the future. The book is divided into two sections: a history of fast food chains, and then the "behind-the-scenes" production of fast food in more recent history. Throughout the novel, Schlosser aims to show his audience the truth about what fast food chains do to reach high production levels, and how little they value both their employees and their customers. As a high school student, I find this book to be extremely relevant to my generation, seeing as how millions of teenagers' first jobs are at fast food joints. The novel itself is a reasonable length, but the writing itself is hardly sophisticated, as evidenced by the number of typo's in the text. On the contrary, Schlosser's main strength in this novel is his amount of research that evidently went into his writing. The novel is packed with statistics, experimental findings, and first-hand interviews with people involved in the fast food industry. 20 pages at the end alone are dedicated to his bibliography. Many of his interviews with employees of fast food chains and meatpacking factories are very touching and display the level of tragedy thousands of people in this industry face everyday due to lack of health coverage and safety precautions provided by the corporations. I would highly recommend this novel to a broad audience- in fact anyone who eats fast food on a regular basis should read this so that they become fully informed on what exactly they are putting into their bodies every time they eat fast food. As a high school student, I found this book to be a worthwhile read, (unlike many other required readings in school) and I believe that it will forever change how I make choices in my diet, which I am sure was the author's intention behind writing this.

    21 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 25, 2012

    Strong Bias Hurst Otherwise Great Book

    106 years ago, Upton Sinclair revolutionized the food industry, uncovering the dirty secrets of food production. Fast forward to the present and Eric Schlosser is attempting to once again revolutionize how America eats by exposing the flaws with the fast food industry. He argues that the commercialized industry of fast food has changed how we as Americans live. Schlosser takes the reader on two tours. The first is the oft-repeated success stories of Ray Kroc, the founder McDonalds, and other fast food titans. A glorification of the American success story, this initial tour walks the reader through the story that the fast food industry would like America to hear. Yet this first tour is quickly followed by a disturbing second. Schlosser walks his readers through factories, plants, and warehouses—the true sources of fast food. He bares all, as he walks readers through olfactory factories. That’s right. Factories where smell is fabricated for your Big Mac, fries, and McFlurry. Schlosser exposes a disturbing—disgusting—amount of artificiality in every bite of McDonalds, Carl’s Jr., or Burger King we take. Certainly, most Americans don’t think of fluorescent lit factories, flighty plants, and dusty warehouses when they think of fast food. I know I didn’t. Schlosser changed that. He also speaks to the dangers of the fast food industry, both to the consumer and the producer. Dangerous malpractice in factories and plants lead to thousands of injuries, which, Schlosser argues, are the fault of lack of government regulation and intervention. He goes on to interview the victims of work injuries, creating a pathetic portrayal of an apparently flawed industry.

    Schlosser’s copious amount of statistics, factoids, and research should earn him 5 stars, yet his overtly single sided approach mars what has the potential for a fantastic book. Throughout the piece, Schlosser increasingly points toward government (particularly Republicans) for problems with the fast food industry. He selectively provides facts and statistics to enforce his point, while simply ignoring those that don’t. While Schlosser definitely exposes the flaws of fast food America, he fails to objectively present the issue, its root cause, and solution, earning him only 3 out of 5 stars.

    12 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2003

    I'm a McDonald's Manager...

    ...and this book is misleading. McDonald's merely gives the public a choice of food, healthy and less healthy. It's wrong to believe the public is forced to eat the less healthy, because both are available. McDonald's and others simply give the public what they've shown an inclination to buy, as well as offer healthy choices. It's a free market, and if McDonald's didn't do it, someone would. I really...wait,...oh God, what the..ach!..pain - warm tingle in my arm..I'm having a heart attack!...It's from snacking on all those fries while I'm working...I couldn't help it, they were just so convenient,..ack! ugh...XXXX

    10 out of 44 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 10, 2010

    McNation Station

    The Book I was reading was Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. This book was a documentary about the food industry and the Fast Food Industry in particular. In the beginning of the book Schlosser is talking more about the history of fast food. He talks about how McDonald's and Carl's Junior and other fast food restaurants are created and how they evolved. The next section of the book is about the where the food you're eating comes from. It talks about the slaughter houses and the danger of working in the meat packing industry. It also tells stories of people getting extremely sick from salmonella. I would definitely recommend this book to another person. It was shocking and gave you the facts without completely bashing the fast food industry which I thought gave this book more integrity. I do think that some people will not be able to appreciate this book. Squeamish people and people that get bored easily will not like this book; however I found most of the book engaging.
    The reason that I say that people that get bored easily wouldn't like this book as much is because of the beginning. It is a little slow getting into the book because the whole first section is mostly a history lesson. It takes a little while to get hooked into the book. Once I got into the sections about the farms and the slaughterhouse and such I was completely hooked, just getting past the first section was a hurdle. The other reason why people might not like this book is because there are some more gory parts in this book. Especially when the slaughterhouse process was being explained. I don't consider myself to have a particularly weak stomach but I became a vegetarian for a couple months. Some people I have talked to on the other hand only wanted a cheeseburger when they read this book.
    I have to say my favorite part of this book was when Schlosser was in the place where they chemically created smells. Though it was a little disturbing that the smell of feet could be chemically manufacture, it was still intriguing. I'd never heard about anything like it before and I found it incredibly engaging. I never knew that I could get so excited by a book about Fast Food. Another part that I found that made me think was when I was reading about the workers in the slaughterhouse. I found it incredible that these workers were doing "the most dangerous job" according to Schlosser, and getting paid next to nothing. I read stories about people getting caught in the grinding machines and falling into the grease and getting hurt or dying. It made me wonder why anyone would want to do these jobs because of the risk and the low pay. I found that many of the workers were immigrants that just needed the money.
    The thing that I liked most about this book was that it wasn't a snarky book. It didn't say "Don't eat fast food, it's ruining America!" I found it refreshing to find a documentary book that didn't tell me what to do because I like forming my own opinions. I hate it when authors try to force their opinions on me. Schlosser said the facts and stated his opinion as separate things whereas many writers state their opinions as fact. I also liked how Schlosser had a mixture of the facts and stories so that you were less likely to get bored while reading just facts or just his thoughts.
    I would definitely recommend this book. It's subtly progressive so that's not annoying. It was hard to choose favorite parts because there were so many great parts. Though the beginning of

    9 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 24, 2012

    Just like how Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle brought regulato

    Just like how Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle brought regulatory reform to the Theodore Roosevelt era, Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation should cause a wake up call in America today. It is a fascinating narrative of a revolution in the country that has been barely examined. Schlosser covers the aspects of the all American industry—food-born illnesses, animal abuse, worksite dangers, political corruption, and high rates of obesity—originated on the promise of being cheap. He effectively draws the connections to what most Americans know and don’t know about the industry while alarming us of what we very often take for granted. With nearly all of his research being done from first hand experience, he does not even need to use a passionate tone in the narrative because the facts are so compelling that they speak for themselves. The facts make it disturbing of what we are picking up at the drive-through window. The narrative definitely turns some heads and could quickly change many Americans' diets. Maybe one day in the future people will look back on this time in history with disgust just like how we look back at the time Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle. Schlosser’s piece of journalism deserves nothing less than five out of five stars for the above reasons and has the potential to transform the American public’s view on the fast food industry.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2012

    Very Shocking, But a Must-Read!

    Fast Food Nation is undoubtedly the most shocking book written on the topic of the fast food industry. Schlosser has an uncanny way of telling the facts without dragging the book down. He reveals industry secrets that franchises definitely do not want the public knowing. He writes about not only fast food itself, but also about food conditions in general. Schlosser reveals the gruesome, dirty, inhumane conditions animals are put through before they are shelved in supermarkets and sold in restaurants. He also gives interesting statistics about our consumption of fast food and its harmful effects on our health that will certainly change your views forever about fast food. The truth that Schlosser reveals is one that many have in some way heard before, but the main thing that sets this tell-all apart is the details that he goes into and the many well-kept secrets that big businesses have kept hidden for years. When it all comes down to it though, the main reason why EVERYONE should read this book is simple: health. Without a doubt our health is the single most important thing we have, and in today’s society there are numerous unhealthy factors in our lives. Fast food though is one that we can have some control over. Awareness is key to stopping this travesty, and the more people are aware of just how bad fast food has gotten, the faster the problem can be solved. Schlosser relates this important message in a way that is not like any typical boring nonfictional book. He keeps you interested in what he has to say the whole way through. Though some of the things he reveals may get gruesome, they are the truth and it is important that we know it. Read this book if you want to know what you are really consuming when you eat fast food.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2007

    A reviewer

    I thought that Fast Food Nation was a brilliant idea, however it was poorly organized. The book has interesting facts but they are intertwined with the author's obvious hate of most people in the world the Republicans are evil as well as the Democrats. He claims that all chains are wrong including the GAP and other major clothing stores, everything that has more that one store is portrayed as bad. After finishing the book it did give me some insight, however, if I could meet Eric whats-his-name I would ask him where he gets his food, clothes, and electronics. I highly doubt that he eats only vegitables grown in his garden and wears only the clothes that come from his personal alpaca. I just think that if he has such a right to put down everything that he lives for he should prove that he doesnt eat any fast food, food from supermarkets, or any restaurants, and he doesnt buy anything that he hasnt personally worked for. It could have been a brilliant book but the use of politics gave me a eerie sense of communism and facism.

    6 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2007

    Here's the REAL Fast Food Nation...

    This book was a HUGE disappointment to me, my classmates, and even my teacher! We expected to be reading amazing facts on every page, but we instead found ourselves reading about things totally irrelevant to FAST FOOD!! Here's a useful piece of advice: if you are just looking to find out what's in the actual food, researh that topic online instead of wasting 15 bucks to read about nothing. FAST FOOD NATION REALLY WAS A HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT!!

    6 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 15, 2010

    Fast Food Nation: What's In The Meat? Schlosser tells us that and more!

    Eric Schlosser's book on the economy and strategies of the fast-food business should be read by anyone who likes to eat at fast-food restaurants. I shall certainly never do that again. He employs a long, cold burn, a quiet and impassioned accumulation of detail, with calm, wit and clarity. Fast Food Nation is witness to the all-American diet gone totally out of control, hopefully after reading this book we will all be say "No" to the question, "Do you want fries with that!"

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Should be required reading in every high school

    This book educates people as to where their food comes from. Once you read this book you will realize just how out of touch we are in so many aspects of our lives. There are videos, rumors, and stories all the time about spit (and other bodily fluids) being added to fast food by angry employees. But even if no one is spitting in your food it could still be very unclean. The author is not suggesting that eating out is evil entirely. He even mentions businesses that are cleaner and more ethical in their practices. Everyone should know where their food comes from, and how it affects their environment, health, and society. Even if caring for your own health isn't a priority, learning how others and the environment are affected is quite eye-opening.
    Note: I just rented the movie last night. I do not recommend that. It was more about sex and personal lives than the actual issues at hand. The movie touched on less than 1% of the issues discussed in this book.
    This book is a MUST READ!!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 8, 2012

    Worth Reading

    The book Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser was actually not what I expected, that being in a positive aspect. What I enjoyed about this book is the way it provided factual information but not to the point where it overwhelmed me as a reader. It incorporated real life stories well into paragraph and chapter structure in an entertaining light. In a way it opened my eyes to what I was not noticing was already so relevant in my life. Never did I realize how many fast food chains there are around my house, but even if I did never did I think about their business outlook nor how strong of franchises they really are. Further thinking about it, I realized I could not think up as many local food businesses as fast food companies there are around my town, leading me to really notice the power restaurants such as McDonalds holds. Eric Schlosser wrote about how these companies use certain deceiving methods to establish clientele. They use kid friendly product recognition figures or toys in happy meals to appeal the younger demographic. This then attracts children whose parents bring them thinking they are feeding them healthy (from interpreting commercials) when in reality they are polluting the child bellies, as shown by increasing obesity statistics. Schlosser opened my eyes to this unfair and tricking way companies play on the public. What I really liked was his capability to bring the wrong doings of these firms to such light for all to see and understand better. His style of writing appeals to me because he doesn’t over power his own opinion and leads you questioning the fast food company’s intentions and methods of unclear advertising. Overall I would definitely recommend this book for all to read, much can be learned from it and the well researched factual evidence can provide the reader with a better understand to then let them formulate their own outlook on this topic.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 8, 2012

    Highly Recommended- Will completely change your perspective on fast food!

    I have seen the film Super Size Me many times in the past, but this was my first time reading Fast Food Nation. I thought that they would be extremely similar and although they focus on the same central topic, they are very different. I would recommend this book over the movie any day. With every page, you could feel the passion that the author had for the topic and that he truly is looking out for the benefit of the country and to show people the truth. It takes the reader beyond just the fast food element and looks at how quick meals came to be so prominent in our society. The book discusses how great of an impact the use of automobiles affected the fast food industry and the progress that occurred in such a short amount of time. It discusses the use of a production line system, marketing, the affect on society's youth, and the meat packing industry. The book takes the reader across the country and is filled with extremely interesting facts relating to the history of the fast food market. It may be somewhat disturbing to read but Fast Food Nation only is revealing the truth about what Americans eat and the sources of their food. I think that this book is truly groundbreaking and I would highly recommend it to anyone. Although it may no be the easiest read for some, this book will open the reader's eyes to the truth of fast food and it may make one think twice before they go through the drive-thru or order a pizza.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Why is writing on Progressive Topics so weak?

    Overall, the topic behind Fast Food Nation is overdue. America (and by extension, the rest of the world) has not done itself any favors creating industrialized homogenized fast food. However, reading the book is like listening to my next door neighbor rant about 3rd world politics over the fence - it sounds good but lacking in many of the details. In the book, there are too many value-laden judgements just 'thrown out there' without enough information and clear persuasive argument behind it. <BR/><BR/>Overall - great conversation starter - not a great treatise.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2002

    Insert industry here.

    One of the reasons I never liked Sinclair's 'The Jungle' is that he is so obvious in making his point! He beats the reader over the head with his message rather that letting the reader come to his own conclusion. I'm afraid Schlosser is guilty of the same thing. I'm a left leaning cynic who feels that globalization and the 'profit above all' attitude of big business will eventually be our ruin. That being said, Schlosser is so biased that even I took what was said with a grain of salt. Many of 'the horrors' he describes in the fast food industry can be said about any industry in this country. Corporate consolidation and emphasis on the bottom line has affected everything from the media to pet food. Schlosser presents all of this as if it were unique to fast food. Taking his book at face value, one would think that Ronald McDonald is behind everything from urban sprawl to substance abuse to political corruption. As bad as it may be, presenting it in such a manner weakens the entire argument. Conservatives usually attempt to make the point they're being unfairly targeted by propaganda. Unfortunately books like this lend credence to their argument. I was very disappointed.

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2012

    Anonymous

    Typical progressive propaganda.

    2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2012

    C

    Im thinking about getting it because my science teacher said it was a good book but she said you wouldnt want to go back to mcdonalds after you read this book and i really like their chicken nuggets and she hasnt been to toco bell in like 5 years so even if i read this book im still getting my toco and chicken

    2 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2004

    Maybe Yes, Maybe No

    There may be some truth here, but it's hard to be certain. The book has lots of quotes and notes, but there were many unfounded jumps to conclusion. I can't help but think that this is one person's interpretation of details slightly beyond that person's grasp. One thing though is perfectly clear; the author doesn't like McDonalds or Republicans. Early on, when the author describes some horrible observations in a French fry factory his lack of knowledge of industrial processes or how products are manufactured causes one to question whether to believe other subsequent observations. A statement is made that he couldn¿t tell the difference between a stream of potato containing water and a refinery. Come on, anyone who has ever been around a refinery knows that there is no way it resembles a plant that prepares food. Where are the tall columns? Where are the pipe lines? Another statement in the same chapter decries the use of ammonia in the plant. the implication is that potatoes are processed in an ammonia atmosphere. This too is absurd. In industry ammonia is commonly used as a refrigerant, like Freon or R22. But the refrigerant should be entirely contained within the refrigeration system. There is nothing sinister about ammonia in a food processing plant, particularly if the product requires refrigeration or freezing. Both of these examples are simply scare tactics. Such tactics can be effective when bombarded upon persons who don¿t understand the technical aspects of a subject. The author goes on to bash the fast food industry, particularly McDonalds for being directly responsible for all the woes described. He next bashes the Republican Party at every opportunity as being indirectly responsible. The Republicans, the party of ¿Big Business¿ he thinks must have been beholden to the fast food guys for campaign money and made everything possible by gutting the FDA. I am not particularly fond of fast food myself, and I am not personally beholden to the Republican Party. But it bothers me that someone with such a limited grasp of technical matters can misinterpret facts so badly then put out very questionable conclusions as facts. It bothers me even more that no one reviewing such a piece of ¿yellow journalism¿ hasn¿t seen through these half truths and called the author¿s bluff. The sad thing is that some of the charges might be true. It¿s possible that there is more tainted meat out there, but this book has too many holes in it to make the case for me.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2012

    Stupid roleplaying clans

    Oh my gosh you stupid roleplaying clans! Shut up! All you guys are sooooooooooooo annoying! Just contact ur "ferocious" leader and go onto me forum online! Just shut up!

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2012

    Bad

    Books like this just gives ppl ideas for frivolous lawsuits. Fast food places do not twist ppls arms to come eat and books like this gives them excuses to blame somebody else. This book should be banned

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2012

    Wow

    Eye opening...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 307 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)