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.
Fast Food Nation is a groundbreaking work of investigation and cultural history that may change the way America thinks about the way it eats.
Executive Producer: Sherry Huber
Producer: Paul Ruben
Abridgment by Lynn Lauber
Jacket design: Martha Kennedy
Jacket photograph: ©Jim Scherer
Line Art: CSA Images
©2001 by Eric Schlosser
(P)2001 Random House, Inc.
Random House Audible, a division of Random House, Inc.
"... a fierce indictment of the fast food industry." (The New York Times)
I have been using this book as required supplemental reading in my economics classes at a community college for two years. I am deeply grateful to Schlosser's exposure of the targeting of children to "weapons of mass obesity" and the contribution of the fast food industry to the destruction of our health. His section "kids as customers" shows students how effectively the marketing of these products has driven the demand for these "supersized" meals. The discussions of working conditions in both the fast food and meatpacking industry is a clear warning of how our jobs are being de-skilled, automated away, and our standards of living ratcheted down in our post-industrial society. If anyone thinks Schlosser is biased, they ought to be grateful that someone is so dedicated to supporting efforts to save our lives, workplaces, and environment from the "greed is good" mentality of the Gordon Gekkos who have taken over our corporations. I implore people to see "Supersize Me" as well as read this book. I hope that Schlosser's next project is about Wal-Mart.
This is a powerfully thought provoking book. It is enjoyable simply because it is so very disturbing. As a high-school teacher I found the information relating to the necessity of a large uneducated workforce enlightening. Also, the detailed examples about food processing and taste are well...thought provoking. And, the information about the aggressive campaigning for ever younger customers has lead my wife and I into many discussions about the amount of television and fast food we are willing to let our children consume.
I am critical of the author's biased approach to the material, but he clearly states his agenda at both the beginning and end of the book; so the material can be read with the knowledge that this book is a prosecution of the industry with no real defense.
The narration style is very distracting. Every sentence is inflected as if it were the MOST AMAZING THING EVER! This narrator would do wonderfully with stories about unicorns and magical lands. Social commentary, not so much.
The text itself is great, though.
My comment is not about the writing in this book, which other readers have exhaustively discussed, but about the narration. I'm a writer, and I've been listening to audio books for twenty-five years, hundreds of them, and love the experience of being read to. Most narrators are at least pretty good; they have a relaxed, informal reading style that gets out of the way and lets the words of the author take you where the author intended. This is the first audiobook I've encountered which does violence to this principle. The reading style here is like a TV infomercial. That is, the narrator PUNCHES his words for EMPHASIS in every SENTENCE of EVERY PARAGRAPH, and BOY! is it IRRITATING! It's as if he DOESN'T TRUST the listener to REACH THE RIGHT CONCLUSIONS and must CAJOLE and MANIPULATE every step of the way! It's KIND OF like an ACTOR who CHEWS the SCENERY, MUGS, and ALTERS the pitch, tone and VOLUME of his voice into something UNNATURAL and ROBOTIC to indicate what the audience should be experiencing.
The result of this pummeling left me weary and jittery. The book was a chore to get through, as it left no room for the author or the listener: it was all about the narrator, who told me what to think and when to think it, robbing me of the chief joy of reading. Granted, the book is a piece of muckraking journalism, but can't I discover that for myself? The narrator and producer of this travesty have ill served the author, and should be severly flogged, as they have flogged others.
This expose on the meat-packing and fast food industries often digresses and becomes too large in scope, which renders the work meandering at times. The message of the text is not alarmist and certainly not apologetic towards the meat-packing and fast food industries. For the most part, Schlosser attacks with facts, but his use of anecdote is somewhat cloying. I recommend the book, because most people simply have no clue how most of the food they consume is processed, and this is a good start. You can take or leave Schlosser's agenda, but you cannot deny the plethora of industry facts and research he has done.
I do not care for the narrator. His tone is too smug for my tastes. At the same time, the text book (as opposed to the audio book) was not as easy to digest.
Hey, don't worry about spending the money on this title... You'll make the money back on what you start saving, eating at home.
The sign of a good book for me, is that you spend time reflecting upon it, long after you have put it down (oops, turned it off).
Some will definitely find this book controversial... but isn't that a good thing? It is certainly well researched and written --- and the reader is one of the best I've heard.
Some of the reviewers focus on the one-sided bashing of the food industry. Clearly the author is not a fan of fast food, slaughterhouses, lack of government regulation in this area and other things.
If that's all someone got of this book then the point was sorely missed.
First of all - what the author says is true. He is far from the only writer to point out the fact that the well being of Americans is NOT high on the priority list for the beef industry. Robin Cook, author of best sellers such as COMA, wrote about this very subject in his novel TOXIN. The fact is that slaughterhouses are terrible, unsafe places where abused workers are routinely injured and the meat they produce can be very unsafe.
Beyond that, however, the book is a fascinating chronicle of the evolution of an industry that has changed the world over the last 50 years. Maybe it's not quite as dismal as the author says but it certainly is different.
The consolidation of farming and ranching to the point where the number of independent potato farmers, chicken growers, cattle ranchers, slaughterhouses has dwindled to a microscopic fraction in the last 50 years is a staggering fact.
The fact that rental income from franchisees is the primary revenue stream for McDonald's is mind boggling. How much better definition of irony is there than to learn that food is almost secondary to one of the world's biggest sellers of food.
The story of how Ray Croc stumbled on the Macdonald brothers because they wanted a few extra mixmasters is compelling.
There's so much education in this book and if you have the intellect to filter out some of the bias of the author it's a great, great book.
The bias is clearly there but it absolutely does not get in the way of this being an outstanding way to learn some very interesting stuff.
Back to the original point - bias aside - this audio will raise your awareness of some issues that we can't continue to ignore.
Mr. Schlosser has carried out three years of research for this book, by his own account. Unfortunately, his well-documented polemic against the fast food industry is seriously flawed by a lack of focus. It's an impressive attack on the fast food industry, but he also attacks urban sprawl, George Bush (senior, not junior), the US Dept of Agriculture, agribusiness, the decline of family farms, and, of course, the Republican party. He lovingly traces the links between the Republicans and agribusiness, while completely ignoring the similar links between, for example, Tyson Foods and the Clinton Administration. His partisanship strongly detracts from his message. Truly, the American Nutritional Catastrophe deserves a great book to describe it. This one isn't it, but one has to give Mr. Schlosser credit for a good effort.
What an awesome book. If I had the choice I'd make this a mandatory read for every health class in high school and any other class that would be able to work it into their curriculum.
This is a must read for every American adult because I know it has changed my political and health views forever.
Very nice work Eric!!!
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