Fast Food Nation Review

February 10, 2009
By Reba Cherian BRONZE, Plano, Texas
Reba Cherian BRONZE, Plano, Texas
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

After reading the title of Eric Schlosser's nonfiction 2001 best seller, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, one would expect to hear, once again, how fast food is detrimental to the health of people around the world and how because of the increasing availability, convenience, and intake of fast food, obesity has hit an all-time high. We've all heard this side of the story many times, yet we still continue to consume fast food. However, Schlosser, also the author of Reefer Maddness and winner of the National Magazine Award, takes a very different standpoint that will make you want to put down that Big Mac and large fries. Schlosser argues how fast food has not only changed the size of our waistlines, but also the diverse landscapes of business, agriculture, family, crime, sanitation, globalization, culture, education, and much more.

Beginning with the introduction of fast food in the 1950's to its universal dominance today, Fast Food Nation takes a look at effects of fast food that are unheard and unseen by most people. Schlosser successfully fulfills his promise to expose his readers to the other 'dark side' of the all-American meal. Although it is a side many of us are not familiar with, it is a dark side nonetheless. Schlosser takes his readers behind the smiling faces at restaurant counters to a world of corruption, dangerous working conditions, and much more that many of us do not associate with fast food. In a quest to adequately present the faults of the fast food industry, Schlosser writes with an unrestrained, personal, yet factual, writing style. Schlosser's central argument is based on his opinions, yet the four-page bibliography in the back of the book proves that much of his work is fact-based. Along with well-documented facts, Schlosser makes use of simple logical, emotional, and ethical appeals to capture the hearts and minds of those of all ages and backgrounds. In an effort to appeal to his worldwide audience of fast food consumers, Schlosser's blend of facts, opinions, and appeals presents a simple argument that many can understand.

According to Schlosser, Fast Food Nation was written due to his belief 'that people should know what lies behind the shiny, happy surface of every fast food transaction' (Schlosser 10). In the first section of the book entitled The American Way, Schlosser comments on the birth of fast food aided by business fraud and the drastic changes in the food industry that ensued. In the second and more elaborated section entitled Meat and Potatoes, Schlosser focuses on the effects of fast food on not only health, but working conditions, sanitation, education, globalization, and much more. By portraying the tendency of companies and factories to trade in the ideas of quality, sanitation, and safety for the philosophy that more production equals more profit, Schlosser clearly demonstrates that there are hidden costs behind relatively cheap fast food.

Although initially deceived by the book's title, I would recommend Fast Food Nation to anyone who wants to see the other dark side of the fast food industry that has purposely been hidden from the public. Schlosser covers such a wide variety of topics in his book that it takes a while to get to his point, yet by the end, he has successfully shown his audience that 'the profits of the fast food chains have been made possible by losses imposed on the rest of society' (Schlosser 261).

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