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Fast Food Nation

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Did you know that McDonald's had more than one opportunity to buy out Disney? Did you know that nearly 1 in 10 members of the American workforce have worked for McDonald's at some point in their lives? Also, did you know that the Golden Arches are today more widely recognized than the Christian cross? These fascinating facts as well as many others are revealed in Fast Food Nation, a novel by muckraking journalist Eric Schlosser that is well worth a read by anyone.

This revealing novel, which gives an intimate look at the fast food industry's treatment of labor, expansion practices, and food preparation is divided into two parts: 'The American Way', which goes into detail about the rise of the multiple fast food empires and how society at the time helped lift them up, and 'Meat and Potatoes', which reveals the shocking origins of some of our favorite fast food products.

One part of the novel that I found to be extremely effective was the introduction. It discusses Cheyenne Mountain, the big mountain that towers over the city of Colorado Springs, CO and houses a military installation within its rocky surface. One wouldn't think this would be a novel about fast food until the very end of the introduction, in which it mentions that eating fast food is a daily ritual in the soldiers' lives that work inside the mountain. Schlosser theorizes that if the mountain were to be hit with a nuclear explosion, the only remains that one would find are Domino's Pizza boxes and McDonald's wrappers. This ultimately sets the bleak tone for the remainder of the novel. The chapters in the novel are also given straightforward, to-the-point titles, such as 'Behind the Counter', 'Why the Fries Taste Good' and 'What's in the Meat'.

One of the Schlosser's biggest arguments in the novel is that fast food employees are being treated unethically, through practices such as avoiding overtime pay, long hours, and the illegal use of lie detector tests. It is also revealed that fast food restaurants are able to use a number of methods to prevent employees from unionizing.
The marketing tactics of the fast food companies are also touched on, with Schlosser revealing that a 'trusted friend' image is attempting to be promoted in many of their advertisements. Through Schlosser's later findings, one can conclude that fast food is not, in fact, a 'trusted friend'. In addition, Schlosser devotes the entire second half of the novel to the preparation of potatoes and meat used in fast food, revealing some shocking facts.

What makes Fast Food Nation so unique is Schlosser's powerful writing style; he has nothing to hide, presenting all of his facts in a straightforward, blunt manner. At the same time, it is apparent that Schlosser is emotionally attached to what he is writing and is truly disgusted with his findings. He also refrains from using technical language, making the novel easy to understand and in turn broadening the audience. All in all, Fast Food Nation is a must-read for anyone, because none of us can deny that we have never eaten fast food before.





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