BookBrowse Reviews Chew on This by Eric Schlosser, Charles W. Wilson

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Chew on This

Everything You Don't Want to Know About Fast Food

by Eric Schlosser, Charles W. Wilson

Chew on This by Eric Schlosser, Charles W. Wilson
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  • First Published:
    May 2006, 270 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2007, 320 pages

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A stinging exposé on the fast food industry, written for teens, by the author of Fast Food Nation

From the book jacket: Kids love fast food. And the fast food industry definitely loves kids. It couldn’t survive without them. Did you know that the biggest toy company in the world is McDonald’s? It’s true. In fact, one out of every three toys given to a child in the United States each year is from a fast food restaurant.

Not only has fast food reached into the toy industry, it’s moving into our schools. One out of every five public schools in the United States now serves brand name fast food. But do kids know what they’re eating? Where do fast food hamburgers come from? And what makes those fries taste so good?

When Eric Schlosser’s best-selling book, Fast Food Nation, was published for adults in 2001, many called for his groundbreaking insight to be shared with young people. Now Schlosser, along with co-writer Charles Wilson, has investigated the subject further, uncovering new facts children need to know.

Comment: Initially, we didn't plan on recommending Chew On This at BookBrowse - not because we didn't think it a much needed book but because we assumed it was just a simplified version of Fast Food Nation (which we'd already recommended) for older children/teens. However, three things changed our opinion.

Firstly, Chew On This doesn't simply regurgitate the "original" in "dumbed-down" form; instead the information has been substantially rewritten to be of interest to the younger audience, with additional information added, such as how the fast-food industry affects the lives of young people beyond simply eating the stuff.

Secondly, our then-12-year-old sat down and read Chew On This cover to cover and found it very interesting, as shown by the fact that we were peppered by fast facts about fast food for sometime afterwards! It didn't change his basic opinion of McDonalds et al, as we'd managed to indoctrinate him against fast food years before (with the assistance of a rat that ran across his foot in our local McDonalds when he was about six!) but it gave him the ammunition to back up his opinions.

Thirdly, The Wall Street Journal revealed that extreme tactics were being employed by certain fast food companies to discredit the book and authors in a "Swift Boat-style" campaign involving a number of official sounding organizations that all have ties to the DCI Group (a Washington lobbying firm known for its long history of opposing public health initiatives). For example, Schlosser was described as "a politically motivated activist who plays on people's fears" and the authors have been jointly accused of engaging in Nazi tactics! Which makes one wonder what would make the fast food industry so afraid that they would resort to such low tactics? In the words of Eamon Dolan, Houghton Mifflin's Vice President (who publish Chew on This),  "There's something unnerving about trying to attack a journalist's character, rather than attacking the facts!"

This review was originally published in June 2006, and has been updated for the April 2007 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.



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