Mmm… Food

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
October 7, 2008, 3:34 pm
Filed under: Books, Shopping


I finished reading Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser on the way to work this morning.  I’ve never considered becoming a vegetarian before this, but this book made me seriously consider it.  It really affected me.  And I’m certainly not the only one.  The book is a New York Times bestseller.  I feel bad that it’s taken me this long to read it.  I’m certainly behind the times and glad to be catching up.  The book was published in 2001 and most of the research was done the three years before that.  However reading it now in 2008 doesn’t change the impact much, nor do I believe there has been significant progress in changing the ways that many of the companies described in the book do business.  There are of course exceptions to every rule, but it remains true that just a few companies still ultimately control too large a share of the food production that make it difficult for large scale positive changes to occur with any immediacy.  Despite everything he had to talk about from the way cattle are slaughtered in the American Meat Packing Industry (look away and stop reading, at times it was like watching a PETA video) to the obscenities regarding the safety of the food we eat in it’s homogenized state, I remain (like the author) optimistic. 

There have been changes (even if some of them may only be surface changes) since this book has published that are encouraging.  Take for example the more widespread use of the word “All-Natural”.  While it may be true (as Fast Food Nation explained) that what the government considers “All-Natural” is not what the public may generally be thinking it is, the public cares more about seeing those words on a label.  They are not so in the dark or convinced of the positives of processed foods that they continue to choose them when offered “healthier” options side by side.  They are more likely to buy a product that is labelled in such a way.  

The success and expansion of Whole Foods and Trader Joes which supply organic and hormone and anti-biotic free foods to consumers is a sure sign that attitudes must be changing.  Even the more general food stores such as Jewel and Dominicks now have separate produce sections for their Organic items.  They have consumers that are looking for these products and are willing to pay for them.  As more people buy these items and make a demand for them, the companies will have to follow through and offer them to the public.  Fast Food Nation argued this point that it makes business sense to sell what people want.  Consumer voices seem to be making a difference. 

If you’re looking for a good and informative read concerning Fast Food, which pushes beyond to food in general I would highly recommend you check this book out.  It’s never to late to get more information and be better informed.


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