FAST FOOD NATION
Finally, a well-researched and trenchant exposé of the fast food industry is causing many people to sit up, take notice, and perhaps even rethink their unhealthy eating habits. While several worthwhile books have been written in recent years about the broader social implications of a meat-centered diet (Erik Marcus's Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating, Gail Eisnitz's Slaughterhouse, and Howard Lyman's Mad Cowboy, to name a few), none have been greeted more warmly by the mainstream press than Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation. The book has been reviewed in every major American newspaper, and the author has been interviewed on numerous national and local radio programs.
The Grim Reality of Unhappy
The statistics are truly staggering: In 1970, Americans spent about $6 billion on fast food; in 2000, they shelled out more than $110 billion, more than they spent on higher education, computers, or new cars. McDonald's operates about twenty-eight thousand restaurants worldwide and opens two thousand more every year. French fries are the most widely sold food service item, with the typical American eating more than 30 pounds of them each year. The 3.5 million fast food workers are by far the largest group of minimum-wage workers in the world. Last year, ConAgra, the largest food service supplier in North America, enjoyed more than $25 billion in revenues. Fast food chains collectively spend about $3 billion annually on television advertising, most of it directed at children. Meatpacking is the most dangerous job in the U.S., even with many of the injuries going unreported.
Fast Food in the Bigger
Schlosser also dedicates a
significant portion of the book to an issue that doesn't tend to get much
attention: labor. He covers the plight of the unskilled restaurant workers,
as well as the fate of those suffering under horrific conditions in the
slaughterhouses. In addition, he draws attention to the some of the latest
food scares, including those caused by E. coli and other microbes,
all the while explaining how a mammoth and powerful industry is keeping
improved government oversight at bay. The one issue clearly missing is
the plight of the nine billion factory-farmed animals killed each year,
largely for the fast food industry. While this is an odd omission, the
book is still extremely worthwhile and sure to open anybody's eyes. Fast
Food Nation is a damn good read, and I highly recommend it.