You should never tell a book by its cover, however, the title: Fast Food: The Dark Side Of The All-American Meal,just about sums it all up.
Eric Schlosser, well-known correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, has written a riveting account of the many skeletons in the closet affecting the fast food industry. What is amazing, as pointed out by the author, “ the federal government has the legal authority to recall a defective toaster over or stuffed animal-but still lacks the power to recall tons of contaminated, potentially lethal meat.”
This may be the author’s first book, however, he certainly shows an uncanny ability to uncover the horrors of the fast food industry. After giving the reader a brief history of the popularization of fast food and how it has infiltrated every nook and cranny of American society, Schlosser proceeds in exposing the deficiencies of the beef slaughterhouses, the meat packing industry, the flavour industry, the cattle and chicken raising industry as well as the working and sanitary conditions of the companies comprising these industries and the fast food chains. Gruesome examples of some of the horrors are exposed particularly work accidents and food poisoning brought about by E.coli. Not a very pretty picture!
Schlosser also alerts the reader as to the immense lobbying power of many the major players of the fast food industry, who have over the years exerted enormous pressure on the government to pass laws or water down proposed laws that are only in their self-interest.
The author, however, makes it clear that he does not mean to suggest that fast food is solely responsible for every social problem that haunts the United States. However, it has played a role that cannot be ignored and by shedding light on the workings of this industry, it is hoped that the reader will become aware of a distinctively American way of viewing the world.
As Schlosser indicates in the introduction, the book is about fast food, the values it embodies and the world it has made. “The early Roman Republic was fed by its citizen-farmers; the Roman Empire, by its slaves. A nation’s diet can be more revealing than its art or literature.”
The author’s tremendous amount of research is quite evident when you look at the extensive listing of notes at the end of the book that corresponds to each of his chapters as well as his bibliography. You can be assured that he has done his homework.
After reading the book, it makes you want to seriously consider becoming a vegetarian. I guess two of my children, who are vegetarians, may have been on to something several years ago!