Fast Food Nation

The author of the book Fast Food Nation is basically an investigative journalist. Being a journalist the author explored and carried out profound research in order to study the fast food industry. His research helped him to know about the final product that ends up on the restaurant table right from scratch i. e. in case of meat – from the farm to the final product. The author combined his three years of research with statistics and other primary research and presented the entire thing in the above mentioned book. The author presents the change in the way industrialized agri-business is done in today’s business scenario.

The book is divided to two major and different parts. The first part of the book which is named as the “American Way” focuses on discussing the history of America’s Fast Food industry. This part also gives background information about the major fast foods of the country like McDonalds, Burger King Etc, including information about their founders. The remaining part of the first part of the book discusses how most of the once family owned and small businesses have become famous worldwide and how they have become part of one’s daily lives especially, Americans.

The second part of the book discusses about the regulations that have been instituted by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and also provides various reports and information about the working conditions at meatpacking plants and the slaughter houses. The fifth chapter of the book speaks about the making of French fries, one of the most favorite and ordered snack at a fast food and especially about a person named J. R. Simplot.

The reasons for speaking about a specific individual is because, it was in his factory which was situated in Idaho that most of the frozen French fries are made and are shipped to most of the fast food restaurants all across the United States. The author deeply delves into the aspects of the color and taste that all the fast food items have. HE also reveals many interesting, astonishing and rather unknown facts like the taste, smell and color of the foods not being natural and how these aspects for the food are created by using chemicals and different additives.

In the book, the author specifically speaks about the impact of fast food chains on the people of United States. The statistics presented by the author, approximately one-third of the adult population of the United States visits a fast food restaurant daily and on a weekly basis a typical American is said to be consuming three hamburgers and four French fry orders. The reason behind presenting the above statistics in this paper is to discuss the affects of consuming fast food on the human body. Despite the frequency of eating fast foods, the very immediate affect that it could have on an individual’s health is sickness.

This is evident from the fact that the author has presented in the book which states that approximately 2,000,000 people of the United States fall sick due to diseases caused by food they consume and almost 900 people are hospitalized on a daily basis. Though the reasons behind the diseases are many, one main cause may be stated as the way the food is produced. After this, the author starts giving information about the evolution of slaughter houses, the working conditions there etc. According to the book and the author’s arguments, there are a very few fast food restaurants which give value to their manpower and pay them good wages.

Two good examples of such fair fast food restaurants are Conway’s Red Top and In-N-Out. Both these restaurants have their own style of becoming known in the fast food industry. Though these two restaurants are not as popular as McDonalds and Burger King, they serve high quality food and deliver better value and customer service. Today, the meat production in the United States of America has become very centralized due to the decrease in the small farmers which in turn has reduced the number of producers of meat.

The toxins in the meat production plant are the root cause for the widespread of diseases. “A nationwide study published by the USDA in 1996 found that 7. 5 percent of the ground beef samples taken at processing plants were contaminated with Salmonella, 11. 7 percent with Listeria monocytogenes, 30 percent with Staphylococcus aureus, and 53. 3 percent with Clostridium perfringens. All of these pathogens can make people sick (Teh World Traveller) (Michael Shugrue) (Sinclair). ” The book takes the readers’ through a journey which explains about today’s shocking and extremely corrupt fast food industry.

The various truths and happenings in the industry which were gathered through personal interviews, investigations etc were presented in order to reveal what exactly happens behind the scenes of the fast food chains. One example is the reality of brutal treatment of workers and abuse of the same workers at the meat packing plants. Many female workers in the meat making plants are sexually harassed not only by co-workers but also by superiors. This clearly states how dangerous the industry for female employment is.

A well-known fact is that the target audiences of the fast food industry are none other than children. The kids are easily influenced by the eye-catching, heavy and attractive advertisements along with the interesting promotional techniques which the fast food chains use. Market statistics reveal that children are more inclined towards a brand name or logo than on their own name. As already stated, many people today have become more inclined towards fast food not only because of the ease and convenience but also because of the taste of the food.

Now the question that arises here is, the reasons for fast foods being so tasty. The author of the book has also explored this angle and has presented the tricks and techniques used by the fast food industry players to make the food extremely tasty. Basically, the aroma of the food is solely responsible for the flavor of the food. In order for the foods to be aromatic, it is not necessary that they need to be truly naturally. Today’s scientific advancements have led to the creation of various chemicals which help to secure the aroma of foods artificially too.

This can be understood from the following facts which the author has quoted in the book – “Adding methyl-2-peridylketone makes something taste like popcorn. Adding ethyl-3-hydroxybutanoate makes it taste like marshmallow. The possibilities are now almost limitless. ” Next important aspect is the role of the food’s colour. The fast food chains use a material called Titanium oxide which is actually used in the making of women’s cosmetics in order to give a creamy white colour to many of the processed candies and icings.

Most of the fast food chains are using colouring agents in many of their soft drinks, cookies and sandwich buns in order to attract more customers. What does all this mean? By using coloring agents and chemicals to present the food in an attractive way, the fast food chains are trying to attract more number of customers to their outlets. More number of customers means more money. But ultimately, one important fact that needs to be understood is that customers who spend their hard earned money in the fast food outlets are actually falling prey to many toxic diseases.

To be clear, for the various harmful activities done by the fast food chains, the common man is falling prey after spending his or her hard earned money. However, this fact is not known to most of the people who are used to eating fast foods. In one part of the book the author quotes that “Flavor compounds sometimes contain more ingredients than the foods being given their taste. ” It is actually very strange for people to realize the facts while enjoying a snack at any fast food that they instead of enjoying the natural product which is used in the preparation of the product are enjoying an ingredient which has been artificially prepared.

The fact that some chemical is used in order to manipulate the originality of taste itself is very shocking and of course obviously new to discover. It is indeed very difficult to accept and digest the fact that today’s era has so changed that even foods that are consumed are altered and made lose their originality by using chemicals etc. The book realizes many astonishing and unknown facts which many of the fast food goers do not realize. Most of the people who are used to fast foods restaurants would not have any idea about the working conditions at the meat packing plants and slaughter houses.

The author presents some very surprising and rather pathetic facts of the inhuman working conditions about the workers at those places. Even this information is absolutely new to many people. The meat packing plants and slaughter houses are known as dangerous work places but not as risky places for somebody to work. The working situation of the workers working at the meat packing plant is so pathetic and dangerous that the workers are forced to wear hard hats and also carry heavy chain mails underneath their waist coats.

The jobs of people at the slaughterhouses are even more pathetic. All the workers, irrespective of their sex, are made to stand with their clothes stripped off and made to do their jobs of ripping the innards of the cattle etc. All the workers here are at serious risk of losing their lives anytime while they are on the job and despite such ruthless working conditions, the money that they get paid is very minimal. One interesting fact that can be discovered in this book is that most of the jobs at the slaughter houses are carried out by hand.

With technology taking its toll on today’s modern society, it is unbelievable that such ruthless tasks are still carried out by hand instead of using machines which can do the work faster. The author of the book – Eric Schlosser makes it quite evident that the “most important tool in a modern slaughterhouse is a sharp knife. ” “Working in a slaughterhouse is probably one of the most dangerous jobs in the country, and yet it seems to be one of the not much advanced technologically. It seems that machines would speed up the process at a meatpacking plant, therefore producing much more ground beef.

Surprisingly, one of the most mechanical machines in a slaughterhouse is a conveyor belt (Barganini). ” Many workers get injured when working on this particular belt as the belt moves so fast that the belt slaughters almost 400 cattle per hours as opposed to the initial days of slaughtering 50 cattle per hour. Above all this, the most shocking fact is that the administration of the slaughter houses does not report many such injuries. “Their employees are hurt, and instead of sending them to the hospital, they send them to one of their own doctors who tell them that are uninjured and able to work.

The point even more shocking than this is that the federal government fails to improve these working conditions. It seems almost discriminatory (Barganini). ” Overall, the book provides a lot of information about the fast food industry and the issues which happen behind the scenes and which are unknown. Despite having some weaknesses in it, the strengths of the book are much higher. The author of the book makes it very clear that the people of the United States are more passionate towards eating fast food and the industry in itself and in this attempt he wrote a book that explains the fact more clearly.

The entire book focuses on trying to explain the fascination that today’s people have got towards the fast food industry which has over a period transformed the culture of the United States. The book reveals certain strong facts like the ones – “The Golden Arches are now more widely recognized than the Christian cross. ” These kind of strong facts are the ones which make the book a good resource to know about the fast food industry. Though many people fail to realize the fact that fast foods have become a major part of their daily life, it is very true.

It is actually impossible to not find a fast food when driving down a busy road in any part of the country. The author has very interestingly portrayed the history and evolution of most of the famous fast food chains focusing on the founders like Carl Karcher, Richard and ‘Mac’ of the McDonalds. Though the details about these men are relevant to the point of discussion of the book, the author spends a quiet too long time discussing about the above mentioned people. Apart from this, the author also mentions few other people who have been founders of fast food chains and who have similar background.

One interesting and similar fact about all these men is that all of them come from a very poor family and have consistently grown up in their life through their commitment and hard work in order to hold higher positions. One of the major strength of the book “The Fast Food Nations” is the author’s ability to relate the book to the people who read it and imbibe it into the society. The author also throws light on issues such as the Federal Government’s involvement in the working conditions in the meat packing plants and the slaughter houses.

The author has been successful in clubbing the facts of the past, the happening in the present and the possible future of the fast food industry into one single book. The epilogue of the book focuses on the very few fast food chains which still have great value to their employees and also their customers. “The fast food industry resulted from a culmination of social and economic trends. After reading the phenomena that has taken hold of our country, one must wonder what the future will bring (Barganini). ”

After reading the book, one fact that needs to be accepted is that the fast food industry has literally taken hold and is riding the lives of many people today without their own knowledge even. Many people who are used to fast foods do not realize the harm that those food cause to their health. As the industry developed, the percentage of obesity too developed in the same pace. Apart from heart attacks and problems of obesity, many new health problems have also cropped up. Though the lifestyle promoted by these fast foods is really fast and new, yet they are equally harmful.

In conclusion, it can be said that fast food chains today are profiting at the cost of the health of its customers. Eating fast foods results in obesity and this obesity has become a common problem to everybody. Actually, study reveals that the annual cost of obesity is twice the total revenues of the fast food industry. By revealing so many useful and important facts like the ones presented in the above paragraphs and many more similar facts, the author Eric Schlosser tries and brings to light the alarming truth of today’s fast food industry. ? Bibliography Barganini, Emily. “Fast Food Nations – Review.

” Portfolio. du. edu. 01 March 2009 <https://portfolio. du. edu/portfolio/getportfoliofile? uid=40150>. Michael Shugrue, Christian Matuschek, Marc F. DiPaolo. Conscious Reader. Longman/Prentice Hall, 2008. Sinclair, Upton. “The Safety of Raw versus Pasteurized Milk. ” The Untold Story of Milk. 21 January 2009 <http://www. newtrendspublishing. com/USOMilk/Chapter15. pdf>. Teh World Traveller. “The Founding Fathers Why the Fries Taste good – excerted from the book Fast food Nations. ” 2002. Teh Wrold Traveller. 21 January 2009 <http://www. thirdworldtraveler. com/Health/FoundingFathers_FFN. html>.

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