Sunday, June 11, 2006

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

The Basics: Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, Eric Schlosser, 2001, 356 pages, based on a series of articles for Rolling Stone in the late '90s.

How I found it: I had heard of this book elsewhere but I recently watched Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me which includes an interview with Schlosser as an bonus feature on the DVD. After hearing him discuss the dangers of ground beef (which was already a nemesis of mine) I knew I had to read his book.

What's it about?: A critical look at the fast food industry that includes everything from the effect of fast food on urban sprawl, eating habits, farming practices, slaughterhouses, minimum-wage workers and more. Schlosser exposes things you never knew about the fast food industry to the point that it starts to sound like one big conspiracy theory, except that you know it is real.

Did I like it?: I really enjoyed this book. Unlike some of the anti-establishment books I have read lately (i.e. No Logo, The Rebel Sell) Schlosser's book seems to be grounded in fact, not snap judgments and actually presents a section of practical solutions at the end of his book. As well, it was easy to read (except for some of the more grisly meatpacking sections). The only downside to the book is that it is very specific to America - I was left wanting to know if what Schlosser wrote is applicable in Canada. Lately I have been thinking more and more about what I put into my body and Fast Food Nation definitely strengthened my resolve to make better choices. Definitely another step back down the road to vegetarianism.

Will you like it?: Everyone should read this book if they eat meat or eat fast food. Once you know you can decide for yourself what kind of choices to make. At times Schlosser has a bit of a left-wing (anti-Republican) agenda he likes to push, but if you can ignore that, you'll get lots of out the book. This book is written by a respected journalist in a well-researched manner. While it sometimes uses scare-tactics to get the point across, the point is an important one that you'll be glad to learn.

But don't take my word for it: Amazon's reviews (reader and editorial), NY Times review.

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