Fast Food Nation

February 9, 2009
By Anonymous

Having It Your Way

Few Americans can say that they've never eaten an all-American cheeseburger, and even fewer can explain the history, economics, chemistry, and culture that surround this tasty treat. Luckily, Eric Schlosser the, connoisseur of fast food knowledge, depicts several sides of the 'American dream' in his novel Fast Food Nation.

The journey begins with cold, hard facts about fast food's background: how it began, how it grew, and how it became so overwhelming that this single industry influences legislature written by congress. Schlosser tells of how a young boy, one of eight children, aged into a fine gentleman who, starting with his $311 hot dog cart, climbed the fast food ladder and prospered into one of the most wealthy men of the early 1900s. This man, Carl Karcher, along with many others, went from 'rags to riches' and became living proof of the American dream, the ideal that one can start with nothing and end with everything.

Eric then shifts his attention over to the mechanics of the fast food business, such as trusts, advertising, merges, corporations, competition, pricing and demographics, and even technological innovations which paved the way for faster, more efficient means of production. He explains how the restaurants' employment functioned. McDonald's managers attended Hamburger University for several weeks, whereas their lesser workers had little to no experience, were barely paid minimum wage, had terrible working conditions, and were given little to no employment benefits, not even healthcare and overtime compensation.

Moving on to the meat of the novel, Eric discusses fast food thoroughly, from how it's chemically altered to how it's brutally slaughtered. Among the numerous facts and statistics he uses to enforce his arguments regarding the fast food industry, Schlosser includes the effects of the fast food industry on other competing industries, encompassing the conflicts of family-owned farms and large corporations, such as Tyson Chicken.

What remains is the industry and its adverse effects on America. Whether it be health related or work affiliated, the revered American meal reveals its unpleasant side in the most unwanted manner as Schlosser writes about how teenage employees work 80-hour weeks and how innocent customers die from Salmonella.

The fast food industry poses both beneficial and malicious qualities, from aiding the economy to diminishing the healthiness of the American population. However, as it stands, this industry, full of burgers, fries, shakes, tacos, chicken and whatever else suits your palette, there remains one inevitability that will never cease to exist; in the words of Eric Schlosser, America will continue to have it their way.

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