FAST FOOD NATION: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, by Eric Schlosser.
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2001. ISBN: 0395977894
Why, why, why are so many, many, many people so sick, sick, sick? The main
reason is staring right back at them from their dinner. It's the junk food,
people. An ever-increasing proportion of our food is fast food.
"In 1970, Americans spent about $6 billion on fast food; in 2000, they spent
more than $110 billion," writes Eric Schlosser in his book Fast Food Nation.
"They spend more on fast food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers,
videos, and recorded music - combined. . . On any given day in the United
States, about one-quarter of the adult population visits a fast food
restaurant." (p 3)
What does this mean to our health? Everything. Fast food is a high-additive,
high-fat, high-meat, high-sugar, and high-salt diet. And what's just as bad,
it's a low-fiber, low vitamin, low mineral diet to boot. Fast food is
exactly the wrong way to eat.
And we are teaching our kids just how to do it . . .wrong.
Chapter 2 discusses how the fast-food industry sells to kids, especially in
schools. This is the last thing we need; a typical teenage boy already
drinks 20 oz of soda a day. Indoctrination starts early: page 30 of Fast
Food Nation shows a superb photo of Ronald McDonald speaking to a large room
full of enraptured elementary schoolchildren. How can this be? Because the
cafeterias in so many of our school districts are for sale for the right
price. The actual franchise income that any school district may get pales
when compared to what fast food industry takes in. After all, says
Schlosser, "A medium Coke that sells for $1.29 contains roughly 9 cents'
worth of syrup."
Adults are to blame. We, not our kids, are the ones who allowed fast food in
our schools. We are the ones who let Harlem Memorial Hospital contain its
very own McDonald's. It is our money that enables McDonald's to open FIVE
new restaurants every DAY. It is our U.S. Federal Communications Commission
and our U.S. Federal Trade Commission that permit every American child to
watch 10,000 television food ads every year. Are these ads for carrots? Not
according to Yale professor Kelly Brownell, PhD., who says that 95% of TV
food commercials promote candy, soft drinks and fast food.
Fast Food Nation is much more than a history of soda pop and the flipped
burger. In Chapter 3, Schlosser takes us "Behind the Counter" to examine
labor issues in the fast food biz. "No other industry in the United States
has a workforce so dominated by adolescents," he writes. And teenagers work
hard and they work cheap. Too cheap. "Increasing the federal minimum wage by
a dollar (an hour) would add about two cents to the cost of a fast food
hamburger." Fast Food Nations also explores "Why the Fries Taste Good" in
Chapter 5, as well as the very real dangers for those who work at meat
Your making a point to read the exceptionally well-written Fast Food Nation
would be the perfect New Year's resolution.
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