Fast Food Nation review

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser is a great book. I know it is now a documentary, but I find the book has a lot more information than a documentary generally does. I wouldn’t mind watching the documentary as well, actually. My expectation of the book was very different from the reality, but I much preferred the reality (not that I wouldn’t have enjoyed having my expectations met, otherwise I wouldn’t have bought the book, obviously). I expected the book to focus on the usual anti-fast food themes, ie. damage to the environment, promoting unhealthy food, exploiting workers, etc. While the book does cover some of the usual issues, it spends more time addressing other issues and does a very good job of it.

The book is not an emotive tirade against the evils of fast food. It is more a well researched and factual representation of the effect of fast food on the country (America), it’s people and the World. The first section of the book looks at how fast food started. It’s well researched and he seems to be trying to demonstrate that the intentions of the ‘founding fathers’ of fast food were good.

The second part of the book looks at several issues,ย he spends the most time looking at the meatpacking industry. How the animals are bred, fed and slaughtered to make the food, how people are maltreated in the meatpacking industry and how we as consumers are exposed to life threatening bacteria so that the meatpacking industry can save a few cents. He also looks at the effect of the fast food chains on employment in America. He also looks at how fast food affects other nations as the chains expand into all parts of the world.

We would never imagine the effect that fast food has on society in a myriad of ways. Would one suspect that hamburgers are the reason that poor farmers are being forcibly evicted from their land in Paraguay? The reason is that they want the land to grow genetically modified soy to feed the cows to make the burgers. It takes 7 tons of grain to produce 1 ton of meat. The depletion of the rainforest in many South American countries is also to grow GM soy. I am starting to get sidetracked here, so back to the book.

Notice how I started to get all emotive in the previous paragraph? Well, the book doesn’t do that. It’s a must read,ย it’s well researched and well written. I believe it’s important for us to realise that our lifestyles are not sustainable.

I was quite impressed to see how cheap the book is from Kalahari.net. Click here to check it out.

2 Comments

  1. Candice October 24, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    hi dax
    i read Fast Food Nation back in 2003 while i was on holiday in Greece. my Greek cousin warned me that it may change my life… but i did not heed her warnings. i read it. and became a vegetarian. i wanted no part in the industrial production of meat any longer. (i now eat meat again, but only when it is organic or free range… i don’t have ethical issues with eating meat, i just have issues with the way animals are bred and treated before we eat them).
    anyway, it took me a while, but i am now on the threshhold of handing in my Masters thesis on sustainable agriculture, and about to take up a position in sustainable agriculture. i wouldn’t say Fast Food Nation was the SOLE reason for this redirecting myself onto this life path, but it was certainly a catalyst.
    have you read Reefer Madness by Eric Schlosser? VERY good. another unemotive review of why marijuana is banned world over. think: cotton industry.

  2. Dax October 27, 2008 at 10:13 am

    Hi Candice,

    I can understand why Fast Food Nation would have impacted you to that degree. There is something unusually powerful about a book which is presented without obvious bias, just a presentation of information of which one might normally not be aware.

    There are other books which are more shocking and go into great gory detail about the suffering of animals and damage to the environment etc. But Fast Food Nation had more impact on me because it was unemotive and extremely interesting.

    I could read it again.