Fast Food Nation

Eric Schlosser

"What the All-American Meal is Doing to the World".

This book is a landmark book, one of those I often saw quoted in cool articles, so it was inevitable that I would read it. It lived up to all my expectations.

We forget that fast food is a very modern phenomenon, and the megalithic corporations they have become have had a huge impact on our way of life, our environment and our health, all in a matter of a few decades. Whilst it is called "Fast Food Nation" it ranges far beyond the burger kings and describes the ideological environment the US has embraced. It talks about MacDonalds and KFC, but it also talks about Walmart, Disney, a host of other US corporations and the industries that supply them.

MacDonalds is one of its main focuses because their corporate practices have become a model for many other US businesses. It tells the story of how MacDonalds was started by two brothers, and they were convinced by a businessman called Ray Kroc to franchise the business. Ray Kroc eventually set up a store directly across from original McDonald's brother's store and ran them out of business, this was how Ray Kroc worked "This is rat eat rat, dog eat dog. I'll kill em, and I'm going to kill 'em before they kill me". He hated unions and non-conformists, and actively stood in the way of reform of his industry. He had ideological brethren in many other US corporations, one notably being Walt Disney "it's the law of the universe that the strong shall survive and the weak shall fall by the wayside, and I don't give a damn what idealistic plan is cooked up", the phenomenally successful Disney empire is discussed as well.

The book also talks about the power industry has over all the background processes that make up their meals. How they have resisted better testing of meat which has cost lives, ignored concerns about the treatment of animals and workers for the sake of profit, how they have contributed to 'mega-farms' and the changing of the rural way of life, and how low paid, unstable "McJobs" are fast becoming the only ones available for many young US citizens.

This is an awesome book which is hard to do justice to in a short article, it is well written, packed with wide-ranging absorbing information, generally, a must-read.

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