Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, Eric Schlosser, 17 January 2001

Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, Eric Schlosser, 2001

Michiko KakataniThe New York Times, 30 January 2001: Eric Schlosser’s compelling new book, ”Fast Food Nation,” will not only make you think twice before eating your next hamburger, but it will also make you think about the fallout that the fast food industry has had on America’s social and cultural landscape: how it has affected everything from ranching and farming to diets and health, from marketing and labor practices to larger economic trends….

He argues that ”the centralized purchasing decisions of the large restaurant chains and their demand for standardized products have given a handful of corporations an unprecedented degree of power over the nation’s food supply,” and that as ”the basic thinking behind fast food has become the operating system of today’s retail economy,” small businesses have been marginalized and regional differences smoothed over. A deadening homogenization, he writes, has been injected into the country and increasingly the world at large….

He has…done a lot of legwork, interviewing dozens of fast food workers, farmers, ranchers and meatpackers in an effort to trace the snowballing effect that fast-food production methods have had on their work.

The resulting book, which began as a two-part article in Rolling Stone magazine, is not a dispassionate examination of the subject but a fierce indictment of the fast food industry. Mr. Schlosser contends that ”the profits of the fast food chains have been made possible by losses imposed on the rest of society,” including a rising obesity rate and an increase in foodborne illnesses (most notably, those caused by the E. coli O157:H7 bacteria, whose spread has been facilitated by the growing centralization of the meat production process).