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Fast Food Nations by Eric Schlosser

Essay by   •  December 2, 2012  •  Essay  •  2,717 Words (11 Pages)  •  1,059 Views

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Fast Food Nations by Eric Schlosser

Thesis Statement: The objective is to explore the way industrialized agriculture business has transformed from the earlier times to current day situation.

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

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