Summary and book reviews of Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

Fast Food Nation

The Dark Side of The All American Meal

by Eric Schlosser

Fast Food Nation
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2001, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2002, 384 pages

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Book Summary

A groundbreaking work of investigation and cultural history that may change the way America thinks about the way it eats.

Are we what we eat? To a degree both engrossing and alarming, the story of fast food is the story of postwar America. Though created by a handful of mavericks, the fast food industry has triggered the homogenization of our society. Fast food has hastened the malling of our landscape, widened the chasm between rich and poor, fueled an epidemic of obesity, and propelled the juggernaut of American cultural imperialism abroad.

That's a lengthy list of charges, but Eric Schlosser makes them stick with an artful mix of first-rate reportage, wry wit, and careful reasoning. Schlosser's myth-shattering survey stretches from the California subdivisions where the business was born to the industrial corridor along the New Jersey Turnpike where many of fast food's flavors are concocted. He hangs out with the teenagers who make the restaurants run and communes with those unlucky enough to hold America's most dangerous job -- meatpacker. He travels to Las Vegas for a giddily surreal franchisers' convention where Mikhail Gorbachev delivers the keynote address. He even ventures to England and Germany to clock the rate at which those countries are becoming fast food nations.

Along the way, Schlosser unearths a trove of fascinating, unsettling truths -- from the unholy alliance between fast food and Hollywood to the seismic changes the industry has wrought in food production, popular culture, and even real estate. He also uncovers the fast food chains' efforts to reel in the youngest, most susceptible consumers even while they hone their institutionalized exploitation of teenagers and minorities. Schlosser then turns a critical eye toward the hot topic of globalization -- a phenomenon launched by fast food. Fast Food Nation is a groundbreaking work of investigation and cultural history that may change the way America thinks about the way it eats.

Table of Contents

Introduction

The American Way


1. The Founding Fathers
2. Your Trusted Friends
3. Behind the Counter
4. Success Meat and Potatoes
5. Why the Fries Taste Good
6. On the Range
7. Cogs in the Great Machine
8. The Most Dangerous Job
9. What’s in the Meat
10. Global Realization

Epilogue: Have It Your Way

Photo Credits

Notes

Bibliography

Acknowledgments

Index



Introduction

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN SITS on the eastern slope of Colorado’s Front Range, rising steeply from the prairie and overlooking the city of Colorado Springs. From a distance, the mountain appears beautiful and serene, dotted with rocky outcroppings, scrub oak, and ponderosa pine. It looks like the backdrop of an old Hollywood western, just another gorgeous Rocky Mountain vista. And yet Cheyenne Mountain is hardly pristine. One of the nation’s most important military installations lies deep within it, housing units of the North American Aerospace ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Introduction
Next to death and taxes, fast food might be the most unavoidable experience for Americans. In an age when Ronald McDonald is the second most identifiable fictional character to young children (after Santa Claus), fast food embodies a number of modern American characteristics: the familiar, the ready-made, and the easily disposable. Fast food restaurants are not only a staple on street corners but are becoming fixtures in schools and even hospitals. These ubiquitous chain restaurants have assumed such a large role in American life that they are largely taken for granted.

In the critically acclaimed and nationally bestselling Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser embarks on a journey that raises some disturbing questions about ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

Time Out New York

Part cultural history, part investigative journalism and part polemic...intelligent and highly readable critique....

Time Out New York

Part cultural history, part investigative journalism and part polemic...intelligent and highly readable critique....

San Jose Mercury News

...Schlosser has done huge amounts of intense, on-the-scene reporting, and he backs up his concerns very convincingly. He presents incredibly resonant images and statistics and observations the reader is unlikely to forget.

Hartford Courant

Fast Food Nation presents these sometimes startling discoveries in a manner that manages to be both careful and fast-paced. Schlosser is a talented storyteller, and his reportorial skills are considerable.

San Jose Mercury News

...Schlosser has done huge amounts of intense, on-the-scene reporting, and he backs up his concerns very convincingly. He presents incredibly resonant images and statistics and observations the reader is unlikely to forget.

Boston Globe

...reminiscent of Upton Sinclair's 'The Jungle'.....

USA Today

Fast Food Nation is the kind of book that you hope young people read because it demonstrates far better than any social studies class the need for government regulation, the unchecked power of multinational corporations and the importance of our everyday decisions.

Newsday

'Fast Food Nation' is investigative journalism of a very high order. And the fit between the author's reporting and his narrative style is just about perfect. The prose moves gracefully between vignette and exposition, assembling great quantities of data in small areas without bursting at the seams.

The San Francisco Chronicle

Eric Schlosser's 'Fast Food Nation' is a good old-fashioned muckraking expose in the tradition of 'The American Way of Death' that's as disturbing as it is irresistible....Exhaustively researched, frighteningly convincing....channeling the spirits of Upton Sinclair and Rachel Carson....Schlosser's research is impressive--statistics, reportage, first-person accounts and interviews, mixing the personal with the global.

Atlanta Journal Constitution

'Fast Food Nation' should be another wake-up call, a super-size serving of common sense....

The New York Times - Rob Walker

...Schlosser is a serious and diligent reporter... [Fast Food Nation] is a fine piece of muckraking, alarming without being alarmist.

The Washington Post

Schlosser is part essayist, part investigative journalist. His eye is sharp, his profiles perceptive, his prose thoughtful but spare; this is John McPhee behind the counter....

The Washington Post

Schlosser is part essayist, part investigative journalist. His eye is sharp, his profiles perceptive, his prose thoughtful but spare; this is John McPhee behind the counter....

The New York Times - Rob Walker

...Schlosser is a serious and diligent reporter... [Fast Food Nation] is a fine piece of muckraking, alarming without being alarmist.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred review. An exemplary blend of polemic and journalism....A tale full of sound, fury, and popping grease.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Schlosser establishes a seminal argument for the true wrongs at the core of modern America.

Observer

...everywhere in his thorough, gimlet-eyed, superbly told story, Mr. Schlosser offers up visionary glints....For pure, old-fashioned, Upton Sinclair-style muckraking, the chapters on the meatpacking industry are masterful.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred review. An exemplary blend of polemic and journalism....A tale full of sound, fury, and popping grease.

Reader Reviews

allie

I really enjoyed it--it was very insightful, and it makes you reflect on some things

Anonymous

THID BOOK IS AWESOME

e

This was an incredible book not only because of the topic it covered, but the thorough manner in which the author expounded upon his research. The time and effort Schlosser spent to write this is evident in his calmly passionate explanation of the ...   Read More

47

Awesome book. A must read for any avid fast-food eater. It will make you think before you taking another bite of that greasy burger. Should be required reading for everyone. Use your head, and make informed decisions, read this book!

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