Explores the links between Hollywood and the fast food trade, and the tactics used to target ever younger consumers. This book reveals the full price of our appetite for instant gratification.
The story of fast food is to a large extent the story of post-war America. In a perverse way, it is also the story of Britain since the deregulation of our food and labour markets in the early 1980s. Schossler's account takes in the whole of this prototypically global industry, from its origins in the hysterical competition of the southern Californian diners to the modern saturation of urban and suburban locations, from the revolutions in cattle raising and slaughtering, to the employment practices of the industry leaders.
In the 1950s a burger and fries became America's quintessential meal. Now McDonald's has become the largest owner of retail property in the world. It's part of a wider corporate domination: one can, Schlosser argues, live from cradle to grave without spending any money in an independently owned business. But what are the repercussions of this economic sea-change, and what are the effects on public health, nutrition and safety? Schlosser's account is unashamedly a counter-blast against late-capitalist logic. The 'fast food' world depends on uniformity. Individuality is despised; obedience in the workforce is the primary virtue. The industry reduces humans to the level of the animals used to produce standardised reconstituted meat products. Meat-packing is the most dangerous job in the USA for its workers - but the whole process lends itself to the wider proliferation of disease. The most sickening scenes in this book are of E Coli poisoning caused by the ease with which the bug can transmit itself through slaughterhouses. Meanwhile 'cannibalistic recycling' - the practice of feeding animals with the remains of other dead animals - has led to the BSE outbreak in Great Britain. Schlosser knows the food as well as anyone; he even admits much of it tastes good - even though the taste is manufactured in a lab off the New Jersey Turnpike. But he insists the real cost of this supposedly cheap food is hidden, and his book attempts to uncover long-term, subtle effects. Brand loyalty begins as early as two; the major corporations seek to capture young hearts and minds. Fast food is the culinary form of dumbing down, and correspondingly easy to sneer at. What sets Schlosser's book apart is its vast range of detail that becomes a rolling thunder. His barrage of startling facts, and pen-portraits of victims of corporate culture, builds up a picture from which the reader can draw obvious conclusions, and make his own choice next time he passes McDonald's Golden Arches - a more recognized symbol than the Christian cross. (Kirkus UK)
Table of contents
- Part 1 The American way: the founding fathers
- your trusted friends
- behind the counter
- success. Part 2 Meat and potatoes: why the fries taste good
- on the range
- cogs in the great machine
- the most dangerous job
- what's in the meat
- global realization
- epilogue - have it your way
- afterword - the meaning of mad cow.
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Fast Food NationWas this review helpful?
Reviewed by Mrs Ruth Edwards on 30 October 2003
79 of 153 people found the following review helpful:
I love this book - a gob-smacking insight into the shennagins of the American fast-food industry and how it's pervaded the world! You'll never let your kids buy another BigMac or Wimpy every again after reading this. No wonder the world hates America so much - they control hearts, minds - and stomachs!!!