Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser
This book (and the movie they made based on it) really shook me up. The fast food industry’s power, the crappy work conditions of those who service it, the politics, the cruelty to animals, the ties to government and the rich and famous…ugh…it pushed me to think about the long complicated chain between what I eat and the larger world. It was a book which helped motivate me to act on some of the discomfort I was feeling but hadn’t fully recognized.
Description from Amazon.com:
Are we what we eat?
To a degree both engrossing and alarming, the story of fast food is the story of postwar America. Though created by a handful of mavericks, the fast food industry has triggered the homogenization of our society. Fast food has hastened the malling of our landscape, widened the chasm between rich and poor, fueled an epidemic of obesity, and propelled the juggernaut of 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 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.
Along the way, Schlosser 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. He also uncovers the fast food chains’ efforts to reel in the youngest, most susceptible consumers even while they hone their institutionalized exploitation of teenagers and minorities. Schlosser then turns a critical eye toward the hot topic of globalization — a phenomenon launched by fast food.
FAST FOOD NATION is a groundbreaking work of investigation and cultural history that may change the way America thinks about the way it eats.