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2010 Book Selection
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
About the Book
From the publisher, HarperCollins
Fast food has hastened the malling of our landscape, widened the chasm between rich and poor, fueled an epidemic of obesity, and propelled American cultural imperialism abroad. That's a lengthy list of charges, but Eric Schlosser makes them stick with an artful mix of first-rate reportage, wry wit, and careful reasoning.
Schlosser's myth-shattering survey stretches from California's subdivisions, where the business was born, to the industrial corridor along the New Jersey Turnpike, where many of fast food's flavors are concocted. Along the way, he unearths a trove of fascinating, unsettling truths -- from the unholy alliance between fast food and Hollywood to the seismic changes the industry has wrought in food production, popular culture, and even real estate.Back to top
About the Author
Eric Schlosser, an award-winning journalist, is a correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly. His work has also appeared in Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, the Nation, and The New Yorker, among others. His skills as reporter and journalist have earned him the highest praise in a cross section of industries. He has received a National Magazine Award and a Sidney Hillman Foundation Award for reporting. All three of his books have been national bestsellers. His 2001 book, Fast Food Nation, is assigned reading at universities across the country.
Schlosser has addressed the United States House of Representatives and Senate about the risk to the food supply from bioterrorism and has lectured at universities across the country, including his alma mater Princeton University, the University of California at Berkeley, Yale University, College of the Holy Cross, and Claremont College.
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, which began as an article in Rolling Stone, is a groundbreaking work of investigation and cultural history that changed the way America thinks about the way it eats. Schlosser exposes the role the fast-food industry has played in American society, from the development of urban and rural landscapes, to the changes in the meat packing industry and in workplace conditions for employees, to the impact abroad.Back to top
Book Discussion GuideFrom the publisher -
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--from American Scholar
"Schlosser has carried off some incredible feats of reporting: Fast Food Nation is one of those rare works that are at once painstakingly detailed and readable. His evocation of the slaughterhouses in which fast-food hamburgers begin their lives is infernal. These are High Plains necropoli in which often illiterate workers bearing deadly knives and hyped on methamphetamines wade through stinking offal, lacerating themselves and each other as they work to keep up with a brutal assembly-line pace, stumbling into machines that can rip off their limbs. Meatpacking workers tend to be the most vulnerable of the vulnerable: mostly non-unionized, mostly poor white and Mexican, often undocumented, easy prey for a meatpacking industry that doesn't shy away from intimidation. Equally forceful is Schlosser's relentless expose of the fast-food industry's role in spreading beef-borne pathogens--particularly the deadly E. coli 0157:H7--and its attempts to skirt government oversight."
--from The New York Times Book Review
"...the good news is that this isn't a frivolous book at all. Schlosser is a serious and diligent reporter, and Fast Food Nation isn't an airy deconstruction but an avalanche of facts and observations as he examines the fast-food process from meat to marketing. Or maybe that's the bad news. One of the central themes here is the degree to which the modern fast-food business is defined by the industrialization of most of its parts, a development whose consequences Schlosser sees as almost universally negative."
-- from Salon.com
"Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, is troubled by our nation's fast-food habit, but what goes into the burgers and fries isn't even half the problem, he says. He admits that most of the fast food he ate while he wrote the book 'tasted pretty good.' (It should, he notes -- fast-food restaurants rely heavily on the services of the billion-dollar flavor industry, which manufactures and sells the complex chemicals that give distinctive flavors to processed foods such as "smoky" chicken, "strawberry" shakes and even 'flame-broiled' burgers.)
The reasons Schlosser sees fast food as a national scourge have more to do with the sheer ubiquity of the stuff -- the way it has infiltrated almost every aspect of our culture, transforming 'not only the American diet, but also our landscape, economy, workforce, and popular culture.' An estimated one out of every eight workers has at some point been employed by McDonald's, and the nation's 3.5 million fast-food workers are the largest group of minimum-wage earners."