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Erick Schlosser’s book ‘Fast Food Nation’ shows how the fast food industry has influenced the landscape of America. The fast food industry has transformed America’s agriculture and eating patterns. The book could be an eventual eye opener by changing the way people view today's eating habits. He discusses the increasing interest in local and organic foods, the exploitation of poor workers by the food industry as well as the need to ensure all Americans access good, healthy and affordable food. He inspires readers to look beneath the surface of the American fast food system and consider its detrimental effects on the American diet, to individuals and the whole society. The book shows the history of fast food industry and its spread throughout America. The industry's spread is due to its easy and quick nature, yet the practices behind the industry’s success are questionable.

In order to promote massive production and profits, the fast food industry has to keep material and labor cost at the lowest level possible. That is why teenagers who have dropped out of school and recent immigrants make up most of the food workforce.  They work under poor and sometimes intimidating conditions. For instance, McDonald’s and its ilk have fought against workers unions to the extent of closing stores to prevent workers from creating union. Teenage workers are not well paid yet overworked. These companies seek employees who are unskilled and willing to work for low wages. He learns that teenagers work twelve hour shifts after school and on weekends. The industry prefers teenagers as they are less likely to complain or unionize because they are normally earning to buy cell phones and buy designer clothes.

Schlosser visited slaughterhouses, and what he discovered was repugnant and hazardous. The labor force was mostly unskilled, and they often sustained severe injuries. The meat processing industry and restaurant chains continually lobbied against regulations that would improve worker and food safety. He writes; “everyone who takes fresh pulverized beef into his or her kitchenette today must consider it as an impending biohazard.” He expresses concern about the high possibility of meat contamination as he says: “there is shit in the meat.”  The high volume meat production and packaging make it easy for bacteria strains to be distributed to far and wide distances. Several hazardous practices that are unknown to consumers such as rendering dead pigs, horse and chicken manure into cattle feeds are common. These practices were responsible for the spread of mad cow disease and the introduction of harmful E. Coli 0157:H7 bacteria as explained in chapter nine “what’s in the meat.”.

In chapter five, Schlosser reveals ‘why the fries taste good’. He indicates that the multinational companies “run French fry firms in a number of different areas, continuously ever-changing production to take advantage of the lowest potato costs. The financial wealth of individual agriculturalists or local residents matters a little in the grand scheme.” This is the same in poultry, ranching and pig industries. With a visit to one of the world’s largest flavor company, Schlosser finds out that the “natural and artificial flavors” found in every processed food products are most probably artificially made in a laboratory rather than a real fruit. The strawberry flavor in milkshakes is just among the many list artificial fruit flavors made up of volatile chemicals.

Schlosser ends his book with an awakening call for the consumer and the whole community to demand better treatment for workers and healthier, safer food. He writes “No one in US has been compelled to buy fast food. The first step towards a meaningful change is far the easiest: stop buying it.” This book provides one with insight to make an informed choice about eating fast food.

Code: Sample20

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