We want you to write an investigative piece about the fast food industry. And we want you to call it 'Fast Food Nation. But at the time, I wasn't so sure about it. The editors at Rolling Stone didn't know much about the fast food industry, and neither did I. It wasn't at all clear what the scope or the focus of the article would be. And I didn't want to write something that was snobby and elitist, you know, a put-down of Americans and of their plastic fast-food culture. I still ate at McDonald's then, especially when I was on the road.
I really like hamburgers and French fries, and I don't consider myself some kind of gourmand. So I knew what I didn't want the article to be, but I wasn't really sure what it should or could be. There was a basic question that needed to be answered: What's the story here? How much resistance did you encounter in researching and reporting the book?
A lot. None of the major meatpacking companies allowed me to visit their facilities. McDonald's was not at all helpful. The industry, on the whole, didn't roll out a welcome mat. But many of the workers at fast food restaurants and meatpacking plants were eager to talk with me.
They felt that their stories had not yet been told, and they wanted the world to know what was happening. Their help made "Fast Food Nation" possible Again and again, we see these companies seeking de-regulation—and government subsidies. They hate government regulations that protect workers and consumers but love to receive taxpayer money. That theme has implications far beyond the food industry. The same kind of short-sighted greed that has threatened food safety and worker safety for years now threatens the entire economy of the United States.
You can't separate the de-regulation of the food industry from the de-regulation of our financial markets. Both were driven by the same mindset. And now we find ourselves on the brink of a worldwide economic meltdown. But in times of crisis we are more likely to see things clearly, to recognize that many of the problems in our society are inter-connected.
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The same guys who would sell you contaminated meat would no doubt sell you toxic mortgages, just to make an extra buck. One of my goals in "Fast Food Nation" was to make connections between things that might not obviously seem linked.
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And that posed one of the biggest challenges in writing the book: how far could I go, off on a tangent, before losing readers? I was constantly worried about straying too far and writing something that seemed slightly crazy; I wanted to show the power and influence of this one industry, without exaggerating and suggesting that it somehow ruled the world. There's a fine line between being iconoclastic and being nuts.
But it was important to trace the various interconnections. So I wrote about Walt Disney in a book about fast food, because Disney greatly influenced how McDonald's marketed its food to children—-and that helped change the health of children throughout the world. Some of the things that I learned were truly bizarre, like the fact that Heinz Haber, one of Disney's principal scientific advisors, had been involved with medical experiments performed on concentration camp victims in Nazi Germany. Haber later hosted a Disney documentary singing the praises of nuclear power: "Our Friend the Atom.
It made sense, when you're talking about systems that worship uniformity, conformity, and centralized control Do you see actual reform of the food system beginning to occur, beyond such trends as farmers' markets and organic restaurants? There's no question that meaningful reform has begun.
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a wonderful organization that defends the rights of farm workers in Florida, has forged agreements with the leading fast food chains and with Whole Foods. Organic produce is the fastest-growing and most profitable segment of American agriculture.
Comparitive/Contrast Assessment on Fast Food Nation and the Jungle
School districts throughout the country are banning sodas and junk foods. New York City and California have passed menu labeling laws, and California voters recently backed a referendum on behalf of animal welfare. Everywhere you look, people are changing what they eat and demanding that companies be held accountable for what they sell. Unfortunately, over the past decade, some things have gotten worse—especially the abuse of meatpacking workers.
And food safety has deteriorated significantly, with some of the biggest recalls in U.
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser - Discussion Questions | Fast Food Restaurants | Fast Food
The administration of President George W. Bush administration was completely in bed with the large meatpacking and food processing companies. As a result, food safety regulations were rolled back or ignored. These industries were pretty much allowed to regulate themselves.
And tens of thousands of American consumers paid the price, with their health. But the big chains are pretty much operating the way they always have. They want their products to be cheap and taste everywhere exactly the same. That requires a certain kind of production system, an industrial agriculture responsible for all sorts of harms.
And the fast food chains want their labor to be cheap, as well. The fundamental workings of this system haven't changed at all since "Fast Food Nation" was published Some people blame economics for the bad eating habits a lot of Americans practice.
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