“Fast food is popular because it's convenient, it's cheap, and it tastes good. But the real cost of eating fast food never appears on the menu.” – Eric Schlosser --
Eric Schlossers book Fast Food Nation is not only an expose of the fast food industry but also shows how the fast food industry has shaped and defined society in America and other nations as the fast food culture spreads globally. He connects the social order of society to the kind of food it eats and the way it eats that food, and relates fast food to other social processes and institutions. His facts are based on years of research and study, and are presented in and easy to follow narrative. Schlosser is so thorough and convincing in his argument, it's impossible to read this book and not feel disenchanted by the unethical practices of fast food companies, shocked at its effect on our society, and empowered to do something about it. Fast Food Nation takes a look at what we don't see behind the fast food business, and questions a high cultural cost verses a low dollar value meal.
There are ethical concerns in about every business, but none seem to be as intense as the ones found in the meatpacking and fast food industry. "In the days when labor unions were strong workers could complain about excessive line speeds and injury rates without fear of getting fired. Today only one third of IBP's workers belong to a union." (Schlosser 174) Schlosser clearly describes the plight of these employees, pointing out that the majority of them are undocumented immigrants. They are employed "at will" meaning they can be fired at any time, for any reason. They depend on these jobs to support their families. A clear example of this can be seen here in Iowa. Small towns such as Perry are seeing a tremendous amount of undocumented immigrants, lured by the processing plants in the town. The needs of this industry shape a number of social institutions and also have a direct effect on local communities by bringing in people who require more social services than would otherwise be the norm. It's interesting to note that labor unions were created to give a voice to those who have none. With only one third of employees supported by a union, I wish Schlosser had expanded on why these other employees are not union members.
Schlosser describes the environment of the meat packing plants serving fast food companies in a startling straightforward narrative of his visit through a meat packing plant. He describes a brutal, and sometimes unsanitary environment. The rights of animals are a very broad and complex subject, but Schlosser touches on this as he describes the slaughterhouse floor. He describes animals in various states of disembowelment. Sometimes the animals were dead or stunned; sometimes they were thrashing about wildly in the last throws of death. The slaughter room floor was described as being covered with blood and feces. Employees worked at a furious pace to meet...