Fast Food Nation

I recently finished reading Eric Schlosser’s excellent book, Fast Food Nation (Penguin, 2002). Rather than try to write yet another review of this extremely popular and widely-reviewed book, I’ll just cite a few of the passages that I found especially noteworthy:

  • “EVERY DAY in the United States, roughly 200,000 people are sickened by a foodbourne disease, 900 are hospitalized, and fourteen die.”
  • “The medical literature on the causes of food poisoning is full of euphemisms and dry scientific terms: coliform levels, aerobic plate counts, sorbitol, MacConkey agar, and so on. Behind them lies a simple explanation for why eating a hamburger can now make you seriously ill: There is shit in the meat.”
  • “Today nations with BSE must not only confront the prospect of slaughtering millions of potentially infected cattle, but must also figure out what to do with their remains. In Great Britain, about a billion pounds of rendered cattle sit at waste sites, vast mounds of fine brown powder, awaiting incineration. In Japan, plans are being made to blend rendered cattle with concrete — and use the mixture as a building material. In Denmark, a company is now erecting the world’s first power plant that generates electricity by burning cattle.”
  • “Whatever replaces the fast food industry should be regional, diverse, authentic, unpredictable, sustainable, profitable — and humble. It should know its limits. People can be fed without being fattened or deceived. This new century may bring an impatience with conformity, a refusal to be kept in the dark, less greed, more compassion, less spend, more common sense, a sense of humor about brand essences and loyalties, a view of food as more than just fuel. Things don’t have to be the way they are. Despite all evidence to the contrary, I remain optimistic.”

You can read a short article by Eric Schlosser, Bad Meat, in the online edition of The Nation.

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