Book Review: Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
More than just a book about dietary guidelines and health, Eric Schlosser’s riveting “Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal,” provides a rich and detailed road map to the beginnings of the fast food industry, and the shift it created on our culture, way of life and eating habits. Part history lesson and part road map to the future, Schlosser weaves a detailed, cautionary tale about food, and the industries we feed, when we take a bite of that oh-so-luscious burger. Fast Food Nation is easy-to-read and fast paced, but if you love McDonald’s, be forewarned. You may never reach for a Happy Meal again.
The Beginnings of an Industry
Founded mostly by hard-working renegades and creative thinkers, the fast food industry, in its early days had an all-American feel, a sensibility that combined hominess with futuristic thinking. What was less apparent was the ruthless commitment to profit by the few, which cast aside the well-being and health of the many. According to Schlosser, that all-pervasive love of the mighty dollar shifted the very landscape of America, dotting its ever-growing highways, towns and cities with a never-ending plethora of fast food joints as far as the eye could see, and forging alliances between multiple conglomerates, consolidating power, profit and decision making. It also parallels the correlation between rising profits, misleading food facts and the country's escalating obesity rate.
What Goes Into That Yum
The book explores the multifaceted ways Americans are targeted by industry, from childhood through to old age, and the buying pattern variances between the wealthy and the poor, as well as the victimization of migrant and food industry workers. It analyzes the intricacies of how we are sold the food we buy in such depth, that even the whining patterns of toddlers are fodder for the marketing arms of the McDonald’s, Burger Kings, Wendy’s and Taco Bells of America. And of course, there’s the food itself. How it’s grown, raised, slaughtered and flavored, is explained in intricate and sometimes revolting detail.
Schlosser first wrote "Fast Food Nation" in 2001. His thoughts on the book’s original premise and the progress, or lack of it, made in the fast food industry since then, are outlined in an afterward added to the most recent edition of the book. Here he touches upon broad-based changes in the American diet which have occurred since the original writing, at least at the higher levels of the economic strata. How he was received by those in industry and how they have tried to stop his message are also touched upon.
"Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal’s" relevancy, and credibility are, without question, still intact, as is the on-going assault on American health by big business.